A Mid-Season Distance Workout with Grant Hackett

A Mid-Season Distance Workout with Grant Hackett

The Australians have a long and rich history in the distance freestyle events.

Since the world record for the 1500m freestyle has been kept since 1908 six Australians have broken it a combined 13 times. Kieren Perkins assumed the distance mantle during the 1990’s, demolishing the world record three times, the final time swimming a 14:41.66 at the 1994 Commonwealth Games in my home pool here in Victoria, British Columbia.

Seven years later Grant Hackett would come along and drop over 7 seconds off that mark, swimming a 14:34.56 in 2001 at the FINA World Championships in Japan.

The year before I had the privilege of training with Grant for a few sessions in Vancouver, and it left me equally awed and disheartened. To see someone swim repeats of 200 meters of freestyle at a pace of 1:50-1:51 was a bit crushing, I won’t lie.

Anyways, the following workout was crafted by his long-time coach Denis Cotterell as a mid-season set. (As an interesting aside, Cotterell would also go on to train the man who would ultimately break Hackett’s world mark—China’s Sun Yang.)

The swim workout is a long one, running around two hours, and a sum of 7,400 meters, all done long course.

Have fun!


  • 800 swim as 4 times through (150 freestyle, 50 stroke)


8 x 150 Swim @2:15 as–

  • 2 – Freestyle breathing 3/5/7 by 50.
  • 2 – Freestyle/Head-up/Freestyle
  • 2 – Freestyle/Fly/Freestyle
  • 2 – Freestyle/Back/Freestyle

8 x 50 @1:00

  • 2 – Drill
  • 2 – Stroke count
  • 2 – Drill
  • 2 – Build to FAST.


30 x 100 Freestyle swim @1:40

  • 10 – Max heart rate -30 (So if max heart rate = 180, target is 150)
  • 10 – Max heart rate -20.
  • 10 – Max heart rate -10.


2 rounds through–

  • 3×100 Freestyle swim @1:30
  • 4×50 Freestyle swim @:45


(With fins.)

  • 3×200 (Kick/scull/drill/swim by 50)
  • 4×50 Swim w. fins [25m BLAST, 25m easy] @1:00


  • 200m loose


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Olivier Poirier-Leroy Olivier Poirier-Leroy is the founder of YourSwimLog.com. He is an author, former national level swimmer, two-time Olympic Trials qualifier, and swim coach.

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