Coach Ray

Training for Excellence, with Excellent Training

Swim Session
Swim Sessions Triathlon Training

Saturday Swim Session: Negative Split Threshold Swim

Negative Split refers to swimming faster in the second half than the first half. This session helps build your intrinsic ability to pace yourself. 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.

The inspiration for these workouts came from an article on Active.com written by Gale Bernhardt, you can read the article here.

Option A

  • 200m WU;
  • 100m Kick;
  • 200m Drill;
  • 4x 100m (T-2sec) on T+15sec;
  • 50m Easy;
  • 3x 100m (T-3sec) on T+15sec;
  • 50m Easy;
  • 2x 100m (T-5sec) on T+15sec;
  • 200m CD (1,700m)

Option B

  • 300m WU;
  • 300m Kick;
  • 200m Drill;
  • 6x 100m (T-2sec) on T+15sec;
  • 100m Easy;
  • 4x 100m (T-3sec) on T+15sec;
  • 100m Easy;
  • 4x 100m (T-5sec) on T+15sec;
  • 100m Easy;
  • 300m CD (2,800m)

Option C

  • 600m WU;
  • 300m Kick;
  • 200m Drill;
  • 8x 100m (T-2sec) on T+15sec;
  • 100m Easy;
  • 6x 100m (T-3sec) on T+15sec;
  • 100m Easy;
  • 6x 100m (T-5sec) on T+15sec;
  • 100m Easy;
  • 300m CD (3,700m)

Start the workout with a Warm Up (WU) covering 200m (Option A), 300m (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.

For the next set you’ll focus on building your kicking skill and ability, with a set of 100m (Option A) or 300m (Options B & C) kicking. Use fins for this set and throw away your kick board. Use the kick on front drill depicted in the video below.

Next up is a drill set over 200m. Do 50m each of the following drills. Feel free to use fins whilst doing this set.

  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.

The main body of the workout is made up of three sets of 100m reps, that get faster and faster (negative split) each set. Between each set you have an easy swim to assist with recovery. Minimise any rest after the easy swim to get into the next set with minimal delay. Long enough to have a quick drink and mentally focus on the effort required for the set.

All the sets are done on your T-Time plus 15 seconds. For example if your T-TIme is 1:45 then you will push off the wall every 2:00 minutes to start each rep. The time in brackets is the pace you should aim for with in each set. If your T-Time is 1:45 you should be aiming to swim each rep in the first set at about 1:43 pace (leaving you with 17 seconds rest), in the second set about 1:42 pace (leaving you with 18 seconds rest) and in the final set 1:40 or quicker (leaving you with 20 or more seconds rest). Read more about T-Times here:

The first set is made up of four (Option A), six (Option B) or eight (Option C) reps of 100m done on your T-Time plus 15 seconds. Aim to swim these 1-2 seconds faster than your T-Time. At the completion of the set swim 50m (Option A) or 100m (Options B & C) nice and relaxed for recovery (feel free to do this another stroke).

The second set is made up of two (Option A), four (Option B) or six (Option C) reps of 100m done on your T-Time plus 15 seconds. Aim to swim these about 3 seconds faster than your T-Time. At the completion of the set swim 50m (Option A) or 100m (Options B & C) nice and relaxed for recovery (feel free to do this another stroke).

The third set is made up of two (Option A), four (Option B) or six (Option C) reps of 100m done on your T-Time plus 15 seconds. Aim to swim these 5 seconds or more faster than your T-Time. At the completion of the set swim 100m (Options B & C) nice and relaxed for recovery (feel free to do this another stroke) before swimming the Cool Down (CD). Option A goes straight to the Cool Down (CD).

To finish, complete the session with a 200m (Option A) or 300m (Options B & 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 coachray@coachray.nz 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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