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Adding Intensity To Your Open Water Swims

Updated: Jul 4, 2020

If you've been lucky enough to be swimming regularly in the open water since pool closures you might be interested in varying up your long endurance swims with some intensity/interval sessions. Here are some sets you can do in the open water to add some threshold work to your base fitness.

Buoy to Buoy

Buoys are generally placed 150-200m apart in the ocean. After a warm up of about 15 mins you can swim hard between buoys and take 30-45 secs treading water recovery between each one. Six to 12 reps of these should get the heart rate up.


After a short warm up plot a course of around 1500m and do 8 to 12 sprints of 30-45 secs within that distance. Keep swimming between intervals but at a very relaxed pace and let yourself recover completely before the next sprint/surge. Being able to surge is very useful in race conditions to jump on someone's feet for a draft or catch up to a pack.

In and Outs

Get a good 15 mins warm up swim in and then line up on the shoreline. Pick a marker 150-200m out and put a good 95% effort to run, dolphin dive and get around a buoy and back into shore. Take a good 1-1.5 mins before repeating 3-4 times before a cool down swim. There should be some good lactic build up in both the arms and the legs after this one.

Throwing in one of these per week into your program along with some 40min - 1 hour continuous swims should put you in good shape when you return to the pool.

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