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Four essential swim sessions for beginner triathletes

Four essential swim sessions for beginner triathletes

Take these sub-1hr pool drills to heart in spring and you’ll smash it this triathlon season

(Credit: Jonny Gawler)

Are you a beginner looking to do your first (or second, or third) triathlon this season? We’ve all been there, and it’s usually the swim which seems hardest.

Well, you know what they say – ‘fail to prepare, prepare to fail’ – so we’ve rounded up four of our favourites to get you ready for the start line… Don’t forget we’ve got lots more beginner-focused advice, and loads more swim/bike/run training advice for athletes of all abilities.

Pace time

This swim session for beginners takes you through a 60min aerobic set where the aim is to maintain a consistent pace to build endurance.

>>> Sub-1hr session: Pace time

If swimming is your weakness, make sure you’re as fresh as possible for this session. Try to make it your first session of the day as it will enable you to maintain better technique. Avoid any hard training or weightlifting prior to this session.

For this session you’ll need: swimwear, goggles, swim hat, pullbuoy (if a complete newbie try with swim fins first to build confidence and endurance).

Master technique

Here’s a 60min beginner’s swim session from Olympic medallist Cassie Patten, incorporating a selection of pool tools to improve your technique.

>>> Sub-1hr session: Master technique

On a rough schedule of three swims, three bikes and three runs a week, this is good to fit in on an easy day or before a hard run/cycle. You want to be fresh enough that your technique won’t suffer.

For this session you’ll need: swimwear, goggles, swim cap, pullbuoy, kickboard, forward snorkel, and paddles (optional).

Swim taper workout

Are you a beginner looking to improve your top-end swim speed on race day? This 60min beginner’s workout from Emma-Kate Lidbury is guaranteed to get your engine revving.

>>> Sub-1hr session: Swim taper workout

For this session you’ll need swimwear, a hat, goggles and a water bottle. You can do this workout up to three days out from your race. Higher-intensity swimming should have little to no residual impact on energy levels. Make sure you get plenty of rest either side of it and refuel well afterwards.

Perfect your Ironman swim pacing

To swim your first 3.8km well, your pacing needs to be bang on. Joe Beer has the session that will help you time it to perfection.

>>> Sub-1hr session: Perfect your Ironman swim pacing

For this workout you’ll need: a snack around 1hr before (e.g. a sandwich); use your wetsuit if possible; drink before the swim but not during it.

This is a lunch hour/before-work swim or a second session at the weekend if you have several non-training days in the week. It’s great to move up from, say, 3 x to 4 x the main set even if you do sneak into the next hour to achieve it.

(Images: Jonny Gawler)

For lots more advice head to our Beginners section

Profile image of Jamie Beach Jamie Beach Former digital editor


Jamie was 220 Triathlon's digital editor between 2013 and 2015.