Saturday Swim Session: Tarp's Torture - Coach Ray

Coach Ray

Training for Excellence, with Excellent Training

Tri Swim Coach
Swim Sessions Triathlon Training

Saturday Swim Session: Tarp’s Torture

This session is also known as Drop-Off 100s. It starts off very aerobic but build 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 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 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 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 you best 100m time in the last year is 1:28

RepIntervalTime swumRest
12:401:341:06
22:401:321:08
32:301:310:59
42:301:320:58
52:201:350:45
62:201:370:43
72:101:340:36
82:101:390:31
92:001:400:20
102:001:420:18
111:501:410:09
121:501:480:02
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 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 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.

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.

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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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