Some long-term goals might be to swim up to 5 times per week, with some workout sessions as long as 90-minutes for ironman-distance triathletes (an ironman-distance triathlete might do a 2-hour workout, but not very frequently, or only if they are at the elite level). In a general sense, frequent shorter sessions are more productive than a few long sessions each week since maintaining technique becomes more difficult as the length of the workout increases, and a triathlete wants to balance becoming faster and stronger with good technique. For more on how fast and how often to do these workouts, review the article How Often and How Fast.
Olympic-Distance Swim = 1500m
- Brain Work: 1500m swim as a steady, sustainable, non-stop effort. Your total time should go down as you get fitter; you might also find your time stays the same but you feel stronger at the end of the swim, an indicator of increased technique proficiency. Over time, add 100m to 300m to these swims until the full distance is covered.
- Race Simulation: 1500m swim with varied efforts to simulate the early, mid, and late portions of the race. The first 50 strokes at a moderate to high level, the mid-portion at a moderate, sustainable level, and the closing section at a moderate to moderately higher level (not as fast as the first 50 strokes). At the end of this swim, check your heart rate; check it again at 30, 60, and 90 seconds. As you get fitter, heart rate should go down faster and/or your total swim time will get faster.
- Technique Golf: Swim 10x 25m (or 50m) with: 15s-30s rest, count strokes for each length. Add stroke count and time n seconds. Aim to decrease total for each 25 (or 50) within a workout and over the weeks.
- Sustainable Pace: The 50-50 workout. Divide the race distance into two parts (2x 750m). Swim segment at an easy to moderate effort, an effort that results in a time slower than segment two. Rest for 60s and check your heart rate at 0s, 20s, and 40s. If it is not going down, continue resting and re-checking every 20s until it starts to go down, then wait an additional 20s. Swim segment two at a moderate effort that results in a time faster than segment one. The pace for segment one should be consistent throughout that segment; the pace for segment two should be consistent throughout that segment. As you gain fitness, attempt to make the time (and pace) for each segment equal without slowing down the time for the second segment, then attempt to decrease the rest between segments. Don't try to do both at the same time, focus on increasing the pace for segment one first. Once the speed for segment one is about the same as segment two, you should be able to decrease rest between segments. Remember to use the heart rate check every 20s.
- Hold a Pace: 10x 50m (or 10x 25m, 10x 75m, 10x 100m, 10x 150m, or 10x 200m; looking for a total time of about 20m), with 10s rest, at the fastest possible even pace. These should all be the same speed, with the goal of feeling like you might be able to do one or two more once you finish the set, but you could not do more. At the end of this swim, check your heart rate; check it again at 30s, 60s, and 90s. As you get fitter, heart rate should go down faster and/or your total swim time will get faster.
- Count-down: swim 1500m as a 500, 400, 300, 200, 100; rest 10s to 20s between each segment. Aim to go faster as the segments get shorter. Over time, aim to decrease total swim time.
- Hard-Easy-Hard: All of the repeats in this set should be the same distance. Swim 4x 25m at a fast, almost un-sustainable speed (or 4x 50, 4x 75, 4x 100, 4x 125, or 4x 150; looking for a total time of about 9-10 minutes for the 4 swims including rest), 2x 25m very easy focusing on technique (or 4x 50, 4x 75, 4x 100, 4x 125, or 4x 150; looking for a total time of about 6 minutes), and 4x 25m at a fast, almost un-sustainable speed (or 4x 50, 4x 75, 4x 100, 4x 125, or 4x 150; again looking for a total time of about 9-10 minutes) all on 20s-30s rest. At the end of this set, check your heart rate; check it again at 30s, 60s, and 90s. As you get fitter, your fast times should get faster, your speed fall-off between repeats will decrease, and your heart rate should go down faster.
How often, and how fast, should you swim these workouts? Click here to read the the specifics on swimming speeds and the frequncy of doing these swim workout sets.
- 500 to 1,000 yard / meter Open Water Swimming or Sprint Tri Swim Workouts
- 1,000 to 1,500 yard / meter Open Water Swimming or Olympic Tri Swim Workouts
- 1,500 to 2,500 yard / meter Open Water Swimming or Half-ironman Swim Workouts
- 2,500 to 5,000 yard / meter Open Water Swimming or Ironman Swim Workouts