Weekend Swim Workout: Open-Water Session

Not sure how to properly execute an open-water swim session? Coach Sara McLarty is here to help.

Pools and gyms are mostly still closed, leaving many triathletes to get creative when it comes to holding onto any kind of swim fitness. Stretch chords are an option and so is a tether in a backyard pool if you have access. Perhaps the best solution to the problem is doing an open-water swimming workout. Whether or not this is allowed will vary widely, depending on where you are in the world. First and foremost, follow your area’s regulations and then read up on our safety advice for open-water swimming in the pandemic. If you can safely and legally make it to open water, then it’s important to have a plan. As coach Sara McLarty explains in the video below, you can replicate just about any pool workout in the water. The key is to count strokes instead of meters or yards. Here’s one idea from McLarty and the rest of the Swim Like a Pro team.

Open-Water Swimming Workout


5 min easy warm up swim, finish at beach or dock

Main Set

*count 1 arm only
*turn around after the effort
*swim easy back to your start area

100 strokes build to fast, swim back easy, rest 30 sec
80 strokes build to fast, swim back easy, rest 30 sec
60 strokes all strong, swim back easy, rest 20 sec
40 strokes all FAST, swim back easy, rest 20 sec
*REPEAT the above set if you choose*

5 x 20 strokes MAX EFFORT, swim back easy non-free, rest 15 sec


5 min choice cool-down