Since I've moved to Richmond, I've found myself without an easily accessible pool for the first time in my life! I've always either coached at a pool or swam on a team that had regular practice times. Now I'm in a new city where I need to join a pool/gym to get swim time! It's a weird situation for me, but it's forced me to think outside the box... My current training location is the James River!
Cringe as you may, I've really enjoyed a change from the black lines of the pool. I've been forced to practice sighting every day and I'm learning how to read the current. These are skills that don't come naturally to a pool swimmer! There are downsides though...I do tend to shower a bit more and think back to the Seinfeld episode where Kramer starts swimming in the Hudson River. I also have to deal with fishermen and mother nature, but in all its been a great change of pace. My last race in DC I was able to split a 17:44 for the swim, so I feel like I'm benefiting from the change.
If you have access to open water, take advantage of it! The pool can be a great tool for speed and technique, but open water is where most triathlons are contested. Take the plunge and try something new.
Gratuitous sponsor promo: A BlueSeventy wetsuit would make open water swimming that much better!