Saturday Swim Session: Short Rest 100’s

Taking short rests between reps can greatly enhance your aerobic efficiency. In this case, the rest is only 5 seconds. This session is perfect for Ironman and Olympic distance triathletes or people doing longer Ocean Swims.

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 (25m Drill/25m Swim);
  • 12x 100m Build 1-4, 5sec RI;
  • 4x 50m (25m Drill/25m Swim);
  • 200m CD (2,000m)

Option B

  • 400m WU;
  • 8x 50m (25m Drill/25m Swim);
  • 16x 100m Build 1-4, 5sec RI;
  • 8x 50m (25m Drill/25m Swim);
  • 200m CD (3,000m)

Option C

  • 600m WU;
  • 12x 50m (25m Drill/25m Swim);
  • 20x 100m Build 1-4, 5sec RI;
  • 12x 50m (25m Drill/25m Swim);
  • 200m CD (4,000m)

Start the workout with a Warm Up (WU) covering 200m (Option A) or 400m (Option B) or 600m (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 (Option B) or twelve (Option 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 two times 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.

Each option then moves onto a set of 100m reps. Option A has 12, Option B has 16, and Option C has 20. Take only a 5-second Rest Interval after each rep. Try and keep your pace nice and consistent across all the reps, and don’t be tempted to lengthen your rest interval. As you work through each block of four reps get faster as you build the pace. Then for the fifth (or ninth, thirteenth, and seventeenth) ease back and build your pace over the next four reps again.

Here are some example times:

RepTime (example)PaceBuild

Next up is a repeat of the drill set you completed after the warm-up. (You can put the fins back on).

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.

Saturday Swim Sessions: Getting started with Swimming

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

4 Replies to “Saturday Swim Session: Short Rest 100’s”

  1. You have confused “build” swims with “descending” swims. A build swim means it gets faster within the swim. If you want each swim to get faster, those are descending swims.

    1. Hi Jacki,

      Thanks for your contribution. I use a different term for what you call a ‘build’ my early coaches at my swim club referred to these swims as ‘pick ups’ and that is what I continue to use. The definition of ‘Build’ swims that I use is explained in the article. It would be great if there was one universal set of terms that EVERY coach used, but unfortunately there isn’t. I’m not confused, I simply use different terms than you. But to avoid people getting confused I explain the terms in the article.


      Coach Ray

    1. Hi Craig, the drills are training technique not a physiological effect, so make the rest as long as it needs to be. Most people this is relatively short (as the intensity isn’t high). Typically it would be in the vicinity of 10-15 seconds so you can think about and focus on the next drill and maybe grab a Qwik swig of water.

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