Six Tips to Prepare for a Distance Swim

So you signed up for your first dis­tance swim (or a swim with­in a triathlon) and yea, you were pumped while fill­ing out the reg­is­tra­tion forms but then it hit you that you need to train and you don’t know how. It’s easy to jump in the pool every­day, swim lap after lap, but you would­n’t train for a long dis­tance race by just run­ning miles on end with no tech­nique, strat­e­gy or work­out plan. So where to start train­ing for a long dis­tance swim? Luck­i­ly, in today’s dig­i­tal world, name­ly YouTube, train­ing resources are plen­ti­ful. But when it comes to swim­ming, there are a few key basics you need to focus on no mat­ter what kind of train­ing you do. Here are 6 tips to help get you pre­pared for your long dis­tance swim.


Reach­ing, pulling and glid­ing from one side of your body to the oth­er will help stream­line your body with the water and will save loads of ener­gy and endurance. Sign up for a pri­vate swim les­son with an instruc­tor to go over tech­nique or join your local mas­ters swim team. Work­ing on your stroke is cru­cial and will make the dif­fer­ence in a race.

When com­ing up with a train­ing plan,  inter­val swim­ming is a must for build­ing endurance and strength­en­ing the lungs. Incor­po­rate drills that focus on breath­ing, like short sprints that lim­it the num­ber of breaths you can take. Look for a prac­tice struc­ture that includes a warm-up, heart rate set, main set, kick set, dis­tance pull set, sprints and then warm down. Don’t just stick to swim­ming either- add some weights (but be care­ful with the shoul­ders), run­ning or yoga to sup­ple­ment. A good place to start is research­ing swim­ming work­outs that are avail­able online.

Stop breath­ing every stroke, and while we’re at it- you bet­ter be turn­ing your head to the side, not lift­ing, and if so- shame on you. But back to breath­ing- mas­ter­ing your stroke tech­nique is a waste with­out prop­er breath­ing. Prac­tice bilat­er­al breath­ing- breath­ing every oth­er side or breath­ing to one side but tak­ing a breath every cou­ple of strokes to start.

Your legs are just as impor­tant as breath­ing and stroke. While you are get­ting those laps in, don’t for­get to add a cou­ple of kick sets. Prac­tice kick­ing at inter­vals and sup­ple­ment with leg exer­cis­es. Don’t ever for­get the gold­en rule: Kick from the hips, not the knees!

Build­ing your­self up for a big swim is extreme­ly tax­ing on the body. Do your research and cre­ate a diet that works for you and your body. Whole grains, veg­eta­bles and plen­ty of lean pro­tein are impor­tant along with drink­ing ample amounts of flu­id- more than the aver­age eight cups a day. Healthy pro­tein rich snacks such as pow­er bars are good to have on hand dur­ing your before, dur­ing and after workouts.

Men­tal Preparation
Swim­ming is one of those sports that you need to be men­tal­ly pre­pared for, or else your swim will be over before you even start. Before a long dis­tance swim gets to know where you will be swim­ming and learn how to “spot”- or keep an eye on your sur­round­ings with a quick look around when you breathe dur­ing the swim. You will get tired- remem­ber not to pan­ic or give up. If you must take a breather, flip on your back and kick for a minute. Keep push­ing your­self, think pos­i­tive thoughts no mat­ter how hard it may seem and get into a groove. Think Dora from Find­ing Nemo: “Just keep swim­ming.” And the most impor­tant tip of all- Have fun, enjoy the fruits of your labor and kick ass on your long dis­tance swim!