Tri Swim Coach

Saturday Swim Session: Alternate T-Times

This session is a great tool to determine your current level of fitness and use it as a benchmark for planning future training sessions. This is an alternate method for determining it, really great if you have limited time for this workout. I use the main version every four to six weeks with my athletes and this version is for athletes starting out, or recommencing training after a good break.

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.

These sessions will determine a T-Time (Target-Time) that you can then utilise in future training sessions to manage intensity.

Option A

  • 300m W/U;
  • 8x 50m (25m Drill/25m Swim);
  • 12x 25m Pick Ups 10sec RI;
  • 3x 100m 20sec RI;
  • 200m C/D (1,500m)

Option B

  • 800m W/U;
  • 12x 50m (25m Drill/25m Swim);
  • 12x 25m Pick Ups 10sec RI;
  • 3x 100m 20sec RI;
  • 200m C/D (2,200m)

Option C

  • 1,600m W/U;
  • 20x 50m (25m Drill/25m Swim);
  • 20x 25m Pick Ups 10sec RI;
  • 3x 100m 20sec RI;
  • 200m C/D (3,600m)

For the Warm Up (WU) start with a 300m (Option A), 800m (Option B) or 1,600m (Option C) swim. 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. There are eight (Option A), twelve (Option B), or twenty (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 A), thrice (Option B) or five (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

Next up is a Pick-Up set. This set simply means that you pick up the pace as you swim through each repetition. Start each rep nice and slow for a few strokes, then swim a few strokes at a moderate pace, then a  few at a fast pace, a few faster, then getting faster still, finishing the rep at a maximum sprint as you lunge for the wall. Complete twelve, 25m-reps for Option A & B, and twenty reps for Option C. After each repetition have a Rest Interval (RI) of 10 seconds.

The final set is a short set of three, 100m reps swum as fast as you can with only a short 20-second Rest Interval (RI).

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.

Take the average of your three 100m times to determine your T-Time.

The concept of T-Time has been developed by a number of authors with a number of different names utilised (the most popular would be Swim Smooth‘s CSS or Critical Swim Speed). There are various versions of the test (i.e. 1,000m TT, swimming 200m & 100m TTs, 3x 300m or 3x 100m) that all approximate the same thing. My preferred method is Swim Smooth‘s 400m & 200m TT, but I use this method as an alternative for athletes that haven’t done much swimming lately.

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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