Taking your swim to the next level. A faster 3.8km

Training Load By Week
Training Load By Week

Our Wednesday morning 90min fitness session is our tough one that has produced multiple Kona qualifiers. With this plan you can experience those sessions and train for a faster 3.8km swim. To get the best from this plan you might currently be around 1:30 for 3.8km or sub 45 for 1900m. If not quite there you could repeat the plan twice and reduce the first 3months volume while you work on the technical points.
Ultimately I would like you to challenge yourself to swim close to the hour if not under as I think most are capable. Certainly under 1:10 Reduce enough drag and improve propulsion and it is realistic. If you are contemplating biking and running a Long Distance event I am sure you are fit enough. For us in the sport of Triathlon we use this mark to separate a certain fish like prowess on the swim. For Triathletes racing long distance, tales are told of how much emptier T1 is if you can get out of the water this early. Before you skip ahead thinking this holds no relevance to your swim ambitions many of the ideas will apply at all levels. Even if 70-80mins is your aim, many points still hold true. Some of the stats and numbers will need to be tweaked a little but over 3.8km tiny improvements to speed will yield big improvements. Many people can swim at the necessary pace to break 60mins for 3.8km. Unfortunately, due to the efforts needed and the drag created it was not sustainable for more then a few lengths such is the power of resistance. When I use the word effort this is more a description of all the components needed to achieve a 1.05metres per second swim speed. Physical exertion should not really be one of them if your swim stroke is to be sustainable for 60mins. Most swimmers that come to me hit 24-26secs for 25metres in simple timed lengths as we look at levels of efficiency and where and when this breaks down. If we could continue this approximate 1metres per second speed, then I think many people would be happy with a 63min 3800m swim. Technique and streamline are key to allowing you to maintain 25secs per 25metres for a 1:40 100m which after 38 repetitions delivers approx a 63min result. Add a wetsuit, some drafting, swimming straight and good sighting and going under the hour is then possible.

Fitness goes hand in hand with swim technique and I find it hard to ignore one over the over within our sessions. Technical endurance means we cover 3-4.5km in a session with lots of swim technique reminders punctuating mid to long distance training repeats. You need the endurance to allow the same movements to be repeated over and over for the hour. If there were one area that could be improved in terms of pure strength it would probably be the Triceps area. The stroke shortening as this area fatigues, leads to the window of opportunity for breathing shutting down and getting shorter. Movements become more hurried and in need of more O2 as streamline and technique break down. I talk to swimmers about sessions per month rather then week. 4 sessions per week is an admirable aim and once in a while it may happen. 14 sessions per month is more flexible but still a tough aim so we work with 3 per week here which should guarantee the swim fitness and technique improve. At this point technique is ingrained and now in the subconscious allowing you to focus on race tactics, pacing and positioning. Your stroke needs to become sustainable, i.e. the mechanics of your technique alone should not be tiring you. It will need a lot of good practice to get it to this point.

Key areas to look at in order to give you the best chance of going under the hour are swim technique and fitness initially. . You need to be doing the kind of sets that will allow you to swim the right speed for the distance. You also need the ability to swim as accurately and as close to the racecourse distance. i.e. add very little to the 3.8km distance. Be very comfortable in your wetsuit and start in a position that will allow you to be competitive.

Sample Day 0
1500m
Additional INFO for this weeks sessions

WARMUP
400 FC swum as every 4th length breaststroke arms & FC legs

400 FC swum as every 4th length fists open / closed for 3-4 strokes at a time, to reacquire ‘feel’

SUBSET
8x25m, 3 strokes fast into 6 strokes easy. Rest 10secs

INSERT THE MAINSET HERE - either the Strength Endurance, Technical Endurance or the Benchmark work.

SFT SWIMDOWN
200 fins, snorkel and paddles to realign and reintroduce some accuracy
150 with fins and snorkel
100 with snorkel
50 no toys, just your best FC, exit the pool with your best technique.

Sample Day 1
3000m
Strength Endurance

MAINSET

10 blocks of 300m swum as:

250 FC, strong effort, straight into 50 easy rest 60secs

200 FC, strong effort, straight into 100 easy swum with paddles, rest 50secs


150 FC, strong effort, 150 easy, no swim aids, just swim! rest 40secs


100 FC, strong effort, straight into 200 steady FC, pull with paddles, don't let it become a swimdown, rest 30


50 FC, FAST, straight into 250 with fins, excellent technique, rest 20.

Repeat, optional Pull on the steady swims. Fins on the fast swims.

Sample Day 3
3300m
Technical Endurance

MAINSET

3x300 FC, even swims with paddles, odd without. All at 70% effort, rest 60

4x50 FC, rest 15, odd lengths build, even lengths alternating a single fist clenched for half a length

2x400m FC, build by 100, i.e., first 100 at 50%, fourth 100 at 80%

4x50 FC, rest 10, odd lengths build, even lengths alternating a single fist clenched for 2-3 strokes

2x600m FC, negative split, i.e., first 300 at 60%, 2nd at 80% (add a central snorkel)

Sample Day 5
2000m
Openwater

30-40min openwater swim, getting comfortable and familiar with your wetsuit < unless you know for sure you will be non wetsuit.> If weather allows you should train when possible and safe to do so without a wetsuit just in case.

Sample Day 7
1100m
Additional INFO for this weeks sessions.

WARMUP
8 x 50 FC, swum as alternate lengths easy swim / 10kick catchup. Perform static legs only (horizontal position) while holding the poolside during the active recovery phase, head down, big toes brushing. Resume swimming after kicking for one deep breath.

SUBSET
4x75 FC, rest 10 between each 75m, swum as building by length 60%, 70%, 80%
4x50 FC, rest 10 between each 50m, swum with no breathing for the last 10m of each swim.

INSERT THE MAINSET HERE - either the Strength Endurance, Technical Endurance or the Benchmark work.

SWIMDOWN
200 cooldown,preferably alternating backstroke / breaststroke ie non FC.

Sample Day 8
2800m
Strength Endurance

MAINSET
1x100 FC strong effort, 2x50 FC Stretch out recovery, repeat as 2x100, 2x50, 3x100, 2x50, 4x100, 2x50, 4x100, 2x50, 3x100, 2x50, 2x100, 2x50, 1x100, 2x50 

30secs rest on the 100m swims and 20-30secs on the 50m swims.

Sample Day 10
3100m
Technical Endurance

MAINSET
600 FINS AND PADDLES, REST 30
8x25 Strong effort, work to 'polish' your tired stroke from the previous swim. If possible use the backline on the bottom of the pool (rest 15)

500 PULL, Alternate LENGTHS PULL BUOY UPSTAIRS/THEN ANKLES
8x25 Strong effort, work to 'polish' your tired stroke from the previous swim. If possible use the backline on the bottom of the pool (rest 15)

400 NEGATIVE SPLIT, Aiming for a faster 2nd half compared to the first 200m. 
8x25 Strong effort, work to 'polish' your tired stroke from the previous swim. If possible use the backline on the bottom of the pool (rest 15)

300 BUILD EASY TO FAST BY 100, finish strong
8x25 Strong effort, work to 'polish' your tired stroke from the previous swim. If possible use the backline on the bottom of the pool (rest 15)

200 FISTS CLENCHED WHEN LANE ROPE IS RED < or for 5m at the start & end of each length> Normal hands when the lane rope is blue and white or for the middle 15m of each length.
8x25 Strong effort, work to 'polish' your tired stroke from the previous swim. If possible use the backline on the bottom of the pool (rest 15)

100 STRONG TO FINISH.

Dan Bullock
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SWIM FOR TRI

Swim for Tri, based in London but now coaching across the UK, is a swim tech & coaching concept brought to you by the brother & sister team of Dan&Keeley Bullock. The team share over 30 years experience of competitive swimming, coaching, teaching swim lessons & a direct involvement with Triathlon & Openwater racing as competitors & Coaches.
In the last 14 plus years, the dedicated team at Swim For Tri & their teaching methods have helped thousands to faster & easier swim sections of their races