Home Chat General Chat

Swim sessions


I've just finished reading the really interesting article in this months 220 about swimming, Testing Times. The article goes on to write about what swim sessions you should try to incorporate, from which I have come up with this general plan;


4 Sessions of at least 35 minutes a week, consisting of;

• Warm up

• Technique section

• Build sets

• Main interval-based

• Warm down (including reminder drills)

I've also been reading Total Immersion so that's my "Technique section" and "Reminder drills" sorted, but I was wondering if people could suggest what I should be doing for the "Build sets" and "Main interval-based" sections.

I know next month there is going to be a complete three month plan, but I would really like to get started with some more constructive sessions.

Thanks in advance



  • zoezoe Posts: 28
    Idea for Build sets:

    4 x 50m build for 40m, cruise last 10m, off 60 seconds

    or 4 x 50 build for 20m, cruise last 30m, off 60 seconds

    Main set... er, could be anything! What distance are you training for and how long do you want the main set to take you?

  • Just to give my own routine as an example: Not sure if it is correct, but my 'Main' set is done by lengths: 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 with 15s breaks, fast pace with a sprint on the last length of each set. This starts to get really tough towards the end when there is insufficient recovery time (for me) between the sprint lengths.

    Then I do 10x44m sprint @ 50s. (Sorry... local pool is an odd length!)

    All preceeded by an 8x88m warm up and some drill sets, and followed by a warm-down where I usually end up just doing the TI 'reach for the end of the pool' exercise to see how few strokes I can swim each length in: great for a warm-down stretch.

    To put it in context, the 1300m main set I describe above is part of a total 3300m training session. I do it twice a week, with two other swims of a simple 'get in, do 1600-2000m, get out' type.

    I expect a qualified instructor to come along now and rip this bits... but there you go!
  • i sugest that you focus on techinque. i have seen numorus people try focus on main sets and interval sections.i have found that once someone develops there tecniques that it is easyer to build up ur distance as proper techinque uses less enrgy that horrible tecnique. if u want help on tecniques find some one that can watch u swim as i have found this very useful for my clients to improve there swiming.in the way of main sets i suggest that you join a swim squad as this givesws you a fair idea of waht to do. i also suggest that you find a good sim trainer in ur area where you can set down and desgin a plan that suits you. for anymore questions email [email protected]
  • pigletpiglet Posts: 86
    I have a query too for swim training. I currently "just swim" for as long as I decide to- trying hard to focus on technique. I do a few lengths (250m each) of catch up drills and high elbow swimming. I usually do 500-750m of swimming with hand paddles to stengthen my puny shoulders and back muscles. But other than that I have not done any speed work- tending to go for distance. If not doing any other training that day I will do 3500-4000 m which takes about 1hr15-1hr30. At the moment I am aiming to do sprint and olympic distance tris with long term (2yr) goal of ironman. How much speed work should be done? Should I do soem each swim session? So far I have been concentrating on fitness and technique. Any tips greatly appreciated[:D]
  • Piglet, you definitely have room to incorporate more speed-work, especially if your nearest goals are to do sprint and olympic distance tris. I know there are people on here more knowledgeable than me about swimming, so see if you can search through the old postings on this forum to get some tips from the experts on speed training (and do some searches on the internet for some specific swim speed training exercises).

    Generally, speed-work would incorporate shorter distances done at higher speeds, repetitively in a series of sets, with sufficient recovery time between sets to make sure that your technique does not suffer the faster you try to go. I wholeheartedly agree with pineappleontherun when he says, above, that you should always focus on technique and not allow yourself to sacrifice technique for speed. If you start now, this early in the training year, making sure that you keep your technique strong and consistent, then as you add more speed-work to your training, you will see steady, gradual improvements over the coming months. Don't expect your speed to increase dramatically in the short-term speed sets (if your 50m time is shaved by 5 seconds, then that's a really good result, especially if you are consistent with that over 750m or 1500m), so long as your technique stays fluid, efficient and strong.
  • At this time of year, I would be focusing on technique and endurance and build on your aerobic base for next season.

    I meet a lot of people who just swim up and down and try to go as fast as they can but don't appreciate that if you can't swim slowly first with good technique, you will never get faster.

    I have had a knee injury all year so have done no racing, but have been in the pool 3 times a week, working on my technique. I haven't worried about pace and feel a lot more comfortable and relaxed with my swimming now.

    I have worked on each aspect of my stroke separately and always think about what my arms are doing when I swim up and down. I believe we should always be focusing on something and not just swim aimlessly.

    We did have a coach up until July, which is really useful if you can get someone to watch you, as what you think you are doing and what you are doing can sometime be totally different.

    I also think you need to appreciate that to change your technique takes a long, long time. I have been working on one aspect since July and I only feel that I'm doing it automatically now. That's after swimming about 2-3k, 3 times a week! If you work out the maths, that's a lot of lengths so be prepared to stick with it and change will happen if you persist and hopefully you will see a difference in your times next season! I would also say, to make 1 second of difference per length is a huge achievement. I think 5 seconds would be a lot to try and achieve in a short space of time.

    Good luck!

  • bennybenny Posts: 1,314
    Sarah is right, technique work is the best way to make you faster. It takes a very long time to engrain the exact right movements for you. Someone else (who knows about technique) watching you from the land is priceless.
  • Hello all -

    This time of year the main elements should be on technique and conditioning - if you have had a 'busy' Tri season, take stock of your past year and sit down to plan a well laid out training schedule bearing in mind you have the other two disciplines to incorporate.

    I can only give a general overview of swim training as this is in the main an individual thing, and as so many of you are competing in varying distances - perhaps we can discuss that and schedules over the winter!?

    Swimming is, I would say from my many years in swimming and competing in over 150 triathlons ('retired for awhile' LOL), composed of 70% technique with conditioning next then strength - so initially this winter concentrate on technique, or at least bear this in mind while training.

    In addition, do not forget your conditioning exercises with your swim float - 'legs only' exercises and perhaps try out flippers to get those ankles going~! - don't overdo it- good flexibility in swimming is vital

    Always include a warm up in your sessions - varies, but I would say at least 300-400 metres or until your muscles stop aching..you know you have warmed up by then!

    Might be a good idea to have a warm shower for a few minutes prior to swimming also..lessens the risk of muscle injury, and ensure you have fresh drinking water on standby - you should also include some kind of 10 minute pre water stretching exercises, especially in the cold weather.

    To sum up, without offereing any individual schedules, the main elements of your session should be the following - warm up - main session, whether repeats or pyramids etc, and warm down - try to alternate your schedules or vary as much as you can - e.g. one day concentrate on technique, perhaps with the longer swims, another day use fartlek training - constantly swimming over set distances, by swimming slow/fast/slow - a great conditioning programme - and another day repeats and faster swims, checking your recovery times.

    I hope that helps to at least give you a general awareness of what to include in your sessions - and to cater for your own individual plans etc

    Aeons ago, I used to run open water training sessions on the Gower Coast, all being well I will be starting these up again in June 2008 - watch this space!

    Best of luck in your training - and I will try and pop in regularly to offer any advice or comment I can

  • pigletpiglet Posts: 86
    Hey loads of good advice there. My training is all back to front with you guys though as I am currently entering the tri season here in New Zealand. I wasn't able to compete in the European season this year due to knee surgery and recovery but am now in full swing for the summer. I have decided to get some specific swim coaching to check my technique and then I will start some speed work(assuming technique is OK). I find I swim faster using a pull buoy between my legs and just using my arms- I also reduce breath frequency to every 5 strokes instead of 3 if using legs. I presume this is because the legs require so much O2. I am entering some fun local races- swim run series- little distances 400m swim and 5-7km run so I'll use them as extra training sessions before the main events. The main problem is choosing what to enter!!We are spoilt for choice. Just plucking up the nerve to go in the ocean now- still pretty cold[sm=rolleyes.gif]
  • Open water swim training weekends - 2008

    Just to let you know, that my open water -sea - training sessions start on the Gower coast (Swansea) on June 14th

    I have a number of optional dates throughout the summer - they all depend on tidal times etc -

    Anyone interested please go to the website;


    Hope to see some of you there - Many thanks

Sign In or Register to comment.