I've got a group of characters ranging from the ages of 16 to their early 40s. They're going to be in a fantasy setting after being transported from a parallel version of our world and given sword training (I haven't determined what type of style or swords they'll be given yet), but before I ask questions in regards to those details, I wanted to know:
About on average, how long would it take for someone who's in good health/physical shape for their age to go from knowing almost nothing about swords to reaching a point of fighting competency with a sword? I realize this is a broad question, learning is an ongoing process and sword types/fighting styles are going to differ, but I'm looking for a ballpark average if there is one. I'm sorry if I'm being too vague but I'm filling in details for a relatively new story idea as I go.
Personal experiences would probably be the most helpful and welcome, because I have no idea where to begin searching with this.
Edit: For example's sake, let's say the characters are training for about six hours a day four or five days a week and are aware they're training for potential life-or-death situations. I wanted them to be at it for about five years (though I can add time if needed) before they get tossed into the life-or-death part of the plot.
The characters, for clarification, will be entering a competition and after some of the feedback here, I've decided will have roughly the same amount of training beforehand.
I'm also interested in knowing how long and what types of strength-training might be required.
Edit 2: Have decided to retool my ideas and am not sure to what extent I'll still be needing this. Thanks to all who tried to help.
Googled: Length of time with sword training, looked at tags in this comm.