Sub-1hr swim session: Sharpen fitness

This beginner-level pool session is ideal for developing excellent pace awareness


Swim Smooth’s head coach Paul Newsome provides a beginner session to boost last-minute swim fitness and technique for a late-season race.


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Do this on a Saturday when hopefully you won’t be quite so rushed and can commit to doing it each week. If you consistently make it the first discipline of the day, you will also be fresh and can compare from week to week.

For this session you’ll need: swimsuit or shorts, swim cap, goggles, pullbuoy and fins.

Sharpen fitness


10mins as: 50m easy front crawl, 50m pullbuoy, 50m fins (if your pool allows), 50m pullbuoy, 50m easy front crawl. 15secs rest between each and focus on easy exhalation under the water

Main session

30mins as: 1 x 200m, 2 x 100m, 4 x 50m, 6 x 25m. 15secs rest between intervals. Start steadily, finish strongly.

Try breathing bilaterally on the odd lengths and to your weakest side on the even lengths. Time how long the set takes you then subtract 3mins to give you a rough idea of your 750m pace


5mins as: 100m easy, choice of stroke.

Performance benefits

This session is a great one for developing astute pace awareness, which is key for a triathlon of any distance.

It should help rein in the natural tendency to start too fast when the adrenaline is pumping. Monitor your progress week to week.

Physiological benefits

The short recoveries will also teach you the dangers of being too gung-ho at the start and will really help develop your aerobic system.

Practising breathing bilaterally and to your weaker side will aid your ability to relax in the water and use less energy.

Mental benefits

Get through this set and you’ll have a really positive mood lift, knowing you can perform on race day at your optimum pace.

Adapt for Ironman

Do 10 x 300m instead, still with a 15sec recovery, and focus on pacing above all else.

(Images: Jonny Gawler)


Head to our Training section for lots more swim advice and drills