Coach Ray

Training for Excellence, with Excellent Training

Tri Swim Coach
Swim Sessions Triathlon Training

Saturday Swim Session: Paddles & Pull Buoy To Improve Your Specific Swim Strength

Using hand paddles by themselves or in combination with a pull buoy will help develop your specific swimming strength. This session uses both and is perfect for Ironman and Olympic distance triathletes or people doing longer ocean swims.

This is continuing the series of Saturday Swim Sessions that you can do to enhance your swimming using a 33⅓ yard or metre pool. 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.

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

Option A

  • 200m WU;
  • 6x 67m (33m Drill/33m Swim);
  • 3x 100m Paddles 20sec RI;
  • 3x 100m Swim 20sec RI;
  • 3x 100m Paddles & Pull Buoy 20sec RI;
  • 3x 100m Swim 20sec RI;
  • 200m CD (1,933m)

Option B

  • 400m WU;
  • 6x 67m (33m Drill/33m Swim);
  • 4x 100m Paddles 20sec RI;
  • 4x 100m Swim 20sec RI;
  • 4x 100m Paddles & Pull Buoy 20sec RI;
  • 4x 100m Swim 20sec RI;
  • 200m CD (2,533m)

Option C

  • 600m WU;
  • 6x 67m (33m Drill/33m Swim);
  • 6x 100m Paddles 20sec RI;
  • 6x 100m Swim 20sec RI;
  • 6x 100m Paddles & Pull Buoy 20sec RI;
  • 6x 100m Swim 20sec RI;
  • 200m CD (3,533m)

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 drill set. There are six 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 once through and repeat Drills 1 and 2 to complete a total of six:

  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 and watch it.

Take the fins off prior to the next set.

The next four sets are made up of three (Option A), four (Option B) or six (Option C) reps of 100m. Take a short rest between sets as you sort your paddles and pull buoy respectively by either taking them off or putting them on depending on the set.

The first of the four sets is swum with hand paddles only and take a 20 second Rest Interval (RI) between reps. The second set is normal Freestyle (front crawl) swimming without any equipment, also with a 20 second Rest Interval (RI) between reps. The third set uses hand paddles and a pull buoy, and also a 20 second Rest Interval. The final set is the same as the second with normal Freestyle (front crawl) swimming without any equipment and a 20 second Rest Interval (RI).

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.

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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