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How to train for a 2km ocean swim

Are you looking at stepping up to conquer a 2km ocean swim this season?

Or, maybe you’d like to continue to improve on your 2km speed and efficiency?

You’re not alone, in the oceanswims.com State of Open Water Swimming Survey (2022), exactly 50% of respondents said 2-2.5km was their favourite ocean swim distance.

Why do swimmers like the 2km distance? Swimmers in the survey said they liked the 2km distance because it was both challenging and provided value for the time and money they were investing in an event. And, at 30-45 minutes to complete for the average swimmer, 2km was seen as a manageable distance to train for and to get that great sense of satisfaction for completing.

The Era Beach Challenge is a 2.2km ocean swim in Sydney’s south

How long does it take to train for a 2km ocean swim?

The answer to this question is, “it depends”.

It depends on your current level of swimming fitness and ability, as well as your ocean swimming experience.

If you’re starting from scratch, have minimal swimming fitness and have not participated in an ocean swim before, you’d be looking at about 8-12 weeks of swim training.

Whereas, if you have some basic swim fitness and have recently completed at least a one-kilometre ocean swim, you could quite easily achieve your goal with at least six weeks of training.

How many sessions should I do?

A minimum of two to three sessions a week, each ranging from 1-3 kilometres, should get you to the level you need to be able to confidently stand on the start line and know you can complete the 2,000m ahead of you.

These sessions will include a mixture of aerobic base work and speed work.

What gear do I need?

  • Goggles
  • Pull buoy
  • Kickboard
  • Fins (optional)
  • Paddles (optional)
Goggles, kickboard and pull buoy are the very basic gear needed for pool training

What should my training look like?

If you are starting from scratch and have no swimming fitness, we recommend you follow the training guide below starting at Phase Zero. This will help build your initial swimming base and get you used to structured training again.

If you’re building on your current level swim fitness (i.e. you’ve been doing some pool or ocean swimming recently) and want to jump up to a 2km ocean swim, follow the training guide below starting at Phase One.

The training guide below helps you to know how much volume (aka distance) you should be looking to achieve and the things you should be focusing on in training during each phase.

The training guide also gives you two example training sessions that you can follow each week for the duration of each phase. If you feel the sessions are a little too long to start with, take 100m off each set.

Need a fully-guided training plan? See OceanFit’s free ‘Up The Ante’ 2km Training Program

Training guide

Phase Zero (To build up if starting from scratch)

Volume: Aim for two sessions per week with each session between 1km – 1.5km.
Focus: Building your swimming fitness.

Session OneSession Two
300m easy swim
8x50m (25 medium speed, 25 easy speed)
300m pull buoy
Total: 1km
2x200m easy swim
4x100m pull buoy medium speed
4x100m (1 x easy speed, 1 x fast speed)
200m easy swim
Total: 1.4km

Phase One (Weeks 1-3)

Volume: Aim for two to three sessions per week with each session between 1.5km – 1.8km.
Focus: Building your fitness and aerobic base, getting a feel of the water and your technique.

Session OneSession Two
400m easy swim
400m pull buoy
5 x 100m medium speed
200 easy speed
Total: 1.5km
2 x 300m easy swim
10 x 50m (1 x easy speed, 1 x fast speed)
2 x 200m pull buoy medium speed
3 x 100m kick (2 x medium speed, 1 x easy speed)
Total: 1.8km

Phase Two (Weeks 4-6)

Volume: Continue to aim for two to three sessions per week with each session between 2.2km – 3km.
Focus: Gaining speed endurance and maintaining the aerobic base that you have built up during phase one.

Session OneSession Two
400m easy swim
10 x 100m (1 x easy speed, 1 x fast speed). Take 30 seconds rest before the fast one.
8 x 50m pull buoy medium speed (paddles optional)
8 x 50m kick (25m fast speed, 25m easy speed)
200m easy
Total: 2.4km
2 x 200m easy swim
4 x 200m pull buoy (1 x medium speed, 1 x fast speed) paddles optional
16 x 50m (1 x easy speed, 1 x fast speed). Take 20 seconds rest before the fast one.
1 x 400m fast speed
200m easy
8 x 50m kick medium speed
Total: 3km

Phase Three (Weeks 7-8)

Volume: Continue to aim for two to three sessions per week with each session between 2.2km – 2.6km.
Focus: On your skills (breathing/keeping legs kicking) and technique (catch/high elbow).

Session OneSession Two
6 x 300m (1 x easy speed, 1 x medium speed)
8 x 50m (1 x easy speed, 1 x fast speed) 20 seconds rest before the fast one.
1 x 200m pull medium speed
1 x 200m easy
Total: 2.6km
200m easy swim
4 x 150m pull buoy (1 x easy speed, 1 x fast speed) paddles optional
4 x 100m medium speed
4 x 150m swim (1 x easy speed, 1 x fast speed)
4 x 100m pull buoy medium speed
Total: 2.2km

Phase Four (Event week)

Volume: Aim for two sessions with each session between 1.8km – 2km as you prepare for event day
Focus: On your technique and speed.

Session OneSession Two
300m easy swim
8 x 100m (1 x easy speed, 1 x fast speed). Take 30 seconds rest before the fast one.
8 x 50m (1 x easy speed, 1 x fast speed). Take 20 seconds rest before the fast one.
300m pull buoy medium speed (paddles optional)
200m easy speed
Total: 2km
2 x 200m easy swim
9 x 100m, 3 x (1 x easy speed, 1 x medium, 1 x fast).
8 x 50m (25m fast speed, 25m easy speed)
200m easy
Total: 1.9km

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