Saturday Swim Session: Paddle Your Way To Success - Coach Ray

Coach Ray

Training for Excellence, with Excellent Training

Tri Swim Coach
Swim Sessions Triathlon Training

Saturday Swim Session: Paddle Your Way To Success

Swimming with hand paddles are an effective tool to develop your strength. 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 25m Drill;
  • 4x (200m Paddles, 20sec RI, 50m swim, 10sec RI);
  • 8x 50m on ½ T+10sec;
  • 200m CD (1,950m);

Option B

  • 400m WU;
  • 12x 25m Drill;
  • 6x (200m Paddles, 20sec RI, 50m swim, 10sec RI);
  • 8x 50m on ½ T+10sec;
  • 200m CD (2,800m);

Option C

  • 800m WU;
  • 12x 25m Drill;
  • 8x (200m Paddles, 20sec RI, 50m swim, 10sec RI);
  • 8x 50m on ½ T+10sec;
  • 200m CD (3,700m);

Start the workout with a Warm Up (WU) covering 200m (Option A), 400m (Option B) or 800m (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 drill set of six repetitions (Option A) or twelve repetitions (Options B and C) of 25m Drills. Feel free to use fins whilst doing this set.  Do the drills below twice through for Options B and C, and once through for Option A:

  1. Kick On Side (KOS) left side 
  2. Kick On Side (KOS) right side 
  3. 6/1/6 
  4. 6/3/6
  5. Popov
  6. Broken Arrow

I wrote an article about swimming drills previously. Click here to read and watch it.

After the drills take the fins off.

There are two Main Sets, the first set is a set off 200’s plus 50m. Each rep is made up of two sub-reps. Start off by swimming 200m with Paddles on, when you finish the 200m you’ve got a 20 second Rest Interval (RI) in which to take the paddles off and get ready to swim 50m as fast as you can without the paddles. After the 50m you’ve got a ten second Rest Interval (RI) during which you will need to quickly put your paddles back on. Tough but doable if you are organised. All that makes up one rep.  If you are doing Option A you’ve got four reps to do, six for Option B and eight reps if you are doing Option C.

Next is a set of eight 50m reps done on half your T-Time plus ten seconds. If your T-Time is 2:00, then half of that is 1:00 and adding ten seconds makes 1:10. This means you start each 50m every 1:10. If it takes you 55 seconds to swim the 50m you will get 15 seconds rest, if it takes you 63 seconds to swim the 50m you will only get seven seconds rest.

Read more about how to use T-Times here:

For the Cool Down (CD) swim 200m. 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.

You can repeat this session in a few weeks time and track your progress by measuring how much faster you are now swimming the distance.

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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