Tri Swim Coach

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 the 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.

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.

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 of 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 
  2. 6/3/6

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

Coach Ray’s Top 3 Swimming Drills to Get You Swimming Smooth

After the set of drills takes 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 faster, then getting faster still, finishing the rep at a 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 its 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 by a number of authors with a number of different names utilised (the 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 to ensure that they are recorded correctly and accurately. Make sure you have a stopwatch of some description that you can easily operate in the water whilst swimming or have someone poolside record your times for you.

To determine your T-Time, subtract your 200m time from your 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, I published a similar session previously.

Saturday Swim Session – A Variety Of 400’s To Improve Your Swimming

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