Finally, it develops and works your stamina, since on the last 400 of the entire set you're supposed to match your previous hard swims or beat them.
And thus, this brings us to the last segment of the set:
4. 100 easy @ 2:00
5. 1x400 @ 5:00 FAST
This last 400 is the jewel in the crown; the most important part of the set given that it comes after the previous demanding repeats. A successful completion of the entire workout is when this last 400 (the sixth and final one in the set) is your fastest one of all.
I like this set because it is long enough to be applied to distance swimming and ocean racing, yet can be broken down into small enough distances that can be manageable for sprinters. Not only are most masters swimmers able to do this set, but it also allows the typical distance swimmer to work on speed changes which, as we all know, is very important in racing any distance.
Hummer knows what he is talking about; most of the races he swims he ends up winning from behind, during the last few hundred yards of a given distance. He admits that his strategy is to stay with the leaders of a pack of swimmers for as long as possible until the finish line is in sight.
At that point, he moves his pace into overdrive (relying on speed as well as endurance thanks to drills like the one above), and usually takes the prize.
Swimmers who can't fathom swimming a total of 6x400 in a single workout can modify the workout by swimming 200s (equaling 1,400 yards for the set, not including warmup and cool down):
1. 3x200 @ 15 seconds rest
2. 100 easy
3. 2x200 @ 15 seconds rest
4. 100 easy
5. 1x200 fast
Sprinters can even develop added endurance in their short events by opting to repeat 100s (total yardage: 800 yards) instead of the suggested 400s.
Finally, die-hard distance fans (notably open-water swimmers who compete in 5K events or longer) can dedicate themselves to a long workout by repeating 1,000 yards:
1. 3x1,000 @ 1 min. rest
2. 100 easy
3. 2x1,000 @ 45 secs rest
4. 100 easy
In extreme endurance cases like this, it is important not to end up tuning out and finishing the above 6,200 yards haphazardly (make sure not to lose sight of the set's purpose, which is to complete the last repeat at a pace faster than the ones that preceded it).
In time, the above workout will help you develop a winning combination of speed and endurance--a tricky balance that many swimmers hope to achieve, but few manage to combine with success.