Sam Sheppard's Training Program Quick Links - "Powercor Prepare with Sam Sheppard"

It feels like only yesterday that we were all enjoying ourselves in the height of summer swimming what was a magnificent 40th edition of the Powercor Lorne Pier to Pub. Since then, 2020 has thrown a spanner in the works for everyone, and subsequently the 2021 Pier to Pub has gone virtual.

It has been a year where some swimmers will have spent their longest period out of the water with local pools closed and many swimmers living too far away from the beach to go for an ocean swim. To support all swimmers getting back in the water, Lorne SLSC courtesy of Sam Sheppard (7 x Pier to Pub winner and Australian Swim Team Dolphin) and Powercor are providing all swimmers with a eight week “get back in the water and enjoy yourself training program” to lead all swimmers into the virtual Pier to Pub. There are two types of programs, one for swimmers who have access to a pool and one for swimmers who have access to a beach, this is the program for the pool. If you are one of the lucky swimmers that have access to both you can combine the two programs for the most benefit.    

Training structure

The eight-week Powercor Lorne Pier to Pub Virtual 2021 Training Program is specifically designed for a swim of 1.2km. It includes three training sessions per week, divided into two four-week training blocks with a recovery week at the end of each block. There are three levels for each training session (beginner to advanced) ranging in distance from 1 to 3 km. The training sessions are mostly all less than 50 minutes in length, unless you are one of those swimmers that stops and talks at the end of the lane, we are all culprits of this.  

The training sessions are only a guide and can be adapted or changed depending on how you feel on the day. If you only want to swim twice per week, great! If you want to swim four times per week and add another session that is great too. The goal with each training session and this training program is to get you back in and enjoying the water. The training sessions are very freestyle dominated being specific to the Powercor Lorne Pier to Pub Virtual 2021; however, feel free to add more form strokes into the session to mix it up if you find yourself wanting a bit more variety.

Note that all distances in the Open water program are approximate, if you want to swim further or less that is ok. If you have some perfectly laid out boating buoys for example use them, this training session is only a guide.

As always when swimming in the open water, swim with a training buddy, only swim at locations that you’re familiar with and let someone know where you are going.

The eight week training program can be shortened if you find yourself being one of those swimmers that forget to train for the Pier to Pub each year until two weeks beforehand, we have all done this before. Only swimming one session before the Powercor Lorne Pier to Pub Virtual 2021 will give you an advantage over your friends and family in the swim if they have done no training. 

The three training sessions per week are divided into the following categories:

  • Aerobic
    • Aimed at working on aerobic capacity and general fitness. Always a great session for a Monday morning before work to get you ready for the week ahead. 
  • Threshold 
    • This session, specifically the main set, is aimed at faster than normal pace but not quite a max effort (approx. 80% to 90% of max pace and should be uncomfortable). The aim of this session is to make your uncomfortable the new comfortable. Likely the hardest session for the week if you really want to push yourself. 
  • Sprint 
    • The sprint session aims at increasing speed for a fast finish in an open water race, or that extra little kick to get you on a wave at the end of the Lorne Pier to Pub each year. 

Training level options

Each session has 3 different options depending on your ability, experience and starting fitness level:

Level 1 Level 2 Level 3
Avg session distance (km) 1.2 2.1 3.0
Avg weekly distance (km) 3.6 6.3 9.0
Total program distance (km) 28.8 50.4 72.0



  • Pull buoy 
  • Paddles 
  • Fins 
  • Front facing snorkel  

If you do not have the specific swimming equipment where mentioned in training sessions, try to complete it without equipment or swim where it has fins kick for example. 

Glossary of terms and notes 

  • Rest cycles/interval training: Where it has the rest at the end of the repetition (i.e. 20 sec rest), choose a cycle on the pace clock that allows for 20 sec rest. Therefore, if you come in on 40 sec, choose 60 sec as your cycle. Interval training and using the pace clock at the end of the pool may be new for some swimmers, however it allows for greater change of pace in training compared to swimming 1.5 km straight leading to greater benefits. 
  • Mixed: Choose whatever you want to swim and what equipment you want to use 
  • Swim: Where it only says swim, it refers to freestyle swim
  • Build: Start off slow and end fast at the end of any repetition i.e. starting slow while swimming 50m and ending fast into the wall   
  • Descend: Increase speed from one interval to the next 
  • Drill: Choose a drill that you may already know to help improve your freestyle and swimming technique. If you do not know any freestyle drills, either replace it with form stroke or look on YouTube for some freestyle drills as examples, there are plenty of great videos.