10K Training Manual

Our updated guide to training for a long distance swim

Life is enriched by doing remarkable things and if you are signed up to a 10 kilometre swim, like the Dart 10k, you are about to experience one of them. But we don’t just want you to complete the swimmers’ marathon – we want you to enjoy it! Kate Rew, founder and director of the Outdoor Swimming Society, and Dan Bullock, director of Swimfortri, have updated their 10k swim guide to prepare you for the challenge ahead.

This is a guide for front crawl swimmers who want to improve their swimming style and train for a long-distance swim. The training guide provides:

  • Guidance on good swimming technique
  • A list of swimming drills to improve your speed and efficiency
  • A training plan and example interval training sessions
  • Psychology of long-distance swimming
  • Template training plan for printing

The guide is available in four pdf sections plus an A4 template plan or you can download the full guide.

A resource to inform and inspire your open water swims is The Outdoor Swimmers’ Handbook by Kate Rew published in 2022.

GOOD SWIMMING TECHNIQUE: HOW TO SWIM BETTER

Over 10km, the key to a good time is a stroke that is efficient and relaxed. What’s covered in this section: 

  • Legs
  • Arms
  • Bilateral breathing
  • Body position
  • Timing

We help you diagnose the weak parts of your stroke to improve it. You’ll have plenty of time during training to work on your swim faults and get yourself swimming faster, smoother, and more efficiently. If you learn by doing rather than by thinking, you may want to move straight on to swimming drills. 

SWIMMING DRILLS: IMPROVE YOUR SPEED AND EFFICIENCY

You can learn a lot about your stroke just from doing drills – they provide useful feedback that will help you understand if you are improving your front crawl without a coach present. Practicing drills will make time in the pool pass more quickly and will make you a better swimmer. Drills covered in this section:

  • LEGS ONLY WITH BOARD
  • CATCH UP
  • BLACK LINE DRILL 
  • SWIMMING WITH FISTS 
  • FINGER TRAIL/SHOULDER TAP
  • BREATHING EVERY 5,7
  • EXTENSION POSITION
  • TORPEDO
  • SHOULDER TO CHIN
  • SCULLING

When practicing the drills concentrate on one aspect of the stroke to reduce being overwhelmed.

BUILDING YOUR TRAINING PLAN

Swimming 10 kilometres is a big deal! For most people it is a similar challenge to running a marathon. This guide provides details to help you design your swimming sessions and support your aim to swim three or more times a week, including:

  • Short technical sessions around 45 minutes a week focusing on drills and technique
  • Fitness sessions around 90 minutes a week, during which you may cover the same distance as a long swim with a focus on interval training
  • Long swims which will start at 2.5k and peak at 8k, 2-3 weeks before the event. Either a long continuous swim outside or steady-state swim in a pool where you should try not to touch the wall and keep it continuous.

Also included is a template swim training plan for you to use.

SWIMMING SAFELY

You should be aware of the increased risks when doing a long outdoor swim, including getting cold, encountering watercraft and distance from the shore. These risks can be moderated with common sense; for example, by swimming with someone, wearing a brightly coloured hat, a tow float and swimming along the shore. See our Survive section.

CROSS TRAINING

Pilates or yoga has a good cross-over effect as swimming is all about mobility and improving your range of motion will help your technique. There are limited cross-over benefits from cycling and running as they use different muscle groups – although they will get you fitter.

PSYCHOLOGY OF LONG-DISTANCE SWIMMING

Cold water acclimatisation, keeping motivated, treating aches and pains, and the swim itself are covered in this section.

It’s the perfect season to go open water swimming. Substitute the technique session every time for being outdoors.

Keep a training log of kilometres swum on a weekly basis, then if you hit a low patch you can look at what you’ve accomplished, this is a good psychological boost to keep you training.

Don’t panic if you can’t swim for a week. The body is quite adaptable and versatile, if you can still build to the bigger numbers you have lengths in the bank, a week of being ill is not going to evaporate all that training. If something starts to twinge RICE (Rest. Ice. Compression. Elevation).

Visualise the 10k swim course. Let the swimming community know how it’s going, support from others in a great motivator! Join The OSS social media channels. Use the #ossswim10k to share your progress and experiences with us.

LIFE AFTER SWIMMING 10K

Feeling proud? You should be. We want to share your post swim euphoria! Do let us know how you get on, share your success story with The OSS Community on Insta (@theoutdoorswimmingsociety), OSS FB and Twitter (@outdoorswimming)

The OSS Team

Kate Rew & Dan Bullock