Can You Swim Faster to Get Faster?

by Pool Builders on 11-25-2010 in Articles

There are a lot of falsities out there when it comes to triathlon training. Many coaches take age coaching techniques and methodologies for pool race training - controlled sprints, etc - and try to apply that knowledge and practice to triathlon swim training. Although there is a lot of overlap in the basic swim techniques and training needed when it comes to pool races and triathlon races, there is a difference in the skill set needed and so triathlon swimming training must have a different focus than that for pool race training.

Let's use the example of a triathlete who has done very well towards mastering her stroke technique and has done all the drills. She wants to improve her speed for an upcoming Olympic-distance triathlon. What should she do?

There are two options...which one is better:

a) sprint work: 25's, 50's, and 100's with a lot of rest; or

b) repeat interval sets of 100's and 200's?

In the case of training for a triathlon, it's actually best to keep to interval training. For shorter races like 1-mile swims, sprints can be useful as part of a training program, but interval training will always be the better option, especially for longer race training. Doing interval training (100's with 5-10 seconds rest) improves your aerobic system and endurance. This will increase your speed more than sprint training or anaerobic training.

There are several books describing this philosophy. Two great ones I recommend are Workouts for Working People by Mark Allen and Slow Burn by Stu Mittleman. Both are available through

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