Saturday Swim Session: Marathon Swim Training Workout - Coach Ray

Coach Ray

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Saturday Swim Session: Marathon Swim Training Workout

Preparing for a marathon swim event is challenging on a number of levels, but one thing you need to do is swim long workouts. Here is one of the workouts I use with my athletes to prepare for a marathon swim.

Normally each week I will load three options up for you to do. Option A is for swimmers who are after a workout between 1,000 & 2,000 metres. Option B is for swimmers who are after a workout between 2,000 & 3,000m and Option C will be greater than 3,000m. Over the next few weeks I’m breaking from that routine to have a single workout to help prepare you for a marathon swimming event.

If you want a shorter workout inline with what I traditionally post here is one for you that I published last year.

This weeks workout

  • 1,000m WU;
  • 18x 50m (25m drill/25m swim);
  • 4x (100m 30sec RI, 200m 30sec RI, 300m 30sec RI, 400m 30sec RI, 500m 30sec RI, 400m 30sec RI, 300m 30sec RI, 200m 30sec RI, 100m 30sec RI);
  • 18x 50m (25m drill/25m swim);
  • 200m CD (13,000m)

Start the workout with a Warm Up (WU) covering 1,000m. During the warm up feel free to stop and stretch as needed.  It doesn’t need to be a continuous swim.

Drill Set

Next up is a drill set to enhance your technique. it is made up of eighteen reps of 50m. Swim 25m doing an appropriate drill prior to continuing on with regular or normal swimming to complete 50m continuously. Pause prior to conducting the next repetition for a total of eight repetitions. Use fins for this set. Work through the below drills three times through.

The pause referred to above is a stop of about 10 seconds. It’s a chance to grab a drink, review the programme and think about the next drill you will do. If you need 15-20 seconds or longer, you are welcome to take it because the rest duration isn’t physiologically critical to the aim of this set. Having a quick break is neurologically critical though, so make sure you don’t just roll straight from one rep to the next.

Some examples of drills can be found by clicking on the name below:

After the drill set, take your fins off.

Main Set

Next up is a pyramid set, well it’s four pyramid sets. Between each rep in the pyramid take a 30 second Rest Interval (RI). One complete set involves swimming nine reps:

  1. 100m,
  2. 200m,
  3. 300m,
  4. 400m,
  5. 500m,
  6. 400m,
  7. 300m,
  8. 200m, and then
  9. 100m.

Complete that sequence of nine reps a total of four times, taking a 30 second Rest Interval (RI) between each rep.

Drill Set

Before moving into the Cool Down (CD), complete another set of drills same as you did at the start of the session.

Complete the workout with a 200m Cool Down (CD). Feel free to pause and stretch when needed and/or include stretching as part of each break until the distance is covered.

If you would like further advice feel free to contact me.

I am the Head Coach & Director of Qwik Kiwi Coaching.

I specialise in assisting first timers and recreational athletes to achieve their sporting goals. I can be contacted at and 021 348 729.

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If you’d like to have a chat with Coach Ray about preparing for and training for a marathon swim. Use this link to book a $20 consultation.


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Ray has competed in triathlons from sprint to ironman distance (both IM Taupo and Challenge Wanaka). Consequently he is aware of the importance of balancing training with lifestyle, thus complimenting other important aspects of an athlete’s life (family, work, study commitments etc…). • Entering your first triathlon? • Stepping up to a longer distance? • Looking to go faster? • Wanting to turn previous negatives into positives? Ray has coached athletes to achieve these and more. Training programmes are accessible online, so athletes can be located anywhere and still reap the benefits of Ray’s coaching. Contact him to discuss how he can assist you to achieve your goals.
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