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Zero to Baseline 

Zero to Baseline swimming plan can be downloaded on Training Peaks. This program is perfect for beginner and intermediate swimmers looking to kick-start their swimming fitness.

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Program Description

Welcome to day 1 of Zero to Baseline! You’re fired up, and you’re ready to go, but first – you just need a little help setting up a good swimming training routine.

We hear you! While we’d all love to be on top of our swimming fitness every day, it’s totally natural to have a lapse in motivation from time to time. Getting back into the habit of swimming can be the most challenging part, but there is good news: you’ve already taken the first step! A dedicated 6-week workout program like Zero to Baseline is perfect for getting you focused and holding you accountable. Plus, this training program makes getting swim-fit accessible to everyone, no matter your level of fitness.

Program Instructions 

Each week you have three swimming sets available ranging from 1.8 km - 2.6 km. We have set these swims to Monday/ Wednesday/ Friday; however, move these sessions to any day that suits you best. Adjust your swimming volume to fit your schedule and ensure you swim within your limits. There are three types of swim sets each week:

Fitness Sets: Fitness Sets are your high-intensity workout to advance your swimming cardio level. Cardio is vital to becoming swim-fit. Fitness sets have been tailored to improve your cardiovascular fitness whilst preventing over-fatigue. 

Balance Sets: To ensure your swimming fitness equates to an improved pace, it is essential to develop your balance at the water's surface. If a swimmer is not balanced at the water's surface, then some proportion of their propulsion is used to keep them at the water's surface instead of propelling forward. These sets can be more tedious but swimmers who prioritise balance sets see significant improvement. 

Volume Sets: Your volume sets develop sustainable Aerobic "base' fitness. These sets have increased volume and lower intensity focus. Swimmers who struggle to improve fitness and pace fail to condition both cardio and strength. Compared to running or other land-based sports, swimmers' biomechanics (technique) tend to collapse when overloaded, reducing the pace for the effort applied. Balance and volume sets are an aerobic form of training that improves fitness, speed, and recovery and reduces the risk of injury. 

Pre and Post Training 
Ensure you have plenty of fluid, good food, and a good night of sleep between training sessions. If you have any injuries or pains, be sure to have them checked out by a professional sports doctor or physiotherapist.

Program Glossary 


Breathing 3's or 5's

Breathing 3's and 5's means breathing every three of five strokes. 


Increasing the duration between breaths is known as hypoxia training. Adding hypoxic training conditions the brain and body to become used to swimming with less oxygen. A common misconception is swimming hypoxic training is used to train swimmer's lungs to increase in size or to extract more oxygen from each breath. The truth is hypoxic swimming training conditions the brain to become used to more time between breaths. Each swimmer has enough oxygen in one breath to sustain 30+ seconds before running into physiological trouble due to lack of oxygen. We breathe in and out regularly in our typical daily lives without extended gaps between breaths. Our brains become accustomed to this pattern, and when this regular pattern changes, the brain triggers the panicking urge to breathe as a safety mechanism to prevent oxygen deprivation to the brain. Hypoxic swimming training moves the brain's benchmark, so the safety mechanisms that encourage swimmers to take the next breath occur later.   


Why do we use breathing cycles?

Adding increased breathing cycles to your swimming program complements your technique and conditioning. The urge to breathe can shorten the pulling phase and alter technique as the stroke compensates for less balance. This can cause the heart rate to spike as the stroke rate increases to compensate for the lack of pace. Becoming used to increased durations between breaths is to help prevent your stroke from deteriorating. 


Your breathing cycle can be increased by three strokes upwards, e.g. breathing every 3, 4, 5, 6 strokes +. Never breathe every one or two strokes. Like a boxer, when you move your head, you move your body. If you breathe every two strokes, you condition your body to rotate further on one side and, due to the change in balance, decrease rotation on the non-breathing side. Breathing every three strokes or more ensures there are at least two strokes where your head does not influence the moevments of your torso. Next time you go for a swim, watch for swimmers breathing every two strokes. Swimmers breathing every two strokes will have one form of technique on one side of their body and a different form of technique on the other. To breathe every two strokes is to lose balance and propulsion, negatively impacting your swimming conditioning.