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Training plan for your first open water mile

Take on your first open water mile with this simple 12-week training plan from Olympic open water silver medallist Keri-anne Payne

This easy-to-follow training plan will give you the confidence and structure to take on 1,600m in the open water. This plan is aimed at swimmers who can swim but have never trained for an open water event.

We have split the 12 weeks into three ‘cycles’ each with their own specific goals and targets. Each cycle is made up of four weeks, with two to three sessions per week. You will see in the plan that we have given you the aim and main part of each session; however, we have left the warm up and cool down to you. Start your sessions with some easy lengths to get yourself warmed up and ready for the main set and finish your sessions with some more easy lengths, focusing on good technique.

How to structure your sessions

The best way to structure your sessions is to break them up into three sections.

• Warm up & prep set

• Main session focus

• Cool down

By following these four types of sessions you will be ready and confident to take on an open water mile:

1. Technique

2. Speed

3. Distance

4. Get fit

The plan includes pool and open water sessions to get you race ready. If you are taking on this training plan over winter, the open water sessions should be done in the pool. Good luck and see you on the start line!

What sessions will I be doing?

This training plan has been designed to give you the tools to take on an open water mile. Here are the session types to get you ready.


These sessions are to help you become efficient in the water.


The aim is to push your ability to swim in short sharp bursts.


These are to build up to 1 mile slowly so you know you can confidently swim the distance.

Get fit

These sessions are to improve your swimming fitness and stamina.


Technique sessions

The best thing to help you here is to focus on just one thing at a time.

Distance sessions

Work on doing as much front crawl as possible during the distance sessions.

Speed sessions

Speed sets are about going as FAST as possible! Working on speed is a really easy way to increase your overall pace. If you feel you can push harder on these sessions – go for it! Just keep an eye on technique.

Get fit sessions

These sessions are here to get your heart pumping.

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Outdoor Swimmer Henley Swim Festival

This training plan was devised by Keri-anne Payne and Straight-Line Swimming for the Outdoor Swimmer Henley Swim Festival. Sign up here to join the fun:

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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.