This is one of the most frequently asked questions about training and the answer depends on your goals. For example, competitive swimmers should train 2 – 4 times a week, spaced out to include a rest day in between.
It’s better to train little and often, rather than doing longer sessions less frequently. Try to prepare a swimming plan you can stick to, as consistent training is the key to steady improvement. And if you continue your training during the off season you’ll be in good form when the racing season begins again.
In competitive swimming, good technique is one of the main elements that separate the winners from the losers. So avoid long sessions focussed on speed, because poor technique means slower lap times in the long-term. Train for improved technique and forget about speed for a while, as speed develops naturally out of efficient and streamlined swimming.
Remember to work with a swim coach or team mate who can assess your swimming stroke and tell you how to improve. You may not realise what you’re doing wrong unless a coach evaluates your stroke and suggests workouts to correct any problems.
Cross-training for runners
Swimming is an excellent cross-training activity for runners and two sessions a week will be enough for you to get the benefit. As your swimming improves, you can add extra swim training if you wish including open water sessions for variety.
If you’re preparing for a triathlon and don’t have a background in swimming, then 3 – 5 swims a week will probably be necessary. The distance you swim and how hard you train depend on which race you've entered, where you are in your training plan and your individual ability.
A proficient swimmer could probably limit training to about 2 – 4 times a week depending on the race distance and the other variables. Triathletes in training should prepare for race conditions with open water swims and practise swimming amongst a crowd of people.
Well focussed and consistent training sessions will make a big difference to your performance and bring you a lot closer to your goals when the race season starts. And when you’re having a bad day, fix your mind on how great you’ll feel when you’re declared the winner!
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