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How to Structure Your Swim Week

With our Benchmark a Better You Swim Month launching this week, pro athlete Lauren Brandon—who is providing all the workouts this month—gives us some tips on how to set up a week of swim workouts.

Heading out the door? Read this article on the new Outside+ app available now on iOS devices for members! Download the app.

Swimming is something that we as triathletes need to do, want to get better at, but don’t always want to put in the work required to get faster. Most triathletes start swimming later in life and therefore it’s a new sport and skill for them to master. Triathletes are trying to figure out technique, drills, sets, and different tools to help them improve. The hardest part of figuring out this new world of swimming is trying to navigate all of the articles online and what information out there will actually help you get faster in the pool. One way to get faster is to make sure that you are setting up your swim week correctly by having a plan (like our Benchmark a Better You plan) and specific type of workouts that will help you. 

How a triathlete’s swim week is set up will depend on how many times they can swim per week and how much they typically swim within each workout. In these examples below, we are assuming that most triathletes swim three times per week covering 2,000 to 3,000 yards/meters each time. Once you have this plan mapped out, you can then put in place which type of workouts you should be doing each week. There are speed, threshold, strength, and easy workouts that you can choose from. If you’re swimming three times per week, then it would be best to have a speed day, a threshold day, and then finally a strength/easy day. 

Speed Workout

Speed day will consist of sets with shorter distances such as fast 25s or 50s fast with more rest than on an aerobic day. You will want to go all out/max. effort on these sets and really push yourself in order to get faster. 

Example Speed Main Set:

3 rounds of 4 x 25 max. effort on 1 min. with 200 easy in between each round. 

Threshold Workout

Threshold workouts will consist of slightly longer sets with 100s, 200s, or longer, with a shorter amount of rest. You want to hold a strong pace on these types of swim sets and they will help you improve keeping up a faster pace throughout your entire race. 

Example Threshold Main Set:

10 x 100 at a strong pace and an interval where you get 15 seconds rest after each 100.

Strength/Easy Workout

Strength/easy day workouts will consist of some easy aerobic swimming with an addition of some buoy/band work in order to specifically work on gaining some strength in your swim muscles. 

Example Strength/Easy Main Set:

4 rounds of 4 x 50 with a buoy and band around your ankles with 10 seconds rest and 200 easy swim in between each set of 50s working on your stroke technique.