Saturday Swim Session: Hand Paddles - Coach Ray

Coach Ray

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Saturday Swim Session: Hand Paddles

These sessions develop your swimming specific strength, that will enable you to develop more power in your stroke. This session is perfect for Ironman and Olympic distance triathletes or people doing longer Ocean Swims.

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 WU;
  • 6x 50m (25m Drill/25m Swim);
  • 3x 100m Paddles 20sec RI;
  • 3x 100m Swim 20sec RI;
  • 3x 100m Paddles & Pull Buoy 20sec RI;
  • 200m CD (1,600m)

Option B

  • 400m WU;
  • 8x 50m (25m Drill/25m Swim);
  • 4x 100m Paddles 20sec RI;
  • 4x 100m Swim 20sec RI;
  • 4x 100m Paddles & Pull Buoy 20sec RI;
  • 4x 100m Swim 20sec RI;
  • 200m CD (2,600m)

Option C

  • 1,000m WU;
  • 12x 50m (25m Drill/25m Swim);
  • 4x 100m Paddles 20sec RI;
  • 4x 100m Swim 20sec RI;
  • 4x 100m Paddles & Pull Buoy 20sec RI;
  • 4x 100m Swim 20sec RI;
  • 200m CD (3,400m)

Start the workout with a Warm Up (WU) covering 200m (Option A) or 400m (Option B) or 1,000m (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 six (Option A), eight (Option B) or twelve (Options 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 then repeat the Kick On Side drills, and two times through for Options B and 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

I wrote an article about Swimming Drills previously. Click here to read and watch it.

Take your fins off for the next sets.

The following sets involve three (Option A) or four (Options B and C) reps of 100m all with a 20 second Rest Interval after each rep. The first of these sets are done with hand paddles on. My recommendation for this is to wear hand paddles that are only attached to the fingers and to not use wrist straps. The reason for this is that it will give you direct feedback if you are taking your swim stroke the whole way through. If you try and pull your hand out short (say just by the hip, as opposed to mid thigh) the hand paddle will most likely either come off or twist in your hand, immediately giving you feedback so you know that your stroke is shorter than it should be.

The second set still involves three (Option A) or four (Options B and C) reps of 100m with 20 seconds Rest Interval (RI) but regular Freestyle (Front Crawl) swimming with no training tools.

The third of these sets involves using the Hand Paddles again this time in conjunction with the Pull Buoy. The fourth set is back to regular swimming with no training tools.

It’s now 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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