Tri Swim Training

Saturday Swim Session: Time Trials for Success

Utilising Time Trials is great for assessing your current level of performance, but the most important aspect of a session involving a Time Trial is the training stimulus that you give yourself. It is great for developing your sustained 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

  • 200m WU;
  • 4x 50m Drill/Swim;
  • 4x 25m Pick Ups, 10sec RI;
  • 1,000m Time Trial;
  • 200m CD (1,700m)

Option B 

  • 400m WU;
  • 8x 50m Drill/Swim;
  • 8x 25m Pick Ups, 10sec RI;
  • 1,500m Time Trial;
  • 200m CD (2,700m)

Option C

  • 800m WU;
  • 8x 50m Drill/Swim;
  • 8x 25m Pick Ups, 10sec RI;
  • 1,500m Time Trial;
  • 200m CD (3,100m)

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

Next up are four (Option A) or eight (Options B and C) repetitions of 50m Drill/Swim, where you do a drill for the first 25m of the repetition and then normal swimming for the next 25m swimming. Feel free to use fins whilst doing the drill/swim set. Do the drills below, once through for Option A and twice through for Options B and C:

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

I wrote an article about Swimming Drills a few weeks ago. Click here to read and watch it.

Take your fins off for the next sets.

Next up is a set of four (Option A) or eight (Options B and C) 25m Pick Ups with a ten-second Rest Interval (RI) between each rep. These are done by picking up the pace within each repetition.  Start off with a few easy strokes before picking up the pace to a moderate pace for a few strokes, then pick up the pace again to a fast pace for a few strokes, then pick up the pace again to a faster pace for a few strokes, then pick up your pace again for a few strokes to your fastest pace through to the end of the rep. The purpose of these Pick Ups is to increase the heart rate to a level that is close to that which it will be operating during the Time Trial.

After the set of Pick Ups take a wee break of about a minute before commencing the Time Trial of 1,000m (Option A) or 1,500m (Options B or C). Swim it as fast and as consistently as possible.

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 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, I published a similar session 12 months ago.

12 Weeks to an Iron-Distance Swim PB: Week 11

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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