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A 4-Week Training Plan to Help You Swim Better and Faster

Get your swimming on track with this training plan from Coach Megan Melgaard.

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The key to getting faster in the water is consistent focused swimming—and this training plan will help you do just that. Ideally, you’ll tackle the first session on a Monday or Tuesday, the second session mid-week, and the third session on the weekend. “The more frequently you can swim, the better,” Melgaard said. There are also options for both beginner and intermediate swimmers who are looking to improve fitness and stroke mechanics.

RELATED: How to (Finally) Become a Faster Swimmer

Week 1 – Session #1

Begin slowly and embrace the feeling of the water. 

Set Notes
Warm-Up
5:00 @ Easy Effort Not a hard stroke. Take rest as needed.
4 x 50 @ 70-75% Effort with 20 sec. rest (Snorkel, Fins, Kickboard) Kicking with face down, hold the sides of the kickboard & keep the kickboard flat. Maintain the three touchpoints (back of the head, hips, and heels) at the surface of the water.
4 x 50 Kick @ 70-75% on 20 sec. (Snorkel, Fins) No kickboard - with arms outstretched, squeezing the sides of your head / ears, and interlace thumbs to keep hands locked together, palms facing down.
Main Set 2x (Do entire main set two times through)
1 x 3:00 Swim @ 70-75% with 25 sec. rest (Snorkel, Fins) Steady swim, maintaining three touch points with the water's surface.
12 x 25 Swim @ 75-80% with 15 sec. rest Perform strong wall push-offs to set-up proper body posture and tautness.
1 x 3:00 Pull @ 70% with 20 sec. rest (Snorkel, Pull Buoy) Maintain proper alignment. Use the 2nd round as a cool down.

Week 1 – Session #2

Continuing the build, with focus on tautness and body position in the water.

Set Notes
Warm-Up
5:00 @ Easy Effort Not a hard stroke. Take rest as needed.
20 sec. 4 x 50 Kick/Swim @ 70-75% with :20 rest (Snorkel, Fins, Kickboard) Aim to keep your shoulders flat in the water without rocking from side to side, and keep the three touch points (back of head, hips, and heels) at the surface of the water.
4 x 50 Kick/Swim @ 70-75% with 20 sec. rest (Snorkel, Fins) All 50’s are 25 Kick / 25 Swim. Kick with arms outstretched, squeezing the sides of your head / ears, interlace thumbs to keep hands locked together, with palms facing down.
200 Swim @ 75% with 30 sec. rest (Snorkel, Fins) Keeping the head fixed, maintain three touch points with the water’s surface, and perform gentle kicking. *Beginners, complete as 2 x 100.
8 x 25 Swim @ 80% with 15 sec. rest Execute every wall push-off powerfully. Emphasizing strong wall push-offs initially sets-up proper body posture and tautness. *Beginners, reduce to 6 x 25.
Main Set 2x (Do entire main set two times through)
4 x 100 Swim @ 75% with 20 sec. rest No equipment. Swim with dedicated focus on alignment. *Beginners -> 2 x 100.
2 x 100 Pull @ 70% with 15 sec. rest (Snorkel, Pull Buoy) With pulling gear on, alignment is easier to achieve. Use the final 100 as cool down.

Week 1 – Session #3

Set Notes
Warm-Up
5:00 @ Easy Effort Not a hard stroke. Take rest as needed.
6 x 50 25 Kick/25 Swim @ 70% with 15 sec. rest (Snorkel, Fins) #1 & 2:​ Kick on your stomach thumbs interlaced. A reminder to maintain 3 touch points with the surface throughout: head, tush, and heels. #3 & 4:​ Kick on your left side. #5 & 6:​ Kick on your right side. 
1 x 300 Swim @ 70% (Snorkel, Fins) Keep your head fixed while maintaining the three touch points with the water's surface. Gentle kicking. *Beginners reduce to 200.
Main Set* 1x
6 x 50 Swim with 15 sec. rest #1-3 @ 70% effort, #4-6 @ 75% effort.
10 x 25 Swim @ 80% with 10-15 sec. rest Maintain technical focus on proper body tautness, assisted through good wall push-offs.
2 x 150 Pull with 20 sec. rest (Snorkel, Pull Buoy) Maintain technical awareness on alignment and hand channels.

*Intermediate swimmers:

  • Complete the Main Set x 2
  • Round out the session with 3 x 100 swim @ 70% with 20 sec. rest, focusing on body position, tautness, and feel of the water.

Week 2 – Session #1

Set Notes
Warm-Up
300 @ Easy Effort *Beginners reduce to 200.
4 x 75 @ 70-75% with 15 sec. rest (Snorkel, Fins, Kick Board)
4 x 50 @ 70-75% complete as 25 Kick / 25 Swim with 20 sec. rest (Snorkel, Fins)
4 x 25 Swim @ 70% with 15 sec. rest
1 x 200 Pull @ Easy (Snorkel, Pull Buoy)
Main Set 2x (Do entire main set twice through.)
4 x 100 Swim @ 75% with 20-25 sec. rest
2 x 50 Pull @ 75% with 20 sec. rest
Recovery
100 Swim @ Easy with 20 sec. rest
1 x 200 Pull @ Easy (Snorkel, Pull Buoy)

Week 2 – Session #2

Set Notes
Warm-Up
350 @ Easy Effort *Beginners reduce to 250.
4 x 75 as 50 Kick/25 Swim @ 70-75% with 15 sec. rest (Snorkel, Fins) Kick face down, wearing your snorkel and your fins, thumbs interlocked with palms facing down.
1 x 300 Swim @ 70% (Snorkel, Fins) Keep your head fixed while maintaining the three touch points with the water's surface. Gentle kicking. *Beginners reduce to 200.
Main Set 2x (Do entire main set twice through.)
1 x 100 Easy Swim @ 70% with 20 sec. rest
1 x 50 Swim @ 75% with 15 sec. rest
1 x 100 Easy Swim @ 70% with 20 sec. rest
2 x 50 Swim @ 75% with 15 sec. rest
1 x 100 Easy Swim @ 70% with 20 sec. rest
3 x 50 Swim @ 75% with 15 sec. rest
1 x 100 Easy Swim @ 70% with 20 sec. rest
4 x 50 Swim @ 75% with 15 sec. rest
Recovery
1 x 200 Pull @ Easy (Snorkel, Pull Buoy)

Week 2 – Session #3

Set Notes
Warm-Up
5:00 @ Easy Effort
6 x 50 as 25 Kick / 25 Swim @ 70-75% with 20 sec. rest (Snorkel, Fins) Kick face down, wearing your snorkel and your fins, thumbs interlocked with palms facing down.
6 x 50 Swim @ Progressive with 15 sec. rest Starting at 70% for #1-2, increase effort to 80% by the end of the set.
Main Set 2x (Do entire main set twice through.)
1 x 100 Swim @ 70% with 15 sec. rest
1 x 50 Swim @ 75-80% with 10 sec. rest
2 x 100 Swim @ 70% with 15 sec. rest
2 x 50 Swim @ 75-80% with 10 sec. rest
1 x 100 Swim @ 70% with 20 sec. rest
3 x 50 Swim @ 75-80% with 10 sec. rest
Recovery
1 x 200 Pull @ Easy (Snorkel, Pull Buoy)

Week 3 – Session #1

Set Notes
Warm-Up
350 @ Easy
4 x 100 50 Kick/50 Swim @ 70-75% with 15 sec. rest (Snorkel, Fins, Kick Board)
6 x 50 Single-arm swim/swim with 15 sec. rest (Snorkel, Fins) Arms should enter for each stroke in line with your shoulders. Too far inwards towards your head, or too far outside the shoulder line will cause misalignment in the body. The arm that is not stroking should be placed out in front of you in line with your shoulder, about 3-4 inches below the surface of the water. Alternate right arm for odd repeats, left arm for even repeats.
Main Set 2x (Do entire main set twice through.)
1 x 100 Swim @ Easy with 15 sec. rest
2 x 50 Swim @ Fast with 10 sec. rest On the fast swims, focus on your three touch points (back of the head, butt, heels) at the surface of the water, and work to achieve good tautness with each wall push off. Use the easy swims for recovery.
1 x 200 Swim @ Easy with 20 sec. rest
Recovery
4 x 100 @ 70% (Snorkel, Pull Buoy) (*Beginners -> 2 x 100)

Week 3 – Session #2

Set Notes
Warm-Up
4 x 100 Swim @ Progressive Swim these without any equipment, progressing effort to 80% by the last repeat.
Main Set 2x (Do entire main set twice through.)
1 x 100 Swim @ 80% on 10 sec. The goal is to have all 80% swims at the same speed in this set - you may have to swim easier on the first effort in order to be able to swim the same speed on the final repeats.
1 x 100 @ Recovery with 15 sec. rest
2 x 100 @ 80% with 10 sec. rest
1 x 100 @ Recovery with 15 sec. rest
3 x 100 @ 80% with 10 sec. rest
1 x 100 @ Recovery with 15 sec. rest
Recovery
4 x 100 @ Recovery with 15 sec. rest (Snorkel, Pull Buoy)

Week 3 – Session #3

Set Notes
Warm-Up
5:00 @ Easy Effort Kick face down, wearing your snorkel and your fins, thumbs interlocked with palms facing down.
4 x 100 as 50 Kick/25 Swim @ 70-75% with 15 sec. rest (Snorkel, Fins)
18 x 25 25 Fast/25 Easy with 15 sec. rest Focus on setting up the proper body position with a good strong wall push-offs.
Main Set
6 x 100 @ Progressive Effort with 20-25 sec. rest Start at 70% for #1-2, progress to 75% for #3-4, and 80% for #5-6
3 x 200 @ 65% with 15 sec. rest (Snorkel, Pull Buoy)
Recovery
1 x 300 Pull @ 75% (Snorkel, Pull Buoy)

Week 4 – Session #1

Set Notes
Warm-Up
400 @ Easy Not a hard stroke.
4 x 50 as 25 Kick / 25 Swim @ 70-75% with 15 sec. rest (Snorkel, Kick Board) Kick face down, wearing your snorkel, thumbs interlocked with palms facing down, no fins.
8 x 25 Swim with 15 sec. rest Repeat this cycle x 2: #1 Easy, #2-3 FAST, #4 Easy. For the FAST 25s, focus on propulsion, hand tension, and arm speed.
Main Set
3 x 200 Swim @ 80%
600 Swim @ 70%
6 x 100 Swim @ 85% A strenuous pace just below your aerobic threshold. Set an interval that will give you approximately 10-15 sec. seconds rest.
Recovery
5 min. Swim Easy (Snorkel, Pull Buoy)

Week 4 – Session #2

Set Notes
Warm-Up
400 @ Easy Not a hard stroke.
1 x 400 50 Kick/50 Swim @ 70-75% (Snorkel, Fins) Focus on tautness and a long, stretched out body position.
1 x 400 @ Progressive Start at 65%, progress effort to 80% by the end of the pull (Pull Buoy (Empty), Ankle Strap) Focus on quick, crisp breaths and returning your head immediately to center.
16 x 25 Swim The pattern is as follows: 1 easy, 2 moderate, 1 fast. Focus on holding tension in your wrist throughout your stroke. Set an interval that gives you approximately 10 sec. rest on the moderate 25s.
Main Set
1 x 400 Swim @ 75% with 30 sec. rest
4 x 100 Swim @ 85% Set an interval on your 100s that gives you 10-15 sec. rest.
1 x 300 Pull @ 70% with 20 sec. rest (Snorkel, Pull Buoy (Empty), Ankle Strap)
4 x 50 Pull @ Progressive (Snorkel, Pull Buoy (Empty), Ankle Strap) Your longer pull is at 70%, your shorter repeats should be progressive - beginning at 70% and building to 85% by the last one.
Recovery
5 min. @ Easy (Snorkel, Pull Buoy)

Week 4 – Session #3

Set Notes
Warm-Up
300 @ Easy Focus on going very EASY during warm-up - going too fast now can compromise your performance on later swims.
4 x 75 as 50 Kick/25 Swim @ 70-75% with 15 sec. rest (Snorkel, Fins) Kick face down, wearing your snorkel and your fins, thumbs interlocked with palms facing down.
Main Set #1
1 x 200 Swim @ 70% with 25 sec. rest
1 x 150 Swim @ 75% with 20 sec. rest
1 x 100 Swim @ 80% with 15 sec. rest
1 x 50 Swim @ 85% with 15 sec. rest
Main Set #2
1 x 100 @ Easy with 20 sec. rest
1 x 100 @ 90-95% with 15 sec. rest Practicing take out speed.
7 x 100 Swim @ 80% with 10 sec. rest Set an interval on the 100s that gives you approximately 10 sec. rest - try to keep your times the same for all of your repeats.

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