Saturday Swim Session: Grant Holicky’s Actual Open Water Training Set for Christine Jennings - Coach Ray

Coach Ray

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Saturday Swim Session: Grant Holicky’s Actual Open Water Training Set for Christine Jennings

This is based off a session put together by Grant Holicky who specialised in coaching Open Water swimmers and triathletes. This session is great for swimmers and triathletes preparing for longer, open water swims.

Normally 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. This weeks sessions are a little longer than normal.

The inspiration for these sessions came from Grant Holicky (coach to Christine Jennings and a number of other top open water swimmers and triathletes) in 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 few 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 weeks 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

  • 400m WU;
  • 2x
    • 2 x 150m k/d/s on 2:25,
    • 3 x 100m perfect swim on 1:25,
    • 4 x 50m perfect, pick up, perfect, mile pace on :50,
  • 100m easy;
  • 500m pull buoy/padds on 7:30 (5 x 50’s must be faster than the rest of the 500);
  • 8 x 100m Build 1-4 on 1:20;
  • 2 x 400m pull buoy/padds on 6:15 (4 x 50m must be faster than the rest of the 400m);
  • 6 x 100m Build 1-3 on 1:15;
  • 3 x 300m pull buoy/padds on 5:00 (3x 50’s faster);
  • 4 x 100m alt mod/fast 1:10;
  • 4 x 200m pull buoy/padds on 3:45 (2 x 50’s faster);
  • 3 x 100m alt fast/mod/fast on 1:05;
  • 200m CD;

Start the workout with a Warm Up (WU) by swimming 400m. During the warm up feel free to stop and stretch as needed.  It doesn’t need to be a continuous swim.

To further the Warm Up (WU) complete two sets. Within this set there are three sub-sets. The first sub set is two, 150m reps split up with 50m each of kick, drill and then swim. All with no rest between each 50m but starting each 150m every 2:25. Do these with fins on, I’d recommend Kick On Side (KOS) for the kick section and then 6/1/6 and 6/3/6 for the drill reps respectively. For the mere mortals amongst us that can’t go close to doing all that inside the 2:25, take a 30 second Rest Interval (RI).

The next sub-set is made up of three, 100m reps. Start each rep every 1:25 and aim to swim with perfect technique. For the mere mortals take a 20 second Rest Interval (RI) between reps.

The final sub-set is four, 50m reps. Swim these starting every 0:50 seconds, for the mere mortals amongst us take a ten second Rest Interval (RI). Aim to swim the first and third reps with perfect technique. Make the second rep a pick up, where you accelerate through out the 50m to build your pace and finish at top speed. For the fourth rep settle in to your mile pace which is the pace you’ll be using for the bulk of this session. Once you’ve done this sub-set, repeat all three sub-sets a second time.

Next up is a nice easy 100m to settle in and round out the entire Warm Up (WU).

You are now into the main body of the workout and the first set is 500m use pull buoy and paddles. Within the 500m swim five of the 50m segments at a faster pace. Grant Holicky had his swimmers start the next set on 7:30, mere mortals just start the next set when you are ready.

The next set is made up of eight, 100m reps. Build the pace from one rep to the next in blocks of four. E.G. swim the first (and fifth) rep at a moderate pace, the second (and sixth) rep at a fast pace, third (and seventh) rep at a faster pace and the fourth (and eighth) rep at your fastest pace. These were planned to be done starting every 1:20, but for the mortals take a 15 second Rest Interval (RI).

The next set is made of two, 400m reps using pull buoy and paddles. Within the 400m swim four of the 50m segments at a faster pace. Grant Holicky had his swimmers start the next set on 6:15, mere mortals just start the next set when you are ready.

The next set is made up of six, 100m reps. Build the pace from one rep to the next in blocks of three. E.G. swim the first (and fourth) rep at a fast pace, second (and fifth) rep at a faster pace and the third (and sixth) rep at your fastest pace. These were planned to be done starting every 1:15, but for the mortals take a 15 second Rest Interval (RI).

The next set is made of three, 300m reps using pull buoy and paddles. Within the 300m swim three of the 50m segments at a faster pace. Grant Holicky had his swimmers start the next set on 5:00, mere mortals just start the next set when you are ready.

The following set is made up of four, 100m reps. Alternate between a rep at a moderate pace, then a fast rep for the next one. These were planned to be done starting every 1:10, but for the mortals take a ten second Rest Interval (RI).

The next set is made of four, 200m reps using pull buoy and paddles. Within the 200m swim two of the 50m segments at a faster pace. Grant Holicky had his swimmers start the next set on 3:45, mere mortals just start the next set when you are ready.

3 x 100m alt fast/mod/fast on 1:05;

The last set is three, 100m reps. Swim the first and third reps fast with the middle rep at a moderate pace. These were planned to be done on 1:05, but mortals should take a five to ten second Rest Interval (RI).

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.

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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