Day 12: Descending 100s Swim Workout

This session from coach Jim Vance will help you learn to better pace yourself--a skill you'll be grateful to have in your 2020 season.

This descending 100s swim workout teaches the importance of pacing while in the water—particularly necessary for open-water swimmers and triathletes who have a tendency to go out too fast and pay the price not only at the end of the swim, but also during the bike and run. This is the same workout done by the Coronado High School swim team in San Diego, Calif.

The Descending 100s Swim Workout

Warm Up

500 easy

Main Set

10 x 100 on a comfortable interval

The first two 100s should be easy, but each two 100s after that should be faster than the previous two. Think of building throughout the set, changing pace every two 100s.

Novice swimmers should be sure to begin very conservatively so they have enough left to swim their fastest at the end—even if fatigued.

Advanced swimmers should try to push the pace after the first two 100s. This is an opportunity to really test yourself on the final two 100s.

Cool down

500 easy

How to integrate this descending 100s swim workout into a training plan

This is a hard set that can definitely have an impact on later workouts. Be sure to plan for some lingering fatigue if you don’t pace yourself properly and end up falling apart at the end. Depending on how you pace, this can be done at nearly any time in the season—even close to race week.

Meet Your Coach

Jim Vance is a San Diego-based coach and author of Triathlon 2.0 and Run with Power. He’s the head coach for Formula Endurance, a USA Triathlon High Performance Team that focuses on junior development. He’s also the personal coach 2016 U.S. Olympian Ben Kanute, guiding him to wins at Escape from Alcatraz and Island House Triathlon in 2017 and a second-place finish at the 70.3 World Championships. Find more at