Weekend Swim Workout: Open-Water Session

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

Photo: Getty Images

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Look, we get it: Swimming in a pool is just easier. The water is clear, the path is clearly marked with lane lines, and you don’t have to hassle with putting on a wetsuit. But unless your triathlon takes place in a pool, it’s a good idea to hit the open water for at least a few swim workouts before race day. As coach Sara McLarty explains in the video below, you can replicate just about any pool workout in a lake, ocean, or other body of 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.

For more on open-water swimming, check out these resources:

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

Looking for more swim-spiration? Check out our complete archive of Weekend Swim Workouts from Coach Sara McLarty.

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