Sub-1hr session: Warm-up to win

Get your engine revving in readiness for a max effort race start with this intermediate-level drill


This intermediate-level session is flexible and should slot in without too much impact on your other sessions.


Try to avoid doing it too close to hard runs or rides though. It’s more of a sharpener, to be done in/near race week, than a really taxing workout.

You’ll need: swimwear, a swim cap, goggles, water bottle, and a stopwatch or pace clock.

Swim session


10mins smooth swim, then: 30 strokes easy, 5 strokes hard/30 strokes easy, 10 strokes hard/30 smooth, 15 hard, and so on up to 30 easy/30 hard. 30secs break. Then follow the pattern in reverse.

Main session

12 x 50m as: 25m easy, 25m fast (odds)/25m fast, 25m easy (evens). 10secs rest between each. Then 6 x (25m fast, 10secs rest; 50m fast, 10secs rest; 25m fast). 1min rest between repeats.


200m easy swim.

Main benefits

Performance benefits

The warm-up part of this workout is an ideal pre-race routine. Get used to doing it in training and you’ll enjoy faster swim splits when it comes to races thanks to being fully warmed-up and raring to go as soon as the gun goes off.

Mental benefits

Your warm-up is as important for your brain as it is for your body because it gives you a chance to focus on what lies ahead.

While you get your body ready, your mind can figure out your navigation cues for the swim and your sighting routine.

Physiological benefits

The warm-up section of this workout is designed to gradually build your body up for the big effort required for a fast swim start.

The 30 strokes pyramid is ideal for your body to gently work at or near your maximum. The main set is designed to replicate race intensity, so you can test how well the warm-up works for you.

Adapt for Ironman

This is just as good for long-distance athletes as for those racing shorter distances.


For lots more swim sessions head to our Training section