Tri Swim Coach

Saturday Swim Session: Tarp’s Torture

This session is also known as Drop-Off 100s. It starts off very aerobic but builds more and more anaerobic as the session goes on and will develop your threshold swimming successfully. This is a great session for triathletes and open water swimmers to do to build their sustained speed.

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 today’s workout comes from The Essential Swimmer written by Steve Tarpinian (RIP).

Option A

  • 200m WU;
  • 4x 25m Drill;
  • 6-12x 100m ….Read for RI;
  • 200m CD (1,100-1,700m)

Option B

  • 400m WU;
  • 8x 50m Drill Swim;
  • 6-12x 100m ….Read for RI;
  • 200m CD (1600-2,200m)

Option C

  • 1,000m WU;
  • 12x 50m Drill/Swim;
  • 6-12x 100m ….Read for RI;
  • 200m CD (2,400-3,000m)

Start the workout with a Warm Up (WU) covering 200m (Option A), 400m (Option B), or 1,000m (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/swim set for Options B & C. Option A does a set of drills only (more details on this below). There are eight (Options A & B) or twelve (Option C) 50m repetitions made up of 25m Drill, then straight into 25m normal swimming. Feel free to use fins whilst doing this set.  Do the drills below twice (Option B) or three (Option C) times through:

  1. Kick On Side (KOS) left side 
  2. Kick On Side (KOS) right side 
  3. 6/1/6 
  4. 6/3/6

Option A completes a set of four 25m repetitions of drills, doing the above four drills. One per repetition. Feel free to use fins and stop and rest as long as is required between each rep.

I wrote an article about swimming drills previously. Click here to read and watch it.

The main set is made up of a number of 100m reps, how many depends on how you survive them, it is called Tarp’s Torture for a reason. Start with an interval of 1:10 slower than your best 100m time in the last year. Drop the interval by ten seconds every two 100s. The set is over when you can not make the interval.

For example, if your best 100m time in the last year is 1:28

RepIntervalTime swumRest
Notice how the times are initially maintained relatively easily and then they blow out, almost missing the interval

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.

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.

Share this post so your friends can benefit as well.

If you enjoyed this workout, here is a similar session I published 12 months ago.

I’ve recently launched a new swim training plan that will improve your swimming. If your goal this year involves swimming faster with limited time to train. Complete the form below and get more information about this great plan.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.