Coach Ray

Training for Excellence, with Excellent Training

Tri Swim Coach
Swim Sessions Triathlon Training

Saturday Swim Session: Bring On Your Swimming Speed with 50’s

50’s are great distance to swim to develop your speed. This session gets you to push the pace and then gives you plenty of rest to enable you to repeat your effort for the next rep. This workout 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;
  • 4x 50m (25m Drill/25m Swim);
  • 8x 50m Build 1-4, 15sec RI;
  • 8x 50m Full Sprint, 30sec RI;
  • 4x 50m IM Order, 15sec RI;
  • 4x 50m Full Sprint, 40sec RI;
  • 200m CD; (1,800m)

Option B 

  • 400m WU;
  • 8x 50m (25m Drill/25m Swim);
  • 8x 50m Build 1-4, 15sec RI;
  • 8x 50m Full Sprint, 30sec RI;
  • 8x 50m IM Order, 15sec RI;
  • 8x 50m Full Sprint, 40sec RI;
  • 200m CD; (2,600m)

Option C

  • 400m WU;
  • 12x 50m (25m Drill/25m Swim);
  • 8x 50m Build 1-4, 15sec RI;
  • 12x 50m Full Sprint, 30sec RI;
  • 8x 50m IM Order, 15sec RI;
  • 12x 50m Full Sprint, 40sec RI;
  • 400m CD; (3,400m)

Start the workout with a Warm Up (WU) covering 200m (Option A) or 400m (Options B and 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 four (Option A), 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 these drills once through for Option A, twice through for Option B and for Option C do them three times through:

  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 sets are made up of various sets of 50m reps.

The first set is eight reps of 50m with 15 seconds Rest Interval (RI). Throughout this set build your speed through each grouping of 4 reps. Start off with the first rep at moderate pace, then the second rep at a fast pace, then faster for the third and then for the fourth at your fastest pace. Repeat that cycle for the fifth through to eight reps.

Next up is a set of eight (Options A and B) or twelve (Option C) reps of 50m at full sprint. Take a long 30 second Rest Interval (RI) after each rep.

The third set is made up of four (Option A) or eight (Options B and C) 50m repetitions in Individual medley order. Start off with butterfly for the first rep. Now I know you might not be able to swim a full 50m butterfly, but I’d still like you to attempt to swim butterfly for as much of the 50m as possible before reverting to freestyle. At the end of each rep take a 15 second Rest Interval (RI). Continue to work through the other competitive strokes with backstroke for your second (and sixth) repetition, breaststroke for your third (and seventh) repetition and freestyle for your fourth (and eighth) rep.

The final set prior to the Cool Down (CD) is made up of four (Option A), eight (Option B) or twelve (Option C) reps of 50m at full sprint. Take a long 40 second Rest Interval (RI) after each rep.

Then it is time for a 200m Cool Down (CD) for Options A and B. For Option C complete a 400m 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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