12 Weeks to an Iron-Distance Swim PB: Week 1

Over the coming 12 weeks I will post a a series of workouts building your swim fitness as you prepare for either Challenge Wanaka (18 Feb) or Ironman NZ (04 Mar). I have been a professional triathlon coach since 2000 and am a multiple Iron-distance finisher including doing both these events in 2011 (the year of the wind in Wanaka and the year of the rain in Taupo).

12 weeks out from Challenge Wanaka starts the week of Monday 28th November 2017. For those of you doing Ironman NZ two weeks later, your sessions will commence the week of Monday 12th December.

Tri Training NZ
WANAKA, NEW ZEALAND – FEBRUARY 22: The Pro field starts the Challenge Wanaka on February 22, 2015 in Wanaka, New Zealand. (Photo by Phil Walter/Getty Images)

Each week will have three pool sessions for you to complete. I also encourage you to get in the open water once a fortnight to develop those skills sets. This can either be part of a triathlon or as a group open water swim. The pool based sessions work well when completed on Monday, Tuesday and Thursday or on Monday, Wednesday and Friday.

 

Session One

Tri Coaching NZThis session is designed to assess where you are fitness wise and help us set some future performance goals.

  • 1,000m Warm Up;
  • 12x 50m (25m Drill/25m Swim);
  • 8x 25m Pick Up 10sec RI;
  • 400m Time Trial (TT);
  • 10min rest including easy swimming of at least 200m;
  • 200m TT;
  • 400m Cool Down;

Start by swimming 1,000m for a warm up. Keep a nice steady pace and feel free to pause occasionally to stretch or grab a quick drink. The idea of the warm up is to get the blood flowing and muscles loosened up before some of the more intense sets later in the workout.

The set after the warm up includes 12 repetitions of 50m. This 50m is done continuously with the first 25m done as a drill before going straight into the final 25m of regular swimming. Pause after each rep and have a short rest while you focus and mentally prepare for the next drill. Here are some drills that you can include in your programme.  Complete each drill twice:

  1. Kick On Side (KOS)
  2. Kick On Side (KOS)
  3. 6/1/6
  4. 6/3/6
  5. Broken Arrow
  6. Popov

For the drill set wear a pair of short fins. These will provide you with a small amount of momentum whilst you are focusing on what the upper body is doing. I recommend Finis Zoomers.

Take your fins off prior to commencing the next set. This set is made up of eight reps of 25m Pick Ups with a 10 second Rest Interval (RI). When swimming a Pick Up, start off at a slow pace for your first few strokes, then pick up to a moderate pace for the next few strokes, then a few fast strokes, then get faster and faster every few strokes as you make your way down the pool. Finish up with your last few strokes being at a sprint. After 25m, stop and rest for 10 seconds. Use the pace clock on the wall or a wrist watch to time this precisely.

The next set is a 400m Time Trial (TT). I want you to swim this as fast as you can and not worry about saving yourself for the following sets. Record your time using your wrist watch or get someone to time you and see how quickly you can swim 400m.

After the TT, have 10 minutes of recovery. During this 10 minute period swim a minimum of 200m at a very slow pace. By continuing to keep moving your arms, this will help flush blood through them removing any lactic acid or other waste products built up during the TT.

The final set before the cool down is another TT this time over 200m. As with the last TT, I want you to swim as fast as you possibly can with what you have got left. Once again record your time for the 200m with your wrist watch or get someone else to do so.

Make sure both times are written down (or stored in the watches memory) so you don’t forget them. They will become important in future training sessions so that we target the appropriate intensity to make sure that you improve.

The final set is a 400m Cool Down. As with the warm up, feel free to pause and do some stretching and grab a drink. Also consider doing some other strokes as part of the cool down. Throw in some back stroke (Bk) or breast stroke (Br) to mix it up.

Take your 400m Time and subtract your 200m Time, then divide the result by two, round this up to the nearest 5 second interval. This will give you your current T-Time, which we will use in some future workouts.

E.g. your times are 400m = 6:47 and 200m = 3:18

6:47 – 3:18 = 3:29

3:29 / 2 = 1:44.5

rounded to 1:45 = T-Time

Session Two

Tri Coaching NZThis session works on enhancing your technique and builds skills by including other swimming strokes into your workouts. Yes, I know you are a triathlete and don’t DO back stroke or butterfly or something but your stroke will become stronger and you will benefit from doing so.  Hence it’s included in the first few weeks of the programme. It won’t be in the programme in the last few weeks.

  • 600m Warm Up;
  • 12x 50m (25m Drill/25m Swim);
  • 8x 25m IM 20sec RI;
  • 12x 25m F/S on 10sec RI;
  • 12x 50m (25m Drill/25m Swim);
  • 8x 25m IM 20sec RI;
  • 12x 25m F/S on 10sec RI;
  • 200m Cool Down;

Start by swimming 600m for a warm up. Keep a nice steady pace and feel free to pause occasionally to stretch or grab a quick drink. The idea of the warm up is to get the blood flowing and muscles loosened up before some of the more intense sets later in the workout.

As with session one, the set after the warm up includes 12 repetitions of 50m. This 50m is done continuously with the first 25m done as a drill before going straight into the final 25m of regular swimming. Pause after each rep and have a short rest while you focus and mentally prepare for the next drill. Here are some drills that you can include in your programme.  Complete each drill twice.

  1. Kick On Side (KOS)
  2. Kick On Side (KOS)
  3. 6/1/6
  4. 6/3/6
  5. Broken Arrow
  6. Popov

For the drill set wear a pair of short fins. These will provide you with a small amount of momentum whilst you are focusing on what the upper body is doing. I recommend Finis Zoomers.

Take your fins off prior to commencing the next set. This set is eight repetitions of 25m following Individual Medley (IM) order: butterfly (B/F), back stroke (Bk), Breast stroke (Br) then Freestyle (F/S), twice through  i.e. your first rep is butterfly, your second is back stroke etc….. fifth rep is also fly with your sixth back, seventh, breast and the last is freestyle. After each rep have 20 seconds rest interval (RI). I realise that you may not be capable of swimming 25m of some of the strokes.  If that is the case I want you to still attempt each stroke. It might be that you only manage 10m of butterfly and then finish the length off doing free style. If you are at least attempting it, you will be getting better at it.

The next set is a sprint set: twelve reps of 25m free style. Rest for 10 seconds after each rep.

Repeat these three sets again: 12x 50 drill/swim; 8x 25 IM order, 20sec RI; 12x 25m F/S 10sec RI.

The final set is a 200m Cool Down. As with the warm up feel free to pause and do some stretching and grab a drink. Also consider doing some other strokes as part of the cool down. Throw in some back stroke (Bk) or breast stroke (Br) to mix it up.

Session Three

Tri Training NZThis session is also heavily focused on your technique and developing it, through the inclusion of drills.

  • 600m WU;
  • 8x 25m Drill;
  • 8x 50m (25m Drill/25m Swim);
  • 8x 50m Swim Golf 10sec RI;
  • 8x 25m Drill;
  • 8x 50m (25m Drill/25m Swim);
  • 8x 50m Swim Golf 10sec RI;
  • 8x 25m Drill;
  • 8x 50m (25m Drill/25m Swim);
  • 200m CD

Start by swimming 600m for a warm up. Keep a nice steady pace and feel free to pause occasionally to stretch or grab a quick drink. The idea of the warm up is to get the blood flowing and muscles loosened up before some of the more intense sets later in the workout.

The set after the warm up includes eight repetitions of 25m conducting drills. Pause after each rep and have a short rest while you focus and mentally prepare for the next drill. Here are some drills that you can include in your programme:

  1. Kick On Side (KOS)
  2. Kick On Side (KOS)
  3. 6/1/6
  4. 6/3/6
  5. Broken Arrow
  6. Popov
  7. Kick On Side (KOS)
  8. Kick On Side (KOS)

For the drill sets during this workout wear a pair of short fins. These will provide you with a small amount of momentum whilst you are focusing on what the upper body is doing. I recommend Finis Zoomers.

As with the previous sessions that included the same set, the next set includes 8 repetitions of 50m. This 50m is done continuously with the first 25m done as a drill before going straight into the final 25m of regular swimming. Pause after each rep and have a short rest while you focus and mentally prepare for the next drill. Here are the drills for you to include in your programme:

  1. Kick On Side (KOS)
  2. Kick On Side (KOS)
  3. 6/1/6
  4. 6/3/6
  5. Broken Arrow
  6. Popov
  7. Kick On Side (KOS)
  8. Kick On Side (KOS)

Take your fins off prior to commencing the next set, which is a set of swim golf. For this set you will need to time each repetition and also count the number of strokes it takes to swim 50m. The set itself involves swimming eight repetitions of 50m of Swim Golf (also known as Swolf) with 10 seconds Rest Interval after each rep. With each 50m time how long it takes you to swim it and count the number of strokes it takes you complete the distance. Add these times together, i.e. if it takes 50 seconds and you complete 50 strokes 50 + 50 = 100. The 100 is your Swim Golf score and just like golf you try and make your score as low as possible. Each rep you try and improve your score by lowering it either by:

  • Swimming faster without doing more strokes,
  • Swim more efficiently by taking less strokes and keeping the same pace, or
  • By swimming faster and with less strokes.

Complete the last three sets again, with a third time for the 8x 25m Drill and the 8x 50m (25 Drill/25m Swim), prior to the cool down.

The final set is a 200m Cool Down. As with the warm up feel free to pause and do some stretching and grab a drink. Also consider doing some other strokes as part of the cool down. Throw in some back stroke (Bk) or breast stroke (Br) to mix it up.

If you would like further advice feel free to contact me.

I am the Head Coach & Director of Qwik Kiwi Coaching.

I specialise in assisting first timers and recreational athletes to achieve their sporting goals. I can be contacted at coachray@coachray.nz and 021 348 729. Make sure you sign up to my informative newsletter.

Share this post so your friends can benefit as well.

If you enjoyed this workout, here is a similar session I published 12 months ago.

Saturday Swim Session: Odd Distances

Coach Ray is the author of the successful 12 Weeks to an Ironman Swim PB – Swim Faster with Smart Training eBook.


8 Replies to “12 Weeks to an Iron-Distance Swim PB: Week 1”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *