Tri Swim Coach

Saturday Swim Session: Sara McLarty’s Race-Week Reps

Tapering leading into an event refers to reducing your training load by minimising the volume of training. It doesn’t mean doing anything and it’s important to still maintain the intensity of your training, just not doing so much and including more rest. This session provides that for you nicely. 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.

This week’s workouts are a little shorter than normal to help freshen you up leading into your event. Inspiration for this week’s session comes from Sara McLarty’s article in Triathlete Magazine, you can read the article here.

Option A

  • 200m WU;
  • 4× 50m (25 kick/25 swim Pick Up) 15sec RI;
  • 200m swim (no walls, Tarzan drill every second 25);
  • 4× 50m 15sec RI;
  • 200m pull;
  • 4× 50m (25 non-free/25 free) 15sec RI;
  • 100m CD (1,300m)

Option B

  • 300m WU;
  • 6× 50m (25 kick/25 swim Pick Up) on 1:10;
  • 200m swim (no walls, Tarzan drill every second 25);
  • 4× 100m on 2:30;
  • 200m pull;
  • 6× 50m (25 non-free/25 free) on :60;
  • 100m CD (1,800m)

Option C

  • 300m WU;
  • 8× 50m (25 kick/25 swim Pick Up) on 60;
  • 300m swim (no walls, Tarzan drill every third 25);
  • 6× 100m on 1:50;
  • 300m pull;
  • 8× 50m (25 non-free/25 free) on :60;
  • 100m CD (2,400m)

The Warm Up (WU) for today’s session (like each set) is short & sweet. Start with 200m for Option A and 300m for Options B & C. During the warm-up feel free to stop and stretch as needed.  It doesn’t need to be a continuous swim.

The second set involves four (Option A), six (Option B), or eight (Option C) 50m reps. Do these 50m reps as kick for the first 25m and then as a Pick Up for the 2nd 25m of the 50m rep. Do the kick portion of these reps without a kickboard, as you will find it is always at the wrong end of the pool each time you need it. Maintain a streamlined position with your hands and scull outwards to lift your head to breathe. Pick Up simply means that you pick up your pace as your work through the 25m, starting off steady and then increasing to fast for a few strokes, then faster for a few more strokes, and then finishing the rep swimming your fastest. If you are doing Option A take a 15-second Rest Interval (RI) after each rep. For Option B start each rep one minute and ten seconds after starting the previous rep. This means that if it takes you one minute to complete the rep you get ten seconds of rest before the next rep, but if you swim it faster, in only 55 seconds then you get fifteen seconds of rest. For Option C do these reps on 60 seconds.

Next up swim 200m (Options A & B) or 300m (Options C). Turn slightly before the wall, without touching or pushing off the wall. Every second length (Options A & B) or every third length (Option C) swim the Tarzan drill. To swim this drill swim like Tarzan did in the movies with his head out of the water and facing forward to see where he is going. Arch your back and keep your feet near the surface of the water.

The next set varies depending on which option you are doing. Option A does a set of four 50m reps with a 15-second Rest Interval (RI). Option B does a set of four 100m reps on 2:30min. Option C does a set of six 100m reps on 1:50min. The motivation for both Options B & C is to do these as fast as possible to get more rest. I.E. for Option B if you swim your 100m in 2:15 you will only get 15 seconds of rest, however, if you swim the 100m faster and only take 2:00 then you will get 30 seconds. And the same principle applies to Option C although you have less time to complete your 100m.

For the next set, grab your pull buoy and swim 200m (Options A & B) or 300m (Option C).

The next set is made up of 50m reps. These are split into 25m using a non-freestyle stroke for the first 25m (most likely breaststroke or backstroke, but if you are up to including butterfly then feel free to do so). The second 25m in this rep is done as freestyle (or front crawl if that is what you call it where you are). These reps are done without a break, i.e. swimming 50m non-stop just changing how you are swimming, at the 25m point. Option A has a 15-second Rest Interval (RI) between reps, and Options B & C swim on the 60. This means that you start each rep on the sixty-second mark, regardless of how much rest you have had. If it takes 59 seconds to swim the 50m, you get one-second rest, if it takes you 45 seconds to swim the 50m you get 15 seconds of rest.

To finish, complete the session with a 100m 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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