An Argument for High Intensity, Low Volume Swim Training for Triathletes

Workout 1

Warm-up

Fins are a great way to warm up. They take pressure off fatigued shoulders, which helps prevent injury. The extra speed puts the swimmer in the right body position at the start of practice and encourages proper stroke mechanics. Lastly, for those with stiff ankles, fins can help loosen them up.

400 swim with fins
400 kick with fins
400 pull no paddles (Triathletes overuse paddles, and usually use paddles that are too big for their ability and lessen the "feel" for the water.)
4x100 descend 1-4 @ x:xx (Each 100 should get faster, and speed should improve from 70%-90%+ 1-4; Interval used should give swimmer 10 to 15 seconds rest)

1600

Lead-up Set

This set will get the swimmer better coordination between the kick and pull in preparation for the main set.

8x50 kick/swim (Alternate 25 kick / 25 swim & 25 swim / 25 kick) @ (Interval used should give swimmer 10 to 15 seconds rest)

1900

Main Set

Hold pace set. Swimmer should swim as fast as they can for 40x25 at a selected hold pace that will be difficult to achieve. For example, the majority of age group triathletes I work with would have a hold pace between 16 and 20 seconds per 25 meters and the interval would be set at between 35 and 40 seconds for a 25-yard repeat. If the swimmer misses a hold pace, the athlete should sit out the next two repeats and then resume the set. If a second hold pace is missed, then the athlete should swim the remainder of the 25 meters easy.

40x25 swim @ :xx (hold pace :xx)

2900

Warm-down

6x50 swim easy @ 15 seconds rest

Workout 2

Warm-up

400 swim with fins
400 kick with fins
400 pull no paddles

4x75 descend 1-4 @ x:xx

1500

Lead-up Set

12x25 kick/swim (Alternate 2x25 kick @ x:xx & 2x25 swim @ x:xx + 1 fast / 1 easy)

1800

Main Set

Same rules apply. If the swimmer misses a hold pace the swimmer should sit out one 50. If the swimmer misses two, they should swim the remainder easy.

24x50 swim @ :xx (hold pace :xx; the hold pace should be set at roughly double what the swimmer went on the 25s +4 seconds. If they are not able to hold double their 25 pace +4 seconds then that is an indication of inefficient stroke mechanics and/or a fitness issue. (The interval should be set at the hold pace plus 20 seconds)

3000

Warm Down

12x25 swim @ 15 seconds rest

Workout 3

Warm-up

400 swim with fins
400 kick with fins
400 drill choice with fins
400 pull no paddles

Lead-up Set

8x50 choice (swimmer choice of drill, kick, kick/swim or a combination) @ 15 seconds rest

Main Set

4x100 descend 1-4 @ x:xx

2000

Workout 4

Warm-up

400 swim with fins
400 kick with fins
400 pull no paddles

8x50 descend 1-4; 5-8 @ x:xx

1600

Lead-up Set

4x75 kick/swim (25 kick / 50 swim) @ x:xx

1900

Main Set

15x100 swim @ x:xx (hold pace should be double the 50 pace +4 seconds)

3400

Warm Down

12x25 swim easy @ 15 seconds rest

Tim Floyd, swim coach and former NCAA Div I swimmer, founded Magnolia Masters in 2010 to specifically help triathletes improve in pool competitions and open water swimming. Magnolia Masters is committed to providing the best training and swim technique analysis to help each athlete achieve their best results in the swim. You can find more information about Magnolia Masters here.

You can find additional resources on high intensity race pace swimming here and here.

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