swim training plan for triathlon

Swim Training Plan For Triathlons

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Structure Your Swim Training Plan for Your Next Triathlon

There are generally two types of people who seek out swim help for their triathlon swim (and become Tri Swim Coach subscribers!) and are looking for a swim training plan for triathlon:

A) Novice. This person hardly swims. They have not done a race yet or have done one but floundered. They may sink when trying to kick on their side. Or they may not be able to swim at all!

B) Advanced Beginner/Intermediate: This person has done a few races but feels like they don’t “get” the swim portion. They feel like they don’t have the endurance and feel wiped out after a long swim.

Both A & B types should spend some time on the basic drills: kicking on your side and shark fin drill. These will help to improve your balance in the water, which ALL of us, as humans, need to work on.

However, A-types should spend more time on these basic drills. Keep practicing until you feel more balanced in the water. Use Zoomers fins at first. Take a whole month to master these drills if you have to before moving on to more advanced drills and swimming sets.

B-types should move on to more advanced drills after working on the basics for a week or two. The focus should shift to Fist drill and Fingertip Drag to further improve stroke technique. At this point you can start mixing in some swimming.

Here’s a general sample swim training plan for triathlon, separated by type:

A-Type Triathlete (Novice)
14-week training plan for next race.

Weeks 1-2: Side kicking and shark fin drills (no swimming!)
Weeks 3-4: Practice the more advanced drills with some swimming mixed in (75% drills, 25% swimming)
Weeks 5-6: Drills combined with swimming (50% drills, 50% swimming), while building yardage slowly.
Weeks 7-10: Work on building up yardage, and on some interval training (75% swimming, 25% drills)
Weeks 11-12: Continue to build yardage, and work on intervals (80% swimming, 20% drills)
Weeks 13-14: Taper. Back off intensity and yardage (80% swimming, 20% drills)

B-Type Triathlete (Advanced Beginner/Intermediate)
12-week training plan for next race.

Weeks 1-2: Start with basic balance drills and move to more advanced drills, slowly adding in swim strokes (80% drills, 20% swimming)
Weeks 3-6: Build yardage. (75% swimming, 20% drills)
Weeks 7-10: Peak training. Keep building your yardage, and lowering your intervals. (90% swimming, 10% drills)
Weeks 11-12: Taper. Back off yardage and intervals. Focus on technique. (90% swimming, 10% drills)

Keep in mind, never sacrifice technique for swim speed! If you feel your stroke is slipping or if you are not ready to advance to the next level, keep hammering the drills! There is no hurry!

The above are very generalized training plans. You will have to be the judge and adjust accordingly for your level and your goals.

The upcoming interactive log product will help organize your plan further, but you can start now with the plans and drills in the Complete Guide.

Happy training!