Coach Cassie,  Top Tips

How do I best structure my training for a 5k swim?

​ Our resident Olympian answers your swimming questions

I am training for a 5km swim this summer. This will be the farthest I have ever swum! How do I best structure my training to make the most of my time? I can go swimming in my local pool three times a week for an hour each time.
Ann Brooks

Firstly this is very exciting as I love people taking on a challenge! When training try and have a good mixture within your sessions. Try not to get sucked into a zone of just swimming long steady sessions – although this gets metres under your belt it is not the best way to get fitter for endurance events.

I would recommend you do one distance session, where you are swimming longer distances. For example if you’re swimming 3km in an hour you could try picking ether 2x1500m /3x1000m or mix it up as 1000m, then 500m pull x 2. Aim to swim this just inside your race pace. Another session you could introduce a harder set where you do a main set of 2x400m, 2x 300m, 2x200m and finish with 2x100m – each repeat you aim to swim the second set faster than the first. Finally. you want to do a hard interval session. A good example of this is to do 10x100m with 20 rest – this should be pretty hard and the last few should be tough to complete.

“Swimming was my whole life for over 20 years. I poured every ounce of enthusiasm intoit.Iamso fortunate to have found these new outlets for that enthusiasm.”

Cassie Patten won bronze in the first ever Olympic 10km marathon swim, in the Beijing 2008 Olympics.

Cassie now coaches and is a frequent commentator at open water events.


Email your questions to: with the subject ‘Coach Cassie’

Stay up to date with The Dip, our free weekly outdoor swimming newsletter.

Outdoor Swimmer is the magazine for outdoor swimmers by outdoor swimmers. We write about fabulous wild swimming locations, amazing swim challenges, swim training advice and swimming gear reviews.