Saturday Swim Session: Strength 400’s

Tri Coach NZThis session will develop your strength endurance.

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 & 3,000m and Option C will be greater than 3,000m.

Option A

  • 200m Warm Up;
  • 8x 25m Drill;
  • 3x 400m (Swim, Pull, Paddles) 30sec RI (main set);
  • 200m Cool Down (1,400m)

Option B

  • 400m Warm Up;
  • 8x 50m (25m Drill/25m Swim);
  • 4x 400m (Swim, Pull, Paddles, Pull & Paddles) 30sec RI (main set);
  • 200m Cool Down (2,600m)

Option C

  • 400m Warm Up;
  • 8x 50m (25m Drill/25m Swim);
  • 6x 400m (Swim, Pull, Swim, Paddles, Swim, Pull & Paddles) 30sec RI (main set);
  • 8x 50m on 1/2 T-Time + 10sec (main set);
  • 200m Cool Down (3,800m)

Start the workout with a Warm Up covering 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.  Swim 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 rest prior to commencing the next rep which will be done holding a pull buoy between your legs. If you don’t have access to a pull buoy, simply hold a kick board between your legs and don’t kick.

The third rep differs based on whether you are doing Option A, B or C.

Rep Option A Option B Option C
1 Swim Swim Swim
2 Pull Pull Pull
3 Paddles Paddles Swim
4 Pull & Paddles Paddles
5 Swim
6 Pull & Paddles

The third rep for Options A & B, as well as the fourth rep for Option C is utilising hand paddles. If you don’t have access to any hand paddles, replace this repetition with regular free style. The final rep for Options B & C is using both pull buoy and paddles at the same time. If you don’t have paddles just use your pull buoy.

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.


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 to 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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