Take your training outside (part 2) – week 3

Training Outside 3

Build endurance and improve your open water skills with the third of four sessions from Fiona Ford


400m to 800m FC Alternate through a stroke rate contrast set of 20 strokes easy, 10 strokes fast.


4 to 5 x 400m-500m as:

1) Stroke rate practice. Alternate 10 fast strokes with 20 strokes endurance pace. Remember not to shorten the stroke and finish the back of the stroke to your hips on the fast stroke rate efforts. 
2) Evenly paced endurance swim. Draft a slightly quicker swimmer if possible for some or all of this distance. 3) Endurance pace, with a fast effort at the start and away from each turn buoy for up to 30 strokes.
4) Negative split. Begin at endurance pace and improve your speed, rhythm and effort over the final 200-250m.
5) Drafting at endurance pace. Overtake each other every 100m, putting in a fast effort to complete the manoeuvre before settling back into endurance pace on the front.


400m easy swim, alternate between 6 strokes FC and 5 strokes BS for the first and last 100m.


2400m – 3600m


FC = Front crawl

BS = Backstroke

Drafting on feet: Maintain a gap of around 15cm to 30cm behind the swimmer in front. Modify your catch position around their feet and swim at an easy effort level. You save an estimated 20% effort through effective drafting.

Drafting on hip: Aim to swim with your shoulders level with the hips of the swimmer you’re drafting. Modify your arm recovery and stroke rate around theirs. Breathe towards them to monitor their direction and stroke rate, and adjust yours to maintain this more challenging drafting position.

Endurance pace is your threshold pace or critical swim speed (CSS) plus about 3 to 5 seconds per 100m. So, if your CCS is 1:45 per 100m, your endurance pace will be around 1:48 to 1:50. Aerobic endurance training is a fully maintainable pace that allows you to maintain excellent technique and rhythm over longer distances. Train in a wetsuit if you will be racing in one. Remember your CSS pace in a wetsuit in open water will be different to your CSS without a wetsuit from the pool. Use your wetsuit assisted CSS from timed swims as described in previous sessions. Endurance training is some of the most important we can do as distance freestyle swimmers to maintain pace over time, by developing the eficiency in the fat utilisation energy system.

Swim Smooth Squad training and Video Analysis sessions

Triathlon Europe provides weekly Swim Smooth squad training in South West London. The squad enjoy training all year round in fabulous indoor and outdoor 33m pools. Fiona offers swim training plans, 1-2-1 video analysis sessions and stroke correction sessions on weekday mornings and weekend Swim Smooth workshops.

Find out more: triathloneurope.com

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Issue 42 October 2020

  • Q&A with Jaimie Monahan - marathon swimmer and Queen of the Ice
  • Autumn swim adventures around the UK
  • The science behind cold water acclimatisation
  • Reviewed: The Best Open Water Goggles
  • The often deadly history of unsupported marathon swims

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