A Swim Training Plan for Beginner Triathletes

Swim Training Plan

Monday: Endurance

  • Swim continuously for 30 to 35 minutes; start slow and build your speed.
  • If you can't swim for a full 30 minutes, start with 10 or 15.
  • The last five minutes should be a hard effort but not all out and with no more than 90 percent max heart rate effort.

Wednesday: Speed Workout for Sprint and Olympic Distances

  • Warm up by swimming 400 yards easy. •
  • Do 50-yard sprints with a 30-second recovery between each sprint. Start with 10 to 12 sprints and try to add an additional 50-yard sprint each week, up to but not exceeding, 18 sprints total.
  • Swim 100 yards easy.
  • Do 6 x 25 yards at 45-second intervals; swim at 85 percent max heart rate.
  • Cool down with 300 easy.

Wednesday: Speed Workout for Longer Distances

  • Warm up with 300 yards easy.
  • 200 yards pull with buoy, kick 200 yards.
  • Main Set: start with eight 100-yard sprints with 1-minute rest between intervals, add an extra 100-yard sprint each consecutive week up to, but not exceeding, 16 total sprints.
  • Cool down with 200 yards easy.

Friday: Technique

  • Warm up 300 yards easy.
  • 200 yards drill, 200 yards kick, 500 yards pull with buoy.
  • Try to breathe every three strokes for 100 yards, for the next 100 yards try to breathe every 5 strokes, and then repeat.
  • Also try to alternate sides when taking a breath. The goal is to increase lung oxygen intake and learn how to breathe on both sides.
  • Cool down with 300 easy.

MORE: 4 Swim Workouts for Variety in the Pool

Race Week

You'll want to dial it back on race week to maximize your taper. Here are your sample workouts for race week:


  • Warm up 300 to 400 yards.
  • Main Set: Eight 50-yard sprints, 30 seconds recovery.
  • Cool down 300 yards.


  • 800 yards easy swim.
  • Try this swim training plan, and you'll be ready to perform on race day.

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Marcus Eichhorn has participated in triathlons for 26 years. He holds a state-level certificate for high school track and field and cross country, and he coaches junior high and high school runners. He is also a Level I USATF-certified running coach.

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