How Tos,  Training Sessions

Speed sets


Outdoor Swimmer founder Simon Griffiths shares a couple of his own training sessions


This year I’ve signed up for the 21+km Vidösternsimmet – a long distance swim in Sweden. It’s 21km, plus a little extra. I’m yet to find out exactly what that little extra is. Nevertheless, it’s clear that I need to do some serious long-distance training to prepare.

There is a temptation, when training for long swims, to slip into a comfortable steady state pace and just accumulate the miles. However, there are a few good reasons to mix up your endurance training with some high intensity sessions. Firstly, there are times in open water where it can be useful to be able to increase speed for a short period of time. Secondly, if you ever enter pool races (as I do) with distances as short as 50m, it’s good to have done at least some sprint specific training. Thirdly, these sessions are enjoyable, sort of. They shake you out of the complacent plodding that’s all too easy to fall into and you’ll feel good afterwards – after you get your breath back and stop feeling sick anyway.

As a basic guideline for marathon swimming, try to ensure the bulk of your training includes a regular long swim, an aerobic threshold session and a technique session. Once you’ve got those basics in place, you could try adding in these speed sessions. Or just do one for fun.

These sessions are based on a 25m pool but can be adapted for other pool lengths.

See my Twitter feed (@SimonDGriffiths) and outdoorswimmer.com for more training session ideas


SESSION 1


Equipment needed: pace clock or watch

WARM UP

2 rounds of 100m FC, 75m BA,
50m BS, 25m FL (500m)

BUILD

4 x 50m as 1 length medley* order,
1 length easy FC (200m)

4 x 50m as 1 length drill**, 1 length stroke focus (200m)

MAIN SET

4 x 100m FC as 75m easy,
25m sprint (choose a swim and rest interval that gives you approx. 30s rest after each)

50m easy

4 x 100m FC as 50m easy,
50m sprint (rest interval as above)

50m easy

4 x 100m FC as 25m easy,
75m sprint (rest interval as above)

50m easy

4 x 100m FC at 400m race pace (45s rest after each)

50m easy

(Main set total distance is 1,800m)

COOL DOWN

300m easy swim mix FC and BA

Total distance: 3,000m

For an easier version of this set, reduce each block of 4 to a block of 3.

*Medley order is FL, BA, BS, FC. If you struggle with butterfly switch to single arm butterfly or FC

**If you don’t know any drills, try swimming single arm FC


SESSION 2


Equipment needed: pace clock or watch

WARM UP

400m alternating 1 length FC,
1 length BA

BUILD

4 x 100m IM (i.e. 25m each of FL, BA, BS, FC)

MAIN SET

4 rounds of:

– 100m FC as 75m easy, 25m sprint

– 100m FC as 50m easy,

– 50m sprint

– 100m FC as 25m easy, 75m sprint

– 50m easy

Choose a swim and rest interval that gives you approx. 30s to 45s rest after each 100m

4 x 100m FC at 400m race pace (45s rest after each)

8 x 25m FC steady pace, best possible technique

(Main set total distance is 2,000m)

COOL DOWN

200m easy swim mix FC
and BA

Total distance: 3,000m

For an easier version of this set, do 2 or 3 rounds only of the first part of the main set.


GLOSSARY


FC = Front Crawl

BA = Backstroke

BS = Breaststroke

FL = Butterfly (or fly)