Saturday Swim Session: Dan Schinnerer's Sprint & Middle Distance Set - Coach Ray

Coach Ray

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Swim Sessions Triathlon Training

Saturday Swim Session: Dan Schinnerer’s Sprint & Middle Distance Set

Developing speed is an important consideration for Open Water Swimmers. This session is great for swimmers and triathletes preparing for longer, open water swims.

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 came from Dan Schinnerer’s (head coach at Bucknell Universities swim programme since 2006) in an article by Olivier Poirier-Leroy read it here.

Option A

  • 200m WU;
  • 8x 50m Drill/Swim;
  • 4x 25m 45sec RI;
  • 4x 50m 90sec RI;
  • 4x 75m 2min RI;
  • 200m CD (1,400m)

Option B

  • 400m WU;
  • 8x 50m Drill/Swim;
  • 2x
    • 4x 25m 45sec RI;
    • 4x 50m 90sec RI;
    • 4x 75m 2min RI;
  • 200m CD (2,200m)

Option C

  • 600m WU;
  • 12x 50m Drill/Swim;
  • 3x
    • 4x 25m 45sec RI;
    • 4x 50m 90sec RI;
    • 4x 75m 2min RI;
  • 200m CD (3,200m)

Start the workout with a Warm Up (WU) covering 200m (Option A), 400m (Option B), or 600m (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 drill set of eight (Options A and B) or twelve repetitions (Option C) of 50m Drill/Swim, where you do a drill for the first 25m of the repetition and then normal swimming for the next 25m swimming. Feel free to use fins whilst doing the drill/swim set.  Do the drills below twice through for Options A and B, and three times through for Option C:

  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.

The main sets are three sets that are repeated twice through for Option B, or repeated three times through for Option C, but just the once through for Option A. Each repetition swim as fast as you can, you get a long period of time to recover so you’ve got the ability to maximise your speed.

The first of these sets is four 25m reps, with a 45 second Rest Interval (RI). Once you’ve done all four reps, move on to the next set which is four 50m reps, with a 90 second Rest Interval (RI). Once you’ve completed that set, do a set of four 75m reps, with a two minute Rest Interval (RI).

Once you done all three sets if you are doing Option B or C, then start back with the next set of 25’s.

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 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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