Saturday Swim Session – 50’s for Top End Speed

Pure speed is developed by doing short reps with a reasonable amount of rest. As triathletes and endurance athletes you don’t need the same level of speed that a pool swimmer requires. This workout is perfect for Ironman and Olympic distance triathletes or people doing longer ocean swims.

Each week I will load three options up for you to do. Option A is for swimmers who are after a workout less than 2,000 metres. Option B is for swimmers who are after a workout between 2,000 and 3,000m and Option C will be greater than 3,000m.

Option A

  • 200m WU;
  • 8x 50m (25m Drill/25m Swim);
  • 6x 50m Build 1-3 on ½ T Time + 10sec;
  • 6x 50m (alt even reps Fast, off reps steady) 10sec RI;
  • 200m CD (1,400m)

Option B

  • 400m WU;
  • 8x 50m (25m Drill/25m Swim);
  • 10x 50m Build 1-5 on ½ T Time + 10sec;
  • 10x 50m (alt even reps Fast, off reps steady) 10sec RI;
  • 200m CD (2000m)

Option C

  • 800m WU;
  • 12x 50m (25m Drill/25m Swim);
  • 16x 50m Build 1-4 on ½ T Time + 10sec;
  • 16x 50m (alt even reps Fast, off reps steady) 10sec RI;
  • 200m CD (3,200m)

Start the workout with a Warm Up (WU) covering 200m (Option A), 400m (Option B) or 800m (Option C). During the warm up feel free to stop and stretch as needed.  It doesn’t need to be a continuous swim.

Next up is a drill set of eight (Option A & B) or twelve repetitions (Option C) of 50m Drill/Swim, where you do a drill for the first 25m of the repetition and then normal swimming for the next 25m swimming. Feel free to use fins whilst doing the drill/swim set.  Do the drills below twice through to make eight reps (Option A & B), or three times through to make twelve reps (Option C):

  1. Kick On Side (KOS) left side 
  2. Kick On Side (KOS) right side 
  3. 6/1/6 
  4. 6/3/6

I wrote an article about swimming drills previously. Click here to read and watch it.

There are two main sets within this workout. The first one involves a set of 50m sprints based off half your T-Time plus ten seconds. Option A does six reps, Option B does ten reps and there are 16 reps for Option C. Read this article for more about T-Times:

T-Times for Swimming

With this set you are to build the speed of each rep over a series of them before reverting back to an easy pace and then building up your pace. Option A you build your pace over three reps, Option B over five reps and for Option C over four reps. With Option A your fastest reps would be your third and sixth, and your slowest reps would be your first and fourth. With Option B it would be your fifth and tenth reps for your fast reps. Option C your fast reps are your fourth, eighth, twelfth and sixteenth.

The next main set is made up of more 50m repetitions. Once again Option A has six reps, Option B has ten and Option C has 16. These reps only have a ten second Rest Interval (RI) between them. Alternate between reps swimming the odd number reps at a steady pace and the even numbered reps as FAST as you can.

For the Cool Down (CD) swim 200m. Unlike the previous sets which have to be freestyle, the cool down (like the warm up) can be any stroke you wish to swim.  You can also stop and rest after any length.  I encourage you to stop and stretch during the cool down.

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

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.

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

Saturday Swim Session: Threshold 200’s

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

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