EPC Tips - Base Build Swim Session

Jun. 25, 2015

After your mid-season break (see last week's post) it's time to begin your second build and peak of the season. The second half of your training and racing season is structured much like the first with a base period that focuses on general aerobic and strength development, followed by a race prep phase that trains the higher intensities and/or volumes, and a peak phase that gets you ready to perform on race day. The difference with this second build is that it can be and usually is much shorter and more condensed than your first build of the season. This is due to the fact that you are coming off a much more recent peak and a short rest break compared to the longer break that comes at the end of the race season, so your fitness is likely much higher to begin with. Also your next peak probably isn't that far off in the future likely being only 2-4 months away (compared to 6 or more months that is typical over the winter months for a summer event), so there is little time to lose and you must get back to work!

The first block of training for the second build, as mentioned earlier, is to re-visit some aerobic training.

If you've been training for a sub-5 hour race than you've likely been doing a lot of higher intensity training over the last few months. High intensity training is great for racing fitness, but over time it can erode aerobic endurance. Not to mention that higher intensity training requires a lot of mental focus and hard work. It's important to re-visit the less-intense aerobic training to rebuild both the body and mind as aerobic training is typically more enjoyable with the mellower paces/effort required and will recharge your body and mind for more hard work down the road as you prepare for your second peak of the season.

The following swim session is designed for this base building phase of the season. The main set consists of short reps, and a combination of aerobic strength, technique and neuromuscular speed to build a platform from which to improve your swim. With this workout you'll perform multiple rounds of 5x50s, alternating between pulling  and swimming with a focus on arm-turnover speed. With the pulling 50s you can choose which gear to use (buoy, paddles, snorkel, etc.) while you focus on really reaching, catching the water and pulling all the way through to a pushing finish. The pace is relatively slow while you focus on good mechanics and a strong, complete pull. With the swimming 50s you want to focus on improving (increasing) your stroke rate. Using a metronome is helpful here, but not required. You want to focus on a quick yet smooth stroke. The pace will increase compared to the pulling 50s, but should remain controlled and not as a 'sprint' effort. You'll likely repeat this cycle of 5x50 three or more time through, and try to increase the number of rounds you get through once a week for 3-5 weeks as you rebuild your base for your final races of the season.


  • 400 easy choice
  • 6x[25 fast kick + 25 swim]


Repeat Rounds of:

  • 5x50 strong pull @ 0:15 rests (choice of gear: buoy, paddles, snorkel, etc.)
  • 5x50 fast swim @ 0:15 rests w/ high stroke rate focus (metronome)


  • 200+ easy choice
Written by Cody Waite, professional endurance athlete, endurance sport coach and founder of Endurance Performance Coaching. Looking for help with your training for 2015? Check out EPC’s Personal CoachingGroup Coaching, and Custom Training Plan options created to fit your needs and budget. Don’t forget to ‘LIKE’ the EPC Facebook Page and follow Cody on Instagram
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