Swim TrainingTraining

Workout Wednesday – Swim Workout for Beginners (and Some Advice)

If you are new to triathlon, whether it be cross or road, one of the most difficult obstacles to overcome is learning about the things that you didn’t know you should know (try saying that 5x fast). A common lesson that newbies have to learn is that swimming doesn’t have to be boring. Time and time again, we hear of beginner swimmers getting in the pool to train and just swimming lap after lap after lap straight through. Holy cow! Are you kidding?!?! Do you know how hard that is?! Not to say that continuous swimming is a bad workout, but if you hop in the water and swim straight for 30-60 minutes, hats off to you. That is incredibly mind-numbingly boring! Breaking the swim workout into sets not only has physical benefits, but mental ones as well.

If you are new to swimming and would like a workout that will help break the monotony of swim, turn, swim, turn, swim, turn…. try this one out.

TIP: Write this down or print this out on a piece of paper. Get a kick board wet and stick the paper to it. That way you don’t have to memorize the workout and you can pick it up and read it while in the water. 

No time intervals for this workout. Just take 5-10 seconds rest between each swim/rep.

  • 200 easy swim (200 is 4 laps or 8 lengths of the pool. Feel free to do a length or two of non-free style mixed in there wherever)
  • 4×100 kick/swim/drill/swim by 25 (25 is one length of the pool. So for this set, do 25 kicking, 25 of swimming, 25 of a drill, and 25 swimming straight through. Rest and then repeat this set 3 more times)
  • 4×50 swim – build #2 & #4 (50 is 2 lengths or 1 lap. The 1st & 3rd 50’s are just swimming – easy and steady. For #2 & #4, start at an easy pace and build your speed over that distance)
  • 2×100 kick (recommend you start with a kick board if you are new. Kick down and back for 4 lengths. This should tire your legs out pretty quick)
  • 4×25 – odd’s easy, evens sprint (#1 & #3 will be easy swims. #2 & #4 should be as fast as you can go)
  • 100 nice and easy (this is your cool down)


This set is a total distance of 1200 (meters or yards depending on the length of the pool you’re swimming in). The idea behind it is to show you how to mix things up while in the pool. Keep your head occupied and the laps will go by faster. More specific workouts will come later, but for right now, have some fun and enjoy the water.




Will Kelsay

Will Kelsay is one of the top cross triathletes in the world with a 10 year career spanning 5 continents competing in more than 18 countries. He has 20 career wins and more than 70 top 5 finishes. Anyone who has met him knows his passion for the sport is only overshadowed by his huge smile & his appetite for fun.

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