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Single-Sport Focus: 4-Week Swim Training Plan for Triathletes

While you might not win the race in the swim, you can definitely lose it.

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A single-sport block can have innumerable benefits, especially during the off-season. This is your four-week swim-specific plan. (See bike and run at the bottom.)

In order to swim as efficiently as possible—and feel as fresh as possible when you reach your bike—a swim-specific training block is a great time to focus on stroke mechanics, as well as muscular and aerobic endurance.

The training program outlined below, from Masters world champion swimmer Megan Melgaard, is designed to help you do just that. Melgaard is a coach at triathlon swim program Tower 26, and at this time of the year their athletes work on mastering the concepts of tautness, alignment, and propulsion. Weeks one to three focus on each of these concepts while also working on building specific muscular endurance and perfecting technique. In the fourth week, you’ll bring it all together.

You should be aiming to swim three or four times per week, including at least one strength/stretch cords session. The “A” sessions are must-do workouts, the “B” sessions can be done if/when your schedule permits, and the “C” workouts are recovery swims.

In week one, the focus is on tautness, which means keeping your body elongated, your head still, and keeping three touch points on the water’s surface: the back of your head, butt, and heels. In week two, it’s all about alignment, which means focusing on your hand entry in front of your shoulder and pulling in the “channel” between your shoulder and centerline of your body. In week three, you’ll build on tautness and alignment by adding in propulsion. This means gripping the water firmly and driving it backward toward your hip. In week four, you should also aim to increase your stroke cadence and total volume of swimming to help develop muscular endurance. Learn more on the three concepts of mastering triathlon swimming here.

Note: Only main sets are listed below. All workouts should include a warm-up and cool-down of your choice.

Training Plan PDF

KEY

A1, 2, 3: Priority Workout | B1: Secondary Workout | C1: Recovery Swim

DAY 1 DAY 2 DAY 3 DAY 4 DAY 5 DAY 6 DAY 7
1 C1: 4 x 100 swim @ 75%, 20 sec. rest;

200 pull @ 75%, 30 sec. rest;

1 x 50 as 25 kick/25 swim @ 85%, 20 sec. rest;

2 x 100 swim @ 75%, 30 sec. rest, 100 pull @ 70%

A1: 12 x 25, 10 sec. rest, pro-gressing effort;

8 x 75, 20 sec. rest, pro-gressing effort. 300 pull @ 70-75%

A2: 2 x (12 x 25 @ 90-95%, 10 sec. rest;

1 x 200 @ 70%, 1 min. rest)

B1: 300 swim @ 70%, snorkel + fins;

2 x 250 pull + snorkel @ 70%, 30 sec. rest;

5 x 50 swim @ 75%, 15 sec. rest;

8 x 25 pull/ paddles @ 80%, 15 sec. rest;

250 swim @ 70%

A3: Stretch cords/ core
2 C1: 300 @ 70% snorkel + fins;

12 x 25 @ 80%, 15 sec. rest;

4 x 75 pull @ 75%, 20 rest;

4 x 50 easy, 20 rest

A1: 4 x 50 swim @ 85%, 15 sec. rest;

4 x 100 swim @ 80%, 20 sec. rest;

8 x 50 swim @ 85%, 15 sec. rest;

200 pull @ 70%

B1: 400 pull @ 75%, 20 sec. rest;

12 x 25 swim @ 85%, 10 sec. rest;

2 x 100 pull @ 70%, 20 sec. rest;

2 x 50 swim @ 70%, 15 sec. rest

A2: 400 swim @ 70%, snorkel + fins;

4 x 75 @ 80%, 20 sec. rest;

4 x 75% @ 85%, 20 sec. rest;

300 pull + snorkel @ 70%, 30 sec. rest

A3: Stretch cords/ core
3 C1: 7 x 50 swim with fins, 20 sec. rest;

250 pull + snorkel @ 70%, 40 sec. rest;

3 x 50 pull @ 80%, 10 sec. rest;

50 swim fast; 250 swim @ 70%

A1: 4 x 50 swim @ 75%, 20 sec. rest;

3 x 100 with fins, progress effort, 20 sec. rest;

3 x 100 swim @ 80%, 20 sec. rest;

400 pull @ 75%

B1: 4 x 25 fists + snorkel + buoy, 15 sec. rest;

4 x 25 swim @ 90%, 20 sec. rest;

4 x 50 pull + snorkel + paddles @ 70%, 15 sec. rest;

4 x 50 pull + snorkel @ 75%, 10 sec. rest;

2 x 200 swim @ 70%, 20 sec. rest

A2: 4 x 25 closed fists swim-ming + snorkel + buoy, 15 sec. rest;

4 x 25 swim @ 80%, 15 sec. rest;

400 pull @ 75% + snorkel + paddles

A3: Stretch cords/ core
4 C1: 2 x (2 x 50-25 closed fists, 25 swim;

10 x 25 swim @ 70-90%, 15 sec rest. Odd 25s @ 90%, even 25s @ 70%);

200 pull + snorkel @ 70%;

250 swim @ 70%

A1: 10 x 75 fins @ 70%, 20 sec. rest;

250 snorkel @ 70%, 40 sec. rest;

4 x 75 swim, build to 80%, 20 sec. rest;

6 x 25 swim @ 90%, 15 sec. rest;

150 swim @ 70%

B1: 250 snorkel + buoy, 30 sec. rest;

10 x 50 snorkel, buoy, paddles @ 75%, 10 sec. rest;

200 swim @ 70%

A2: 8 x 75 fins @ 70%, 20 sec. rest;

16 x 50 pull, snorkel, paddles @ 75%, 10 sec. rest;

150 swim @ 70%

A3: Stretch cords/ core

The Importance of Single-Sport Focus Training

4-Week Bike Training Plan

4-Week Run Training Plan