Tri Training NZ

Saturday Swim Session: Build 400’s

This session is great for developing your endurance and swimming ability.

Each Saturday I will post a Swim Session, most weeks I will load three options up for you to do. Option A is for swimmers who are after a workout between 1,000 & 2,000 metres. Option B is for swimmers who are after a workout between 2,000 & 3,000m and Option C will be greater than 3,000m.

Option A

  • 200m Warm Up;
  • 8x 25m Drill;
  • 2x 400m, 30sec RI (Main Set);
  • 200m Cool Down (1,400m)

Option B

  • 400m Warm Up;
  • 8x 50m (25m Drill/25m Swim);
  • 4x 400m (Build 1-4), 30sec RI (Main Set);
  • 200m Cool Down (2,600m)

Option C

  • 400m Warm Up;
  • 8x 50m (25m Drill/25m Swim);
  • 6x 400m (Build 1-3), 30sec RI (Main Set);
  • 200m Cool Down (3,400m)

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

Drill Sets

For Option A swim 25m doing an appropriate drill. Pause prior to conducting the next repetition for a total of eight repetitions. For Options B or C, swim 25m doing an appropriate drill prior to continuing on with regular or normal swimming to complete 50m continuously. Pause prior to conducting the next repetition for a total of eight repetitions.

The pause referred to above is a stop of about 10 seconds. It’s a chance to grab a drink, review the programme and think about the next drill you will do. If you need 15-20 seconds or longer, you are welcome to take it because the rest duration isn’t physiologically critical to the aim of this set. Having a quick break is neurologically critical though, so make sure you don’t just roll straight from one rep to the next.

Some examples of drills can be found by clicking on the name below:

After the drill set, we are into the main set, swimming 400m at a steady pace holding a little in reserve for the next repetition. Keep the effort nice and consistent for the full 400m. Once completed you have 30 seconds to rest prior to commencing the next rep which will be done faster than the previous one. If you are doing Option A you do two reps for the main set prior to the cool down. Option B does four reps getting progressively faster each rep as you build your speed. This is a challenge and you really need to focus on your pacing. Option C allows you to build your speed up over the first three reps, then drop it back for the fourth rep as you start to build again through to the sixth rep.

Complete the workout with a 200m Cool Down. Feel free to pause and stretch when needed and/or include stretching as part of each break until the distance is covered.

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 and 021 348 729. Make sure you sign up for my informative newsletter.

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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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