Swim Workout of the Day: Pacing like an Olympic Gold Medalist

Goal: Race Pace swimming

I like to break down the 1500m into smaller chunks and get my swimmers working towards their race pace. If you can hold your target time over fifteen 100m’s, or seven 200m’s, etc you will hit your target time in a race 1500m.

swim workouts for triathlon race pace Olympics swimming

David Wilkie, Olympic gold medalist used to prepare for the 200m breaststroke by doing, for example, 30x50m at his race pace. That’s a tough set, and got his body used to swimming fast.

For example: Target time for 1500m is 30 minutes. This equals 2 mins per 100m.

Warm up: 400m: 50m drill, 50m swim
4 x 25m build each 25m to fast (90%+) pace; 15 seconds rest

Main set
: 15 x 100m at race pace (2mins in the example above), 20 seconds rest in between each 100m.

Cool down:  200m: 50m non-freestyle, 50m kick

Set can be done as yards also, but calculate it based on 1650 yard swim and do 16 x 100 yards.

Don’t just plod up and down with long, continuous swimming. Swim fast and the results will come much sooner – leaving you time to work on growing hair and mustache as good as David Wilkie’s!



  1. elisariva

    Thank you – I am going to do a main set Wednesday of 19×100 meters. My half iron distance is September 9th. Good workout to do every week or so.

    • coacheamon

      Doing this kind of set regularly is a great idea as you can track progress. However, start with smaller sets e.g. 5-10 x 100m before building up. Also mix it up and build to 4x500m, 6x300m, 10x200m. The goal in each is race pace with great technique. Doing it weekly might get monotonous. Let me know how it goes!

  2. coacheamon

    Here is a recent example of training with a race pace target in mind. Scott Weltz recently put this race pace training to good use and upset the clear favorites in the men’s 200m breaststroke to win the United States Olympic swimming trials.

    From NY Times:
    It was Motekaitis’s idea to place a training device, a thick chip about the size of a quarter, inside Weltz’s swimming cap during breaststroke sets. Motekaitis programmed the device so it would make a beeping sound every 16.125 seconds, which is the pace Weltz needed to maintain for each 25-meter segment of his 200 breaststroke to achieve his goal time. So even though he was training alone, Weltz essentially had a daily partner that was pushing him to a 2:09 pace, which he and Motekaitis figured would put him in the mix for an Olympic spot.

    “That was the goal time,” Weltz said, adding, “It gave me a lot of confidence knowing I can keep up with the beep and the beep’s better than my competition.”


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