For many triathletes, swim training sessions are the shortest (total duration of the workout) of the three sports. As we know, in many races the swim section will only equate to a small amount of time in any distance triathlon. I recommend that most triathletes should focus on a goal of swimming 3 times per week with sessions lasting from 45 minutes to 2 hours.
It’s important to mix up the workouts with a combination of technique focussed drills, endurance long distance, and interval sets. Don’t discount the benefits of using the kick-board to build strength in the legs along with recovery from the pounding of a long distance run. If you have access to open water, add a session per week to get used to practicing turning around buoys, exiting the water, transition practice, and of course not having lane lines to follow. Speaking of transition practice, this is an area that we all should practice regularly. It’s an area of the race where valuable minutes can be lost especially in a long distance race such as a 1/2 or full Ironman distance event. Many times, in Ironman events athletes will head to the changing tent, grab some food, chat with some other athletes and the next thing you know it’s been 10 minutes wasted. Make sure you get out a quickly as possible and onto the bike.
Here is one of my Endurance Swim workouts to consider for your longer swim session for the week. Of course adjust the times based upon your specific swimming skill base. This swim workout will normally take 1:40 of total time with distance of approximately 5,000 meters. It’s basic with the main goal of focussing on aerobic pacing.
Warm-up for 500 meters
10 x 100 on 1:50
5 x 200 on 3:50
1 x 500 on 8:00
5 x 200 on 3:50
10 x100 on 1:50
Cool down 100 – 200 meters kick-board
My goal is to hold a 1:30-1:33 pace for every rep whether just doing a single 100 or a full 500. The overall intensity of the entire workout would be a “3” out of 5. So it’s right in the aerobic zone.
Consider adding this workout to your schedule to focus on the aerobic pace you are targeting race day. Remember the swim is important for the triathlon but will never determine ultimately how your race will end up overall. As we all know, saving some energy for the most important section – the run is crucial, so don’t over do it in the swim and keep it under control.
By Wayne Kurtz
Wayne Kurtz is founder of RaceTwitch.com and Endurance Racing Report, he has a lifelong passion for racing in various endurance sport races throughout the world. He is also the author of: ‘Beyond the Iron, a training guide for ultra-distance triathlons.’