Workout: Strip Poker Swim Set

Slowly get (equipment!) naked to help improve your feel for the water.

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This workout comes from Colorado-based Grant Holicky of Forever Endurance. Holicky is a former pro triathlete who uses his background as a swim coach as the bedrock for his cycling and triathlon training. He has coached national champions and was a member of the USA Swimming open-water world championships staff.

“This swim workout is designed to help athletes transfer the efficiency and comfort of paddles and buoys to their natural swim stroke,” Grant says. “Efficiency is a cornerstone of successful open water swimmers and triathletes. I call it Strip Poker.”

The foundation for Holicky’s “Strip Poker” set is that while equipment like paddles and pull buoys are excellent for building focused strength—while technique is held steady by gear—it can be equally important to maintain the natural feel for the water.

During the main set, be sure to maintain length and stroke count through each of the 300s, focus on keeping steady power and form throughout the 100s, and start at goal race pace on the 50s, descending to fast without losing a strong pull. “Think of the feeling of swimming with power,” Holicky says.

1,000 incorporating kick, drill, and strong swimming—as well as a few “opener” sprints in the final few 200

Main Set
3 x 300 on :30 seconds rest as:

#1 paddles and buoy

#2 drop your favorite of the two toys

#3 “naked” (with no buoy or paddles, keep your suit on!)

6 x 100 at race pace with :20 seconds rest as:
#1 paddles and buoy

#2 paddles only

#3 “naked”

#4 “naked”

#5 buoy only

#6 paddles and buoy

4 x 50 swim with :10 seconds rest, descending from goal race pace to fast

100 easy

Total: 2,800

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