Tri Swim Coach

Saturday Swim Session: Swiss Army Set

This session is named because it has EVERYTHING in it. A big mix of intensity and the inclusion of other strokes. Triathletes need the benefit of mixing in various intensities and other strokes to develop their all-round swimming skills. This session is perfect for Ironman and Olympic distance triathletes or people doing longer Ocean Swims.

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.

Inspiration for this week’s session comes from Sara McLarty who wrote about these sessions in an article for back in June, you can read the article here.

Option A

  • 300 WU (100 swim/ 100 kick/100 pull);
  • 4 x 75 with :20 rest (25 non-free/50 free);
  • 4 x 75 with :15 rest (25 head-up swimming/50 swim);
  • 4 x 75 with :10 rest (build to fast);
  • 200 swim (no walls);
  • 100 CD (1,500m)

Option B

  • 300 WU (100 swim/ 100 kick/100 choice);
  • 200 pull buoy only;
  • 4 x 75 on 2:00 (25 back/25 breast/25 free);
  • 4 x 75 on 1:50 (25 head-up swimming/50 swim);
  • 4 x 75 on 1:40 (build to fast);
  • 4 x 75 on 1:30 (swim strong);
  • 200 pull buoy only 300 swims (no walls);
  • 100 CD (2,300m)

Option C

  • 300 WU (100 swim/ 100 kick/100 choice);
  • 200 pull buoy only;
  • 6 x 75 on 1:30 (25 back/25 breast/25 free);
  • 6 x 75 on 1:20 (25 head-up swimming/50 swim);
  • 6 x 75 on 1:10 (build to fast);
  • 6 x 75 on 1:00 (swim strong);
  • 200 pull buoy only;
  • 400 swim (no walls);
  • 200 CD (3,100m)

Start the session with a 300m Warm Up (WU). Break this into 100m of swimming, 100m of kicking, and 100m of pull buoy if you are doing Option A. If you are doing Option B or C you can choose what you do for the final 100m, but it must be something different from freestyle or kicking. You can swim another stroke or even use a pull buoy. During the Warm Up (WU) feel free to stop and stretch as needed.  It doesn’t need to be a continuous swim.

During the Warm Up (WU) I encourage you to avoid using a kickboard. Here are a couple of ways to do that:

For Options B & C swim 200m with a pull buoy next, Option A jumps straight into the 75s.

Next up is a set of four (Options A & B) or six reps of 75m. These reps are split up. Option A it’s split with 25m non-freestyle and then 50m freestyle. Options B & C split it 25m backstroke/25m breaststroke/25m freestyle. If you are doing Option A, take a 20-second Rest Interval (RI) between each rep. If you are doing Option B do them on 2:00 minutes, and if you are doing Option C do them on 1:30 minutes. That means you start every 1:30 or every 2:00 minutes (respectively). If it takes you 1:15 to swim the rep that leaves you with 15 seconds (or 45 seconds) of rest before starting again.

Following on from this complete another set of four (Options A & B) or six (Option C) reps of 75m. This swims as 25m heads up, Tarzan style swimming to get used to sighting and then dropping the head back in the water and swimming normally for the remaining 50m of the rep. If you are doing Option A, take a 15-second Rest Interval (RI) between each rep. If you are doing Option B do them on 1:50 minutes, and if you are doing Option C do them on 1:20 minutes. Similar in structure to the previous set, the qwikker you swim the rep the more rest you get.

The next set is also four (Options A & B), or six reps (Option C) of 75m. Sara calls these Build to Fast, what she is referring to here is that within each rep you pick up your pace as you work through the rep building your speed by getting faster and faster within the rep. I normally call this Pick-Up. If you are doing Option A take a 10-second Rest Interval (RI) after each rep. Options B & C do the reps on 1:10 and 1:40 respectively. Similar in structure to the previous set, the qwikker you swim the rep the more rest you get.

Options B & C have an extra couple of sets. The first extra set is of four (Option B) or six (Option C) 75m reps. Swim these strong, maximising your speed. Do them on 1:30 and 1:00 respectively for Options B & C.

The next set for B & C only is a set of 200m Pull Buoy.

The last set is 200m (Option A), 300m (Option B), or 400m (Option C) No Walls. This means you turn slightly early so as not to get the benefit of pushing off the wall.

To finish, complete the session with a 100m (Options A & B) or 200m (Option C) Cool Down (CD). Unlike the previous sets which have to be freestyle, the cooldown (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, I published a similar session 12 months ago.

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