One-Hour Workout: Pyramid Swim

The off-season is the perfect time to focus on drills, but you don't want to lose all of your fitness. This swim session strikes the balance.

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This one-hour pyramid swim workout involves almost every toy in your swim kit bag and combines technical work with aerobic endurance.

This time of year is the key time to work on swim technique, but focusing on drills and drills alone will soon leave your fitness waning. Combining work on your stroke with low intensity aerobic sessions is the perfect blend at this point in the season.

Begin with an easy 300-500 warm-up, gradually raising heart rate and nudging effort up to 5/10 RPE (rate of perceived exertion) by the end. And then begins your pyramid swim: start with a 100 full stroke swim, focusing on one or two elements of your stroke that you know needs attention. Then: 200 with pull buoy, 300 with buoy and paddles (small only), 400 paddles only, and then 500 straight swim (no toys), low intensity (no more than 6/10 RPE), focusing on those one or two elements of your stroke that you’ve been focusing on since the start of the session.

Coming down the pyramid, it’s time to concentrate on your kick: 400 kick/swim with fins as 50 kick (on your back, arms outstretched behind your head), 50 swim; 300 swim with fins, focusing on kicking from your hips—not your knees. Take off your fins for the final 200 and do a build swim, progressing effort every 50, to no more than 7/10 RPE. Wrap it up with a 100 easy cooldown.

Pyramid Swim


300-500 easy swim

Main Set

100 – full stroke swim

200 – pull

300 – pull + paddles

400 – paddles only

500 – straight swim

400 – kick/swim with fins as 50 kick, 50 swim

300 – swim with fins

200 – build swim, progress effort every 50


100 easy

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