3 Swimming Sets for a Faster 1,500 Meters

Siri Lindley's 300s

Benefit: This main set enhances your ability to get a fast start and then ease into a sustainable race pace.


  • 8 x 300

Line up side-by-side with a partner of similar ability. The first 100 is done as fast as you can go, as in the start of a race. On the second 100 you hang on for dear life. If one athlete is slower than the other he can pop in behind the quicker swimmer and do whatever he can to hang on the other's feet for the second 100. The third 100 is an easy recovery swim. Rest for 45 seconds after the easy 100.

Alternative set: 3-4 x 300

Coach's comments: "This set is very race-specific. Get out fast and you can get away from the chaos and have a much quicker swim. If you go out too slow, you may get stuck behind swimmers that are slower than you."

Gale Bernhardt's Aerobic Set

Benefit: The first requirement for success in an Olympic-distance triathlon swim is a solid foundation of swim-specific aerobic fitness, and this main set provides it with a few little twists, such as lead changes and fist swimming.


  • 900 steady swim. Change who leads the lane each 75
  • 1- to 2-minute rest interval (RI)
  • 3 x 600 steady swim, alternating 100 fist drill/100 swim
  • 1- to 2-minute RI
  • 400 pull (paddles and buoy)
  • 1- to 2-minute RI
  • 200 pull (buoy, no paddles)
  • 1- to 2-minute RI
  • 6 x 50 backstroke on 1:10

Alternative set: Cut everything in half

Coach's comments: "This workout is most fun if you swim the 900 with three to six other people that swim roughly the same speed," says Bernhardt. "Rotating the lead position makes the time go fast and help you practice drafting.

"The broken 600, alternating fist swimming and regular swimming, forces you to use your entire arm to catch water and can help increase cadence. Don't cheat on the fist portions. When you open your hands it feels like you're wearing paddles." Finally, says Bernhardt, "I like to add backstroke at the end to work a few different muscles."

Active Expert Matt Fitzgerald is the author of several books on triathlon and running, including Brain Training for Runners, Runner's World Performance Nutrition for Runners (Rodale, 2005) and Triathlete Magazine's Essential Week-by-Week Training Guide (Warner, 2006).

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