One-Hour Workout: 50-Focused Endurance Swim

A mixture of short, fast swimming and slightly longer intervals later in the set make this workout a great way to optimize your time in the pool.

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This week’s workout comes from Drew Sapp and Ohio-based Crew Racing, LLC. Sapp is a USAT Level 1 certified coach with over 12 years of endurance sports coaching experience and two degrees focused in health and physical education from Edinboro University (Pennsylvania).

“Coming from a background as a competitive swimmer and a swim coach, I tend to view the swim differently than most triathlon coaches,” Sapp says. “Many triathletes tend to do longer aerobic work in the water, which does not lead to a good return on time in the pool. In contrast, stand alone swimmers tend to do large volumes of swimming with moderate amounts of intensity.” Sapp suggests that training like a swimmer-only is unrealistic due to the amount of time triathletes have to devote to each sport. Instead, he recommends spending “time doing above-race-pace efforts, followed by aerobic-based work. This allows athletes to develop their speed, while also building upon endurance so they can hold speed on race day.”

The idea behind this 50-focused workout is that it will help you stay engaged and allow many opportunities to check in with your pace, keeping effort steady. “I suggest using a send off time for the 50s—which includes the time swam and the rest, which should be about one to five seconds,” he says. “A good way to find the appropriate send off is to take your current 100 all out time, split it in half and add five seconds. Having the send off time remain constant and challenging helps you frame this workout in a way where you have to push to make each set.”

After the main set, the workout dives into a pre-fatigued, shorter, endurance section—meant to simulate a long aerobic swim without the actual volume.

300 freestyle
4 x 50 choice drill; 10 seconds rest
4 x 50 swim; 10 seconds rest as: easy, medium, fast, easy effort

Main Set:
3 x (6 x 50 on an interval that gives 1 to 5 seconds rest at your fastest sustainable speed; 100 easy 1:00 rest)

3 x 200 at Ironman race effort, or just slightly below; 15 seconds rest

200 swim easy

Total: 2,700

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