Take your training outside (part 2) – week 4

Training Outside 4

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


1 to 2 x 400m FC Practise buoy turns using backstroke flip turn or single arm turns.


3 x 750-800m as:

1) Endurance paced swim. Improve your versatility in turns by working on both single arm and backstroke flip turns at each buoy. Make sure you are competent at both left and right-angled turns. 
2) Drafting endurance paced swim. Overtake each other with a short sprint effort in the approach to each buoy turn. Work out which turn technique provides you with a significant gain. Try simply swimming around the buoy with integrated breathing sighting, backstroke flip turn and single arm FC turns.
3) Drafting endurance paced swim. Overtake each other with a short sprint effort in the approach to each buoy turn. Practise the turn technique that provides you with the most significant gain, from 2).


200m to 400m easy swim. Include both turning techniques for skill consolidation.


2850m – 3200m


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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