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Noosa Summer Swim Training

Stepping Up to a 5km ocean swim!

By Codie Grimsey

5km may seem daunting for the average swimmer who is only be used to swimming 1km, 2km and 3km distances, so here are some ideas about how you can make this distance an achievable goal:

1) Slowly build up your training distance. The key word here is slowly, many people make the mistake of thinking that because swimming is a non-weight bearing sport that no caution needs to be taken when increasing your work loads. This is a popular misconception in swimming and is one that unfortunately causes many people to get shoulder injuries when preparing for longer races. Gradually build up your training distances every 3 weeks. Make a safe and educated decision about when to step up otherwise you will put yourself at risk of becoming injured. Our very general rule of thumb is that you should be doing at least 3 training sessions a week at your selected distance for at least 3 weeks before you decide to increase your training distance.

2) You do not need to be swimming the distance that you will on event day in all of your training sessions. If you wish to complete a 5km ocean swim it is not absolutely necessary to swim 5km at training each time you go to your local pool. We would recommend swimming this distance one or two times in a safe pool environment before attempting it in the ocean. Knowing that you have completed the distance one or two times at training will instil a huge amount of confidence in you when you’re standing on the start line. If you find it difficult to find time in your busy lifestyle and you can only swim 4km training sessions a few times a week then you can be assured that your race is only 1km more than what you have been training at on a regular basis.

3) Break up your training swims into more manageable and stimulating distances. Just because you will be swimming continuously without stopping in the 5km ocean swim, it does not mean you have to swim continuously in training. For some people swimming 4km straight can be therapeutic and relaxing, but for most people it will become very boring.  A 1km main set, can be broken up into many different ways, such as:

  • 400m, 300m, 200m, 100m
  • 2 Sets of: 200m, 150m, 100m, 50m
  • 10×100
  • 5×200
  • 4×250

4) If you can swim 4km with ease in normal swimming togs, then 5km inside of a wetsuit should be a breeze. Not only do wetsuits keep you warm in the cold winter ocean swims, but they lift your body position to float far higher near the waters surface. Some people often say that they feel ‘out of breath’, anxious or restricted in the shoulders when wearing a wetsuit. Sometimes this is because they are wearing a wetsuit that is too big or too small for them, however most of the time it is because they have not done any practice in their wetsuit leading into their ocean swim. We would strongly encourage wearing a wetsuit to at least one training session a week leading into an ocean swim if you will be wearing it in your next race. If you practice swimming in a wetsuit often then you will be glad that you did not only will you sit higher in the water and consume less energy but you will also swim far faster, generally speaking they can save your 1 minute for every km you swim (5 minutes in a 5km race). If you are looking for somewhere in South East Queensland where you can practice in your wetsuit then head along to Grimsey’s Adult Swimfit’s next open water training session. For more information visit:



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