Saturday Swim Session: 50's for Fitness - Coach Ray

Coach Ray

Training for Excellence, with Excellent Training

Tri Training NZ
Beginner Training Swim Sessions Triathlon Training

Saturday Swim Session: 50’s for Fitness

This session will develop your endurance by repeating 50m reps many times throughout the session.

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 Warm Up;
  • 8x 50m (25m Drill/25m Swim);
  • 8x 50m Build 1-4 on 1/2 T Time + 10sec;
  • 8x 50m (alt odd reps Fast, even reps steady) 10sec RI
  • 200m Cool Down (1,600m)

Option B

  • 400m Warm Up;
  • 8x 50m (25m Drill/25m Swim);
  • 12x 50m Build 1-4 on 1/2 T Time + 10sec;
  • 12x 50m (alt odd reps Fast, even reps steady) 10sec RI
  • 200m Cool Down (2,200m)

Option C

  • 800m Warm Up;
  • 12x 50m (25m Drill/25m Swim);
  • 16x 50m Build 1-4 on 1/2 T Time + 10sec;
  • 16x 50m (alt odd reps Fast, even reps steady) 10sec RI
  • 200m Cool Down (3,200m)

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 eight reps (Option A and B) or twelve reps (Option C). 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 second 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 twice through for a total of eight reps (Options A and B) or three times through for Option 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.

The following set involves doing eight (Option A), twelve (Option B) or sixteen (Option C) sprints of 50m. You need to have determined your T-Time for swimming (read more about T-Times here and the workout to determine it can be found here). Use half of your T-Time plus 10 seconds as your ‘Go’ time to start each rep. As you swim each rep, get faster and build your pace across each block of four reps.

Here is an example of how these sets might unfold for three hypothetical people each doing the different options. notice on the fifth, ninth and thirteenth rep they drop the pace back as they recommence a set of build 1-4.

Rep Option A Option B Option C
1 1:06 1:01 0:55 Moderate
2 1:03 0:58 0:53 Fast
3 1:02 0:56 0:51 Faster
4 1:00 0:55 0:48 Fastest
5 1:07 0:59 0:53 Moderate
6 1:06 0:56 0:52 Fast
7 1:03 0:55 0:51 Faster
8 0:59 0:54 0:49 Fastest
9 0:56 Moderate
10 0:54 Fast
11 0:53 Faster
12 0:49 Fastest
13 0:57 Moderate
14 0:55 Fast
15 0:52 Faster
16 0:48 Fastest

The last set before the cool down involves eight (Option A), twelve (Option B) or sixteen (Option C) 50m reps. Take a ten second Rest Interval (RI) after each rep and alternate each odd numbered rep (1st, 3rd, 5th, 7th etc…) swimming as fast as you can and then on the even numbered reps (2nd, 4th, 6th, 8th etc….) swimming nice and steady.

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.

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Ray has competed in triathlons from sprint to ironman distance (both IM Taupo and Challenge Wanaka). Consequently he is aware of the importance of balancing training with lifestyle, thus complimenting other important aspects of an athlete’s life (family, work, study commitments etc…). • Entering your first triathlon? • Stepping up to a longer distance? • Looking to go faster? • Wanting to turn previous negatives into positives? Ray has coached athletes to achieve these and more. Training programmes are accessible online, so athletes can be located anywhere and still reap the benefits of Ray’s coaching. Contact him to discuss how he can assist you to achieve your goals.
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