Tri Swim Coach

Saturday Swim Session – A Variety Of 400’s To Improve Your Swimming

400s are the perfect distance to enhance your endurance and stamina. Within this workout, you will use pull buoys & paddles to improve your performance. Both pull buoys and paddles focus efforts on the upper body whilst swimming and will help to develop specific strength as well as feel for the water. 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);
  • 2x 400m (1st Padd, 2nd PB) 60sec RI;
  • 4x 67m on 2/3T+5sec RI;
  • 6x 33m Kick 10sec RI;
  • 200m CD (1,933m)

Option B 

  • 400m WU;
  • 4x 67m (33m Drill/33m Swim);
  • 3x 400m (1st Padd, 2nd PB, 3rd F/S) 60sec RI;
  • 4x 67m on 2/3T+5sec RI;
  • 6x 33m Kick 10sec RI;
  • 200m CD (2,533m)

Option C

  • 1,000m WU;
  • 6x 67m (33m Drill/33m Swim);
  • 4x 400m (1st PP, 2nd Padd, 3rd PB, 4th F/S) 60sec RI;
  • 6x 67m on 2/3T+5sec RI;
  • 8x 33m Kick 10sec RI;
  • 200m CD (3,867m)

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 (Options A and B) or six (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 once through, if doing Option C repeat the Kick On Side drills:

  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 400s using pull buoy and/or paddles. If doing Option A do two reps, with the first being paddles (Padd) and the second being pulled buoy (PB).  If doing Option B do three reps, with the first being paddles (Padd), the second being pulled buoy (PB) and the third being regular swimming. If doing Option C do four reps with the first using both pull buoy & paddles (PP), the second with paddles (Padd) only, the third using a pull buoy (PB), and the final rep regular swimming. Between each rep take a 60-second Rest Interval (RI).

Following on from the 400’s is a set of 67’s. These are all done on two-thirds of your T-Time plus five seconds. Have a read of this article here.   For example, if your T-Time is 2:00 minutes, two-thirds of this is 1:20 minutes then adding five seconds gives you 65 seconds. You would start each 50m rep every 85 seconds. Regardless of how fast or slow you swim you go again 85 seconds from when you started the previous rep. If it takes you 80 seconds to swim the 67m you would get five seconds rest and if you swim it in 70 seconds, you would get 15 seconds rest. In this workout do four reps if you are doing Option A or B, and six reps if you are doing Option C.

Next up is a set of six (Option A and B) or eight (Option C) repetitions of 25m Kick. My preference is for you not to use a kickboard for this set but instead to do either Kick On Side or Kick On Front drill.

Then it is time for a 200m 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.

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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