Supplemental Swim Training Plan w/ video - Sprint to Half Iron distance

Average Weekly Training Hours 03:11
Training Load By Week
Average Weekly Training Hours 03:11
Training Load By Week

This is a 10-week SUPPLEMENTAL swim skill improvement-based training plan for sprint to half-ironman distance, that is designed to help triathletes or novice swimmers who want to improve their swimming, with video guidance for individual drills and techniques with quality demonstration of the skills. For each skill and drill, a video is included to reference, compatible with Windows Media Player. The videos are also iPod video compatible, allowing you to put them on your iPod to take to the pool and practice!

Supplemental means this is not a complete training plan for a triathlon. Athletes can just insert this swim plan into their regular training plan, supplementing their bike and run training. This is strictly a system of drills and accompanied swim workouts for athletes to use to add a new component to their swim training. Athletes who are self-coached and are in need of some more swim instruction, or those who may not have access to a coach on deck, or aren’t in a masters program, will find this swim program helpful. These drills will improve the coordination and ability of athletes to gather and displace water efficiently.

Many athletes do not want to commit to a full training plan offered with bike and run workouts as well. These athletes enjoy choosing their own running and biking workouts, seeking only guidance for swim training and improvement. This plan provides this supplemental service to those athletes.

The swim workouts are laid out every week on Tuesday, Thursday and Sunday, but can be moved at the athlete’s discretion. The workouts can also be repeated and modified at the athlete’s discretion. Tuesday and Thursday, there is a new drill introduced, complete with videos, and a workout which incorporates the drill. Sunday is a more fitness-based workout, which also allows the athlete to continue with the drill work from that week, and even weeks past.


Sample Day 2
Drills, 6x50

Sculling - Front of the body -
While face down, sweep your hands left and right through the water, arms extended out in front of you. Your hands act like propeller blades, and subtle changes in hand pitch and speed will change your body position and speed. Use these changes to propel your body, and feel the water. Apply this feel and pressure to your freestyle stroke. For additional challenge, do it feet first, going backward! (See next day's video demonstration)

Warm-up + drills from video example, and description below, for at least 15 mins. Then 10x25, rest is until you feel you can do the drill again properly. Then do 6x50 fast form (on 90 seconds). Long, easy cool down. FORM!

Sample Day 4
Continuous swim

Sculling - Backward, Front - Starting on your stomach, do a front scull with arms extended, but moving feet first down the pool. Try to hold body position high near the surface of the water.

WU: 15 minutes of sculling drills and easy swimming. See drill description below.
MS: 35-minute steady swim. Swim without stopping. Every 200 swim, complete 100 of sculling.
CD: 5 minutes very easy. Choice of strokes or floating on your back and sculling.
Total: 55 minutes

Sample Day 7
Swim Golf

Swim easy warm-up with the drills you had this week. Do a minimum of 30 mins with the drills. Then swim 4 x 50 at your T-pace with 1 minute rest intervals. Record your time for each 50 and count your strokes (both hands) for each 50. Add your time (seconds) for each 50 to the total number of strokes for each 50 for your score. For example, a 50 in 45 sec with 19 strokes each length would be 83 (45 + 19 + 19 = 83). The lower your score the better. Record your scores in your log. Cool down with several long, easy sets working on form. We will revisit this workout later in the plan to see if it's improved.

Sample Day 9
Mod-easy pyramid

Sculling - Chest -
Same as sculling at the front, but now you position your hands in line with your chest and shoulders. Your elbows should remain high and near the surface of the water. Propel yourself forward with the sweeping motions of the hands and forearms. For additional challenge, do it feet first, going backward!

WU: 4 x 100 swim done as a mix of the drills from last week.
MS: The even intervals are done at 5 seconds slower than 100 T-pace. The odds are easy drills which can be found below. Recoveries are in seconds within parentheses.
100 (15”) 200 (20”) 300 (40”) 400 (60”) 500 (60”) 400 (60”) 300 (40”) 200 (30”) 100.
CD: Easy combination of kicks and strokes for 10 minutes.
Total: 3300

Sample Day 11
Aerobic ints

Sculling - Hips - Same as sculling at the front and chest, but now you position your hands in line with your hips. Your elbows should remain high and near the surface of the water, upper arms near the ribs. Propel yourself with the sweeping motion of the hands, much like you get propulsion from the finish of the stroke. For additional challenge, do it feet first, going backward!

WU: 10 mins of drill work for this week, then 100 swim easy, 50 kick easy, 100 swim moderate, 50 kick moderate, 100 swim build speed, 50 kick build speed.
6 x 50 drills described below (15”).
For the next set decrease times with each work interval. All aerobic—easy breathing.
4 x 300 (10”) moderate.
Rest 2 minutes.
Kick 300 steady.
CD: 200-300 easy swim.
Total: 2450-2550

Sample Day 14
Continuous swim

WU: 10-minute swim with your choice of kicks and swims.
Drills: Focus on how well you do the drills, not on how fast.
Set #1 scull front, set #2 scull chest, set #3 scull back.
3 x (4 x 50 done as 25 skull, 25 distance per stroke emphasis).
MS: Using the “feel” for the water you just developed:
5 x 500 swim (1’) at moderate/aerobic effort.
Kick 400 moderate effort.
CD: 10 minutes of kicks and swims.
Total: 3000+

Sample Day 16
Hard kicks, sprints, then 200's free and pull - close to 4K

Sculling - Front of the body - ON BACK AND FEET FIRST. This is the same as the front scull, but now you are on your back, arms extended and headed down the pool feet-first. Keep the arms extended and body position high, on the surface of the water, not letting legs or hips drop. Engage core to hold position. For additional challenges, go back to the beginning of this plan and do ALL the drills on your BACK, FEET FIRST this time.

400 mix of swim and past drills
10x50 sculling drills (r:20 sec)
6x25 max effort sprints (r:20 seconds)
6x200 free @ interval that gives you 15-20 seconds rest if you’re swimming t-pace
6x200 pull (paddles no buoy) @ 10 seconds faster then previous interval.
200 cool down.

Jim Vance
TrainingBible Coaching / SuperFly Coaching

Jim Vance coaches Olympians, Kona qualifiers, All-Americans, National Champions and elite-minded athletes, who are serious about their goals and working hard toward them. He has coached these athletes in triathlon, swimming, running and cycling. He offers training plans on TrainingPeaks for athletes, as well as individual one-on-one coaching programs starting at $500/month.

Jim's Books:

  • Triathlon 2.0 - Data Driven Performance Training
  • Run With Power
  • Triathlon Science