Sub-1hr swim drill: All systems go

Hit various energy systems with this 60min pool workout for intermediate athletes

(Credit: Jonny Gawler)

Time for a solid bread-and-butter session designed for intermediate athletes to hit various energy systems. As luck would have it, Joe Beer’s got one up his chlorinated sleeve…


This workout is an ideal, anytime solo or small group session, one where you get the session done with no surprise drills. For this session you’ll need: swimwear, goggles and water or a sports drink.

All systems go


4 x 25m relaxed; 4 x 50m, increasing effort to 80%; 2 x 100m as building speed/cruise/building speed/cruise.

Main session

8 x 25m as 5m push off/5m relaxed/10m fast-tempo arms & legs/5m cruise. 20secs recovery scull. 3 x 100m/200m/ 100m, 30sec rest between and 60secs after each set. Keep exertion moderate.

4 x 50m as 5m push off/35m maximal pace/10m cruise. 20secs recovery scull.


200m–300m relaxed swim.

>>> Check out more sub-1hr swim sessions

Main benefits

Performance benefits

Mixing up intensities and recovery times gives you a great feel for the water in fast-tempo, strength-endurance and lactate-debilitating scenarios.

Mental benefits

Moving into the new year means keeping yourself mentally buoyant so that you can handle the hardship and effort ahead. Clocking aerobic technique miles is mentally frustrating, but this set has elements of harder power and lactate-tolerance.

Physiological benefits

Swimming without a thought about the hand pressure, body position or internal energy systems you’re engaging is aimless yardage. Short efforts over just 10m produce enough power to stimulate muscle, joint and body kinesthetic neural triggers to let you know what ‘strong’ in the water feels like.

If you fail on the first set you’re clearly not ready for sets two or three. Set two is a classic endurance set, going steady without needing extra rest or varying speed significantly. Finally, the lactate build set has you swimming fast but never quite recovering.

Adapt for Ironman

Increase the mid set to 4 x 100m/200m/300m, with 30secs rest between each rep/set.


>>> For lots more swim sessions and advice head to our Training section