Workouts to Shave Time off Your Ironman Swims

The pull-out helps simulate the onshore finish of your swim leg as your heart rate will soar. These sets are not easy, especially for the uninitiated, but the effort you put into the sets will most certainly help you as you approach shore during races.

Sample pull-out sets can include 10 x 50 on the minute with a pull-out on every even-numbered 50 or 10 x 100 on a tight interval where you have relatively little time to recover.

Learning to Pack Swim

Swimming in the middle of the pack inevitably leads to hitting and bumping into other swimmers. While you do circle pattern in a pool or enjoy the freedom of an open water practice, it is always very frustrating to encounter swimmers on your left and right, and even more irritating when swimmers box you in from the back. And it's downright revolting if a swimmer continually taps on your feet and lower legs.

But that is the nature of the sport unless you are the leader or swim on the far outside of the pack.

Instead of being frustrated and getting upset as you swim like sardines, you can learn to accept the situation and manage your frustrations by doing 3-wide sets. 3-wide sets in the pool are done when you have the luxury of swimming with two other swimmers of similar abilities. Instead of swimming one behind each other, five to 10 seconds apart as is normally done in circle-pattern workouts, swim together side-by-side.

Sample sets include 12 x 100 when each swimmer takes a different position (left, right, middle) after each 100 (or after four 100s). Learn to swim in tight quarters with someone occasionally bumping you on the left, right and both sides. Try to out-swim each other on the last lap of each 100. You will run into the lane lines and each other as in races, but these sets will not only teach you to deal with contact, but will also force you to swim straighter.

Incorporate these simple sets—and variations of your own choosing—into your workouts and you will find yourself logging faster swims and riding with a different set of competitors on the bike leg.


Steven Munatones is a multi-time USA Swimming national open water swim team coach, NBC Olympics marathon swimming commentator, International Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame inductee and 1982 world 25K swimming champion. He created the Open Water Swimming Dictionary, Open Water Source and The Daily News of Open Water Swimming.

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