Pacing in Swim tests (400/200) | 80/20 Endurance

Pacing in Swim tests (400/200)

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    Good Day,

    What is the preferred way to pace an 400/200 swim test to calculate CV and then swim pace zones?

    As your book and website explains, the CV is influenced by the times and by the delta of the two segments.

    Two options are:
    – Hold back a touch on the 400 (8.5/10 effort), recover 2′, empty the tank on the 200′
    – Empty the tank on the 400 (10/10 effort), not recover as well over 2′, sandbag the 200 (with remaining effort left).

    First option slows the overall times, but gives me a faster 200 and increases the delta. Second option seems to cheat the formula, I will get a fast time, and the delta will be smaller since I do the 200 slower.

    I’d prefer more realistic training paces than min-maxing the CV.

    What’s the preferred way you tell your athletes on how to pace the 400/200 swim test?

    David Warden


    Great question. My first piece of advise is: don’t do the CV test. Do the 1000m/y test instead (1000 m or y and divide by overall time by 10: that is your CV). Over the last 4 years I’ve learned how hard it is for athletes without a swim background to do the CV test.

    To answer your direct question, empty the tank on both. You want to perform both at the maximum pave you can perform a 400 and then a 200. That’s (part of) why it is so hard to do the test, it does take some experience to know what that feels like.

    The 1000 test gives you a much broader cushion to recover from if you pace incorrectly. The 400/200 CV is unforgiving of any pacing error.



    Thank you for the follow up and answer.

    I am used to the 1,000 y/m TT with previous training plans.

    Normally I will do my 400/200 CV tests during the STT workouts (e.g. STT1). Interestingly, I asked here on how to adapt the workout (and make sure I am staying in the 80/20 ratio) but was suggested to stay with the 400/200 here.




    The general theme in 80/20 seems to be, you can replace those Rest & Test week workouts (e.g. STT1) with the 400/200 CV test. Fairly straightforward and easy to plug in.

    But if you’re recommending the 1,000 m/y TT instead to calculate CV – how would you replace that workout? Especially to include warm up and adequate post Z1 time (while balancing the 80/20 ratios) ?



    STT1 is 1850 yards or meter. 600 yards/meters is hard, the balance (1250 yards/meters is easy).
    If you warm up for 250 than swim 1000 hard and cool down for 600 you will have a bit more hard, but this will not change the overall picture by much, especially when looking at the 2 week intensity distribution.
    I would not bother too much – you are talking a shift of a few minutes.


    David Warden


    First, I’m acknowledging that Leyla recommends that 400/200 test, and I recommend the 1000. Both of us are right. The 400/200 is more accurate, but has significant room for error. The 1000 is less accurate but more forgiving. It’s a matter of precision (400/200) vs accuracy (1000), and the 1000 is good enough IMO.

    Aligned with @winoria on the change to the workout to maintain the 80/20 ratios.



    Thanks you both.

    Do you think 250 m/y (~5′) is adequate warm up for a full out effort test?

    When I conduct an FTP test, I do more than 5′ of easy cycling. When I run an LTHR test or 5k TT – I will do more than 5′ of easy running.

    Is there a better protocol to warm up for the 400/200 or 15′ full out effort (1000 m/y) test? I know it probably adds minutes, but it continues to push the 80/20 out of the ratio.


    I think you can add some warmup if you feel you need that. What’s important though is, that you use the same protocol for all your tests. If you lets say warm up for 500 this time, you dont want to swim 750 as a warm up next time just to shorten to 250 in the future.

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