Holiday Traditions: 100 x 100 At The Trent Swim Club

One of the longest, most mind-numbing, dreaded sets that you can think of, what is essentially 2.5 hours of stop-and-start swimming, stood as a holiday tradition of sorts at my home club in Peterborough, Ontario, Canada.

Sometime during Christmas training, which usually started on the 27th or 28th of December after the holiday festivities had wrapped up, the Trent Swim Club had the older groups do 100 consecutive repetitions of 100 metres freestyle (short course) on the fastest base time you could maintain. While there was always a bit of anticipation (dread) as to which practice it would fall on, the one practice scheduled for three hours rather than the usual two was a dead giveaway.

Ultimately, the set was more of a mental struggle than physical. If we’re repeating on 1:25s the whole way, that’s two hours and twenty-one minutes of grinding. 1:30s is two and half hours, and so on.

Tim Hortons Timbits (Wikipedia Commons)

Keeping a positive mind frame and maybe making up a fun way of keeping track of which repeat you’re on in your own head can make the set go by faster. Counting using kickboards in groups of ten was one way to stay on top of it. And you’d be rewarded with some Tim Hortons Timbits and chocolate milk at the end (this is Canada, after all). However, if you started dreading how much you have left, you’re in for the long haul. And you’re probably gonna end up being one of the ones taking abnormally long (and frequent) bathroom breaks. Either way, Timbits for everyone. Also, lying on the couch and eating absurd amounts of food the rest of the day (or at least until afternoon practice) feels a little bit more satisfying knowing you’ve knocked out 10k in the water already that day.

This tradition wasn’t only for the club swimmers. A bunch of the local triathletes, including my dad, would do the set annually on Christmas Eve morning, though the jury’s still out on whether or not the full 100 has ever been completed. Even my mom and a few of her friends would attempt to complete the set over a series of workouts during the holiday season.

When I went off to university in Sudbury, I realized the 100 x 100s wasn’t just a Peterborough thing. I heard stories of how they had done the set at previous years of Christmas training as well. In my five years we never ended up doing it, thank goodness (though a best average set of 10 x 400 kick/swim quickly became my new least favorite set).

Happy holidays to all, and happy grinding to all the swimmers out there.

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Don’t know what my sets will be or what tradition my team has but for a straight week we have doubles 7-9 and 3-5 everyday including Sunday


We have the holiday tradition of 30×100 all out off the blocks, good times. There’s always a puke barrel waiting because our Christmas party is on the same day


We used to “swim around the clock.” Which meant you did 100 frees on a reducing interval. The first was on 2:00, the second was on 1:59, the third was on 1:58, etc. and you swam until failure. I think I once made it to :53. Which was 67 100s, with the last 7 all being under 1:00.


I loved this set when I was in shape about a million years ago.


Fail at 2 minutes and go home.

samuel huntington

also seems a little hard to believe – your last 500 was 4:35??? and the 500 before that was 5:00?? what was your 500 PR?


It does seem a little hard to believe. Our 500 swimmers did this (they both go 4:20 mids) and only made it only to 0:59 seconds. Maybe this jack is Jack Conger?

samuel huntington

Yea, to do this set I think your PR would have to be 4:15 or better. Not many swimmers in the country could do it

Caeleb Dressel Will Win 7 Golds in Tokyo

That’s impressive


100s on less than 1:00 interval is incredibly impressive!

25 free champ

It depends on the person. If you’re a 4:10 500 swimmer then you should be able to do 100s on a minute for a long time.


and how many swimmers are 4:10 @ 500 yd ??


My team calls this “The Great Descent”. I think our team record is getting to like 1:04 which obviously isn’t amazing, but 53 isn’t human. You’d actually have to be Jack the Yak Conger for that

About James Sutherland

James Sutherland

James formerly competed for the Laurentian Voyageurs in Sudbury, Ontario, specializing in the 200 free, back and IM. He finished up his collegiate swimming career in February of 2018, placing 11th at the OUA Championships in the 200 IM, and graduated with a bachelor's degree in economics in May. He …

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