Tri Swim Training

Saturday Swim Session: Enhance Your Efficiency with this Workout of 400’s

Use this workout and the variable pace of the 400s to enhance your efficiency in swimming longer distances. 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;
  • 8x 50m (25m Drill/25m Swim);
  • 3x 400m (Build 1-3), 30sec RI;
  • 200m CD; (2,000m)

Option B 

  • 400m WU;
  • 8x 50m (25m Drill/25m Swim);
  • 5x 400m (Build 1-2, Easy, Build 4-5), 30sec RI;
  • 200m CD; (3,000m)

Option C

  • 600m WU;
  • 8x 50m (25m Drill/25m Swim);
  • 7x 400m (Build 1-3, Easy, Build 4-7), 30sec RI;
  • 200m CD; (4,000m)

Start the workout with a Warm Up (WU) covering 200m (Option A), 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 is a set of eight (Options A, 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. Take a short pause between reps to prepare for the next rep. Feel free to use fins whilst doing the drill/swim set. Do the drills below twice through for all options:

  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 it and watch the videos of how to do the respective drills.

Take your fins off for the next set.

The main set is made up of three (Option A), five (Option B), or seven (Option C) reps of 400m. These are done at different intensities to develop efficiency at different paces. Start with the first rep at a moderate pace, then build from that pace over the following reps.

For Option A, keep getting faster for each of the three reps (moderate, fast, faster).

For Options B and C you have any Easy rep in the middle. Start with your moderate rep for Option B, then get faster, your third rep is easy, and then moderate for the fourth, finish with your fastest rep. For Option C, start with your moderate rep, then a fast rep for the second, faster for your third, then an easy rep for your fourth. From the fifth rep through to the seventh work through the moderate, fast, and faster sequence for the reps.

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 Session: 800’s

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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