17 Apr Swim with Purpose-3 Workouts to Up Your Swimming Game

By Laurel Wassner – Pro Triathlete

Do you ever get stuck in a rut with swimming and that training feels monotonous and boring?  It doesn’t have to be like that!  I have been swimming since I was five, swam through college at Division I George Washington University, and I still don’t get bored.  The key is mixing up your swim sets and getting creative.  Keep things interesting by switching paces, adding drills, sprints, and kick.  Make things harder by doing a lot of repetitions and tight intervals. And, don’t forget to add in some recovery days.  Swim workouts with purpose and intent, not just to get in lots of yards.

Here are three swim sets to try.  Each has a purpose.

Workout #1: This is a race simulation.  It is a test set and should be a big challenge.  Get some friends together to motivate each other to do this one.  If you can nail this workout, you will gain the confidence and fitness to crush any triathlon swim. 
400 Free
300 Pull
200 Kick
100 drill swim
5×100 (50k/50s) :10 rest
8×25 (1 hard, 1ez)
Main Set:
20×100 on a very challenging interval (1:10 for yards is expert level, but if 2:00 is a challenge for you, then try that)
4×50 (25 backstroke/ 25 free) cool down
Try this set when you are in good shape and about 3 weeks out from a race.  You can also build up to this by doing rounds of 10 one week, then 15 the next, etc

Workout #2: 5k Friday. Every Friday my training partners and I gather for 5K Friday. This is usually my longest workout of the week and it is great to have company. Since we have various levels of swimmers we tend to make this a “strength swim” where intervals are less important and the focus is more on building strength through pulling and kicking.
    Warm Up:
    200 free – 50k 
    200 free – 50 back
    200 free – 50 k
    200 free – 50 back
    4×75 (25k no board/25 drill/25 swim)
    4×25 1/2 hard, 1/2 easy
    4×150 band only (this will be a challenge and requires good form and focus) Do these on 15 seconds rest.
    6×50 kick (descend 1-3, 4-6) on :60
    100 25 back/25 free x2 recovery
    5x 150 pull (no paddles) – these should be aerobic with an interval that gives you :5 seconds rest
    5×50 kick (1-3-5 hard, 2-4 easy) :60
    100 25ba/25 fr recovery
    6×150 pull +paddles – these should be slightly harder so make the interval 5 seconds faster than the last round of 150s
    4×50 kick (desc 1-3, hold 4) :60
    100 25ba/25 free recovery
    6×50 breathing pattern:
    2 rounds of: 
    1- 4 breaths per 50
    2 -3 breaths
    3- 2 breaths

Workout #3: Recovery Monday.  Most triathletes put in a lot of work over the weekend.  Usually long runs and long rides that fatigue the legs.  The point of this workout is to flush out the legs.
    500 free
    300 pull
    4×50 drill/swim
    8 x 100 (50k on back /50 swim) * with fins* – you can do these without fins, kicking on your back
    400 pull with paddles moderate
    8x 75 as (25 kick on left side/ 25 kick on right side/ 25 swim) 
    300 pull moderate
    8×25 (odds swim with over kick, evens swim easy)
    200 pull moderate
    100 easy cool down

Always make sure to fuel properly for these swims. For the race simulation – workout #1, I like to have a race type breakfast and then an XRCEL on my way to the pool. 

For the longer swims, I bring an XRCEL to the pool deck and take one after the warm up. I also keep an extra in my bag in case the swim goes long and I start to feel like I need extra fuel.

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