Official Swimming thread

Running has its own thing… I figure a thread to discuss swimming things… Although i suspect that this will not be as active as others.

Let me start.
As I have said in the past, I am a VERY VERY bad swimmer… like bottom 1%…

BUT, I am trying to improve…

I just started a traning block for a race in October…
I;ll be swimming 3x week…

I was recently talking to a friend who was a college level swimmer and he suggest I ignore TR swim wo for a time and concentrate on shorter intervals (25/50s and MAYBE a few 100s) concentrating on form specially on the pull and leg position…



Swimming is SO technique oriented and technique is the first thing to fail with fatigue. So short intervals are the best way to focus on technique and get faster. But with triathlon, especially long course, you need to work on endurance as well. I prefer to separate these.

That said, the slower the swimmer, the shorter the interval will be because we reach a certain fatigue level based on TIME not distance. Fast swimmers going hard for 2 min is just as hard as it is for a slow swimmer, they just go further :wink:

My 3 swims a week look something like this:

  • 1 Technique swim. Lots of drills, lots of pool toys (pull buoy, fins, paddles etc) working on really focusing on a specific technique aspect (patch or pull, hip rotation etc).
  • 1 Threshold (CSS) pace swim. This is progressively longer intervals at threshold, similar to TR bike workout progressions. These are about endurance and increasing how long I can work at that effort. I.e., week 1 is 10x 100m, week 2 is 5x200m, 4x300, then 15x100, 7-8x200m etc.
  • 1 Strength session: heavy on paddle work and strong kick set.

All swims total 2400-3500m with a good warm up including drills and a mixed stroke cool down.

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Prior to COVID I was swimming 3x per week. has free workouts, but no plans.

For technique drills I really like the FINIS Strapless Paddles. When I swim intervals, I do an easy lap in between using the paddles to help develop proper technique, rather than just hanging out on the wall.

I also use reusable ear plugs to keep water out of my ears and avoid swimmers ear.

What are your swimming goals? What type of race are you preparing for?

As for your approach I’ll defer to those that swam competitively in high school, college, or masters, or trained for triathlons. However, I think a general approach of base / build / specialty applies.


+1 on those FINIS paddles. They are my favorite.

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I have the fins!
Loved them!

Well… I am a simple man… with no big swimming goals…
If I can get to swim 1.2 miles without drowning I would be happy :slight_smile:

My goal is to start doing HIM distance races at last 2x a year. But I am not confident in my swimming.
I would be happy if i can cut my 1.2 mile swim to 2:00 per 100. Right now is not even close to that…

I have MANY MANY MANY issues with my swimming!

Former college level swimmer here… The theory on doing short intervals (25, 50s) is that proper swim techniques requires swim specific strength. The best way to develop that strength is to do short intervals since you can hold good technique for a short period of time if you rest repeatedly.

When you’re just starting out developing your swim technique, you kinda need to think of it in part like weightlifting rather than an endurance activity. That’s where the short intervals come in. If you wanted to get stronger in the weight room, you wouldn’t do sets of 500 bench presses at 20 pounds. That would not get you anywhere.


That was exactly his argument!

He said I should leave longer swims for later in the summer to gain confidence, but for now…short and proper form…

and do speed in 25y sets to keep proper form…

I agree. In fact I remember reading about a adolescent swim team where all they swim is 50s of varying intensity. And once a week for their love distance swimmers would swim longer.

Long slow distance does not scale like it does with swimming because of the technical aspect of it

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Yes, I would definitely recommend to not focus at all on continuous swimming (one long continuous swim in a workout). Find some good triathlon based swim workouts online. Over the past 2-3 years of swimming 3-4 times per week, for triathlon training purposes, there have been very few workouts where I’ve done intervals longer than 400 yards, and I typically average ~3000-3500 yards per workout. It’s a good mixture of everything from 400s on down to 25s. Swim training is very different than bike and run training. Focus on technique and get good at it going fast, over short distances. That will build endurance and teach you how to maintain that technique over longer distances.

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Well I read your original post and thought of what advice I would give and yep, there it all is written by other people.

I haven’t managed to get back into the pool here yet but as soon as I do it’ll be short, easy, technicque heavy efforts only. I went to a club session when they started up in October last year. While the swimming itself was fine the fact that I hadnt been in a pool since the week before March lockdown meant that I had lost the ability to maintain my technique. It was all still there but only for a short time before it broke down. And the 400m efforts that we built up to in the set were just too much for me to cope with! It was probably the most frustrated that I have ever been when swimming.

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Trainer road need to get onto form goggles and be able to put your programme directly on the lens. That would be an incredible breakthrough for people who are trianing alone.

So far swimming has felt like going through treacle. Seeing my coach on monday so hopefully he can remind me how to swim.


Glad this thread has popped up. I’m pretty limited in what I can do right now as group swims aren’t happening right now and one-on-one coaching is outside of my budget, so as much as improving my swim is really what I’d really like to get after I’ve sort of left it for now becaude it’s not a great return on my time at the moment.
Granted I’m pretty comfortably midpack for my AG and my run/bike legs are enough to make me pretty competitive overall, but i’m hoping to move more into short-course racing which leaves less margin for error in all three sports. Hopefully I can get back to Australia soon which should afford me a little more opportunity for feedback through my coach and some club sessions. In the meantime I’m eagerly awaiting the lake being warm enough for some open water sessions- performance aside, I love the open water and it does wonders for my mental health.

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My pool limits swim time to 20 minutes per person. So I have settled into a three 20 minute swims per week. One is mixed strokes (alternate between 100 free and 25 free, 25 breast, 25 back, 25 free), one is drills and speed, and one is more of a recovery steady pace swim. I have lowered by times by 30 seconds / 100 yard since starting this routine in January. Granted, I wasn’t that fast to begin with :slight_smile:

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I went from completely incapable of swimming to merely very bad and was hoping to make it a big focus for last year, but the covid issues have kept all the pools closed ever since. I still really need to focus on improving my technique(when I get back to the pool), so hoping to see some good ideas in this thread.


My goal this year is to turn my swim into a bonified weapon. I’m a big lanky dude (193cm) with big natural paddles and I’d say plus body awareness. Thus I’ve been able to get away with decent swim times with minimal to no training. In 2019 I did IMFL having just mostly recovered the day before from a pretty nasty cold and got out of the water in 1:07. My average week that year had 27min of swimming.

So that being said I’m putting more of a focus on that and like others have said am doing a lot of form drills and shorter intervals like 50 and 100yd. Following many of the workouts from where I have a subscription and so far it seems to be working pretty well. I got into the water for really the first time in a year back in mid-March and my times seem to be falling for the same effort.


You should do the shorter sets to work on form and technique. But question…how will you know if your form is good?

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Excellent question. My college level swimmer friend will take his gopro to the pool soon ish…see if my form has improve with the changes I’ve been trying the last few weeks

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That’s my question too! I don’t have a swim background. I wasn’t on a swim team growing up, so I just do the drills to the best I can and hope that I am doing them correctly.

Pretty simple, your times improve for the same RPE :slight_smile:

Most lifeguards will video you swimming during quieter times if you ask nicely. From there you can either send it to an online swim coach for analysis or post it somewhere like here or slowtwitch for some feedback. Though in my experience the flaws in my stroke are pretty obvious even to me when I see them on video. Kind of like hearing your own voice on a recording :face_vomiting:
Also joining a masters club can be really helpful if that’s an option, though some do focus on IM more than is necessary for a beginner triathlete IMO.

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