Saturday Swim Session: Swiss Army Set - Coach Ray

Coach Ray

Training for Excellence, with Excellent Training

Tri Swim Coach
Swim Sessions Triathlon Training

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 allround swimming skills. 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.

Inspiration for this weeks 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 swim (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 you 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 kick board. 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 resting before starting again.

Following on from this complete another set of four (Options A & B) or six (Option C) reps of 75m. This is swum 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 from 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 with in each rep you pick up your pace as you work through the rep building your speed 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 from 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 of 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 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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