- How to Build Swim Endurance – Chicago Athlete Magazine
- 1. Start Slow and Steady
- 2. Strength and Dryland Training
- 3. Sets With a Constant Pace
- 4. Increase the Yards, but Lower the Repetitions
- 5. Lower Your Rest Interval
- Swimming Workouts to Build Running Endurance – PodiumRunner
- Time vs. Distance
- Tools to Use
- Building Your Workout
- 4 Training Tips to Build Your Swimming Endurance
- Start slow, but stay consistent
- Increase distance, lower reps for a given set
- Do interval training
- Do dry-land or cross-train
- 5 Ways to IMPROVE Your Swimming Stamina
- 1.) Start Slow & Go Steady
- 2. Cross-Training
- 3. Practice swimming drills
- 4. Make Use of Equipment
- 5. Rest
- Swimming Workouts: The 40 Ultimate Practices for Swimmers
- Swimming Workouts: 40 Epic Practices and Sets for Swimmers
- Swim Practices and Sets for Sprinters
- Swim Practices for Distance Swimmers
- Swim Sets & Workouts to Improve Your Kick
- SEE ALSO:
- Swimming Workouts To Improve Your Speed And Stamina
- Swimming Workouts To Build Stamina
- Warm up
- Swimming Workout To Build Speed
- 1 Freestyle 50s
- 2 Freestyle 25s
- 3 Double arm backstroke
- Swimming Workout To Burn Calories
- 3 Kickboard
- 5 Freestyle sprints
- Swimming Workout For Triathletes
- 1 Freestyle 100s
- 2 Freestyle 50s
- 3 Freestyle 100s
- 4 Freestyle 50s
- 5 Freestyle 100s
- 6 Freestyle 50s
- 7 Freestyle 100s
- 9 Freestyle
- 10 Warm-down
- 6 Sets to Build Swimming Endurance
- Set #1
- Set #2
- Set #3
- Set #4
- Set #6
How to Build Swim Endurance – Chicago Athlete Magazine
There are several ways to know if you are improving as a swimmer; the most important part is to master your technique. This can take years of learning and practice and even then, sometimes bad habits develop which will then need to be corrected. Once strong technique has been developed, it then comes down to two factors: speed and endurance.
Here are five ways to build your swim endurance:
1. Start Slow and Steady
Newer swimmers tend to get in the pool and go gangbusters. It is the same with newer runners. In order to be able to go for longer distances, it is imperative to “dial it back” and use a pace that you can sustain for a longer time. This may mean starting slower than what you think you can do.
It is definitely more beneficial to start slow and build speed than it is to start too fast, build up that lactic acid and then be forced to slow down further than expected or stop altogether. Focus on a nice, steady zone 2 pace and build to zone 3.
Depending on your distance and goals, you may then wish to build to zone 4.
2. Strength and Dryland Training
Of course you need to get in the pool and put in the yards if you want to build your swim endurance.
However, by adding in some swim-specific strength training (what swimmers call “dryland training”) you can help your body more effectively recruit and use the muscles that will give you more power throughout your swim stroke.
Just two short sessions each week focused on the muscles used in swimming will help you build your swim endurance because your muscles will not fatigue quite as quickly.
3. Sets With a Constant Pace
Add some sets in your workouts in which you do a certain amount of repetitions at a set distance with the goal being to maintain the same speed throughout the set.
For example: 8 x 100 @ 1:50 pace with :20 rest. Many people will hit the first 2-3 at the set time, but then start to get slower as the set goes on.
Focus on taking the first rep or two a little slower, but then maintaining the pace throughout the set.
4. Increase the Yards, but Lower the Repetitions
After mastering the above set, then do some sets where you swim longer, but not as many times. For example, you can change the 8 x 100 set to 4 x 200. It yields the same total yards, but you need to swim longer without your rest. By focusing on keeping the same pace throughout, you will be building swim endurance.
5. Lower Your Rest Interval
Once you start swimming those longer distances at an even pace, the next step would be to lower the rest intervals you are taking between each repetition.
In keeping with the sets above – keep the 4 x 200, but instead of taking :20 rest, then move to :15 rest. This will help you learn to swim the same pace without rest.
After all, on race day, no one expects to be taking rest intervals!
These are just some basic ideas on how you can structure your workouts to build your swim endurance. For three free swim workouts to use to build endurance, contact me: I need swim endurance! I will send you three different workouts you can incorporate to your training in order to build your swim endurance.
If you are looking for longer, more structured training so you can be your best this season, feel free to contact me.
Train Right, Tri Right!
Swimming Workouts to Build Running Endurance – PodiumRunner
Swimming is a tremendously effective form of cross-training for runners. And yet, if you ask a room full of them how many swim as part of their training, you’re not ly to see a large show of hands.
Why is that? Well, the runners I know seem to have two major concerns when it comes to swimming for fitness. They tend to either think it’s boring, or they find it too hard. As a certified U.S. Masters Swim (USMS) Adult-Learn-to-Swim instructor, I believe they’re just doing the wrong workouts.
Before we dive into specific workout tips, it’s important to note that you do not need to be an experienced swimmer to glean the benefits of knocking out a few laps. You will, however, need at least some level of comfort in the water.
If you do have fear or discomfort in the water, consider scheduling a few sessions with an instructor or group designed to help adult beginner swimmers.
(Here’s more information on swimming as an adult as well as resources to help you find someone to get you started.)
Now, if you’re comfortable in the water and can go down and back the length of the pool a few times, you’re ready to get started. Here’s what you need to know.
RELATED: Become a Faster Runner With Strides
Time vs. Distance
Just as in running, you can base your swimming workouts on either time or distance; but Patrick Billingsley, a coach for Palm Beach Masters in Florida who holds USMS Level 3 and USA Triathlon Level 1 certifications, always bases his workouts on time. And he stresses the importance of remembering that, just because you can run for four hours, it doesn’t mean you’ll have great endurance in the pool—at least, not right away.
“The number one issue I see with runners who are just starting to swim is that they get in the pool and are immediately gassed,” says Billingsley. “It’s just an entirely different type of exercise.
” All too often, that leads to the athletes becoming discouraged and not continuing on with their work in the pool, but he recommends athletes simply start out where they are and focus on building rather than getting discouraged about becoming fatigued.
The number two issue he sees? Lack of ankle flexibility, which can throw off the way runners kick and can even lead to cramping.
“To see where they’re starting, I’ll have a runner get in the pool and do a simple swim workout, maybe repeating 100s, until they are just done—with zero judgment on how long that takes,” he says.
That might only be 15 minutes to start, and that’s just fine. With consistent training, they’ll improve and build endurance very quickly.
Tools to Use
One of the great things about swimming is that, if you have goggles and a swimsuit (and possibly a swim cap), you only need water in order to do your workout. However, investing in a few tools can come in handy, and can help keep things interesting.
Many pools offer kickboards and pull buoys, but if you want to use a snorkel (which can be a helpful as it builds lung capacity and teaches you how to breath in a pattern), fins (there are many different kinds out there, each with slightly different functions), or hand paddles, you’ll ly need to bring your own. These aren’t considered crutches; you’ll find elite swimmers utilizing these tools as well as novices.
There are also a number of multi-sport watches and other swimming gadgets designed to help you keep track of your distance when swimming laps, and you can even find underwater headphones that let you listen to music. However, once you’ve learned to build some workouts you love, you might not find such technological assistance necessary.
RELATED: Suspension Training for Runners: Getting Started
Building Your Workout
“Have a purpose for your workout, whatever it is you plan to do,” says Billingsley. You can certainly show up at the pool and simply plan to swim back and forth for 20 minutes, not worrying about pace or distance. That’s along the lines of going for a run strictly to get more miles on your legs, and we all know there’s a time and place for that in many of our training cycles.
However, if 20 minutes of down and back doesn’t exactly have you quivering with excitement, there are plenty of ways to mix up your workout (similar to the difference between a track workout or tempo run versus a long, slow run).
Most workouts include a warm-up—such as a 300 easy swim, 200 with the pull buoy, or 100 kicking with kickboard—a pre-set (where you can incorporate some drills, or perhaps short bursts of speed to prep your body for sprints), a main set (examples listed below), and a warm down (100-300 easy swimming).
Feel free to adjust any of the following times or distances to better match your current skill level and goals.
Odds/Evens: Choose something to focus on for laps falling on an odd number, then either make the even laps an easy recovery lap, a different distance, or a different stroke (if that’s in your skillset).
Example: 10 x 100m, odds at 75% maximum effort, evens at easy recovery pace
Ladder (or Mountain): Start at 100, then build up from there, doing a different stroke, incorporating a different tool, working on a new skill, or simply altering your breathing pattern with each bigger interval. Make it a mountain by going back down the ladder after reaching your longest distance.
Example Ladder: 100m kick
200m build to 80% effort
300m breast stroke, easy effort
400m pull buoy, steady 50% effort
RELATED: The Benefits of the Single-Leg Tubing Squat
Time Reduction: Select a distance to repeat, and begin with an interval that gives you loads of time to rest (so, if it takes you 1:45 to swim 100m, start at an interval 3:30).
Repeat anywhere from 2-4 times on that interval before resting one minute, then dropping 15-30 seconds and doing the same thing on that new interval. Go until you miss your interval.
(This is a great one for seeing improvement over time.)
Example: 2x100m on 3:30; rest 1 min.
2x100m on 3:00; rest 1 min.
2x100m on 2:30; rest 1 min.
2x100m on 2:00; rest 1 min.
2x100m on 1:30; rest 1 min., etc.
Increased Effort/Decreased Distance: As your effort (which you can gauge in whatever way makes the most sense to you—RPE, percentage of max effort, easy/medium/hard, etc.) increases, the distance you’re swimming goes down.
Example: 200m 50% max effort; rest 10s
150m 70% max effort; rest 20s
100m 80% max effort; rest 30s
50m 90% max effort; rest 30s
25m ALL OUT; short rest to catch breath before going into 25 easy Recovery
Rest 2 min, repeat from top
Repeating Distance With Altered 25s: If you’re working on endurance and want to get in some longer, steady efforts, keep things interesting by doing something different on the last 25 of every 100.
(This can help you keep track of your distance, too.
) You can add in different strokes, varied breathing patterns, a drill or just a change of your level of effort—anything that makes that 25 meters stand out will do the trick.
Example: 3x300m as follows:
First 300: last 25 of every 100m is backstroke
Second 300: last 25 of every 100m is breaststroke
Third 300: last 25 of every 100m is a build in speed to 90% max effort
4 Training Tips to Build Your Swimming Endurance
No matter what type of swimmer you are, whether you’re a pool or open water swimmer, or you swim competitively or recreationally, increasing your stamina can do wonders for your swimming. With better endurance, you will be able to swim faster and for a longer period of time.
Here are 4 training tips to build your swimming endurance:
Start slow, but stay consistent
Good swimming endurance is something you need to work your way up to slowly and steadily. If you push yourself too hard, too fast, there’s a higher lihood of burnout and increased risks of injury.
Start by focusing on perfecting your technique. This will help you swim more efficiently, allowing you to save more energy while swimming at a faster speed.
Once you’re swimming with good form, gradually increase your total workout distance and set intensities. Don’t rush into it and take recovery days, but swim consistently. Going slow and steady will get you where you need to be, while ensuring you don’t run into any injuries along the way. Building swimming endurance is about putting in the hours, and using these hours wisely.
Increase distance, lower reps for a given set
You don’t have to be increasing your total swimming distance daily to improve stamina. In the process of increasing your training load, you can switch up your sets so you’re swimming the same total distance but still working to build your endurance. You can do this by increasing the distance and lowering the repetitions.
For instance, instead of doing your regular 8×50 set, do a 4×100, and then do a 2×200, and work your way up to a 400. Even though you’re swimming the same total distance, you’re taking away your rest and pushing yourself to swim longer non-stop.
Do interval training
That said, you should definitely still do interval training, even when you’re able to swim longer distances without rest. Interval training works both the aerobic and anaerobic systems, so you’re building strength and improving cardiovascular fitness.
You have a few options when it comes to interval training depending on your goals.
One option is to lower your intervals for a given set. For instance, instead of doing a 4×100 on 2 minutes, you can lower it to 1:45. Once you’re comfortable with that pace, lower it to 1:40, 1:35, 1:30, and so on. The same applies if you’re basing intervals on rest time. Lower your rest time from 20 seconds, to 15 seconds, to 10.
Another option is to maintain the same intervals, but increase the intensity of your swim. For instance, keep doing an 8×50 on 1:30, but aim to hit a faster time in every rep.
Do dry-land or cross-train
Incorporating strength training into your program can help you better utilize the different muscle groups to power your strokes.
By working on your arms, back, core, and legs outside of the pool, you’re strengthening them so you’re able to sustain more stress on your body without fatiguing too quickly.
This means longer pool time without getting as tired, and you’ll see improvements in your overall swim performance.
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5 Ways to IMPROVE Your Swimming Stamina
One of the real assets of any professional swimmers is their swimming stamina. Your swimming stamina supplies the adequate energy and strength needed, so that you can easily perform intense training for long periods of time (while, avoiding illness and any risky injury situations).
Irrespective of whether you are an amateur or experienced swimmer, you need to build up your swimming stamina–so that your legs and arms aren’t over-fatigued at the end of a race. In this post, we will reveal 5 SIMPLE ways to IMPROVE your swimming stamina!
1.) Start Slow & Go Steady
When it comes to improving your swimming stamina, patience is key. As a beginner swimmer, your motivation level is extremely high and adrenaline levels are continuously fueling your actions. But, once this initial phase of excitement has worn off, you may lose that zeal and enthusiasm to stick to your training routine.
In every type of exercise (including swimming), the key parameter is staying consistent with your training. Thus, you should adhere the policy of tortoise–go slow and steady at the beginning, and from there, slowly build up.
Using this tortoise policy, starting slow will also allow you to become more comfortable in the pool. Additionally, you will get enough time to master the IDEAL swimming techniques (while avoiding injuries and over-fatiguing your muscles). As a newbie swimmer who is trying to increase their swimming stamina, it’s recommended to go to the pool 2-3x a week.
Cross-training offers you a multitude of benefits. For example, it protects your body from an overuse injury and improves your overall fitness level. In addition to that, cross-training is widely considered to be an extremely valuable, active-recovery tool.
Apart from all of the aforementioned benefits, cross-training is also improves your swimming stamina. For a total body workout swimming, cross-training will help you gain a great speed (without over-taxing the same muscle groups).
To start cross-training for swimming, add some upper body weight, core, and back exercises to your strength-training routine.
If you’re really serious about taking your swimming to the next level, consider joining our Strength Training Community: Surge Plus.
[CLICK HERE] and get daily, programmed weight training workouts for ANY age or swimming level!
3. Practice swimming drills
In order to improve your speed, endurance, and efficiency (especially at the beginner level), you will need to incorporate some swimming drills.
Drills allow you to really BREAK DOWN the swimming strokes and focus on 1-2 aspects as time.
By focusing on only 1-2 aspects as a time, you can isolate different muscle groups and learn different movement patterns to improve your stroke technique everyday.
Each stroke in swimming is complicated, and drills allow you to break down the strokes into different components. Each component needs to be precisely, and repeatedly practiced–until your body learns how to master that movement.
Because of this, swimming drills help you practice and concentrate on only a few aspects as time.
You will notice your swimming stamina will improve, even when you’re working on drills–because drills require time in the pool (which helps boost your swimming stamina).
All beginner swimmers are recommended to practice at least 1-3 drills during their training sessions. For example, you can practice dolphin kicks to improve your walls, turns, and break-outs. Similarly, you can practice hand-drag drill in order to learn a high-elbow freestyle recovery.
If you need help figuring out good drills for swim training sessions, consider joining the Technique Toolbox and get hands on technique coaching delivered STRAIGHT to your inbox! [CLICK HERE] to learn more!
4. Make Use of Equipment
Whether you are a professional swimmer or you’re stepping into the pool for the very first time, make use of the following equipment: fins, kick boards, paddles, pull-buoys, snorkels, and tempo trainers. These tools are widely used to increase swimming stamina for competitive swimmers, and allow beginners some “help” generating propulsion.
If you need to purchase a NEW Tempo Trainer, or a set of fins– use our PROMOCODE: rittersp (case sensitive) on Finis’s website for 25% OFF!
All athletes, including swimmers, need adequate rest during an intense training routine to keep up their momentum, swimming stamina, and high-level performances.
Swimming is by far, one of the best and most effective workouts for your body. This aerobic exercise strengthens your bones and increase your lung capacity at the same time! On top of that, it helps you burn off unwanted calories and accomplish your fitness goals.
Considering all of these above-mentioned benefits, who wouldn’t want to start swimming? Well if you’re seeing a boost in your enthusiasm while reading this post, be sure to include a “rest day” in your weekly training routine to allow your body to properly recovery.
By allowing yourself to properly recovery, you will avoid fatigue, injury, sickness, and exhaustion–which ALL of these factors will DRAMATICALLY affect your swimming stamina!
So if you’re really wanting to take your swimming to the next level, be sure to Start Slow & Go Steady, Cross-Train, Incorporate Some Swimming Drills, Use Equipment, and REST! These are the 5 key elements to a FRUITFUL swimming career!
This post comes to us from Ryan who is an author/owner of FitnessGoals.com. Ryan is a NASM Certified Personal Trainer, with a passion for writing and a love for chocolate. He enjoys long walks with a breeze and finding ways to make dessert healthy.
Swimming Workouts: The 40 Ultimate Practices for Swimmers
Here are 40 swimming workouts for sprinters, distance swimmers, butterfliers, IM’ers, and everyone in between courtesy of some of the top programs, swimmers and coaches in the world.
One of the benefits of swimming is the endless variety of ways that you can train in the water. Your swim workout can be a two-hour distance odyssey of intervals on short rest, or a high-rest, high-intensity 45 minute sprint-focused set.
Below are a collection of workouts and swim sets for sprinters, for distance swimmers, for those looking to improve their kick, and everyone else in between.
No matter what your goal for today’s session is, we got ya covered…
Swimming Workouts: 40 Epic Practices and Sets for Swimmers
These swim workouts are for competitive swimmers. If you are looking for more beginner type practices you came to the wrong place.
However, it you want to:
- Improve your top-end sprinting speed;
- Swim the same insanely tough swim workout that one of the top collegiate programs in the country did;
- Do the same workouts and sets the top swimmers in the world do;
- Or drastically improve your underwater dolphin kick…
…then you are in the right spot.
Some of the swim practices I have guinea-pigged on myself, others include sets and workouts from elite swimmers, while others have been submitted by some of the top swim coaches on the planet.
(If you are looking for a particularly gruesome challenge, try out the Auburn swim workout listed below. It’s not for the feint of heart.)
Swim Practices and Sets for Sprinters
The sprint swimmer is a special creature.
And while though they tend to get flak for the relatively low amount of meters and yards they complete in comparison to their middle-distance and distance teammates, they make up for it with intensity and swim goggle-flattening speed.
Here are a few sprint sets and workouts for you fast-twitch swimmers:
Swim Practices for Distance Swimmers
The distance swimmer lifestyle is a demanding one. Relegated to the animal lane for their 10k’s for time, they live a solitary and proud existence.
Here is our collection of distance sets and workouts that include practices from Olympic coaches Gregg Troy, Ray Benecki, and also feature workouts from the greatest female distance swimmer of all time, Katie Ledecky.
- This is What Katie Ledecky’s Main Sets Look . The greatest female distance swimmer of all time didn’t get that way without some amazing training. Here are a some of the workouts she performed in the year leading up to the 2013 World Championships, where she dominated the 400, 800 and 1500m freestyles.
- This is How Fast Katie Ledecky Swims in Practice. Here are two more mid-distance sets that Katie Ledecky performed in the months leading up to her world-shattering performance at the 2016 Rio Olympics. Good luck!
- A Mid-Season Distance Workout with Grant Hackett. The man was legendary for his range in the freestyle events, holding world records in events ranging from the 200m to the 1500m freestyle. Here is a 7,400m mid-season workout he did in long course meters that will get your heart rate going.
- Cameron McEvoy: The Hardest Sets I’ve Ever Done. distance sets? Swimming until you can’t feel your shoulders? The hardest sets Australian freestyler Cameron McEvoy has ever done will push you further than you ever thought imaginable.
- Ryan Lochte’s “Brutal” Individual Medley Set. Need some work on your 400 IM? This 3,200m set that Lochte did in long course meters will push you to the limit and back.
- Improve Your 400m Individual Medley with This Challenging Set. Looking to improve your 400 IM? Here is a set that is designed to help you boost every facet of this challenging event.
- The Tennessee Vols’ Sprint & Power Set. Vols’ associate head coach Tyler Fenwick put together this workout (and video as well!) of his open water and distance swimmers doing a sprint & power workout.
- Olympic Coach Gregg Troy’s Favorite Distance Workout. He has coached over 7 5different swimmers to the Olympics, including Caeleb Dressel, Ryan Lochte and much more. Troy, head coach at the University of Florida, shares with us with his all-time favorite distance workout.
- Set of the Day: How to Step Up Your Mid-Distance Freestyle. Quest Swimming’s Dudley Duncan’s favorite set for developing mid-distance prowess. Duncan has coached numerous Olympians, including Whitney Hedgepeth, in his 40+ years of coaching.
- Get in Shape Fast with this Workout from Olympic Coach Ray Benecki. Wanna level up your conditioning in the pool? Unleash some early season distance work with this practice courtesy of Ray Benecki, head coach of the FISH and two-time Olympian Kate Ziegler’s former coach.
Swim Sets & Workouts to Improve Your Kick
Having a powerful kick is critical to fast swimming.
Whether it is improving your breakouts and underwater dolphin kick, to having a strong and steady 6-beat kick throughout your races, having monster legs means that you are also able to keep better body positioning in the water, and will also keep your technique intact at the end of your races.
Within our collection of kick sets you will find a little something for everyone. There is high intensity blast kick work, higher volume aerobic stuff, and a whole bunch of kicking sets that will target your underwater dolphin kick.
- Build a Faster Kick: Kicking it with Boilermaker Aquatics. Here are two sets that will help develop lower body power and endurance over the season.
- Get Your Kick in Shape with the Variable Speed Kick Set. Michael Chapman of Boonville Aquatics shares a set designed to boost leg conditioning, promote better posture in the water, and even teach you to become a more mindful kicker.
- Faster Underwaters: The Bolles Sharks Underwater Dolphin Kick Set. Jon Sakovich, head coach of the storied Bolles Sharks program, one of the top-producing teams on the planet, shares his favorite set to help swimmers improve their underwaters. Here’s how to do it.
- Fire Up Your Kick with this USRPT Set for Faster Kicking.Keep it short, keep it fast–that is the concept behind USRPT sets. Here is a USRPT-themed kick set to help your swimmers improve both their underwater fly kick and their overall kick speed.
- How to Level Up Your Kicking Speed with the Plantation Swim Team.Good coaches know that you can’t train all swimmers in the same manner. You need to individualize training according to specialty and strength. Jimmy Parmenter, head coach of the Plantation Swim Team, shares a flexible kick set you can use with every swimmer in the group.
- How to Supercharge Your Kick with Randy Reese.One of the most legendary coaches on the planet stops by with a set for how to improve your kick. Here is ISHOF inductee Randy Reese with some advice on powering up your kicking speed.
- Race Tempo Dolphin Kicking: How to Train for a Faster Underwater. Having solid underwaters means being able to kick hard and fast. Here is a tempo-based vertical kicking set that will help you tighten up your underwater skills.
- Kick Big: Coach and Olympic Gold Medalist Martin Zubero’s Set for a Booming Kick. Former Olympian Martin Zubero stops by with a focused high intensity kick set that you can use to help condition your legs to dominate your 100 events.
- The Seminole Aquatics Kick Set: Race Hard, Kick Faster. When it comes to kicking faster, longer isn’t always better. Tony Ackerson of Seminole Aquatics shares a great kick set to stoke the competitive fires of your swimmers and also get them kicking faster.
- Want to Kick Faster? Try This Set from Southwest STARS. There is no worse feeling than our legs failing us at the end of a race. Today’s set will help your body train and power through that moment where your legs want to collapse.
- How to Build a More Powerful Kick with NTC Aquatics. Kick sets don’t need to be long, boring reps of being mounted to a kickboard. Don Gibb of NTC Aquatics shares a tough set that will push and power your legs to a faster kick.
- I Did This Boring Kick Set Every Day for Two Weeks and Dropped 3 Seconds on My 100 Kick PB. Building a faster kick isn’t always sexy, as this boring but powerful set shows.
- A Vertical Kick Set That Will Leave Your Legs Shaking. Low on pool space, but still need to get some quality yardage in? Here’s a 60-minute long vertical kicking workout to power up your kick.
- Work Those Underwaters: The Fairfield YMCA Kick Set. Want to level up your kick? Here is a challenging set that will push you towards a better freestyle and underwater dolphin kick. Let’s do this.
Other guides and articles that might interest you:
Swimming Workouts To Improve Your Speed And Stamina
Just with most things in life, the key to getting better at swimming is practice. But if you don’t spend your time in the pool mixing up what you do in your workouts, your gains will inevitably plateau.
It’s important to tailor your training around what you’re hoping to achieve in the water, whether that’s becoming a faster swimmer, getting ready to compete a long-distance event, or simply losing weight and getting fitter in general.
To help you achieve your swimming goals we asked Olivier Poirier-Leroy, former national level swimmer and founder of training manual and diary YourSwimBook, to share and explain a variety of workouts suitable for beginner and intermediate swimmers.
Swimming Workouts To Build Stamina
This is a tried and tested session that I’ve used with swimmers of all abilities. I do variations of it myself every Wednesday during my aerobic/recovery sessions. It’s some basic interval training that will tax your aerobic system and give your overall cardio fitness a big old boost.
The goal is to work up to about 45 minutes’ worth of aerobic swimming. How hard should you be working? Holding a conversation between repetitions shouldn’t be easy, but not impossible. Think comfortably uncomfortable.
Warm up with some 25m or 50m laps of closed-fist freestyle swimming.
Closed-fist freestyle swimming is exactly as it sounds – you ball up your fists, forcing your forearms to do more of the heavy lifting when it comes to pulling you through the water.
It’s a great way to encourage a high elbow catch and will also help you improve that elusive feel for the water so that your stroke is on point once you get into the set.
Swimming Workout To Build Speed
Developing speed in the water isn’t just about effort, it’s about finding the sweet spot between efficiency and power. The following will help you work on both of these critical aspects of faster swimming. It’s not heavy on distance, but it is high in quality.
There is a lot of stroke counting during this workout. Counting your strokes is a great habit to get into – it’s a constant reminder of how efficient you are being in the water and keeps you focused on a tangible part of your swimming, cutting down on some of the daydreaming that inevitably happens while we churn around the black line.
Beginners should do this set one to two times, while more advanced swimmers can work their way up to five rounds.
1 Freestyle 50s
Reps 4 Distance 50m Rest 25sec
With each rep, lower the number of strokes per 50m. If you take 35 strokes on the first rep, try 34 for the second rep, 33 for the third, and 32 for the fourth. The goal is to swim as efficiently as possible. Tight streamline off the wall, solid hip and shoulder rotation, and an even and balanced stroke.
2 Freestyle 25s
Reps 6 Distance 25m Rest 40sec
Take your best stroke count from the 50s and cut it in half (so in our example this would be 16 strokes). Your goal is to go as fast as possible while holding that stroke count.
This will teach you to be efficient at a high speed and find that happy balance between stroke count (how fast your arms are turning over) and distance per stroke (how far each stroke takes you in the water).
It’s all about quality with these bad boys.
3 Double arm backstroke
Reps 1 Distance 50m
Swim easy to keep loose before the next round starts.
Swimming Workout To Burn Calories
This Tabata-style workout is short but high on intensity. You hit the gas on the first rep and hold on for dear life. Make sure do to a comprehensive warm-up, paying particular attention to your legs, and after the workout do a solid ten minutes of easy swimming and kicking to flush your muscles of lactic acid.
Reps 8 Distance 25m Rest 10sec
Hold the board in front of you and kick with your legs.
5 Freestyle sprints
Reps 8 Distance 25m Rest 10sec
Try to beat your average pace from the first round.
Swimming Workout For Triathletes
For triathletes who are preparing for an event, there are a couple of things to focus on in the pool that will help prepare you for a good performance on race day.
In this workout we are going to have a dual focus – swimming with some sighting (picking your head up to the front to see where you are at, which is helpful for navigating while open-water swimming) and some swimming at your target race pace. The set is 2,300m not including the warm-up and warm-down.
1 Freestyle 100s
Reps 5 Distance 100m Rest 30sec
Swim at your race pace.
2 Freestyle 50s
Reps 4 Distance 50m Rest 20sec
Descending effort (get faster with each rep) sighting every 10m or so.
3 Freestyle 100s
Reps 4 Distance 100m Rest 30sec
Swim at your race pace.
4 Freestyle 50s
Reps 4 Distance 50m Rest 20sec
Descending effort (get faster with each rep) sighting every 10m or so.
5 Freestyle 100s
Reps 3 Distance 100m Rest 30sec
Swim at your race pace.
6 Freestyle 50s
Reps 4 Distance 50m Rest 20sec
Descending effort (get faster with each rep) sighting every 10m or so.
7 Freestyle 100s
Reps 2 Distance 100m Rest 30sec
Swim at your race pace.
Reps 1 Distance 100m
Swim faster than your target race pace.
Do five minutes of easy swimming and then hit the hot tub!
6 Sets to Build Swimming Endurance
Along with swimming smooth, swimming with sustainability, or swimming endurance, is the most important skill for a triathlete to have.
It does a triathlete no good to get out in front of the pack, swim strongto the first buoy, then completely come apart and struggle the rest of the way. The ability to sustain a high intensity is paramount, behind only smooth in importance.
Having a pretty stroke for half the race and then watching your arms come off and float to the bottom of the ocean isn't terribly useful.
More: 4 Steps to a Smooth 1.5K Swim
As stated, a major part of sustainable work will be focused on maintaining smooth swimming. The other focus of sustainable swimming is being fit enough to allow you to get the water after 1.5K and blast up the beach, through T1 and out onto your bike.
These will be longer sets, much your long, slow-distance runs and rides. Maintaining a steady pace and heart rate is the goal, not cranking it to 11.
Be sure to warm up before you go into your main sets with 200 to 500 yards nice and easy. This should shake the cobwebs out and get the blood into your muscles. You can also use active rest, 50 to 100 yards easy.
Please note that under set #2 there are many ideas for drill variation. Be creative with this. These are guidelines and ideas. They can be used on almost any of these sets. Many of the other sets also have variation possibilities.
- 3 x 500 – Sustainable pace, set rest
- Total: 1500 yards
Much the 10 x 100 strong set, this is an excellent benchmark set for swimming endurance.
While swimming these 500s, you should monitor stroke deterioration, prevent yourself from dropping your hips, drive the stroke from your hips, prevent your elbows from falling below your hands, and avoid cutting your finish short. Your goal should be to finish each 500 at about the same time.
You don't want to fade, you want to pace properly. This set is nearly 1.5K, and so it's a good test set.
More: Set a Training Benchmark With a Swim Time Trial
- 5 to 10 x 200 – Sustainable pace, set rest
- Total: 1000 to 2000 yards
These 200s make a great bread-and-butter set for 1.5K preparation. They are long enough that you build endurance, but not so long as to be intimidating. You can't crank a 200 it's a 100, but you don't need to worry about swimming too hard and getting exhausted a 500.
Smooth Variations for Set #2
A) Mixing the 1, 2, 3, swim drill into the 200 set is an excellent way to get both distance and technique worked at the same time. I suggest doing the first 100 as the 1, 2, 3, Swim and the second 100 normal, while focusing on the grab.
Breathing drills are very helpful for sustainability. A good breathing drill is 5, 7, 9 drill. This is done by counting strokes and breathing on the fifth, then seventh, then ninth, then back to fifth stroke. It will hurt, but it will force you to smooth out your stroke and make it more efficient. Efficient strokes use less oxygen.
More: Proper Breathing Technique
Breathing on odd numbered strokes also means that you will be bilaterally breathing, or breathing to both sides. Bilateral breathing is important because you don't want to be breathing directly into a wave or another swimmer.
Beginners should modify the 5, 7, 9 drill to 3, 5, 7. The goal is success, not failure. You will not get better through failure in these drills. You need to practice correctly.
If getting all the way to seven is too hard at the beginning only do a 3, 5 repeat. Do not ego swim.
B) Incorporate the 5, 7, 9 (3, 5, 7) drill into the 200s the same way you would incorporate the 1, 2, 3, Swim drill, as 100 drill/100 swim.
c) Mix two drills into one 200. For example: 100 – 5, 7, 9/100 – Fingertip Drag.
More: Pacing Makes Perfect: 6 Ways to train for the Triathlon Swim Start
- 4/5 x 300/400- Sustainable pace, set rest
- Total: Varies
Repeating heavier distances will be beneficial. Different distances and different numbers of reps allow for different intensities.
The goal for all of these, the goal in the 3 x 500 set, is for there to be very little fade between each swim. You want to be swimming hard enough to feel it, pushing it, but not so hard that things are going wrong.
Smooth Variation: Odd/Even – Easy/Hard swim. On the odd numbered laps, swim easy. On the even numbered laps, swim hard. So you are repeating 300s, but only swimming half of it hard. Mentally, this makes the set much easier. Hard laps need to be done with a strong intensity. A variation on this variation is to alternate by 50s rather than 25s, so Easy 50/Hard 50.
More: 6 Workouts for a Stronger Swim
- Giant Ladder
- 1 x 100- sustainable pace/set rest
- 1 x 200
- 1 x 300
- 1 x 400
- 1 x 500
- Total: 1500yards
Giant ladders are great.
You need to be looking forward to that 500 at the end, so you need to pace the “easier” 100 and 200 so you still have energy for the 500, but you don't want to dog the early swim either.
Nothing makes it harder to swim hard than to start out too easy. You get lazy and complacent.
The most difficult part of the longer sets is staying within your body the whole time. It is very easy to drift and lose focus. When you drift your body begins to betray you and you lose intensity and smoothness. Stay focused. Monitor what your hands, hips, core, head, elbows and shoulders are doing. Do what you need to do to remain present.
Higher-difficulty variation: Climb back down the ladder. After the 500 do a 400, 300, 200 and 100. Blast the 100.
More: Climb the Ladder With Janet Evans
- 1 x 1650
- Total: 1650 yards
This should not be a regular set. It's a good test to do every once in a while. The key is staying within yourself and pushing the whole time.
Focus on nothing but the lap count and fill your mind with positive self-talk. Don't think, “Ugh, 40 more laps!” Break it into smaller chunks and think, “That was a good 200; Let's do another one.
Triathlon-Specific Sustainability Notes
For many triathletes the swim is that awful thing between the gun and the bike. Smooth swimming and swimming endurance are how you go from hating the swim to tolerating or even loving it. It's a chance to warm up, find your groove, and get your head right. Few things feel better than getting into T1 and seeing a ton of bikes.
But in order to be sustainable you must work hard and, counter-intuitively, slow. Strokes fall to pieces when they are done too fast. Speed will come, but it takes a lot of work and even more patience.
You are looking for a lower stroke count (less strokes = more energy later, remember?) in all of these sets. This will translate well into your open water swims. Long,smooth strokes. The sustainable sets are more important than the strong sets.
Try and keep this simple tenant in your head when working on swimming endurance: A stroke that looks as good at the swim exit as it did at the start is a good stroke. If you can do that, then your swim will be good, and it will get fast.
More: Adding Speed and Efficiency to Technique
See more swimming tips.