The ultimate race-prep swim session

Achieve the perfect swim start with these short, sharp race-ready workouts


Race preparation is very personalised, but good planning and preparation, not least for your swim, is essential for achieving a perfect race start. For key races, this starts with reviewing the swim course, planning your swim and practising key skills, e.g. left/right turns, deep-water or beach starts, sea swimming, T1 transitions, etc.  


As you approach race day, your last race-prep swim should leave you feeling good not fatigued, having practised your skills and short, race-pace efforts. Ideally, swim on the course if racing open water, or at least recce the course from the shore. 

Given the chance to warm up in the water, take it, even if it’s just to acclimatise. Have a contingency plan in case you can’t, e.g. using a theraband to warm up and a bottle of water to flush your wetsuit ready for the open water. 

 Practise and adapt the two (for pool and open water) race-prep and warm-up sessions, right, in training and get ready to smash your swim PB in 2018. 

The Session

Pool-race prep 

15sec rest after each set

4 x 100m build 

8 x 15m drill/10m swim 

4 x 25m fast/25m easy 

3 x 100m as 25m fast/25m race pace/50m easy 

45sec rest

100m easy

Pool-race warm-up 

25m as: 10m fast/5m easy/10m fast

25m as: 5m scull/5m swim/5m scull/10m fast 

Repeat and ready at start

Open-water race prep 

15sec rest after each set

4 x 100m build 

8 x 15m drill/10m swim 

4 x 25m racing start to buoy, turn,
then 25m easy

3 x 100m as: 25m fast/25m race pace/50m easy with sighting practice

45sec rest

100m easy

Open-water race warm-up

50m swim to acclimatise

25m as: 5m scull/5m swim/5m scull/10m swim build

25m sighting drills

4 x 10-15m fast starts


For beginners, doing a shorter race-prep swim the day before will not only help maintain a good ‘feeling’ for your stroke,
it may also help calm your nerves.  


Depending on your swim ability, adapt the amount/length of prep swim you do. It should leave you feeling sharp
not fatigued.

Coach tips


Use course maps, google map images and practice swims, either on the course or simulations, to practise your perfect race swim, including starts, turns and exits. 


Swim key sections of the course or walk the shore line, looking at the start, turns and exit. Identify visual landmarks to sight on, taking pictures to aid visualisation.



Obvious, yes, but too few actually do it! Practise, practise and practise again in training…  and don’t forget to fully dry
your wetsuit for race day!