Cycle 3 is here already!! Where is this year going?! This is the cycle where we transition to some more tri specific training. Taking the foundation we and efficiency we built in the first two cycles and making sure it translates on race day.  

Cycle Focus: 

We’re transitioning the foundation we and efficiency we built in the first two cycles and making sure it translates on race day. Being a good swimmer in the pool is great, but now it’s time to become a great Triathlon swimmer!

If you are consistent through Cycle 3 you can expect to get faster at a lower level of intensity while developing the confidence and skills you need to attack the washing machine on race day!

Swim Technique Focus:

We’ve focused body position and alignment. We’ve worked on propulsion. Now we add in the “Skills” and “Drills” designed specifically for open water, triathlon swimming.

  • Sighting
  • Tempo
  • Take out speeds
  • A number of weird and wacky things to prep you for the unknowns of open water swimming

It’s all in this cycle.

We will continue to work on minimizing resistance through the water in Cycle 3 too. This is the foundation to fast swimming and it can ALWAYS be better than it currently is! Here’s a reminder of what minimized resistance looks like:

  • Swim with great posture
  • Cut a narrow path through the water as you swim
  • Get your head, hips and heels in a straight line
  • Force your core to provide the balance so that your arms can help you move forward

You’re also going to see a continued focus on developing the feel, connection, and effectiveness of your pull path. A reminder that the primary goal here is:

  • Drive water backwards to help you move forward
  • Use your hand, wrist and forearm as a one unit to drive the water backwards

A Quick Note On Equipment:

We’re going to start using Pull Buoys and Ankle Locks in some of our drill sets. It’s ideal if you can pick up a pair of ankle locks like the ones below. They cost roughly $10 and really make sure you are locked in. You can get them here: 

Some guys will use an old inner tube from a bike tire or something else to bind their ankles together, that will do if you don’t want to spend the money, but honestly you will get a lot of benefit from really locking yourself in with these.

Pull Buoys come in all shapes and sizes. Choose what works for you, but smaller is definitely better. Pick a kiddies sized on! The smaller the Pull Buoy you use now, the easier Cycle 4 will be (you have been warned!😉).

Swim Fitness Focus:

  • Build efficiency through targeted pace training
  • Maintain technique under fatigue
  • Gain a deep understanding of pacing
  • Establish a race pace, race tempo and race rhythm
  • Prepare for the chaos of the washing machine

Workout Details:

Test Sets: 

You will see a test set at the end of each De-Load week (once a month). These are designed to measure your progress and if you’re putting in the work to validate and motivate you! You’re going to see two types of test sets:

CSS Test – measures your efficiency. Not a strict reflection of how good a swimmer you are but a indication of how efficient you are working aerobically in the water. This test sets your goal pace for all of our CSS Sets through the Cycle.

The 800/100 Test – measures endurance vs speed. Speed and endurance combined give us a better picture of how good of a swimmer you are.

CSS Pace Work 

We continue with the CSS pace work in Cycle 3. These sets make you faster and more efficient, done consistently over time you will notice how much of a difference they make to your strength as a swimmer!

*If you’re new to the program and need help with understanding CSS work – READ THIS

Here’s how to get the most out of your CSS sets:

  • Settle in and hit your goal pace
  • Stick to the rest intervals, this is of the highest importance
  • If you are faster than your CSS Pace AND sticking to the interval that is great
  • If you are slower than your CSS Pace but holding steady at a consistent pace that’s fine, stay consistent.
  • If you are getting progressively slower as the workout goes on, re-asses. There could be a number of reasons why it’s happening, first of which is fatigue and you may need a recovery day!

Race Prep Sets 

The Race Prep Sets are designed to help you get comfortable and confident about attacking the “washing machine” that you’re likely to be a part of on race day.
Here’s what we are working on:

  • Practicing take out speed
  • Repetition of sighting stroke
  • Preparing you for the unknown elements that open water brings

Race Effort Sets: 

You CSS pace is not necessarily your race pace. Your race pace will depend on the distance you are swimming and your goals for the day. Use these Race Effort Workouts to help you set up the perfect race day swim.

  • Determine a goal time you want to exit the water in your next race.
  • Figure out the pace/100 you’ll need to hold to achieve that exit time. Try to hold that on these sets/repeats
  • Hold this pace with as little effort as you can. The more relaxed you are holding this pace, the better!

De-Load Weeks: 

I should rename the de-load week to “Choose Your Own Destiny”. These workouts have the potential to be longer and harder if you so choose. They can also be easier and more recovery based. You determine the pace and yardage you need based on where you are at in your training.

Again, your race pace will vary depending on the distance you will be racing. Make sure you are swimming at the appropriate pace for your race distance!

Things To Focus On:

  • Consistency - The more sessions you complete in this Cycle the better you will swim. Simple.
  • Pacing - Once you have your goal times you need to work on sticking to them. These are based off your performance and are specific to you. If you train at this specific pace you will get faster
  • Technique - Fight to maintain your technique for as much of the main sets as possible. Be focused on holding a good line and developing great habits!

Other Notes:

I will asterisk* one workout each week. This workout is the key workout for the week. If life gets in the way or for whatever reason you can only swim once that week (SHOCK HORROR OH NO!!) then the asterisk’d workout is the one you need to do.

Share Your Times & Feedback:

This isn’t mandatory, but I would greatly appreciate it…

When you complete a workout, post your times and feedback on what you felt/experienced/noticed in the session in the comments section of the workout I’ll use the data you post to help me create an even better program – so you’ll ultimately be winning by sharing your experiences!

There will be guys and girls that post up impressive times and there will be newbies who just scrape by, I’d like to hear from all of you.

The comments section will be a no judgment zone (I will make sure of this! Trolls be warned!!). Come as you are, post what you do and let’s support each other as we work towards the goal of becoming better is all about the fundamentals of minimizing resistance and moving through the water with less effort. 

Get Featured:

This program is all about you.

I’m building a community of triathletes that are learning to suck less, get better at swimming, life and triathlon. If you snap a picture or a video of yourself completing one of the workouts, #hashtag it with #TeamSwimFast and I’ll post it up on the blog and give you a shoutout for being awesome! 

Get Started:

The SwimFaster program is a free online comprehensive swim program for triathletes that runs year round from November – October. Swim faster, gain confidence and join the community. Click below to get started today!