I am planning my first open water swim and rather daunted by the new aspects I will face, this book has really helped with pointers on training and equipment and the challenges to prepare for. Too early to say if it's a success but I feel more confident with this as a reference!
For those with a swimming background and/or access to pool-based or open-water swim coaching, this book is great. If you're not in one of those categories, this book will still be a great source of info, but you'd need to supplement it with additional material and/or expertise from other sources.
That's because the book is a little thin in its discussion of how how a swimmer can put together a sensible, interesting training programme. The book presents a few sample sets that people may swim, taken from training sessions performed by world-class swimmers, and a few sets for specific purposes. It also outlines a very rough 12-month programme for a 25K-marathon swim, showing a suggested mileage and time spent in open water, acclimatising to the cold. That's all useful, but information suggesting how the intermediate swimmer would bring some periodisation into the preparation for a season, what a typical week might look like, and how the self-coached swimmer would gradually increase distance or intensity over a series of weeks and months, is not provided.
In summary, I share with various other reviewers the opinion that this is a valuable book. However, swimmers would do well to pick an additional book with suggestions for training progams, or indeed they'd need access to a coach, join a swim team, or already have a solid understanding of how you prepare for various distances.
Steve Munatones is an world renowned expert in open water swimming and it comes through in this book. There's loads of helpful advice, tips and general knowledge of open water races around the world. I wish there would of been a bigger chapter on freestyle stroke with lots of pictures illustrating good and bad technique but apart from that I would highly recommend it.