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Top 7 Swim Workouts For Triathlons

Seven free triathlon swim workouts in a PDF that you can print and stick to the end of your lane.

If you want to keep improving your swimming, it’s essential to plan your workouts in advance. You can’t just turn up at the pool and mindlessly swim along.

In this blog, I’ll provide you with seven pre-written swim workouts, which you can print and stick to the lane wall. These simple triathlon swim sessions will boost your endurance, speed and technique – all key areas that will make you a better swimmer.

Free PDF available here: 7 Triathlon Swim Workouts

The free swim workouts will save you from having to invent a workout on poolside. You just turn up and get going. Just like our premium, online triathlon training plans – all the thinking is done for you already!

There’s also a swim fitness test, so you can gauge your progress and then set yourself some pace-based training zones. Why? Because training to a specific pace will keep you motivated and helps you to swim hard or easy at the right times.

Triathlon Swim Workout Instructions

These workouts can be used for various types of triathlons including Sprint Distance, Olympic and IRONMAN 70.3. All seven swim workouts assume you can swim at least 500 meters or yards, non-stop. The shortest workout is 1400 yards or meters, with frequent rests. Whereas the longest swim is 2800 yards or meters, with frequent rests.

Before you head to the pool, take a look at the training zones table below. I have used 5 simple training zones as a way of breaking the workouts into different intensities. This is so you don’t do all your training at one pace only.

5 Simple Swim Training Zones

  • Zone 1 (Z1). Easy. Effort level: 1 to 2 out of 10.
  • Zone 2 (Z2). Steady. Effort level: 3 to 4 out of 10.
  • Zone 3 (Z3). Moderately Hard. Effort level: 5 to 6 out of 10.
  • Zone 4 (Z4). Hard. Effort level: 7 to 8 out of 10.
  • Zone 5 (Z5). Very Hard. Effort level: 9 to 10 out of 10.

Abbreviations

  • FS” means swim freestyle.
  • Pull” means swim freestyle with a pull float between your thighs.
  • Kick” means kick on your front, holding a float in your outstretched arms.
  • Drill” means do a swim technique drill of your choice. For my advice on best swim drills, see our blog (with underwater videos) here.
  • “Choice” means you can do whatever stroke you like, usually as a recovery.

Swim Tips & Gear

You can swim in either Yards or Meters, depending on what you prefer and the type of pool you use. Just assume the distances are in Yards (if you use yards) or Meters (if you use meters).

You will need a kick float and a pull buoy. You may also benefit from a pair of fins and a swimmer’s snorkel. These swim toys can help keep you buoyant while you’re practising the swim technique drills. Or can help you swim further/easier if you’re relatively new to triathlon swimming.

Our Top 7 Triathlon Swim Workouts

Again, we would recommend you view our Triathlon Swim Workout Free PDF download designed to print and stick to the lane wall! Or read on for all the workouts listed below.

Workout 1. Endurance/Technique 1400 y/m

This swim is designed to increase your endurance and feel for the water. It is a low-intensity workout, and can also aid recovery from a tough run or bike workouts.

Warm Up:
1 x (100 Pull in Z2 + 100 Drill in Z2 + 20 secs rest),
1 x (100 Drill in Z2 + 100 Pull in Z2 + 20 secs rest).

Main Set:
1 x (50 Kick in Z2 + 50 Kick in Z4 + 20 secs rest),
2 x (200 Drill in Z2 + 100 Pull in Z2 + 15 sec rests),
1 x (50 Kick in Z2 + 50 Kick in Z4 + 20 secs rest).

Warm Down:
1 x (50 Breast in Z2 + 50 FS in Z2),
1 x (50 Back in Z2 + 50 FS in Z2).

Workout 2. Threshold Workout 1600 y/m

These workouts involve a main set of efforts at (or near) your 1500 race pace, but broken into small blocks with plenty of rest. They will boost your speed and increase your ability to hold a fast pace for longer.

Warm Up:
1 x (50 Pull in Z2 + 50 Pull in Z2 + 10 secs rest),
1 x (50 FS in Z2 + 50 FS in Z3 + 15 secs rest),
1 x (50 Pull in Z2 + 50 Pull in Z4 + 15 secs rest).

Main Set:
1 x (400 FS in Z4 + 30 secs rest),
1 x (300 Pull in Z4 + 30 secs rest),
1 x (200 FS in Z4 + 30 secs rest),
1 x (100 Pull in Z4 + 30 secs rest).

Warm Down:
1 x (100 Pull in Z2 + 100 FS in Z2),
1 x (100 Choice in Z2).

Workout 3. Recovery Swim 1800 y/m

This session is carried out at a lower intensity providing the opportunity for recovery and to focus on technique.

Warm Up:
1 x (100 FS in Z2 + 100 Drill in Z2 + 5 secs rest),
2 x (50 Breast in Z2 + 50 Back in Z2 + 5 sec rests).

Main Set:
1 x (100 FS in Z2 + 100 Pull in Z2 + 15 secs rest),
1 x (200 FS in Z2 + 200 Pull in Z2 + 15 secs rest),
1 x (200 FS in Z2 + 200 Pull in Z2 + 15 secs rest),
1 x (100 FS in Z2 + 100 Pull in Z2 + 15 secs rest).

Warm Down:
1 x (200 Choice in Z2).

Workout 4. Endurance/ Technique 1800 y/m

This swim is designed to increase your endurance and feel for the water. There are a few harder efforts, but most of it should feel easy or steady.

Warm Up:
1 x (100 Pull in Z2 + 100 Drill* in Z2 + 5 secs rest),
1 x (100 Drill in Z2 + 100 Pull in Z2 + 5 secs rest).

Main Set:
2 x (100 Pull in Z2 + 100 Drill in Z2 + 5 sec rests),
1 x (50 Kick in Z2 + 50 Kick in Z4 + 10 secs rest),
2 x (200 Drill in Z2 + 100 Pull in Z2 + 5 sec rests),
1 x (50 Kick in Z2 + 50 Kick in Z4 + 10 secs rest).

Warm Down:
1 x (50 Breast in Z2 + 50 FS in Z2),
1 x (50 Back in Z2 + 50 FS in Z2).

Workout 5. Threshold Workout 2200 y/m

Warm Up:
1 x (150 FS in Z2 + 50 FS in Z4 + 10 secs rest),
1 x (100 FS in Z2 + 100 FS in Z4 + 10 secs rest),
1 x (50 FS in Z2 + 150 FS in Z4 + 15 secs rest),
1 x (100 FS in Z4 + 10 secs rest).

Main Set:
Repeat 2 sets of 500 as below with an extra 30 second rest
between sets:
1 x (100 FS in Z2 + 5 secs rest),
1 x (100 FS in Z3 + 5 secs rest),
1 x (100 FS in Z4 + 5 secs rest),
1 x (100 FS in Z5 + 5 secs rest),
1 x (100 Pull in Z2 + 5 secs rest).

Warm Down:
1 x (100 Kick in Z2 + 100 FS in Z2 + 5 secs rest),
1 x (50 Back in Z2 + 50 Breast in Z2 + 5 secs rest),
1 x (200 Choice in Z2).

Workout 6: Aerobic Endurance 2800 y/m

These sessions are done at lower intensities. The goal is to build your endurance.

Warm Up:
2 x (100 FS Breathe every 3 strokes in Z2 + 15 sec rests),
1 x (100 Pull in Z2 + 100 Drill in Z2 + 15 secs rest),
2 x (100 FS Breathe every 5 in Z2 + 15 sec rests).

Main Set:
2 x (400 FS in Z2 + 50 FS in Z4 + 10 sec rests),
2 x (200 Pull in Z2 + 100 FS in Z3 + 10 sec rests),
2 x (100 FS in Z2 + 50 FS in Z4 + 10 sec rests),
1 x (100 Pull in Z2 + 100 FS in Z4 + 10 secs rest).

Warm Down:
1 x (200 Choice in Z2).

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Workout 7. Critical Swim Speed (CSS) Test

This swim test helps you to measure your fitness and create accurate training zones. CSS is a gold standard measure of endurance swimming fitness. Your CSS refers to the best pace per 100, that you could hold during a 1500 time-trial. A CSS test involves swimming a 200 and a 400 time-trial, with a few minutes rest in between.

Step 1: Do the test (see workout below).
Step 2: Enter your 400m and 200m times into our online CSS
Calculator to create your Training Zones.

Warm Up:
4 x (50 FS easy + 20 sec rests),
2 x (25 FS hard + 25 FS easy + 20 sec rests).

Main Set:
1 x 400 FS maximal effort time trial, record your time,
5 mins easy active recovery,
1 x 200 FS maximal effort time trial, record your time,
1 min rest.

Warm Down:
100 Easy Choice

If you enjoy using our pre-planned swim workouts and you want to keep improving, preview our triathlon training plans with email coach support.

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Phil Mosley (Coach & Founder)
Phil Mosley (Coach & Founder)

Phil is a recognised endurance expert who founded MyProCoach in 2010 to offer smart training plans that still leave quality time for your family, friends & career - complete with highly-rated coach support (he has sold over 40,000 so far). Learn more here!

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