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Swimming: How to train for a triathlon

Once you’re set on taking on the adventure of a triathlon, you need to make sure you’re on form for it. Training for swimming

Swimming: How to train for a triathlon

Triathlons require you to master three sports. Three different events during which you will have to push yourself and give it your all. To reach your goals, it is essential to have a training plan specific to each sport. In this article, we’ll focus on swimming. Here are our top tips and a six-week training plan for experienced athletes, but nonetheless beginners in the world of triathlons. On your marks, get set, go!

HOW MANY WEEKS OF TRAINING IS NEEDED FOR A TRIATHLON?

Just like in all sports, the earlier you start your training, the better! This will allow your body to get used to the demands of the three different stages, as well as completing them one after the other. The other goal is also to perfect your performance in the event(s) you are already strong in, or to improve your performance in the events where there is room for improvement. If you plan your triathlon a year beforehand, I’d strongly advise making the most of the winter season to work on your basics. Plus, given the winter temperatures and weather, training in a pool will be more pleasant than training out on the bike!

To see results, schedule at least six weeks of training. If your schedule allows it, the ideal scenario would be to programme two pool training sessions per week, especially if you’re in the phase of getting to grips with the sport. If you’re already experienced, one training session per week should be enough.

Swimming: How to train for a triathlon

The advantage is that swimming is a supported, impact-free sport, so you can train in a smart way while recovering from other training sessions and relaxing your back. By working on your strength, power and endurance, you’ll also improve your flexibility and mobility, so this isn’t a sport to underestimate. This is all the more important for D-Day, when you’ll start with the swimming event. Without suitable training, your energy will quickly flag and that may hinder your performances over the rest of the race.

HOW TO ORGANISE AND PLAN YOUR TRIATHLON TRAINING

For all of the positive results mentioned above, you are advised to schedule your swimming sessions between your running and cycling training sessions. Through applying this advice, you’ll benefit from optimal recovery and you’ll also reduce the risk of injury. If you want to take things up a notch and work on your transitions for a training session in real conditions, the ideal would be to run after your lengths. You don’t necessarily have to run 10km, the essential is to get used to completing the various stages one after the other. To make it easier, you could even dedicate a whole session to “swim and run”, alternating between the two sports.

Have a busy schedule or some unexpected things crop up that delay your training? What should you do if the time you can dedicate to your training sessions is reduced for a week or two? To keep up the results of the work you've already put in, I would advise focusing more on cycling and swimming. This way, you’ll keep a cardio sport and a recovery sport for a winning combination.

Swimming: How to train for a triathlon

WHAT EQUIPMENT IS NEEDED FOR A TRIATHLON?

For the swimming event, in water under 24°C, you are allowed to wear a wetsuit and it’s even strongly advised. Besides keeping your body warm, neoprene wetsuits designed for triathlons offer you a gliding sensation. They enable you to save energy while maintaining your freedom of movement. A real asset on D-Day! Despite the wetsuit being created to be easily and quickly removed, it is still essential to remember an anti-chafing cream or Vaseline to make this operation easier. You can also apply the cream under your arms and to your inner thighs, to avoid chafing when it comes to the running event.

Don’t forget a good pair of swimming goggles that fit you well. Opt for goggles with a wide field of vision, tinted lenses to avoid being blinded by the sun, and rubber to avoid any injury if you collide with another competitor. Once again, it’s important that this accessory is comfortable and easy for you to wear, and not the opposite!

Finally, to finish off your outfit, don't forget your silicon swimming cap, which allows you to keep your head dry, and, above all, is compulsory! If you are used to swimming with a cap and that your swimming organisation obliges you to wear a race cap, not to panic, here is a little tip: you can pull your cap on, adjust your goggles, and then add the organisation’s cap on top of that. This should make sure that everything stays in place during the triathlon.

SIX-WEEK TRAINING PLAN

Swimming: How to train for a triathlon

Weeks 1 and 2

DAY 1
- Warm-up: 500m front crawl (100m front crawl + 4x100m all four strokes)
-Set 1: 10 x 50m (15 sec of recovery between each)
- 200m recovery
- Set 2: 8 x 50m (10 sec of recovery between each)
- 500m recovery
- Set 3: 2 x 100m (5 sec of recovery between each)
- Cool-down: 200m

DAY 2
- Warm-up: 1000m (600m front crawl + 4x100m all four strokes)
- Set 1: 5 x 200m (20 sec of recovery between each)
- 200m recovery
- Set 2: 2 x 500m (30 sec of recovery between each)
- Cool-down: 500m

Weeks 3 and 4

DAY 1
- Warm-up: 1500m (200 breaststroke + 200 front crawl + 200 backstroke)x2 + 300 slow front crawl
- Set 1: 3 x 500m (20 sec of recovery between each)
- 200m recovery
- Set 2: 5 x 100m (10 sec of recovery between each)
- Cool-down: 300m

DAY 2
- Warm-up: 400m (4 x 100 all four strokes)
- Set 1: 20 x 50m (10 sec of recovery between each)
- 200m recovery
- Set 2: 10 x 50m (5 sec of recovery between each)
- Cool-down: 200m

Swimming: How to train for a triathlon
Swimming: How to train for a triathlon

Week 5

DAY 1
- Warm-up: 1000m
- Set 1: 3 x 500m max. effort (30 sec of recovery between each)
- 200m recovery
- Set 2: 1 x 1500m
- Cool-down: 200m

DAY 2
- Warm-up: 500m (4 x 100m all four strokes + 100m front crawl max. effort)
- Set 1: 20 x 50m (10 sec of recovery between each)
- 200m recovery
- Set 2: 10 x 100m (30 sec of recovery between each)
- Cool-down: 200m breaststroke

Week 6

DAY 1
- Warm-up: 400m (4 x 100m all four strokes)
- Set 1: 15 x 100m (30 sec of recovery between each)
- Cool-down: 600m very slow

DAY 2
- Warm-up: 500m progressive
- Test 1500m "race speed"
- Cool-down: 200m

Swimming: How to train for a triathlon

Imagine this: it's six weeks later, your efforts have paid off and you’re now ready to reach your goal for the swimming event (as well as the others)! This is the time to read back over our advice focusing on triathlons to make sure all of our top tips are fresh in your mind on competition day. It’s best that push yourself on D-Day, and of course that you enjoy it as much as you can!