80/20 Swimming for Beginner

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    I’ve done one sprint tri (garmin training plan) before starting the 80/20 sprint for beginners. I am having a difficult time with pacing / zones for the swim portion. When I do my critical swim velocity test, my Zone 1 ends up being 3:12 – 3:35. I just don’t seem to be able to swim that slow without sinking! For reference, I did another STT2 workout today and did 2:25 pace for the 400 and 2:16 pace for the 200.

    An additional note, when I did my SF2 on Monday, I swam the zone 1 – zone 2 portion at 2:44 (was supposed to be 3:12-3:35). The 1000 yard portion at 2:35 (was supposed to be 2:57-3:12), and the last zone 1 – zone 2 portion at 3:04 (was supposed to be 3:12-3:35). One final note, using this workout as an example, my hrTSS was 38 but my sTSS was 71. The plan expected a TSS of 51.

    Does anyone have any suggestions as to what adjustments if any I should make? Thanks.

    David Warden

    J, thanks for using our plans. Two things I think can solve this:

    1. I recommend that you switch from the CV test to the 1000 yard/meter test. Swim a 1000 meter/yard TT and your CV is the average 100 pace. The CV test just does not work for everyone.

    2. If you are struggling to stay in Zone 1, you can use Zone 2 all the time, they are both easy. Zone 1 is really just “permission” to go slow, but Zone 2 is all part of the 80% easy.

    If you are struggling to stay in Zone 2… post back here after you re-do your zones with the 1000 test.



    Thanks for the reply David. I’ll give the 1K yard test a try on my next swim day. Given my previous 1K swims, I’d wager it will result in a similar time to the CV test. I’m just getting to the point I can swim 1K yards freestyle without having to switch strokes for a few laps.

    Using Zone 2 rather than Zone 1 should help. Any suggestions on how to measure my pace while swimming? Unlike running where my watch will alert me that I’m out of my desired zone, I’m finding it challenging to keep a specific pace.


    you may also want to consider swim aids such a pull buoy and paddles for your easier swimming, it will keep your effort right (regardless of swim pace) and allow you to maintain good form for longer. In regards to measuring pace while you are swimming, this comes down to form and feel – something that comes with lots and lots of practice. The Form goggles are an option for real time pace info and stroke rate information when swimming at different efforts.



    Wow, it didn’t even cross my mind to use my swim buoy to reduce my effort. Only used it in the past to increase the load! Great tip, thank you very much!


    So I had my best swim ever today thanks to this advice. The buoy worked great. It allowed me to take it slow for the Z1 parts and then I had extra energy for the Z3-Z4 parts. I feel like I just unlocked a key to success. Thank you very much!


    Thats awesome! Glad that tip worked for you! Happy Training.

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