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One-Hour Workout: Race Day Simulation in the Pool

Prepare for your open-water swim in the pool with this spicy set.

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With race season in full swing it’s time to start thinking about your open-water swimming skills and fitness (if you haven’t already!). This workout comes from triathlon swim coach and Tower 26 founder Gerry Rodrigues. It is designed to be done in the pool and will help hone the fitness you need when transferring to open-water swimming. It provides perfect preparation for race day.

RELATED: Fitter & Faster Podcast: The Open-Water Swimming Special 

You’ll begin with a five-minute easy warm-up, just relaxed, smooth swimming. You’ll then progress to five minutes swum as: 30 strokes easy, 30 strokes faster, 30 strokes easy, 25 strokes faster, 30 strokes easy, 20 strokes faster, 30 strokes easy, 15 strokes faster, 30 strokes easy, 10 strokes faster, 30 strokes easy, 5 strokes faster. Be sure to increase your effort on each of the faster blocks, up to RPE (Rate of Perceived Exertion) 8-9/10. This is an ideal race-day warm-up that you should practice in training (in the pool or open water) so that it becomes second nature on race day.

The main set can be repeated two to three times, depending on speed, fitness, and time available. It is designed to mimic the intensity and pace of your race-day swim. Begin with 3 x 50 fast, RPE 9/10, at race takeout effort (i.e., the speed you plan to swim from the start for the first 200-400 yards). Set an interval that allows for three to five seconds rest. After the third 50, go straight into the next effort, which is 300 at RPE 8-9/10, aiming to settle into a sustainable race pace. This will feel hard (because you’ve just done the 3 x 50 fast, but this is great simulation for race-day!). After the 300, you’ll then do one final 50 at RPE 9-9.5/10. This is designed to be like a final surge effort that you might need to execute on race day to bridge up to a group or drop swimmers from your pack. Make sure it’s hard and fast! Recover and then repeat the full pattern for a second and/or third time.

Cool down with a 200 easy pull/swim.

One-Hour Workout: Race Day Simulation in the Pool

Warm-up

5 min. easy swim

5 min. as: 30 strokes easy, 30 strokes faster, 30 strokes easy, 25 strokes faster, 30 strokes easy, 20 strokes faster, 30 strokes easy, 15 strokes faster, 30 strokes easy, 10 strokes faster, 30 strokes easy, 5 strokes faster

Main set

3 x 50 fast, RPE 9/10, on short rest (3-5 sec.)

300 @ RPE 8-9/10, swimming at sustainable race pace

50 fast, RPE 9-9.5/10

Recover then repeat 2-3 x

Cooldown

200 easy pull/swim

This workout is taken from the book Triathlon Swimming by Gerry Rodrigues.