Training Tips

For some of you, swimming three miles in the ocean is not a big deal. For others, it's a huge challenge and it takes no small amount of effort to get there. Winter is a great time to rev up your training with pool workouts. And once the weather (and water) is warm enough, it's definitely important to do some open water swimming. It's even better if you and your paddler escort can practice together.

We're lucky to have experienced and knowledgeable swim coaches at our YMCAs in the midcoast: Eryn Thostenson at the Waldo County YMCA ( and Morgan Schreiber at the PenBay YMCA ( as well as many avid swimmers and coaches..

Also if you need a wetsuit or a swim buoy or any other open water swimming gear, check out this offer: If you are participating in the Islesboro Crossing, please use discount code lifeflight10 to get 10% off your online order from triathletesports, or call 800-635-0528 between 9:00 AM to 5:30 PM Mon-Friday. Just mention that you are participating in #IX2021

Obviously, there's no single answer that works for everyone, but we have a couple of training guidelines we can offer. One is that you don't have to be able to swim three miles all at once before the event--if you were running a marathon, you would not necessarily have to run all 26.2 miles in any session before your race.

But you SHOULD be swimming that distance per week in the final weeks leading up to the event. That might translate to three sessions per week, one mile per day, or maybe a little more, to account for currents and squiggly navigation.

The other useful rule of thumb is to plan on a 10% increase in training distance per week. So let's say you want to be able to swim 5500 yards per week by July 20. You might use the following progression:

March 20: 3800 yds/week

April 20: 4180 yds/week

May 20: 4590 yds/week

June 20: 5050 yds/week

July 20: 5550 yds/week   

Please note that these are general guidelines; Consult a physician and / or before performing this or any exercise program. It is your responsibility to evaluate your own medical and physical condition, and to independently determine whether any of this is suitable for you. Don't get injured. It's your own responsibility if you do. Please don't.

Eryn Thostenson (Waldo County YMCA) recommends as a helpful resource to learn more about training for the swim.

Kirsten Read, iX2020 Alumni coaches swimming, holds clinics and has helpful pointers at her site:

Ruth Kazez's website has some great resources and encouragement for swimmers new to long distances, plus training plans for ultra-distance and Ironman distance swims.  

There are tons of mostly-freestyle workouts at Sara McClarty's blog to build speed and endurance and reduce boredom of lap swimming in a pool.

And finally, we'll post tips periodically on Facebook.