Tri Swim Coach

Saturday Swim Session: Grant Hackett’s Actual Mid-Season Workout

This is based on a session put together by Grant Hackett’s coach as part of his mid-season build-up. This session is great for swimmers and triathletes preparing for longer, open water 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.

The inspiration for last week’s sessions came from Grant Hackett’s (former world 1,500m freestyle world record holder) coach Denis Cotterell from an article by Olivier Poirier-Leroy read it here. The session has been adapted to fit the purpose of these articles, as it is 7,400yds total. But last week I got a lot of people asking about what his actual workout was. The link was in the article but I’ve decided to write about the full session in this week’s article. So this week doesn’t have three options just one BIG option. I’ll also give you options on how to modify it so mere mortals can realistically complete the session as Denis Cotterell’s swimmers are a lot faster than the typical triathlete that reads these articles.

Option A

  • 800m (4x 150m F/S, 50m Stroke) WU;
  • 8x 150m (2x Breathing 3/5/7, 2x Freestyle/Head up/Freestyle, 2x Freestyle/Fly/Freestyle, 2x Freestyle/Back/Freestyle) on 2:15;
  • 8x 50m (2x Drill, 2x Stroke count, 2x Drill, 2x Build to FAST);
  • 30x 100m on 1:40;
  • 2x
    • 3x 100m on 1:30;
    • 4x 50m on :45;
  • 3x 200m Kick/scull/drill/swim;
  • 4x 50m (25m HARD/25m easy) on 60sec;
  • 200m CD (7,400m)

Start the workout with a Warm Up (WU) by swimming 800m. Do each 200m as freestyle for the first 150m, then change to another stroke for the next 50m.

The next set is made up of eight 150m reps. Break every 150m into 50m sub-reps with no rest between but start each rep every 2:15. Do the first two reps breathing every three strokes for the first 50m, the second 50m breathing every 5 strokes, and the final 50m breathing every 7 strokes. The third and fourth reps swim 50m each of Freestyle/Head up/Freestyle. The next two reps break up with 50m each of freestyle, backstroke, and then freestyle again. The final two reps split them as 50m each of freestyle, butterfly, and freestyle. For mortals take a 45-second Rest Interval (RI) between reps.

The next set is made up of eight 50m reps. The first two reps conduct a drill of your choice. Count your strokes for the next two reps trying to minimise them. For the next two reps do two more drills. For the last two reps build your speed within the rep to finish at max speed.

The main set is made up of thirty 100m reps swum on 1:40. The first ten reps swim at an intensity that your Heart Rate (HR) was 30 beats below your maximum. The next ten reps are at a faster pace so your Heart Rate (HR) is 20 beats below your maximum. The final ten reps are at a higher intensity with your Heart Rate (HR) only ten beats below your maximum. Mortals should swim this set with a 40-second Rest Interval (RI).

The next set is done twice through and involves three reps of 100m done on 1:30; then four, 50m reps done on 45 seconds. For mortals take a 30-second Rest Interval (RI) after the 100’s and a 15-second Rest Interval (RI) after the ’50s.

Next set for swim three, 200m continuously, 50m each of kick, sculling, drill, and then freestyle.

For the final set complete four reps of 50m done on:60sec. Swim these by swimming the first 25m very HARD, then straight into an easy 25m. Have a 40-second Rest Interval (RI) between reps. Mortals should take a 40-second Rest Interval (RI).

For the Cool Down (CD) swim 200m. 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.

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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