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Home / Training / Swim / Sub-1hr session: Boost start speed

Sub-1hr session: Boost start speed

Prepare to go fast and hard with this 60min swim workout for advanced athletes, designed to give you the edge on race day right from the hooter

Do you want to give yourself the best possible start in a race? Emma-Kate Lidbury sent us this 60min swim drill for advanced athletes, designed to get you going as quickly as possible…

For this session you’ll need: a swimsuit or trunks, hat, goggles, water bottle, and a stopwatch or pace clock.

Try to avoid hard training the day before as this can impact pool performance. Although it’s a high-intensity swim, you should be good to hit harder rides or runs the following day.

Boost start speed in 60mins


10mins smooth swimming. Prep set: 12 x 50m, progress effort 1-4 through 3 cycles. 10secs rest between each.

Main session

8 x 200m. Swim at ‘take-out’ speed for first 75m, then settle into 80% for remaining 125m on first 3 reps. Reps 4-8: take-out speed for first 75m then progress effort until you’re swimming all-out on rep 8.


200m easy swim.

Main benefits

Performance benefits

Don’t be afraid to go out at near-max effort on the opening 75m of these reps so you can mimic the feeling and intensity of race day. This will yield great speed and fitness and boost both anaerobic and aerobic power and strength.

Mental benefits

This is a challenging workout, so approach it positively. In turn you will be richly rewarded, as you’ll have the confidence come race day that you’re all set for what lies ahead.

Physiological benefits

This is a great set for training your body to hit and hold take-out speed and then settle into a more ‘managed’ effort. Remember that dropping effort to 80% on the remaining 125m in the first three reps should not feel easy.

Training your body to deal with the discomfort of swimming at/near your max will prepare you brilliantly for racing. Plus, it will develop a sharp take-out speed that will help keep you in the front pack.

Adapt for Ironman

You could add volume to this workout by adding a set after the 8 x 200m reps, e.g. 12 x 75m as 25m fast/50m easy; 50m fast/25m easy/; 75m fast; 75m easy x 3 cycles. Do not add any more intensity than this.

(Images: Delly Carr / Janos Schmidt)

For lots more swim sessions head to our Training section

Profile image of Jamie Beach Jamie Beach Former digital editor


Jamie was 220 Triathlon's digital editor between 2013 and 2015.