Training > Swim

Sub 1-hour session: swim intervals for beginners

Prepare to see significant performance gains with GB pro triathlete Dan Halksworth's 45min interval session

This session will fill you with confidence as the aim is to train faster than race pace. Equipment needed: swim trunks/swimsuit, swim cap, goggles


10mins as: 400m easy swim.

Main Session

25mins as: Using 100m pace from a 400m time-trial attempt, do 10 x 100m holding pace or slightly quicker with 10-15sec rest per interval. Increase session length as you progress.


10mins as: Your choice of stroke, but try including backstroke to get arms and chest working in counter direction.

Performance benefits

This session provides a vital understanding of race pace and how quickly you should set out on race day. If you’ve not swum intervals before, this session can also greatly improve performance in a short space of time.

Physiological benefits

Even a super-sprint triathlon is an aerobic discipline, and this will hone your endurance engine. Swimming is great for building endurance because it’s low impact compared to running. You can recover faster and go again.

Mental benefits

This is a great confidence booster ahead of embarking on your triathlon journey. You’ll prove you can more than cover the required race distance and because you’re training at faster than race pace, come the big day you will be
well within yourself when you start.

How to fit it in

It’s perfect to squeeze into any busy triathlete’s schedule. The session will be over in a trice and the largest time investment is likely to be travelling to and from the pool and changing, so make sure you have the transport logistics streamlined to avoid frustration.

Adapt for Ironman

If you’re making the leap up to bigger distances then estimate your 100m pace from a longer time trial of 2km minimum.


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Ron Evans

Favourite set at the moment 30x100m s/r 1:50 as 10 full, 10 pull, 10 pull with paddles target all sub 1:35. Hope to go sub 1hr at IMVichy in 2016. Will look to reduce s/r to 1:45.


I think the term beginner is totally wrong here. 400M warmup, that is almost a session for me!!! I think 400m warmup followed by what is essentially 1000m main set is not a beginner session! A beginner in triathlon may only just have learnt to swim!


and there lies the problem with most of the stuff on 220 - everybody forgets what its like to be a "beginner" struggling to even make it to the pool and being out of breathe after half a dozen lengths. Time for some real "beginner" advice before you start talking about sub 1 hour IM swims!!

Richard Morris-Prewitt

I've been having swim lessons and have just managed to complete 400m front crawl after months of lessons..i think swimming is the scariest aspect of triathlons as anyone can plod on a bike or walk a run route.. But you can either swim or you can't really..

I've just entered the London Tri in August at Olympic distance just to give me something to work towards.. I've had a retul bike fit which has transformed my riding and I think with the help of my swim coach I'll succeed in meeting the 1200m swim required.

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