Saturday Swim Session – Can’t Beat a 1,500m Time Trial

The great thing about including regular Time Trials (TT) within your training is that they provide you with a great training stimulus and also give you a great benchmark with which to measure your performance against in the future (or compared to previous TTs). 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;
  • 4x 50m Drill/Swim;
  • 4x 25m Pick Ups, 10sec RI;
  • 1,000m Time Trial;
  • 200m CD (1,700m)

Option B 

  • 400m WU;
  • 8x 50m Drill/Swim;
  • 8x 25m Pick Ups, 10sec RI;
  • 1,500m Time Trial;
  • 200m CD (2,700m)

Option C

  • 800m WU;
  • 8x 50m Drill/Swim;
  • 8x 25m Pick Ups, 10sec RI;
  • 1,500m Time Trial;
  • 200m CD (3,100m)

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 are four (Option A) or eight (Options B and C) repetitions 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, once through for Option A and twice through for Options B and 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 a few weeks ago. Click here to read and watch it.

Take your fins off for the next sets.

Next up is a set of four (Option A) or eight (Options B and C) 25m Pick Ups with a ten second Rest Interval (RI) between each rep. These are done by picking up the pace within each repetition.  Start off with a few easy strokes before picking up the pace to a moderate pace for a few strokes, then pick up the pace again to a fast pace for a few strokes, then pick up the pace again to a faster pace for a few strokes, then pick up your pace again for a few strokes to your fastest pace through to the end of the rep. The purpose of these Pick Ups is to increase the heart rate to a level that is close to that which it will be operating at during the Time Trial.

After the set of Pick Ups take a wee break of about a minute before commencing the Time Trial of 1,000m (Option A) or 1,500m (Options B and C). Swim it as fast and as consistently as possible.

Then it is time for a 200m Cool Down (CD). 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 Coaching.

I specialise in assisting first timers and recreational athletes to achieve their sporting goals. I can be contacted at and 021 348 729.

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

Saturday Swim Session: 300’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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