If you are swimmer than you have probably done a “pyramid” set that builds up and down in distance. The purpose of these sets is to build up to an aerobic capacity, and then shift gears and build down to anaerobic power. Pyramid sets are also beneficial in that they seem to go by quicker than other standard repeat sets. Here is one example I did with my swimmers:
50 @ 80% effort on 5 seconds rest
100 @ 80% effort on 10 seconds rest
150 @ 80% effort on 15 seconds rest
200 @ 90% effort on 20 seconds rest
150 @ 90% effort on 25 seconds rest
100 @ 90% effort on 30 seconds rest
50 @ 100% effort
The goal is to go as fast as possible on the last 50, with perfect technique. Starting out at a lower effort level lets
the swimmer focus on their stroke. The challenge is to keep that perfect stroke as you build your effort up and down the pyramid. Remembering all the tips a coach tells you (tight streamline, high elbow, pointed toes) will let you confidently attack that last 50.
On a side note, sometimes we make the pyramid smoother by adding the 25’s, 75’s, 125’s and 175’s as you build up and down (the dreaded “Egyptian Pyramid”). However the set above has broader steps, leading to my swimmers naming it the “Mayan Pyramid”.