Very Basic Swimming
(especially with triathletes in mind)

There are three objectives to swim training for triathletes: Go long. Go easy. Go fast

Go long.

If you are just beginning, there are two ways to increase your distance. You can do a mile from day one, changing your stroke to anything easy, even sidestroke and elementary backstroke, whenever necessary. After a week, restrict the non-freestyle to something like every fourth lap, later to every eighth lap, until you've eliminated non-freestyle altogether. Or, using no alternative strokes, you can swim shorter distances, strictly limiting rest time to ten breaths, gradually increasing the yardage. Both methods should take about six weeks until you are able to do the whole mile non-stop, all freestyle. 
Take a look at: Zero to 1650 yards

Go easy.
This is a matter of technique which primarily consists of DO NOT GET IN YOUR OWN WAY. What does that mean? Mostly a series of Do Nots. Do Not place or move any part of your body in such a way as to interfere with your forward progress. Sounds obvious, doesn't it? E.g., do not allow your kick to be very deep or extend beyond the width of your body; keep your arms within the invisible narrow tube in which you are swimming; move your head as little as possible, in a line with your torso; do not tense up with excessive concern for your technique! There are frequent changes in swim training theories; often the prevalent advice is based on observing whoever won the most recent olympic swims and may have little to do with what is best for you. You can improve your own methods by imitating those whose swimming seems to you to be effortless as well as fast, and you can do drills at least once per week. Drills: These are just a few. Swim one length one arm only, return using the other arm. This will also be an opportunity to learn to breathe on both sides. Catch-up means to touch your hand outstretched in front of you before you pull. Hesitation is a delay at the end of your pull while your other arm remains up front. Ripple means dragging your fingers through the water close to your body, keeping your elbows directly above your hand. Fist swimming is just that, sensing the leverage your arms get without the use of your hands. Tarzan is, of course, with your head up, a handy ability for triathlons. It is always a good idea to count your strokes frequently and reduce them if you can do so without slowing down. Although the best swimmers often have very low stroke counts, some fast world class swimmers, such as Janet Evans, do not. Do what works for you.

Go fast.
There is only one way to increase your speed. You must break the distance into smaller segments that can be swum faster - sometimes much faster - than your race distance pace. This is the meat and potatoes (or Powerbar and Gu) of all swim training. It is called intervals and is done with very short or medium or long rests. Do all three. Here are a few sets:

500 meters broken 100's: 4x25 meters on :30, repeat 4 times with 30 seconds between each 4.

2000 ladder: 400, 4x100; 300, 4x75; 200, 4x50; 100, 4x25.

1600 pyramid: 2x50 on :60, 2x100 on 2:, 2x150 on 3:, 2x200 on 4:, and back down.

3000 ladder: 200, 2x175, 3x150, 4x125, 5x100, 6x75, 7x50, 8x25.

Race distance ÷ 100: If, for example, you plan to do a 1/2 IM, swim 20X100 with very short rests.

Race distance ÷ 10: If you hope to an IM, go 10x400 with short rests.

If you are swimming three times per week, concentrate on distance one day, drills another, and speed the third day, although not exclusively. Variations, using different strokes and employing swim *toys* such as kickboard, pull buoy, and fins, will make it easier and more pleasant to increase the length of your workout. I have fifty workouts for either 2000 or 3000 thousand meters at:
50 SwimWorkouts

Other links:
Swim training for an Ironman
50 swim workouts
The Adult Learner
Minimal Training for a Sprint Triathlon

Drills Galore

(New - A Facebook discussion group has been put up
by a swimmer doing the swim-one-mile plan. If you would
like to join or begin a discussion please go to FB 0-1650 talk