Swim Training TipsMilk_webcrop

By Michael Klim

30 Minute Sessions

30 minutes might not seem like enough time to do a full training session in the pool, but with a properly designed workout (see sessions below) and regular weekly swims (2-3 session per week) not only can you maintain great shape but also show significant improvement in a short period of time.

This method of training has also been adopted by the elite.   Swimmers such as Eamon Sullivan, James Magnussen and Cameron MacAvoy all have developed this training regime where the sessions are shorter in duration but higher in intensity.

Before beginning, do a personal swim time trial of 200 meters freestyle (Note the total time and stroke count per lap).

Mix it up each week and choose between the sessions below:

Session #1

  • 200 meter swim warm up on own time (total 5 min)
  • 4×50 swim holding stroke count 2 less than your 200 meter time trial best with :20 sec rest (total 5 min)
  • 8×25 swim as fast as you can go with :10 sec rest (total 5 min)
  • 4×50 swim holding stroke count 3 less than your 200 meter time trial best with :20 sec rest (total 5 min)
  • 8×25 swim as fast as you can go with :20 sec rest (total 5 min)
  • 5 min easy swim

Session # 2

  • 200 meter swim warm up on own time (total 5 min)
  • 2x 100 holding stroke count 1 less than your 200 meter time trial best with :40 sec rest (total 6 min)
  • 4×50 swim as fast as you can go with :30 sec rest (total 6 min)
  • 200 swim holding stroke count 2 less than 200 time trial (total 5 min)
  • 2×50 swim as fast as you can go with :30 sec rest (total 3 min)
  • 5 min easy swim

Session # 3

  • 200 meter swim warm up on own time (total 5 min)
  • 10×50 swim as fast as you can :10 sec rest (total 12 min)
  • 100 swim holding stroke count 3 less than 200 meter time trial (total 2 min)
  • 1×50 swim as fast as you can
  • 1×100 easy recovery

Session # 4

  • 200 meter swim warm up
  • 3-4 sets of the below main set;
  • 4×50 meters with 20 sec rest between each 50,
  1. 10m fast (rest of the lap easy)
  2. 20m fast (rest of the lap easy)
  3. 30m fast (rest of the lap easy)
  4. 40m fast (rest of the lap easy)
  • 100m easy freestyle or backstroke in between sets
  • 2×50 meters as fast as you can go ;30 sec rest
  • 100 meters easy swim


Milk Active Club

The Milk Active Club is a fun, social way to help you prepare for the inaugural St Kilda Mile Ocean Swim.

Join experienced trainers for land and pool sessions with a load of benefits from Milk & Co and partners – find out more through the link below…



Training tips

Swimming is a great way to get fit and healthy and it can be enjoyed recreationally or competitively at any ability level. Whether you’re a seasoned swimmer or a newcomer to the open water this summer, I hope the following tips will help you with your preparation for the St Kilda Mile!

Keeping track of progress

Working towards swimming a long distance is a gradual process. The best way to keep track of your progress and detect possible errors in your training is to keep a log and training schedule. Make notes of your distance, pace and duration of training so that you can see your progression, and set yourself targets.

Stretching those muscles

Stretching makes muscles more flexible, increases mobility, allowing for more efficient strokes and reduces the chances of injury. The best time to stretch your muscles is after a swim when your muscles are already warmed-up and elongated.
However ideally you should also take 10 minutes before each swim to warm up.

Gliding in the water, allows your body to prepare for exercise by increasing blood circulation to the muscles and gently loosening them up. After a few gentle lengths, you should stretch out your arms, chest and legs. This will help you swim more efficiently and improve your performance.

Cool down – be kind to your body

The cool down helps keep the blood flowing to the muscles and allows your body to work its way down from a state of high exertion to the eventual resting condition. Keep gently moving for a few minutes after every swim until your pulse has dropped and you have cooled down. Metabolites can be removed from your muscles and you’ll be more prepared for the next time you swim.


Do not be a slave to your schedule! A rest from training is the key to any swimmer’s success. One rest day a week is essential and the minimum required, but if you are a beginner, two or three days off a week are recommended. If you still feel like exercising then go for a walk or gentle bike ride, as these stress different muscles.


You can improve your fitness through other activities besides swimming, so for variety, try another form of exercise each week (running, cycling, rowing) as this will help to keep you inspired with your training and is a great way to maintain motivation.
Cross training will condition the whole body, improve performance, aerobic fitness, muscle strength, flexibility and endurance.

Include regular sessions to increase both anaerobic and aerobic performance as well as sessions for improved flexibility.
And remember that if you are injured you may not have to stop training altogether. It is possible to continue cross training avoiding the injured area to maintain fitness and flexibility. However, please seek medical opinion first.


Swimming tips

Practice your breathing

Breathing is the key to a successful stroke. Poor breathing technique will significantly affect the efficiency of your stroke, so spend as much time as possible, perfecting your breathing technique.

Choose the correct swimming gear

Carefully choose your swimsuit, based on practicality rather than looks. Suits from specialist swimming companies will generally hold their shape, be more comfortable, and last longer than high-street equivalents. A decent sports shop will be able to advise you of the appropriate swimwear. Remember – the tighter fitting, the less resistance through the water, so wear a swimming hat.


There are a large range of goggles available. Choose a size and style which are comfortable for you, with de-misting lenses. If you find your goggles fogging up, then buy some de-misting fluid and use it before each swim. Also, consider swimming goggles with shaded lenses for open water or sea swimming in the summer to protect your eyes from the sun.

Acclimatise to cold water

A pre-event practice in cold water is good preparation. Don’t plunge straight into the water, walk in slowly, dangle your hands, splash some water on your face and then swim breaststroke, avoiding total submersion of your head until breathing is regulated. When you are ready, switch to front crawl.

Open water swimming

Swimming in open water provides more challenges than the swimming pool, where you may be used to training. Wind, ripples and currents can make your breathing and your usual pool-based stroke far trickier. It is important to learn to breathe on both sides and learn to sight, so that you stay on course.


Diet & Nutrition

When exercising it is important to stay hydrated and eat a diet which reflects your body’s energy requirements to give yourself the best chance and ensure optimal performance.


The evening before, and on the day of a long swim, try to eat complex carbohydrates such as pasta, rice, potatoes, lentils and beans as this charges your muscles with stores, which can be readily converted to energy once swimming (60% of your daily calories from food should be high in carbohydrates).

Simple carbohydrates such as sugar, honey, jam and sweets should compromise 10 percent of your diet.

Apples, oranges, bananas or cereals are recommended as pre-exercise snacks as they slowly release energy. Try to avoid crisps and chocolate as these give you a sugar high, followed by a low.


Water is the most important nutrient to our bodies, making up approximately 70 percent of our muscle and brain tissue. Only oxygen is craved by our body more than water and so it is vital that we stay well hydrated. Moderate dehydration can result in a 30 percent reduction in our physical labour capacity.

On days when you are exercising you should aim to drink 12 glasses of water a day, regularly sipping fluid before exercise and drinking a few glasses afterwards to ensure that fluids lost through sweating are replaced.

Remember – when swimming you may not realize you are hot or sweating as the water cools you down and removes sweat.

Caffeine and alcohol promote dehydration, so try to avoid them before a long swim.


Mental strength

Begin with the end in mind

Swimming is very much about mental preparation. When training for a distance, view it as a long term goal to be worked at in stages. Don’t feel that you need to be reaching your target from day one.

You’re not alone

Slow, fast, young, old; swimmers come in all shapes and sizes so always remember there are people out there just like you. Practicing at a swimming club before a big race, will allow you to measure your ability against other swimmers, and gain an idea of what level you are at.

Inspiration – the driving force behind it all

Swimming can be grueling and you may reach the point where you’re struggling to carry on. When this happens think of something which really motivates you. Whether it’s raising money for a cause or the sense of achievement you’ll get when crossing the finishing line, keep yourself inspired and be proud of yourself, as completing a race is an amazing feat!


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