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If you want to swim faster on race day, it’s no secret you’ve got to swim fast in training—but triathletes don’t typically like to do that too much and instead opt to knock out a lot of aerobic endurance yardage. Although there’s always a time and a place for that, at this time of year, it’s time to rev your swim engine and start putting in some faster, harder work in the water. We’ve got just the set to help you do exactly that. If you’re looking to make this the season you finally become a better swimmer, also be sure to check out our complete guide to triathlon swimming.
After a 500 warm-up—all easy and smooth—think RPE (Rate of Perceived Exertion) 4-5/10, you’ll tackle a short prep set of 6-8 x 50, progressing the effort with each one, so you start easy and build to hard/fast by the final one.
You’ll then begin the main set, which follows a simple pattern: 400 pull/paddles at RPE 7/10 followed by 4 x 100 on an interval that gives you 15 seconds rest, progressing effort from one to four, so you finish at a strong RPE 8-9/10. Next up is 300 pull/paddles at RPE 7/10 followed by 3 x 100 on an interval that gives you 10 seconds rest, progressing effort from RPE 7/10 on the first 100 through to RPE 9/10 on the third.
As the distances get shorter, your effort should be increasing, so you hit the next part—200 pull/paddles at RPE 8/10, and then 2 x 100 RPE 9-10/10 (FAST!), rest interval 10 seconds. Return to pull/paddles, this time for 100 at RPE 8/10, and then wrap it up with 4 x 25 RPE 10/10 (FAST!), rest interval 10 seconds. Finish your swim with a 200 easy cool-down, being sure to include some backstroke.
One-Hour Workout: Revving Your Swim Engine
500 easy swim
6-8 x 50 swim, progressing effort on each 50, starting easy, building to hard by the final one
400 pull/paddles RPE 7/10
4 x 100 progressing effort 1-4, on an interval that gives you 15 sec. rest
300 pull/paddles RPE 7/10
3 x 100 progressing effort from RPE 7/10 to RPE 9/10, on an interval that gives you 15 sec. rest
200 pull/paddles RPE 8/10
2 x 100 RPE 9/10, on an interval that gives you 10 sec. rest
100 pull/paddles RPE 8/10
4 x 25 FAST! on an interval that gives you 15 sec. rest
200 relaxed easy swimming, including some backstroke