Most age groupers look to “just get through” the swim so they can compete on the bike and run. I think this is a mistake. The swim is the perfect time to set the tone of your race, and start out confident and strong without depleting your energy for the bike and run.

The first mistake I see most athletes make is going out way too hard on the first 4 to 10 minutes of the swim, only to watch their competitors pass them later.

This Workout Wednesday powered by BioAstin will help you practice race pace intervals so you’ll develop pacing efficiency throughout the swim. By doing this workout on a regular basis — at least once per week over the final 6 to 9 weeks leading up to your race — you’ll soon be able to hold your race pace from the outset to the finish.

If you give this workout a try, let me know how it went. Get in touch with me on Facebook or Twitter.


 Swim Race Pace Threshold Workout

Warm Up 

8 min choice stroke. Include 4 lengths of backstroke to stretch the lats and shoulders.

Set 1

Total of 10 x 75, with Rest Interval (RI) 15 sec

2 x 75 Use your paddle on just your right hand and use a different paddle on your left hand. Then switch them to opposite hands and do another 2 x 75.

The purpose of using two different shaped paddles is to heighten your feel for the water and maintain even palm pressure on your “funny” paddle, while maintaining a shallow entry of about 4 to 8 inches without driving the hand too deep.

When performing this drill, remember not to grip the paddle or press too firmly with just your fingertips. You want press your palm evenly on the paddles, to avoid wrist flexion through the underwater pull pattern.

An even hand or palm pressure maximizes the propulsion from the hand and forearm, which improves your form and results in faster swimming!

This drill requires supreme concentration and compels you to not force the pull pattern of your stroke.

After using different paddles on each hand move into:

2 x 75 with your paddles

4 x 75 no paddles. Speed up during the last length.

Main Set

1 x 150 at your threshold pace (or the speed at which you can hold in an Olympic distance race or 1500 meter swim) + 125 aerobic.

The sendoff is the same for the 150s and 125s. Your pace should allow 5 to 10 sec rest after the 150 and 10 to 15 sec rest after the 125.

For example if my goal threshold pace is 2 min 10 sec for the 150, then I leave on a 2 min 20 sec sendoff. The 125 is also on a 2 min 20 sec sendoff.

After the first 150 and 125 move into the following:

4 x 150 threshold pace followed by 125 aerobic

2 x 150 threshold pace followed by 125 aerobic

3 x 150 threshold pace followed by 125 aerobic

The goal of this set is to maintain the same pace that would be similar to a time trial effort for 30 to 50 min based on your ability.

Also, if executed correctly, the last few intervals of this Main Set should be a doable challenge for you and bolster your confidence for the swim leg.

Stretch an easy 100

Set 3

Put on your fins (I like using FINIS Floating Fins).

3 x 25 fly

2 x 25 back flutter kick

RI 15 sec

The goal is to go very very hard for 15 yards and then moderate for the remainder of the 25.

Repeat this block 4 times


Cool Down

5 to 10 min

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