How To Train For A 10K Swim

How To Train For A 10K SwimNow I know it’s a small percentage of people who are even going to click on this post, since most people can’t even imaging running a 10K, much less swimming one, but since you did, you have an interest in long distance swimming.

In December, my friend Wendy and I have 2 traditions…

1. Swim a 10K in the pool on Christmas Eve (usually 100×100)

2. Swim 1,000 x the upcoming year on New Year’s Eve (so like this year will be 16,000) I also do a 10K open water swim in Horsetooth Reservoir in Fort Collins, CO every year in August.

And I’m not opposed to joining any of my other crazy friends for a long swim challenge (this year I did 100×100 for my friend Kate’s 40th)

So how do I train for these long distance swims?

My training varies throughout the year depending on my most important races and my goals, but I will always swim at least 3 times a week. Wendy, on the other hand, is a swim freak and can pull off way faster swims than me with very little time in the pool. For example, in her last ironman triathlon, she was first placed swimmer in her age group, second overall female with maybe 2 swims a week.

Since most of us are more like me and not a swim goddess, we are going to follow my training plan, not hers.

Swimming 3 days a week is very realistic, especially if this long distance swim is important to you. You will find a way! Unfortunately, since swimming is very technique based, not many other forms of cardio will get you as prepared for the event as swimming will.

I will outline some general training guidelines and what your 3 workouts per week will look like. If you want a more specific training plan catered to you, your time constraints, your current level of swimming and fitness, with specific drills, intervals, etc designed to fit your needs, email me at and I can send you an application to get that started for you.

Here are the general steps to get you started…

1. Make sure you are healthy and cleared for exercise by a health care professional

2. Make sure you have time in your schedule to do 3 swims on most weeks. 2 between 30-45 mins and 1 between 1-3 hours depending on your goal event

3. Make sure you have the proper equipment for training

  • Swimsuit: that stays on (you will most likely need a couple throughout the course of your training)
  • Swim Cap: silicone and latex stay on best. I like latex because silicone is too slippery for me, but a lot of people like silicone because it’s easier to get on and off.
  • Goggles: very personal preference. If the ones you have hurt or give you a headache, try another pair. I use AquaSphere Eagle. I wear them for 3 hours non-stop during the open water 10K and they don’t leak, fog, or cause any discomfort.
  • Fins: another personal preference. Most hurt the bone on the top of my foot so I like a softer fin. I use Speedo Trialon and love them.
  • Pull Buoy: they are all pretty much the same. Just make sure you get an adult one to float your big old legs and booty.
  • Kickboard: I don’t like regular kickboards, I only like the super soft ones shaped like a triangle. I use the TYR Hydrofoil.
  • Paddles: if you have no shoulder issues, get medium sized and curved. Get small if you have any shoulder probs, only get big if you are giant w huge hands. I use Speedo Contoured Swim Paddles.

So already you may be overwhelmed, don’t worry!! Take a deep breath. You don’t NEED any of this equipment (except maybe the swimsuit…check your pool rules), but it will make your journey much more enjoyable to have it all.

And you can actually get it all very cheap online at Plus shipping is free! Bonus! This is where I get ALL my swim (and triathlon) equipment!!

4. Now that you have your equipment, it’s time to asses your skills. If you are already a good swimmer, you can skip this step. If you are a beginner or not sure, the very best thing to do is hire a swim coach or instructor for a session to asses your technique and give you a handful of drills to work on to help your specific stroke.

If this is 100% not an option for you, the next best step would be to have a friend who is a swimmer watch a video of proficient swimmers on YouTube and then watch you swim and share the differences.

I have videos in our I Heart Swimming facebook group

( that outline proper technique in all parts of the stroke in all four competitive strokes.

After you asses you current skill level, you can either use the list of drills your coach gave you or use the list of drills I have in our facebook group during the workouts with drills. And btw…Olympic swimmers still do at a least 25% of their workouts as drills! Since the best swimmers on the planet are doing them…so should you! And all the fun equipment you just got will make them way more tolerable! I promise!

5. Next step is to pick an event. It’s way easier to get all these workouts in when you have a distance and date you are working toward. The training plan I have outlined here is geared toward 10K (meters or yards don’t matter at the beginner/intermediate level).

6. Get off your booty and start swimming!!

In general, here are your 3 swims a week:

  1. Drills. After a warm up, your entire workout will be drills. You can use all the equipment you want but slow down and focus on FORM!!
  2. Endurance. This will be your long swim. It doesn’t have to be continuous, but I would do at some point at least 2,000 without stopping, all freestyle, no equipment. These swims (depending on your time schedule) should get up to about 6K-8K total.
  3. Variety. A variety swim is a swim that mixes strokes, intervals, kick sets, pull sets, etc all into one swim. This is shorter than your endurance swim, but more sets with intensity, like a set of 10×100 on an interval that pushes you and gives you a 5-10 second rest.

In our I Heart Swimming facebook group ( I have hundreds of workouts in all 3 categories. Join us and steal all the workouts you want! You can also find training partners, ask questions, etc in that group.

And again, if you want a specific plan written up based on your individual goals, needs, time, schedule, etc with all the workouts already built in, I can write you up a plan. Email me at and I will send you an application to get you started.

If you want workouts emailed to you weekly in my Happy Hump Day Newsletter, click here…

I can’t wait to hear all about your adventure training and completing your first (or 100th) long swim!

See you SOON!

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