Tri Swim Coach

Saturday Swim Session – Test Yourself With a Time Trial

Swimming time trials is a great way to test yourself and measure your progress. Incorporating them into your programme regularly gives you an idea of how your fitness is changing.  This workout 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.

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;
  • 4x 67m (33m Drill/33m Swim);
  • 6x 33m Pick Ups, 10sec RI;
  • 1,000m TT;
  • 200m CD (1,867m)

Option B 

  • 400m WU;
  • 6x 67m (33m Drill/33m Swim);
  • 6x 33m Pick Ups, 10sec RI;
  • 1,500m TT;
  • 233m CD (2,733m)

Option C

  • 1,000m WU;
  • 8x 67m (33m Drill/33m Swim);
  • 6x 33m Pick Ups, 10sec RI;
  • 1,500m TT;
  • 233m CD (3,467m)

Start the workout with a Warm Up (WU) covering 200m (Option A), 400m (Option B), or 1,000m (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 set of four (Option A), six (Option B), or eight (Option C) 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, twice through if doing Option C, once through for Option A and if doing Option B repeat the Kick On Side drills once having been through the first 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 it and watch the videos of how to do the respective drills.

Take your fins off for the next sets.

Next up is a set of six Pick Ups over 33m. For a Pick Up you increase your speed as you swim your length, getting faster as you get closer to the end of the rep. You pick up your pace within the length. After each rep take a ten-second Rest Interval (RI).

The main set is a Time Trial over 1,000m (Option A) or 1,500m (Options B and C). Swim this time trial at a steady pace, as consistently as you can. Record your time and then repeat this session (or a similar session) every four to six weeks to compare your times.

Then it is time for a 200m (Option A) or 233m (Option B and 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 coachray@coachray.nz and 021 348 729.

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If you enjoyed this workout, I published a similar session 12 months ago.

I’ve taken my most popular training plan and given it a make-over for 2020. I’ve taken the 12 Weeks to an Ironman Swim PB – Swim Faster with Smarter Training and I’ve modified to expand the programme from 12 weeks and include an option for more than 3 swims per week.

Now the programme has created some great times for athletes competing at Ironman events around the world, but it was overly set in stone. Now if you have got between 8 & 24 weeks to an Ironman and are consistently swimming 3x, 4x, or 5x per week, I’ve created an option for you. This is regardless of the length of the pool 25m, 33⅓yd, or 50m pool.

This programme is peroidised and builds throughout as you get closer to your Ironman. It works through four key phases:

  • Foundation & Injury Prevention Phase (building your base fitness and developing technique)
  • Early Quality Phase (develop strength and continue developing technique)
  • Transition Quality Phase (focus on threshold pace and maintain technique)
  • Final Quality Phase (further develop your speed and maintain technique and taper off for the event)

Although the original 12-week programme is proven and gets RESULTS. This modified version is unproven. I know it will get the results, but I need the proof. I need a dozen people to complete the programme, so I can measure how much improvement the programme actually delivers.

If you are entered in an Ironman, Iron-distance event, or an Ocean Swim/Open Water event and have between 8 and 24 weeks to train for it, you might be a good fit to try this training plan out. Not everyone will be a good fit for this programme.

This training plan is for people that are keen to swim faster in their Ironman (or other events). You need to be committed to completing a minimum of three swim workouts every week. You need to be meticulous with tracking your training.

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