Extreme Swimming: Can you SURVIVE the challenging training for an endurance event?

by | Feb 12, 2022 | Swimming, Swimming and Calisthenics | 0 comments

Recently, I came across a fascinating article in The Cut about why women dominate the unique endurance sport of ultra-distance swimming. (If you are wondering what an ultra-distance is defined as, the answer is 6+ hours of open water swimming! It’s an endurance event and that’s Pretty impressive… and this article is definitely worth a read).

I have always been fascinated by the psychology of long-distance competitions. Not only in their sports psychology (that stubborn, singular and motivational mindset you need) but also in their general psychology: why and how do people get into marathon events? What is the attraction to the idea?

Perhaps it is for the thrill, novelty, or prestige. Perhaps it is in the name of a loved one or charity. Perhaps it has been a personal dream or challenge. Whatever the reason, the article got me thinking…

Would I ever attempt an endurance event?

Yes, may be! I enjoy swimming, but training for an endurance event is fundamentally different from mere exercise: you must reach a specific goal within a limited time period. You need a serious, regular schedule.

And most importantly, you need dedication, patience, and time. I don’t think I have ever had these three things at once (!), but I am sure that I, or indeed any swimmer, could foster these and build up to a lofty goal. This lofty goal for me would be a triathlon or aquathlon… better to start with these before braving an ultra-marathon!

Extreme Swimming: Can you SURVIVE training for an endurance event?

What is a triathlon or aquathlon?

Triathlon distances range from sprint distances to Ironman distances, but the standard Olympic distances are 1500m (swim), 40km (bike), and 10km (run). Aquathlon distances also range, depending on whether it is pool-based or in open water.

The standard pool-based aquathlon distance is 400m (swim) and 5km (run), and the standard open-water aquathlon distance is 750m (swim) and 5km (run). The long-distance open water aquathlon is 1500m (swim) and 10km (run).

Is the idea of competing in one of these events starting to pique your interest? If so, you’re not alone. Many aspiring athletes are drawn to the idea of testing their endurance across multiple disciplines, and the sense of accomplishment that comes with crossing that finish line is truly unparalleled.

Do any of these endurance event explanations pique your interest?

As you explore triathlons and aquathlons, you might start to feel intrigued by these exciting endurance events. The question is, which one catches your interest and motivates you?

Triathlons involve swimming, biking, and running, providing a range of distances and challenges to suit different levels of fitness. On the flip side, aquathlons focus on swimming and running. The distances can change based on whether it’s done in a pool or open water.

Each event has its own appeal, attracting people with different interests and strengths. The question remains: which one captivates your imagination? Is it the multi-sport excitement of a triathlon, where you showcase your abilities in swimming, biking, and running? Or is it the dynamic mix of swimming and running in an aquathlon that entices you, promising a challenging yet rewarding experience?

Whatever you lean towards, the road to achieving your endurance goal is a journey worth taking. Let your interests guide you, and let your determination fuel your efforts. The adventure is waiting for you. Are you prepared to embrace the challenge and discover the athlete within?

Technique is every thing in an endurance event!

Remember: to do well in the 100m freestyle, you have to nail your form as well as your speed and strength. Technique, technique, technique! For this, you will need to enlist the help of a coach or trainer.

If you are a regular casual swimmer, remember that training for an event like the 100m freestyle is different, and you will need to take a different mental approach to training. Do not just aim to cover the distance; aim to win. Relaxed, meditative strokes will not cut it anymore. You need to hone your strength, speed, and form. You need a winning attitude!

Extreme Swimming: Can you SURVIVE training for an endurance event?

The Allure of Endurance Sports:

Endurance sports uniquely appeal to those seeking a challenge beyond the ordinary. The idea of pushing your limits, both physically and mentally, is what draws many into the world of long-distance competitions. It’s not just about exercise; it’s about setting specific goals and striving to achieve them within a defined time frame.

For many, the allure of endurance events lies in the thrill of the challenge. The novelty of attempting something that seems superhuman, like swimming for hours on end or completing a triathlon, can be incredibly motivating.

There’s a sense of prestige associated with these feats, a feeling that you’re joining a select group of individuals who have dared to test their limits.


But what truly drives people to embark on these arduous journeys?

The motivations are as varied as the participants themselves. Some do it honouring a loved one or raising funds for a charitable cause close to their hearts.

Others pursue endurance sports as a personal dream, a way to conquer a challenge they’ve set for themselves. And then some do it simply because they can, seeking to prove their mettle in the face of extreme physical and mental demands.

The Path to Endurance is Dedication and Patience:

Embarking on the journey of an endurance athlete requires dedication, patience, and time. These three elements are the cornerstones of success in this realm. It’s not a path for the faint-hearted, but can be forged with determination.

Swimming, as a starting point, can serve as an excellent introduction to endurance sports. The transition from casual swimmer to an athlete with a lofty goal, such as a triathlon or aquathlon, is a gradual process.

Training for the Challenge

If you’re committed to taking on a triathlon, there’s no shortage of online resources to help you prepare. Workout plans abound, designed to help you build the power and endurance required to successfully tackle each leg of the race.

Let’s focus on the swimming portion, often a starting point for many triathletes. Breaking down your training into manageable segments, such as 100m freestyle intervals, can make the process less daunting. A structured 5-day weekly workout program over 8 weeks can help you gradually build your swimming stamina.

On Mondays and Wednesdays, you’ll aim to cover 1500-2000m in segments of your choice. This could involve 15 sets of 100m or 3 sets of 500m, with a 30-second rest between sets. The key here is to swim at a pace that’s about 70% of your maximum effort, focusing on building cardiovascular and aerobic endurance.

Tuesdays and Thursdays are for stepping up the intensity. Continue the same exercise, aim to perform at about 80% of your all-out effort, and reduce the rest time to 15 seconds. This phase will work on your muscular endurance and strength.

Fridays are when you’ll put everything together. Push yourself at 90% of your maximum effort in just 4 segments. It’s the final push before the event, where all your training comes together for a full-on effort.

Remember that technique is just as crucial as speed and strength. Enlisting the help of a coach or trainer can make a significant difference in fine-tuning your form.

Extreme Swimming: Can you SURVIVE training for an endurance event?

A Winning Attitude:

For those accustomed to casual swimming, training for an event like the 100m freestyle requires a mental shift. It’s no longer about simply covering the distance; it’s about aiming to win. Relaxed, meditative strokes won’t cut it anymore. You need to hone your strength, speed, and form. You need a winning attitude!

Are you thinking of undertaking a long-distance swim or triathlon? Do you have what it takes to pull it off? Whether you do it for the competition, to prove yourself to those around you, or simply to achieve a personal best, I salute you, and I would love to hear about your journey!

In Conclusion:

The world of endurance sports is a captivating realm that beckons those who crave challenges beyond the ordinary. It’s a journey that demands dedication, patience, and time, but the rewards are immeasurable. From the thrill of the challenge to the prestige of crossing the finish line, endurance events offer a unique and gratifying experience for athletes of all levels.

So, remember that the journey is as valuable as the destination. Embrace the process, push your limits, and discover the remarkable strength and resilience that lie within you. Your personal best awaits, and your story is waiting to be told. And if you need help or tailored plan to achieve your goal, here it is


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