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Three swim workouts for the time-crunched triathlete

When executed with direction and purpose, short swim workouts can be highly effective for the time-crunched triathlete. Carly Priebe, a Triathlon Canada coach developer, knows this all too well. Priebe has worked with a variety of athletes from elites to beginner and intermediate athletes. She understands the time constraints of many multisport enthusiasts. “Short swim workouts can be highly effective if athletes focus on purposeful drills and sets,” she says. “Quality over quantity can actually be the best recipe for success in the pool.”

There are other short additions that might help in the pool, including dryland activities. Consider adding these to your swim regimen.

Related: The strength training you should be doing

Core workouts

Simple exercises like side planks (from hand or elbow and feet or knees) can train both core as well as shoulder stability. Start small with 15 to 20 seconds per side three times a week and move up to 30 to 60 seconds per side.

Related: Activation drills for triathletes

Wall angles/raises

Consider doing some dryland and activation drills before jumping into the pool. Consider doing wall angles before swimming.

Stand with your back against a wall in (legs in semi-squat position). Bring your arms up to the wall in a W-like position (back of forearms and back of hands against the wall if possible). For some, this will be enough of a stretch. If you can manage without letting your ribs pop or your lower back arch, slowly slide your arms up along the wall. Try 10 to 15 repeats three times a week to start. Move toward 2 to 3 sets of 10 three times a week.


Chords, when used with proper technique, can also be a helpful dryland activity. Loop one end of the chord around a pole or anchor of some sort. Stand back and then bend over so your upper body is parallel to the ground. Practice the catch phase of freestyle, focussing on the forearm pointing downward as the first motion of your stroke. Try 3 sets of 30 seconds per side on days you can’t get to the pool.

Find out more about Priebe at transitionsportandfitness.ca.