Tri Swim Coach

Saturday Swim Session – 200’s to Develop Your Threshold Swimming Capability

This session works on enhancing your threshold swimming, as well as your stamina with a big set of 200s. This workout 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);
  • 6x 200m Build 1-3, 30sec RI;
  • 200m CD (1,800m)

Option B

  • 400m WU;
  • 8x 50m (25m Drill/25m Swim);
  • 8x 200m Build 1-4, 30sec RI;
  • 200m CD (2,600m)

Option C

  • 400m WU;
  • 8x 50m (25m Drill/25m Swim);
  • 12x 200m Build 1-4, 30sec RI;
  • 200m CD (3,400m)

Start by swimming 200m (Option A) or 400m (Options B or C) for a Warm Up (WU). Keep a nice steady pace and feel free to pause occasionally to stretch or grab a quick drink. The idea of the warm up is to get the blood flowing and muscles loosened up before some of the more intense sets later in the workout.

Our next set involves either four (Option A) or eight (Options B or C) repetitions of 50m. This 50m is done continuously with the first 25m done as a drill before going straight into the final 25m of regular swimming. Pause after each rep and have a short rest while you focus and mentally prepare for the next drill. Here are some drills that you can include in your programme (if doing Option B or C do them twice through):

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

For the drill set wear a pair of short fins. These will provide you with a small amount of momentum whilst you are focusing on what the upper body is doing.

Take your fins off prior to commencing the next set, which is a set of six (Option A), eight (Option B), or twelve (Option C) repetitions of 200m.  These are swum as a build set which I’ll explain shortly. After each rep pause for 30 seconds. Either use your wrist watch or the BIG pace clock at the pool to keep this rest interval to 30 seconds precisely. If you rest too long, you won’t get the physiological benefit of this session.

With each rep I want you to build your pace to get quicker over four (three if doing Option A) repetitions. Then your fifth rep (fourth for Option A) can be a little slower as you start to build your pace over the next four (or three reps for Option A) reps. You could say your first rep is steady, your second rep is fast, your third rep is faster and your fourth rep is fastest.  Then repeat it all for the fifth to eighth reps. Your times may look like this:

1st4:12Build 1-4Steady
2nd4:02 Fast
3rd3:58 Faster
4th3:55 Fastest
5th4:15Build the next 1-4Steady
6th4:03 Fast
7th3:59 Faster
8th3:56 Fastest
9th4:16Build the next 1-4Steady
10th4:02 Fast
11th3:57 Faster
12th3:52 Fastest

Here is an example of this session being done by one of my athletes. You can see how each 200m rep gets qwikker and qwiker for 40 reps and then they cut the pace back and build for the next block of four. These times were:

  • 3:33; 3:24; 3:11; 3:02
  • 3:35; 3:20; 3:08; 2:59
  • 3:39; 3:13; 3:05; 2:56

The final set is a 200m Cool Down. As with the warm up feel free to pause and do some stretching and grab a drink. Also consider doing some other strokes as part of the cool down. Throw in some back stroke (Bk) or breast stroke (Br) to mix it up.

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. Make sure you sign up to my informative newsletter.

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If you enjoyed this workout, I published a similar session 12 months ago.

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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