Hacking away at my IM pace

18 October 2020

LA Fitness - Barrie - Cundles

Short Course Yards


Back in 2013, I had the great fortune of doing a 1-1 workout with one of the greatest swimmers to ever walk the face of the earth. No, not Michael Phelps. Richard Abrahams has been rewriting records since 1974, and still lays down times in his 70s that men many decades younger would be happy with. While he's known for his sprints, he brought to this workout a 200 pace set that, according to legend, the great Grant Hackett used to help him set the world record in not only that event, but also the 800 and 1500.


The set is deceptively simple ... and would be easy if you loaf the speed work, but the goal, when done all freestyle, is to hit your target 3rd 50 race pace on all of the fast efforts. I've done this off and on over the years as a freestyle set, a butterfly set and, most often, as an IM set. Today, after over 4 years of not doing this set, I went IM and had one of my best workouts of this crazy year.


I went my standard long warmup of 1,750 yards:

  • 1 x 400: IM kick-drill by 25s

  • 4 x 100: on 1:20, free descend with snorkel (1:10 -> 1:03+)

  • 8 x 50: on 0:50, w/fins, SDK, going 7-8-9-10 underwater dolphin kicks off each wall by 50, repeating that twice

  • 6 x 50: on 1:00, #1 and #6 easy, #2 to #5, build to fast IM order (0:33, 0:34, 0:40, 0:31)

  • 4 x 50: on 1:00, spring 25 IM order, easy

  • 1 x 50: easy

And then got into the main set. On the 'easy' efforts, I was trying to be less than 10% slower than my threshold pace of 0:33, and ranged from 0:34 to 0:36. I mixed in some backstroke on those easy ones:


Hackett 200 Test Set

16 x 50: on 0:45, 1 at race pace, 3 moderate

  • 11/26/14 - 29+,31, 36+, 28 = 2:05

  • 01/07/16 - 30+, 31+, 36, 28 = 2:06

  • 10/18/20 - 31, 33, 38, 29+ =2:13+

1 x 50: easy drill/kick with snorkel on 1:30


12 x 50: on 0:50, 1 at race pace, 2 moderate

  • 11/26/14 - 29,30, 36, 27 = 2:02

  • 01/07/16 - 30, 31, 36, 28 = 2:05

  • 10/18/20 - 30+, 33, 38, 29 = 2:10+

1 x 50: easy drill/kick with snorkel on 1:30

8 x 50: on 0:55, 1 at race pace, 1 moderate

  • 11/26/14 - 28+, 30+, 35, 26+ = 2:00+

  • 01/07/16 - 29+, 30+, 36, 27+ = 2:03+

  • 10/18/20 - 30+, 32, 38, 28+ = 2:09

4 x 50: on 1:00, all at target race pace

  • 11/26/14 - 28, 30, 36, 27 = 2:01

  • 01/07/16 - 29, 30, 36, 27 = 2:02+

  • 10/18/20 - 31, 32, 39, 29 = 2:11

I wrapped up with six ascending 50s to bring my total yards to 4,250. While I'm clearly a far shot away from where I was 4-6 years ago, I honestly felt great in the water and it gives me some good hope for racing in 2021.

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