Jan Frodeno’s Favorite Open-Water Swim Workouts

We asked the multiple world champion (and winner of Triathlete’s best male performance of the year) for his most effective open-water swim workouts.

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Though we can’t guarantee doing these workouts will make you as fast (or even remotely as fast) as the 2008 Beijing gold medalist, three-time Ironman world champion, and Triathlete Best of 2021 Award winner Jan Frodeno, at least you’ll be suffering in good company.

The key to this first open-water set is going into it with good knowledge of your 70.3 and iron-distance race paces. Since each interval is quite long, it’s important you lock into the proper pace early, don’t go out too fast, and try to maintain your stroke rate throughout the entire interval. Sound familiar? That’s the same advice you should take for your 70.3 or iron-distance swim.

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This first workout is best done with a training partner of similar speed and experience—not just for safety reasons (swim with a buddy, remember?), but because you can turn some of the intervals into a race simulation exercise. See the notes below on when you should let loose during this otherwise well-paced workout to get the max effect.

Jan Frodeno’s Open-Water Pace Set

Total: 4,000

Warm Up:

1000 easy

Main Set: 

2 x (250 at 70.3 race pace or slightly over, 250 base pace)

500 Ironman race pace

500 base

500 with a total of 10 sprints (if you’re with a partner, anyone can start a sprint at any time and you need to follow)


500 easy

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The second workout from the champ is simpler—no need for distance markings or a GPS open-water swim watch required. The simplicity of this workout means you can do it in any type of body of water, with or without a partner. Going by time can also help with getting a feel for sim distances and intervals without the comfort of a pool wall. Be sure there’s a large difference in difficulty between the “on” and “off” while maintaining form the entire time for the most effective workout.

Jan Frodeno’s Timed Open-Water Fartlek Set

Total: 3000-4000

Warm Up:

500 easy

Main Set:

15 x (2min. on, 20sec. off)


Swim to hit target distance for the day

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