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Workout Wednesday: Angela Naeth’s favourite swim set


Pace variability swimming

Here’s one of my favorite workouts from the program I follow (QT2 Systems) to help mimic pack swimming dynamics and pace variability. These are the pace times that I use, but the workout can be adapted for your level by setting different paces accordingly, shortening the workout by performing a shorter warm-up and the main sets just once through or even just trying out one of the main sets for your workout.

 Warm-up (750 m)

  • 750 m choice

Main set #1 (1500 m)

  • Purpose: Just an extension of the warm-up. Intended to be very aerobic, but with slightly more urgency than the warm-up. Set the interval such that you get 10 seconds rest on each of the “intervals”, swimming at a steady effort.

Three time through

  • 25 on :20
  • 50 on :40
  • 75 on 1:00
  • 2 x 100 on 1:20
  • 75 on 1:00
  • 50 on :40
  • 25 on :20

Main set #2 (350 m)

  • Purpose: A small dose of pace variation. Best described as swimming “openers”, in preparation for some of the best effort swimming that is upcoming in the next set.  Set the intervals such that the odd lengths provide plenty of time to swim, and hang out on the wall, and the even intervals as touch and go, at best effort sprinting.
  • 20×25 as
  • Odds on :30
  • Evens on :15

Main Set #3 (1500 m)

  • Purpose: This set is the real meat of the workout. The intent is to mimic an open water situation, in three parts.  The first part being the start of the race, represented by the 50s.  These are to be performed as you would the start of a race — very hard and on top of the water. Set the interval such that you are getting 25 to 30 seconds at the wall, after each 50. We want these to be very, very anaerobic, so provide plenty of time to catch your breath after each.
  • The 50s flow into a cruise set to be swim at race pace, once the “pack has formed” and the pace has settled in.  These are hard, but not all out. Set the interval such that you get five to 10 seconds at the wall, before heading into the final piece.
  • Following the cruise section, most of the final pieces of the set have short 25 m bursts, set to mimic the need to bridge a gap that may open up in a swim pack.  These 25s should be set on an interval that allows 20 to 25 seconds of rest, in order to allow a true best effort.

Take an easy 50 between each of the mini-sets, to just give the body and effort a reset.  Put these on an interval that provides about 15 to 20 seconds on the wall, at an easy, easy effort.

  • 5 x 50 hard on 1:00
  • 200 cruise on 3:30
  • 50 easy on 1:00
  • 4 x 50 hard on 1:00
  • 175 cruise on 2:30
  • 1 x 25 hard on :40
  • 50 easy on 1:00
  • 3 x 50 hard on 1:00
  • 150 cruise on 1:50
  • 2 x 25 hard on :40
  • 50 easy on 1:00
  • 2 x 50 hard on 1:00
  • 125 cruise on 2:00
  • 3 x 25 hard on :40
  • 50 easy on 1:00
  • 1 x 50 hard on 1:00
  • 100 cruise on 1:10
  • 4 x 25 hard on :40
  • 50 easy on 1:00

Cool down

  • 200 m easy