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A Swim Training Plan for Beginner Triathletes

2016/7/21 10:45:56

One common question asked among new triathletes is what type of swimming workouts should I do?

This article provides a sample swim training plan for three common triathlon race distances—sprint, Olympic and 70.3—to help you get up and running, or rather swimming, in no time.

These workouts are designed to give you a healthy balance of speed, endurance and technique work so you can become an overall stronger swimmer.

More: 10 Steps to Improve Your Triathlon Swim

Hints and Tips

Endurance workouts should be based on time instead of distance.

Speed workouts should include 50-yard swims for sprint and Olympic, and 100-yard swims for longer distance athletes.

Technique workouts help improve your swim mechanics and should include kicking and stroke drills.

More: Swim Drills for Triathletes

Try the one-arm drill: Swim 25 yards with the left arm only, followed by 25 yards with the right arm only, then swim 50 yards with both arms. This teaches you to develop a more even stroke.

When performing kicking drills, try to drive the kick from your hips with knees slightly bent. Think of dancing the twist but with a slower motion so you are incorporating more of your thigh muscles. This will help develop a more powerful kick.

Remember to take a day or two off between each workout to rest and recover, and be sure to start these workouts at least five weeks before your race.

More: 3 New Rules of Swim Training

Swim Training Plan

Monday: Endurance

Swim continuously for 30 to 35 minutes; start slow and build your speed. If you can't swim for a full 30 minutes, start with 10 or 15.

The last five minutes should be a hard effort but not all out and with no more than 90 percent max heart rate effort.

Wednesday: Speed Workout for Sprint and Olympic Distances

Warm up by swimming 400 yards easy.

Do 50-yard sprints with a 30-second recovery between each sprint. Start with 10 to 12 sprints and try to add an additional 50-yard sprint each week, up to but not exceeding, 18 sprints total.

Swim 100 yards easy.

Do 6 x 25 yards at 45-second intervals; swim at 85 percent max heart rate.

Cool down with 300 easy.

Wednesday: Speed Workout for Longer Distances

Warm up with 300 yards easy.

200 yards pull with buoy, kick 200 yards.

Main Set: start with eight 100-yard sprints with 1-minute rest between intervals, add an extra 100-yard sprint each consecutive week up to, but not exceeding, 16 total sprints.

Cool down with 200 yards easy.  

Friday: Technique

Warm up 300 yards easy.

200 yards drill, 200 yards kick, 500 yards pull with buoy. Try to breathe every three strokes for 100 yards, for the next 100 yards try to breathe every 5 strokes, and then repeat. Also try to alternate sides when taking a breath. The goal is to increase lung oxygen intake and learn how to breathe on both sides.

Cool down with 300 easy.

More: 6 Workouts for a Stronger 1.5K Swim

Race Week

You'll want to dial it back on race week to maximize your taper. Here are your sample workouts for race week:


Warm up 300 to 400 yards.

Main Set: Eight 50-yard sprints, 30 seconds recovery.

Cool down 300 yards.


800 yards easy swim.

Try this swim training plan, and you'll be ready to perform on race day.

More: 6 Tips for a Smart Triathlon Swim

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