12 Weeks to an Iron-Distance Swim PB: Week 6

Tri Training NZ

Over the coming 12 weeks I will post a a series of workouts building your swim fitness as you prepare for either Challenge Wanaka (20 Feb) or Ironman NZ (05 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 30th November. For those of you doing Ironman NZ two weeks later, your sessions will commence the week of Monday 14th December.

This is the sixth week.  Other weeks can be found below:

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.

This weeks training is continuing to develop your base fitness with a strong focus on technique and endurance.

Session One

Tri Coaching NZ

This session is designed to further your endurance and increase your swimming specific strength.

  • 1,000m Warm Up;
  • 8x 50m (25m Drill/25m Swim);
  • 4x 400m (1st PP, 2nd Padd, 3rd PB, 4th F/S) 60sec RI;
  • 8x 50m on 1/2T+5sec RI;
  • 12x 25m Kick 10sec RI;
  • 200m 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 eight 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:

  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 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 is a set of four reps of 400m. Each repetition is done with a different swim toy and with 60 seconds Rest Interval (RI).

  1. PP = Pull Buoy and Hand Paddles,
  2. Padd = Hand Paddles only,
  3. PB = Pull Buoy only, and then
  4. Swim (no swim toys).
Tri Swim Training NZ
Pull Buoy

The first 400m rep uses both a pull buoy and hand paddles. A lot of pools will have pull buoys for public use if you don’t have any of your own.  If they don’t, you can substitute it with a kick board. Hold it between your legs and minimise the amount of kicking that you do. Also worn during the first rep

Tri Swim Training NZ
Hand Paddles

are hand paddles. Hand paddles are simply paddles that you wear on your hands to increase the resistance whilst swimming and therefore increase your strength. You need to be careful not to use them too much as they can contribute to overuse injuries in the shoulders. Most pools don’t have these available to loan so you will need to purchase your own. Look for something that is only a little bit bigger than your hand size. As the bigger they are, the greater resistance they provide and the greater risk of overuse injuries for the shoulders.

The second 400m rep uses hand paddles only and the third 400m rep uses the pull buoy only. The final 400m rep is normal swimming without any swim toys at all.

The next set is a set of eight reps of 50m but this time on 1/2 T + 5 sec, which is similar to a set you did last week. So using the example from then of a T-Time of 1:45: your ‘Go’ time for this set would be 1:45 divide by 2 being 0:52.5 then add the 5 seconds equals 0:57.5 so round up to 1:00 (nearest 5 second mark above). So every 60 seconds you would start the next rep if your T-Time was 1:45.

The last set prior to the cool down is a kick set. Feel free to use your fins for this set, but don’t use a kick board. Adopt a streamlined position with your arms fully extended overhead, biceps locked in tight against your ears. Use your legs to kick gently from the hip to propel you through the water. When you need to get a breath, scull your hands outwards and raise your head briefly to get a mouthful of air (make sure you have fully exhaled underwater first). Return quickly back to the streamlined position after you have inhaled. Take a Rest Interval (RI) of ten seconds after each 25m rep and repeat for a total of 12 reps.

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 Two

Tri Coaching NZThis session works on enhancing your speed through the use of a threshold set of 100’s.

  • 600m Warm Up;
  • 12x 50m (25m Drill/25m Swim);
  • 20x 100m Build 1-4, 20sec RI;
  • 12x 50m (25m Drill/25m Swim);
  • 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.

By now you should be well and truly familiar with the drill/swim sets which is the next set for this session. This particular set involves twelve 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 (work through them all 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.

Take your fins off prior to commencing the next set, which is a set of twenty repetitions of 100m with only 20 seconds Rest Interval (RI). Within this set build the pace every four repetitions. This means that each rep you get quicker up until the fourth rep, then for the fifth (or ninth, or thirteenth, or seventeenth) you drop the pace back again. Steady, Fast, Faster, Fastest.

The second to last set involves repeating the drill/swim set done earlier.

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 NZ

This session is very much designed around enhancing your endurance.

  • 1,000m Warm Up;
  • 8x 50m (25m Drill/25m Swim);
  • 2x 1000m 60sec RI;
  • 8x 50m 20sec RI;
  • 200m 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 eight 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

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.

Remove your fins prior to commencing the next set. This set is made up of two reps of 1,000m with a 60 second Rest Interval (RI). Try and do the second rep a little faster than the first rep.

The next set is a short, sharp set of eight by 50m with 20 seconds Rest Interval (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.

I am the Head Coach & Director of Qwik Kiwi – Endurance Sports Consultant.

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.

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


Leave a Reply

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