Saturday Swim Session: Drill Pyramid - Coach Ray

Coach Ray

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Swim Sessions Triathlon Training

Saturday Swim Session: Drill Pyramid

Including drills within your programme is a great way to reinforce and enhance your technique. This session has been designed for swimmers and triathletes returning to the pool who are wanting to further develop their technique.

Each week 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.

The inspiration for these sessions are based on a group of sessions from Sara McLarty published here on Triathlete.com

Option A

  • 200m WU;
  • 4x 50m Drill/Swim;
  • 50m Swim;
  • 4x 50m Drill/Swim;
  • 100m Swim;
  • 4x 50m Drill/Swim;
  • 150m Swim;
  • 4x 50m Drill/Swim;
  • 100m Swim;
  • 4x 50m Drill/Swim;
  • 50m Swim;
  • 4x 50m Drill/Swim;
  • 100m CD (1,950m)

Option B

  • 400m WU
  • 4x 50m Drill/Swim;
  • 50m Swim;
  • 4x 50m Drill/Swim;
  • 100m Swim;
  • 4x 50m Drill/Swim;
  • 150m Swim;
  • 4x 50m Drill/Swim;
  • 200m Swim;
  • 4x 50m Drill/Swim;
  • 150m Swim;
  • 4x 50m Drill/Swim;
  • 100m Swim;
  • 4x 50m Drill/Swim;
  • 50m Swim;
  • 4x 50m Drill/Swim;
  • 200m CD (2,900m)

Option C

  • 800m WU
  • 4x 50m Drill/Swim;
  • 50m Swim;
  • 4x 50m Drill/Swim;
  • 100m Swim;
  • 4x 50m Drill/Swim;
  • 150m Swim;
  • 4x 50m Drill/Swim;
  • 200m Swim;
  • 4x 50m Drill/Swim;
  • 200m Swim;
  • 4x 50m Drill/Swim;
  • 150m Swim;
  • 4x 50m Drill/Swim;
  • 100m Swim;
  • 4x 50m Drill/Swim;
  • 50m Swim;
  • 4x 50m Drill/Swim;
  • 200m CD (3,800m)

Start the workout with a Warm Up (WU) by swimming 200m (Option A), 400m (Option B) or 800m (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 first set swim 25m doing an appropriate drill prior to continuing on with regular or normal swimming to complete 50m continuously. Pause prior to conducting the next repetition for a total of four repetitions. Do these drills with fins on.

The pause referred to above is a stop of about 10 seconds. It’s a chance to grab a drink, review the programme and think about the next drill you will do. If you need 15-20 seconds or longer, you are welcome to take it because the rest duration isn’t physiologically critical to the aim of this set. Having a quick break is neurologically critical though, so make sure you don’t just roll straight from one rep to the next.

Some examples of drills can be found by clicking on the name below:

  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.

After the drills take your fins off and swim a single rep of 50m focusing on technique.

Next up is another set of drills, repeating what you did prior to the 50m rep. Yes you will be putting your fins on and taking them off many times during this session. Once this second set of drills has been done, take your fins off and swim 100m focussing on technique.

Alternate between conducting a set of 4x 50m Drill/Swim and swimming a straight swim focussing on technique. With each distance swum after the Drill/Swim set, increase it by 50m.

Once you’ve completed 150m for Option A, start decreasing each straight swim by 50m until you have swum a 50m rep. For Option B once you’ve completed a 200m straight swim then start descending the distance down to (and including) 50m. For Option C, when you do your 200m rep, don’t increase it but do a second 200m straight swim and then start decreasing it down to 50m.

Finish with a final set of Drill/Swim before moving into the Cool Down (CD).

For the Cool Down (CD) swim 200m. 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.

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 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 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 event). You need to be committed to complete a minimum of three swim workouts every week. You need to be meticulous with tracking your training.

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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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