Tri Training NZ

Saturday Swim Session: Sets of Four Hundreds

This session will develop your threshold endurance and then boost your speed. 

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

  • 400m Warm Up;
  • 4x 50m Drill/Swim;
  • 4x 100m Build 1-4 on T-Time + 15sec;
  • 4x 100m Pull Buoy, 20sec RI;
  • 4x 100m Build 1-4 on T-Time +20sec;
  • 200m Cool Down (2,000m)

Option B

  • 400m Warm Up;
  • 8x 50m Drill/Swim;
  • 4x 100m Build 1-4 on T-Time + 15sec;
  • 4x 100m Pull Buoy, 20sec RI;
  • 4x 100m Build 1-4 on T-Time +20sec;
  • 4x 100m Paddles, 20sec RI;
  • 200m Cool Down;

Option C

  • 800m Warm Up;
  • 8x 50m Drill/Swim;
  • 4x 100m Build 1-4 on T-Time + 15sec;
  • 4x 100m Pull Buoy, 20sec RI;
  • 4x 100m Build 1-4 on T-Time +20sec;
  • 4x 100m Paddles, 20sec RI;
  • 4x 100m Build 1-4 on T-Time +20sec;
  • 200m Cool Down (3,400m)

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

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 four reps. The pause referred to above is a stop of about 10 seconds. It is 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 is not physiologically critical to the aim of this set. Having a quick break is neurologically critical though, so make sure you do not just roll straight from one rep to the next.

A YouTube video of the drill can be found by clicking on the drill listed below, complete these drills once through for a total of four reps (Options A) or twice through (Option B or C):

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

Feel free to use some fins for this drill set, but do not forget to take them off at the end of it.

There are three main sets all involving four reps of 100m for Option A, four sets for Option B, and five sets for Option C.

The first set of four reps is done on your T-Time plus 15 seconds and you need to build your speed as you go through each of the four reps.

You need to have done the Monday workout from week nineteen and have determined your T-Time for swimming. Add 15 seconds to your T-Time to create your ‘Go’ time to start each rep. Read more about it T-Times here.  As you swim each rep, get faster and build your pace across each block of four reps. If you use the example of a T-Time that is 1:55 adding 15 seconds makes 2:10, meaning that you start each rep 2:10 after the previous one started.

Here is an example of some made-up times that potentially could happen from a 1:55 T-Time.

The next set involves swimming with a Pull Buoy and taking a 20-second Rest Interval (RI) between reps.

The third set of this series involves using the T-Time again but this time by adding 20 seconds to it. As with the first main set you need to build your effort and pace over the four reps. Using the example above that would be 2:15. Here is another made-up example of possible times for a 1:55 T-Time.

At this point Option, A goes straight to the Cool Down, but Option B and C do a set of four 100m reps with hand paddles to enhance your strength. Take a 20-second Rest Interval (RI) between reps. After this set Option B commences the Cool Down and Option C does one more set of four 100m reps (same as the third set Build 1-4 on T-Time plus 20sec).

Then it is time for a 200m Cool Down (CD). Unlike the previous sets which have to be freestyle, the cooldown (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 and 021 348 729. Make sure you sign up for my informative newsletter.

Share this post so your friends can benefit as well.

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

Saturday Swim Session: Drills & Technique

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

3 Replies to “Saturday Swim Session: Sets of Four Hundreds”

  1. Thanks for sharing, Coach Ray. Like many people, when I swim, I usually don’t keep track of anything. I do a bunch of fancy moves and occasionally time myself to beat my own speed record. I will try some of these warmups and remember to stretch and take occasional breaks, too. I will try these times and make adjustments based on my own personal abilities. Thanks again.

    1. Cheers for the Feedback Steve. Let me know how you get on with them (Feel free to Facebook message me).

      I’d recommend you start with this session:

      Here is some more information about T-Times for you:


      Ray Boardman (Coach Ray)

      Connect with me on Social Media:
      Facebook: Qwik Kiwi Endurance Sports Consultants
      YouTube: Qwik Kiwi
      Twitter: @CoachRayNZ
      Instagram: @Coach_Ray_NZ
      Strava: Qwik Kiwi

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.