Training for a long-distance swim

Jubilee River Swim

Today, I’ve got a guest post from my husband Glen who recently completed a 10km river swim event. Several people have asked me about his training and preparation for this swim, so I thought I’d ask him to share his experience…

My entry into the Jubilee River 10km Swim was quite last-minute as I took the place of a friend who was unable to take part. This swim sells out quickly, but fortunately the organisers let us transfer the entry. With just three weeks to prepare, it was time to increase the distance of my swims very quickly.

I swim around 4km every Wednesday morning with Killer Whales Swim Club Masters session, so I had a decent base to build upon.

Week 1

Still recovering from the Outlaw Half, I planned two swims for this week- my usual master session and an open-water swim which would total a distance of around 6.5km for the week. I also wanted to experiment with nutrition to get it right for the Jubilee Swim as I was unsure if my usual triathlon nutrition products would be suitable.

Masters swim set (33m long pool)

Warm up
400m Front Crawl (FC) / 2 x 100m Individual Medley (IM)
6 x 66m kick, swim/swim, kick

Main Set (repeat twice)
400m FC
3 x 100m IM
3 x 66m FC
3 x 33m max effort

Total = 4000m

Open Water swim

I swam a continuous 2700m at our tri club open water session.

Total for week 1 = 6700m

 Jubilee River Swim

Week 2

I planned a third swim into my weekly training schedule- quite a difficult thing to do with work, bike sessions, run sessions, spending time with Lucy and also trying to stay awake at my desk by the end of the week!

I decided to do a double swim day on Wednesday, so I would get up a 5am go to my Masters Session then after work head to Royal Victoria Dock for open water swimming.

The Royal Victoria Dock open water set up is no frills but I’m not really fussed about getting changed on the grass with a towel around me- I think triathlon has desensitised me to caring what people think! Plus I needed the distance and I can get there quickly from work, so me and Lucy met up and spent a lovely warm summer evening swimming at the docks.

Masters swim set (33m long pool)

Warm up
600m FC
6 x 66m IM
12 x 66m IM

Main Set
200m FC
2 x 100 FC
300m FC
3 x 100m FC
400m FC
4 x 100m FC
500m FC

Total = 3,300m

Open Water Swim 1

I followed this up with 3,250m open water at Royal Victoria Dock.

Open Water Swim 2

At the Havering Tri open water session, I swam 3200m.

Total for week 2 = 9750m

Jubilee River Swim

Week 3

Race week came around quickly, so I cut back to a single swim as I wanted my arms to be fresh for the Jubilee River. I also cut back on weight training to avoid the risk of injury.

Masters swim set (33m long pool)
Warm up
400m FC/200m choice of stroke
4 x 100m IM
6 x 66m IM/FC

Main Set (all FC)
6 x 100m
2 x 200m
4 x 100m
6 x 66m
2 x 100m
6 x 33m Max
4 x 200m

Total = 4000m

Jubilee River Swim

Kit

I was also kindly sent two pairs of jammers from Simply Swim to use for training for this event. I selected a pair of Speedo Fit Powermesh Jammers which I chose for the leg compression and a pair of Zone3 MFXfinity Jammers which are a similar style to my regular swimming shorts. I alternated these throughout my training to find what I felt would be the best and most comfortable to wear beneath my wetsuit for 10km. On the day, I opted for the Zone3 MFXfinity pair- I wanted support and comfort but not too much compression as this can feel uncomfortable!

Jubilee River Swim

Jubilee River Swim

 

Jubilee River 10km Swim

So the big swim day arrived, I was in the 4th wave off at 10:30am. The race is split into four sections: 1.9km, 3.5km, 2.6km and 1.5km, this is because of the weirs on the river so you have to get out and go around them. It helps mentally to break down the 10 kilometres into these four chunks, then you only have to focus on one section at a time.

It was a lovely day, I had Lucy supporting and following me along the river with a bag of nutrition that I could grab at the weirs. It all went really fast before I knew it I was over halfway, by the last 1.5km I was starting to feel it in my arms so was really happy when I sighted the finish line. Time for one last big push! I finished in 2:24 beating my friend’s previous time by 12 minutes!

Jubilee River Swim

My advice for anyone aiming to complete a long-distance swim is:

  • Join a master swim club for structured training sessions (the early mornings are worth it!)
  • Get in some continuous open-water swims as well as pool training
  • Test out your kit well in advance of the event, you need to be comfortable and ensure that nothing rubs. Simply Swim have a great selection of men’s swimming trunks.
  • Practice your nutrition before the big swim as you will need fuel to get you through 10 kilometres

Swim jammers sent for review, but all opinions my (Glen’s) own.

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