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Do Something Streak, Day 29: Mark Allen’s Benchmark Swim Set

Hone your fitness—and your sense of pacing—with this simple swim set.

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We’re just a couple of days away from the end of our Do Something Streak and our fourth and final workout from six-time Ironman world champion Mark Allen is a simple benchmark swim set. It is designed to be repeated throughout the year to help you gauge your swim progress.

The total distance of the session is 2,000 yards/meters with a main set of 10 x 100 on a rest interval of 10 seconds. It doesn’t get much simpler than that!

Allen said: “This set is designed to help you develop a great sense of pacing. The main set is simple and the idea is to pick a pace that is fast, but not all-out, similar to how you would pace the swim in an Olympic distance race. The real goal is to try to hold the same time per 100 for the entire set.

“If you start too fast you will see that the back half of the set suffers and your time per 100 slows a lot. A couple of seconds variation is normal, but more than three seconds of slowing per 100 and you’ve started too hard. If you find that you are able to go faster in the last few 100s then you’ve actually started out too slowly!”

As a benchmark swim set, he said it’s good to repeat it from time to time to see how your fitness is developing. “As you gain fitness you will see that your average 100 pace gets faster,” he said. “And as your ability to know what it feels like to go fast—but not too fast—improves, the variation from the first to the last 100 will be less and less.”

As you’ll see in the full workout prescription below, this session involves a drill known as fist drill. If you’re unfamiliar with this drill, check out this demonstration video here. Allen is a big fan of this particular drill, saying: “The fist drill is the best way to immediately help correct almost all inefficiencies in a swim stroke. It corrects everything from dropping your elbow to sliding your hand through the water without actually creating force.”

Do Something Streak, Day 29: Mark Allen’s Benchmark Swim Set

Warmup

200 easy swim, 200 pull, 100 swim

5 x 50 fist drill on 20 sec. rest (see demo video above)

4 x 25 fast on 20 sec. rest

Main set

10 x 100 on 10 sec. rest

Cooldown

150 easy

Total workout distance: 2,000