Five 30-Minute Swim Workouts – Triathlete

For access to all of our training, gear, and race coverage, plus exclusive training plans, FinisherPix photos, event discounts, and GPS apps, >”,”name”:”in-content-cta”,”type”:”link “}}”>sign up for Outside+.

Maybe you’re pushed for time and only have 30 minutes to spare to get your swim workout in, or maybe a half-hour swim is more than enough for your fitness goals. Either way, we’ve got five 30-minute swim workouts below from four of our sport’s finest swimmers and/or coaches: Dede Griesbauer, Sara McClarty, Rachel Joyce, and Megan Melgaard, assistant coach at Tower26. Read on to find out the objectives of each session and the full prescription. And if you’re someone who usually spends longer than 30 minutes in the pool, don’t scoff at the abbreviated time—you can still accomplish a lot in the water in 30 minutes: Focus on drills and technique, get in a long aerobic swim or just maintain your “feel” for the water, which can quickly disappear if you stay out of the pool for too long.

RELATED: A Complete Guide to Triathlon Swimming

Workout 1: Dede Griesbauer’s Fast 50s

Purpose: Blend high intensity with some aerobic endurance


600 (alternating 100 free/50 non-free)

6 x 50 with 15 sec. rest (as 25 with sighting/25 easy)

Main set

2 x 50 fast with 10 sec. rest

100 buoy with 30 sec. rest, breathing every 3 strokes

4 x 50 all fast with 10 sec. rest

200 buoy + paddles with 30 sec. rest, breathing every 3/5 strokes by 50

6 x 50 all fast with 10 sec. rest

300 buoy/band/paddles with 30 sec. rest, breathing every 3/5/7 strokes by 25

4 min. kick with fins (as 30 sec. easy, 20 sec. fast)


200 easy

Note: If you’re looking to shorten this workout, Griesbauer advises shrinking the first part of the warm-up to 300 and the cooldown to 100.

RELATED: Fitter & Faster Podcast: How to Stay Fit & Fast As You Age

Workout 2: Sara McClarty’s Go-To Drills

Purpose: Empasize efficient technique with low-intensity, purposeful drills in this 30-minute swim workout.


300 choice swim

Main set

All with 15 sec. rest:

4 x 25 kick

4 x 50 fingertip drag drill

4 x 75 (25 right arm, 25 left arm, 25 swim)

4 x 100 (25 scull, 75 swim emphasis on catch)

*Repeat until your time is up

RELATED: A 4-Week Training Plan to Help You Swim Better and Faster

Workout 3: Sara McClarty’s Swim-Specific Strength Booster

Purpose: Build strength with a pulling set (paddles are optional)


100 swim/100 non-free/100 kick

Main set

4 x 150 pull with 20 sec. rest (50 easy/50 moderate/50 strong)

100 swim recovery

4 x 100 pull with 10 sec. rest (descend time 1–4)


100-200 easy

RELATED: Ask a Gear Guru: What Are the Best Swim Training Tools?

Workout 4: Rachel Joyce’s Speed ​​Endurance Combo

Purpose: This is all about maximizing time available by combining speed work with endurance

300 swim with 15 sec. rest

2 x 75 as 25 kick with board, 25 finger drag drill, 25 swim with 10 sec. rest

3 x 50 as 25 fast/25 easy, 25 easy/25 fast, 25 fast/25 easy with 15 sec. rest

50 choice

Main set
4 x 25 fast swim with 10 sec. rest

200 swim steady with 20 sec. rest

4 x 25 fast with band only with 10 sec. rest

200 buoy only, steady with 20 sec. rest

4 x 25 fast with band and paddles with 10 sec. rest

200 swim steady with 20 sec. rest

4 x 25 fast with fins with 10 sec. rest

200 buoy and paddles steady with 20 sec. rest

150 alternating 25 non-free, 25 free

Note: If this is too long for a 30-minute swim, Joyce recommends cutting the 200 repeats to 150 or 100 instead.

RELATED: 9 Stretch Cord Exercises to Improve Swim Strength and Technique

Workout 5: Megan Melgaard’s Technique-Focused Swim

Purpose: This workout focuses on improving and maintaining good body position in the water, through tautness and alignment.


5 min. easy swim

6 x 50 as 25 kick/25 swim @ 70% effort with 15 sec. rest (ideally use snorkel + fins)

All 50s are 25 kick/25 swim as: #1-2: Kick on your stomach, thumbs interlaced; #3 & 4: Kick on your left side, with your left arm outstretched in front; #5 & 6: Kick on your right side, with your right arm outstretched in front. Focus on keeping the back of the head, hips, and heels at the surface of the water.

3 x 100 swim @ 70% effort with 20 sec. rest (ideally use snorkel + fins)

Keep your head fixed while maintaining a proper body position

Main set

12 x 25 swim @ 75-80% with 10 sec. rest

Execute every wall push-off powerfully, emphasizing strong wall push-offs initially sets-up proper body posture and tautness

6 x 50 swim @ progressive effort with 15 sec. rest

#1-2 @ 70% effort; #3-4 @ 75% effort; #5-6 @ 80% effort

3 x 100 pull with 20 sec. rest (ideally use snorkel + pull buoy)

Maintain technical awareness on alignment and hand channels


100-200 easy swim

RELATED: How to Breathe When Swimming

Leave a Comment