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4 Bucket List Swim Workouts for Triathletes

Finish one of these epic swim workouts for triathletes, and you'll have a newfound confidence in the water (you badass, you).

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My swim coach at the University of Florida, Greg Troy, used to refer to certain workouts as the ones you’d want call home about—workouts so challenging they counted as news. It took extra mental and physical fortitude in order to get to the end. But once completed, swim sets like these offered an incredible feeling of personal accomplishment and success—just like when you’ve crossed the finish line of a big race. Talk with your coach about how to individually structure these bucket list swim workouts to match your swimming level.

Epic swim workouts for triathletes

3,000 Time Trial

A straight swim to challenge any athlete’s ability to keep track of laps! Even pacing, mental focus, and physical grit are the keys to a successful 3K TT. It’s regularly used as a season opener to judge the fitness and endurance levels of athletes returning to training. This can be modified to a 1K or 2K swim to fit multiple ability levels.

RELATED: Training Plan: Returning to Swimming After a Break

Warm-up

300 swim, 200 pull, 100 kick
5×25 build to fast

Main Set

3,000 continuous

Cooldown

3×100 easy

8 x 100 with 2 minutes recovery

This set makes the list for the effort level required, rather than the total distance. Every single 100 must be swum at the maximal effort possible without considering the remaining repetitions. A full two to five minutes rest can be prescribed between each effort. You’ll learn how to dig deep within yourself for the last two to four efforts. You’ll achieve your best performances when you do this with a group, and your teammates can encourage and race each other. Give it a try with this set from coach Mike Ricci:

Warm-up

400 swim, 300 kick and 200 pull
8×50 on 15 seconds rest at a build effort (starting slower and increasing speed throughout the 50 yards)

Main Set

8×100 with 2 minutes recovery

Cooldown

300 easy

A swimmer in a swim cap with the American flag does the postal swim, a bucket-list swim workout for triathletes.
(Photo: Getty Images)

1-Hour Challenge: Postal Swim

The swim set with the simplest goal: How far can you swim in one hour? Often called the “Postal,” “ePostal,” or “Virtual Championship” swim because many national federations (like USA Swimming and US Masters Swimming) collect individual results and compile them into age-group results. In January of each year, you can submit your results to US Masters Swimming to be recorded and scored. You can also check your results against the US Masters Postal Swim database to see how your time stacks up against your fellow swimmers. Add personal flair by creating your own pattern to repeat during the hour (ex: 100 free, 100 IM, 100 pull, 100 kick, repeat).

RELATED: How to Pull Off the Postal Swim

Warm-up

400 easy swim
4×25 build to fast

Main Set

1 hour continuous swim (aim for a slightly faster split every 15 minutes, with your final 5 minutes all-out)

Cooldown

3×100 easy

100x100s

A 10,000 yard/meter workout for the well prepared athlete. Traditionally done on holidays (New Year, birthday, etc.) or you’re your coach thinks you need a mental and physical challenge. Like the 8×100 workout, this one is best done with training partners for motivation—a and to help keep count. Bring hydration and nutrition to the pool deck and don’t let your form get sloppy when you get tired! Below are some examples of some variations on the 100×100 workout.

RELATED: Haley Chura’s Tips for Crushing the 100 x 100 Pool Swim

100×100 Swim Workout & Modifications

A: The Whole Enchilada
10 x 100 @ 2:00 (easy, warm up)
20 x 100 @ 1:50 (IM)
20 x 100 @ 1:40 (25 fast, 75 smooth)
20 x 100 @ 1:30 (pull)
20 x 100 @ 1:20 (swim fast)
10 x 100 @ 2:00 (cooldown)
*10,000 total*

B: The Meat
10 x 100 @ 2:30 (easy, warm up)
10 x 100 @ 2:20 (IM)
15 x 100 @ 2:10 (25 fast, 75 smooth)
15 x 100 @ 2:00 (pull)
15 x 100 @ 1:50 (swim fast)
10 x 100 @ 2:30 (cooldown)
*7,500 total*

C: The Cheese
10 x 100 w/:20 rest (easy, warm up)
10 x 100 w/:15 rest (25 fast, 75 smooth)
10 x 100 w/:10 rest (pull)
10 x 100 w/:05 rest (swim fast)
10 x 100 w/:20 rest (cooldown)
*5,000 total*

RELATED: How to (Finally) Become a Faster Swimmer