Saturday Swim Session: Testing Yourself in a 33m or 33yrd Pool - Coach Ray

Coach Ray

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Tri Swim Coach
Swim Sessions Triathlon Training

Saturday Swim Session: Testing Yourself in a 33m or 33yrd Pool

This session is a great tool to determine your current level of fitness and use as a benchmark for planning of future training sessions if you are using a 33⅓ yard or metre pool. I use a variation of it every four to six weeks with my athletes.

This is the first of a number of Saturday Swim Sessions using a 33⅓ yard or metre pool that you can do to enhance your swimming. Each week 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.

These sessions will determine a T-Time (Target-Time) that you can then utilise in future training sessions to manage intensity.

I’ve written these sessions for a 33⅓ metre pool, but a lot of the older style pools are 33⅓ yards long (100 feet), simply interchange the metres for yards and do the session.

Option A

  • 400m Warm Up;
  • 4x 67m (33m Drill/33m Swim);
  • 4x 33m Pick Up 10sec RI;
  • 400m Time Trial (TT);
  • 10min rest including easy swimming of at least 133m;
  • 200m TT;
  • 200m Cool Down (1,733m)

Option B

  • 600m Warm Up;
  • 8x 67m (33m Drill/33m Swim);
  • 8x 33m Pick Up 10sec RI;
  • 400m Time Trial (TT);
  • 10min rest including easy swimming of at least 200m;
  • 200m TT;
  • 200m Cool Down (2,333m)

Option C

  • 1,000m WU;
  • 8x 67m (33m Drill/33m Swim);
  • 8x 33m Pick Up 10sec RI;
  • 400m Time Trial (TT);
  • 10min rest including easy swimming of at least 200m;
  • 200m TT;
  • 400m CD (3,000m)

Start the workout with a Warm Up covering 400m, 600m or 1,000m (A, B or 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 eight repetitions of 67m Drill/Swim, where you do a drill for the first 33m of the repetition and then normal swimming for the next 33m swimming. Feel free to use fins whilst doing the drill/swim set. Do the drills below twice through for Options B & C, and only once through for Option A:

    1. Kick On Side (KOS) left side 
    1. Kick On Side (KOS) right side 
    1. 6/1/6 
  1. 6/3/6

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

After the set of  drills take the fins off.

Next up is a Pick Up set. This set simply means that you pick up the pace as you swim through each repetition. Start each rep nice and slow for a few strokes, then swim a few strokes at a moderate pace, then a  few at a fast pace, a few more faster, then getting faster still, finishing the rep at maximum sprint as you lunge for the wall. Complete four reps of 33m for Option A, or eight reps of 33m for Option B & C. After each repetition have a Rest Interval (RI) of 10 seconds.

Regardless of which option you are doing, the next set is a 400m Time Trial. Swim as fast as you can completing the distance at a nice steady pace. Record your time.

Over the next ten minutes swim a minimum of 100m for Option A or 200m for Option B or C. Do this at a very gentle pace as it’s purpose is to keep the arms moving to clear lactic acid out of them.

The final set is a 200m Time Trial. As per the 400m Time Trial, swim as fast as you can at a nice consistent pace, recording your time.

Complete the workout with a 200m Cool Down for Option A & B and 400m for Option C. Feel free to pause and stretch when needed and/or include stretching as part of each break until the distance is covered.

The concept of T-Time has been developed through a number of authors with a number of different names utilised (most popular would be Swim Smooth‘s CSS or Critical Swim Speed). There are various versions of the test (i.e. 1,000m TT, swimming 200m & 100m TTs, 3x 300m or 3x 100m) that all approximate the same thing. My preferred method is the 400m & 200m TT.

The results are critical so ensure that they are recorded correctly and accurately. Make sure you have a stop watch of some description that you can easily operate in the water whilst swimming or have someone pool side to record your times for you.

To determine your T-Time, subtract your 200m time from you 400m time and divide by 2.

T-Time = (400m Time – 200m Time ) / 2 

Here is a real time example:

T-Time = (7:19 – 3:31) / 2

= (3:48) / 2

= 1:54

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 previously.

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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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