Tri Training NZ

Saturday Swim Session: Swim Strength

This session will develop your strength in swimming which we can convert to efficiency and speed later in your programme.

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;
  • 6x 25m Drill;
  • 4x (200m Paddles, 20sec RI, 50m swim, 10sec RI);
  • 8x 50m on 1/2T+10sec;
  • 200m Cool Down (1,950m)

Option B

  • 400m Warm Up;
  • 12x 25m Drill;
  • 6x (200m Paddles, 20sec RI, 50m swim, 10sec RI);
  • 8x 50m on 1/2T+10sec;
  • 200m Cool Down (2,800m)

Option C

  • 800m Warm Up;
  • 12x 25m Drill;
  • 8x (200m Paddles, 20sec RI, 50m swim, 10sec RI);
  • 8x 50m on 1/2T+10sec;
  • 200m Cool Down (3,700m)

Start the workout with a Warm Up covering 200m (Option A) or 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. Pause prior to conducting the next repetition for a total of six 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 isn’t physiologically critical to the aim of this set. Having a wee 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 six reps (Options A) or twice through for options B & C:

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

To do this session correctly you need to know your T-time by doing this workout here. For more detail on T-Times click here.

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

The main set for today’s swim involves four (Option A), six (Option B), or eight (Option C) reps of both the following bullet points (make sure you do both bullet points before starting the second repetition):

  • 200m swim with paddles
  • 50m without paddles

Take a 20-second Rest Interval (RI) after the 200m and in this time you need to remove the paddles. After the 50m take a ten-second Rest Interval (RI) and in that time you need to put the paddles back on ready for the following 200m!! Yes, it will be a challenge and you will need to do so with a sense of urgency but it is doable.

The next set involves eight reps of 50m, swim these sets on a set interval that is worked out based on half your T-Time plus 10 seconds. For example, if your T-Time was 1:55 (as per the example I used last week) you would be starting each rep on 1:10.

Go Time = 1/2  (T-Time) + 10sec

= 1/2  (1:55) + 10 sec

= 0:57.5 + 10 sec

= 1:07.5

then round it up to the nearest 5 seconds making it 1:10

The faster you swim each rep the more rest you get. Here is an example of the times a client of mine did when doing this session using a T-Time of 1:55. You can see that as she worked through the set she swam slightly slower but still got a good amount of rest each time and started consistently on the 1:10 (1/2 T-Time plus 10 seconds).

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.

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: Swim Toys

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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