Triathlon plans: how to cut down on number of weekly swims

Due to circumstance I’m only able to consistently get to the swimming pool once a week. So I was looking how to adjust the swims of the low volume Half Distance triathlon plan.

Occasionally I’ll be able to add an open water swim in front of our house. That will be the continuous base swim from the plan.

For the pool swim Im left with either the Swim Base Intervals or the Swim Speed Intervals. If I had to pick one of the three swims which one would be the most beneficial to do?

Or should I extend that one training into a longer one to get more out of the short pooltime I have?

Thanks guys!

I should probably the last person to give advice on swimming, but I’d do a long workout (up to 90 minutes if possible) with threshold intervals and then speed at the end. Check out this type of training from the build and specialty phases of the mid volume plan. Then you get some speed and some more continuous, relatively demanding swimming every week. Oh well I might as well paste one here:

Long base swims are nonsense in the pool, and nobody that I know does them, unless they’re testing their 1000 m or 1500 m, in which case you do have to do a long swim to check your long swim time :slight_smile: even in open water you can try to do 10-minute intervals, or even shorter, with an aussie exit to get you used to the galloping heart rate in T1.

There is no effective way to train only once per week whether it’s running, biking or swimming.

Unfortunately, you will see no benefits regardless of the format…On the plus side you can choose whichever session you like :slight_smile:


True… but sometimes life happens and will limit your in what you can do…

Thanks… I was thinking about using swims from the mid or high volume plan instead.

I also got the Swim Smooth book which contains a lot of material on how to build swim sets, but was hoping TR would give me all I need :slight_smile:

I’ve indeed never heard of anybody doing long base swims in the pool. Never did it myself either, always used those to do in open water.

And I’m not criticising that, but the time/effort you are spending on trying to construct effective swim sessions would - in my opinion anyway - be better spent elsewhere, perhaps on your bike set up, nutrition, or run planning.

What’s a recent tri Swim result for you? Or your CSS?

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Not taking it at critism :slight_smile:

Are you suggesting that I better forget about getting in 1 good swim session and just swim, because it will not be really constructive anyway?

Swam 33:53 (1:47min/100m) on my first half distance triathlon last September, after my first year of swimtraining.

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You might need to take that swim time with a grain of salt since open water swims, especially with triathlons can be all over the place in terms of actual distance - - it could be accurate or it could have been short (or long… Hopefully long :joy:). Anyway, you could look into adding some swim band training to help add some extra time to your week. I’ve done that in the past when I haven’t really swam over the winter and while it’s not a perfect replacement (obviously), it does help. I just use a resistance band set looped through a door jam attachment. It really allows you to focus on the catch. Just make sure it’s a light resistance band so you can get some nice stretch out of it (actual swim bands may be better, but I’ve never tried them). I count strokes for the sets, so groups of 50s, 100s and even up to 200 sometimes and go for 30-60 minutes depending on time available. It’s not much less boring than staring at the black line, and you can have music :grinning:.

Maybe I wasn’t clear on the time, and why I won’t need to take it with any salt.

I got my time/speed from my Garmin watch and calculated it back to the official distance of 1900m. Yes I do that for all my triathlons so I can compare my performace over races.

The actual swim was recorded as a swim of 2034m in 36:16 (with the same tempo, off course)

Great idea to incorporate some band training! Didn’t think of that one yet.

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If I could only fit in one swim a week I’d spend the first third of it on technique drills, then probably have the main set as CSS threshold, so like 8 x200m at CSS pace. Then finish with some open water drills. (This mirrors the 3 session types that SwimSmooth recommend). You could do that for a couple of weeks then maybe the 3rd week swap the main set for something like 4 x 400m at increasing paces, etc. I found that the CSS threshold sets were the best bang for my buck and gave me the best progression.

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I only swim once per week by design (and sometimes I’ll even skip a week), mainly because I’m quite satisfied with my swim results. I’m towards the pointy end of my AG out of the swim without exerting myself too much so I really don’t see much of a point in training the swim. Like @JoeX said, you’re probably not going to be gaining much by swimming once a week and if you’re happy with that, more power to you.

What I do is try to make the most of my drive time, “setup/teardown” time, and all the other small time sucks of getting myself to the pool by making my sessions around 90 minutes. I figure it take the same amount of time for all that stuff regardless if I do a 20min swim or 2 hours so I might as well put a higher percentage in the pool.

Once I’m in the water I do about 10-15 min on drills and making sure my form is on point as possible. Then for my sets I’ll usually be doing something like 400yd repeats. Once in a while I’ll do 800yd if I want to push endurance. More likely if I vary I’ll do 200yd or mix 400 and 200. Always I try to do 100yd of active recovery between my sets. So my main set might look something like:

400yd RPE 8 20sec rest
100yd RPE 4 20sec rest
200yd RPE 9 20sec rest
100yd RPE 4 20sec rest

Then I try to crank out a couple fast 100yd and 50yds at the end.

Another thing that has really helped me get better quality in my workouts as well is bringing in a drink loaded with calories (I do maltodextrin and maple syrup mix). That keeps me from fatiguing too fast vs when I was doing just water.

Best of luck!

32 or 36, It’s a decent swim time in my book :+1:

Were you swimming more than once per week when you got that time in?

Forget about trying to craft a good session in this thread, yes, but still get that one swim in. It should limit your performance losses to some degree. But I don’t think it matters if you do intervals, skills or just plough through a few kilometres - the key benefit will be reminding your body what it’s like to be in the water.

That’s a good thing to do to help normalize results, but what I was getting at was that regardless of what the distance is supposed to be, there’s no guarantee the course is accurate. Even the same race year-to-year usually can’t be compared 1:1. Some races have markers that don’t move that get the buoys attached to them which can help though. But then you can also have a dead calm race or a windy race which throws things off too (or wetsuit legal one year and not the next). Another method of comparing/tracking how you’re doing is to monitor your time defecit to the leaders out of the water overall and/or in your age group or just another person you race against often. Good luck with your second season!

If you have time, dry land training can help. Any number of shoulder stabilization ex’s (supine punch, T’s, Y’s, I’s, theraband “hugs”/scap protraction, short arc military press, scaption w/ external rotation, serratus push ups) or swim specific tubing ex’s (look up Shelia Toramina (sp) on you tube). If you have access to a gym, they will often have an “arm bike” tucked away in the corner gathering dust. You can get some good general aerobic activity for upper extremities and/or crank the resistance and get some strengthening as well


I swam in the pool twice per week on average. Some weeks only once, and some weeks I was able to add a third open water swim.

And i’m prerty satisfied with that time in my book as well :slight_smile:

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Good tip! I do keep track of the % of the total field and my age-group to see how I compare to them in total and for each sport.

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If I only had one swim per week I’d concentrate on a CSS/Threshold type effort. Not the most interesting but probably as effective in that time frame as good as it gets.

Warm up and then however many intervals you can do with 10-15s rest. Maybe start shorter and get longer as your race gets nearer moving from something like 20x100 to 10x200, 8x250, 5x400 etc to get more specific later in the plan. If you can manage longer then do that - 30 or even 40x100’s if you have the time/inclination!

You could mix it up in a single session as well - I like a descending session of something like 10x200, 10x100, 10x50 with a few lengths of kick or drill in between each of the 3 main sets. If the intervals get shorter towards then end of a swim, especially if it’s a longer one, then the chances are your stroke will not deteriorate as much as with longer intervals at the end of a tiring set and hopefully the benefits will be greater.

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