Saturday Swim Session: GTN’s Sub-Hour Ironman Swim Progression Set - Coach Ray

Coach Ray

Training for Excellence, with Excellent Training

Tri Swim Coach
Swim Sessions

Saturday Swim Session: GTN’s Sub-Hour Ironman Swim Progression Set

Completing the Ironman Swim in under 60 minutes is a significant achievement. Consistent pacing and sustained effort is the key to achieving this goal. This session tests your capability to maintain the pace and is a breakdown of a longer set. This is a great session for triathletes and open water swimmers to do to build their sustained speed.

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 this session comes from the Global Triathlon Network (GTN) check out their video here:

Option A

  • 400m WU;
  • 400m 30sec RI;
  • 300m 20sec RI;
  • 200m 10sec RI;
  • 50m 5sec RI;
  • 200m CD (1,550m)

Option B

  • 400m WU;
  • 2x 400m 30sec RI;
  • 2x 300m 20sec RI;
  • 2x 200m 10sec RI;
  • 2x 50m 5sec RI;
  • 200m CD (2,500m)

Option C

  • 400m WU;
  • 4x 400m 30sec RI;
  • 4x 300m 20sec RI;
  • 4x 200m 10sec RI;
  • 4x 50m 5sec RI;
  • 200m CD (4,400m)

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

To swim an Iron-distance swim leg under 60 minutes you need to maintain a pace of 1:34 per 100m or 1:26 per 100 yards within the session. This equates to 0:23 per 25m, or 0:47 per 50m. Today’s session is more about testing you to see what you can swim rather than sticking religiously to those paces. If you can swim it faster do so.

This session starts with a set of one (Option A), two (Option B) or four (Option C), 400m reps with 30 second Rest Interval (RI).

After the last 30 second Rest Interval (RI) from the previous set go straight into the a set of one (Option A), two (Option B) or four (Option C), 300m reps. Only take a 20 second Rest Interval (RI) after each rep.

Once you’ve done the last 20 second Rest Interval (RI) from the set of 300’s go straight into a set of one (Option A), two (Option B) or four (Option C), 200m reps. Take a short ten second Rest Interval (RI) after each rep.

After the final ten second Rest Interval (RI), commence swimming the final set which is one (Option A), two (Option B) or four (Option C), 50m reps with a five second Rest Interval (RI) between each rep.

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 tg 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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