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Four Focused Swim Workouts


When you find yourself heading to the aquatics center on a regular basis without a plan, it’s time to refocus and establish your purpose for swim training. Otherwise, you’ll see minimal results and soon get bored of staring at that black line at the bottom of your lane as you do the same sets over and over again.

If you have never been a competitive swimmer or don’t belong to an organized Master’s program, you may not know how to put together a workout that is more than just “jump in and swim for 30 minutes.”

Below are four solid, fundamental workouts that offer some variety and purpose, not to mention some “fun” to your training program. Each workout is designed with a specific theme: technique, sprint, distance and interval training. You are free to alter them as you wish–make them longer or shorter–depending on your training schedule. However, each offers a solid template for the percentage you should allot to each Main Set, so adjust your total yardage accordingly.

You can also adjust the intervals to your ability level (1:30, 1:25, 1:20) for each workout in the main set–especially when performing The Quickie workout. Try to keep each set descending: that is, do each 50, 100 or 200 faster than the first one you performed, so your final one is the fastest.

Perform at least two of these workouts a week and not only will you will be looking forward to your trips to the pool, you will turn yourself into a better overall swimmer.

Tech To It (Technique/Drill Workout)

Warmup:  400 IM Drill
Main Set:

  • 16 x 50–Alternate free/stroke drill (choice*) by 50
  • 400 Kick (200 with board, 200 without)
  • 400 Pull (200 Freestyle, 200 Stroke*)
  • 5 x 100 Kick (choose swim or stroke, descending)
  • 5 x 100 Pull (choose swim or stroke, descending)

Cool Down:  300 Freestyle
Total Yards: 3300*Your choice of three strokes: butterfly, backstroke or breastroke. Try NOT to do freestyle when offered the choice. This will only make you a better swimmer.

The Quickie (Sprint Workout)

Warmup:  500 Freestyle
Main Set:

  • 8 x 50–Slow/medium pace (1 minute interval)
  • 8 x 50–Medium/fast (1 minute interval)
  • 8 x 100–Freestyle (descending)
  • 8 x 100–75 fast, rest 10 seconds, then 25 sprint
  • 8 x 50–25 medium, rest 10 seconds, 25 sprint (1:10 interval)

Cool Down: 300 Freestyle
Total Yards: 3200

Go Long (Distance Workout)

Warmup: 200 Freestyle (Stretch it out. Warm up your legs and your pull.)
Main Set:

    10 x 400

  • First five 400’s are freestyle (descending).
  • The last five 400’s alternate between pull and kick per 400. (Kick with board and fins. For pull, use a pull-buoy and paddles.)

Cool Down: 300 Freestyle
Total Yards:  4500

Break It Up (Interval Workout)

Warmup: 5 x 200 (50 drill, 100 swim, 50 drill)
Main Set:

    3 x 400

  • First 400: 100 build, 200 fast, 100 medium
  • Second 400: 100 slow, 50 fast, 50 slow, 50 fast, 100 slow
  • Third 400: 200 build, 100 fast, 100 slow
    2 x 200

  • First 200: Pull (100 stroke, 100 freestyle)
  • Second 200: Kick (100 stroke, 100 freestyle)

Cool Down: 400 Freestyle
Total Yards: 3000