Swimming Q&A

Swimming workouts can be found HERE.

Videos on strokes and swimming drills can be found HERE.

Dryland exercises can be found HERE.

What workout should I be doing?

BEGINNING WORKOUTS – These are for swimmers who can swim more than 5 minutes consecutively or who haven’t swam in a long time.  These workouts have the slowest intervals and cover the least amount of distance.

INTERMEDIATE WORKOUTS – If you have been swimming for a while but are still a work in progress, see if these workouts are for you.

ADVANCED WORKOUTS – These are for swimmers who have been swimming for a long time and want to push themselves.  These workouts have the fastest intervals and cover the most distance.

Need more or training for something specific?  Our PERSONALIZED TRAINING will (hopefully) be coming soon.

Disclaimer – Always make sure to see your doctor before starting any type of exercise program.  Stop immediately if you feel any pain or discomfort. 

What equipment will I need?

All you need is a swimsuit, goggles, water bottle and access to a pool.  Beyond that, you are welcome to use a swim cap, kickboard, pull buoy, paddles and/or fins.  They are not necessary but will make the workouts more beneficial, especially if you are doing the ADVANCED WORKOUTS.  If you do decide that you want to use the optional equipment, check with your pool staff first.  They may offer some of these items (free of charge) to their members.  You may also want to bring a waterproof watch along, to keep track of your intervals, if the facility doesn’t have a clock that is easily visible from the lap lanes.

Are the workouts based on yards or meters?

Our workouts are based on yards since most pools are 25 yards.  Ask the pool staff if you are not sure if the pool you are swimming in is meters or yards.

What if I am swimming in a meter pool?

You can still use our workouts.  Adding 5 seconds per 50 meters to each interval might be a good rule of thumb.  If not, add the time to the interval that works for you.

What do all the terms that you are using in the workouts mean?

Here are some swimming terms that you may need to know:

Alternate IM = free, breast, back, fly

Back = Backstroke

Backstroke Double Arm Drill = Pull with both arms at the same time while using a flutter kick.  This will help with your pull.  See video HERE or on You Tube HERE.

Backstroke Dolphin Kick on Back Drill = Push off the wall on your back in a streamlined position and doing a dolphin kick.  This will help with your butterfly kick and kicking from your core.  See video HERE or on You Tube HERE.

Backstroke The Wave Drill = While swimming backstroke, wave the hand that is out of the water.  This will help with your hand position as it enters and exits the water.  See video HERE or on You Tube HERE.

Best Average = The fastest time that you can consistently swim each one.

Ex:  6×100 breast best average time

If 1:25 is the fastest time that you can swim all 6 100s, that would be your best average time.

Breast = Breaststroke

Breaststroke Scull Drill = Swim breaststroke but use a small sculling motion as your pull.  This will help with the catch part of your pull and kicking.  See video HERE or on You Tube HERE.

Breaststroke 2/1 Drill = Complete two kicks and then one pull.  This will help with strengthening your kick. See video HERE or on You Tube HERE.

Broken IM = rest a prescribed amount of time between each stroke.

Ex:  100 broken IM (25 fly/rest :15/25 back/rest :15/25 breast/rest :15/25 free/rest :15)

Broken Swim = rest a prescribed amount of time after completing a portion of the total distance .

Ex:  200 broken free (50 free/rest :20/50 free/rest :20/50 free/rest :20/50 free) on the 4:00

Build = build up speed as you go for each increment (start off easy and build to a sprint).

Ex: 75 free build by 25

Each 25 of the 75 would get faster. The 1st 25 would be easy, the 2nd 25 would be fast and the 3rd 25 would be a sprint.

Butterfly Dolphin Kick Drill = Push off the wall on your stomach with your body in a streamlined position and your legs doing a dolphin kick.  This will help with your kick and kicking from your core.  See video HERE or on You Tube HERE.

Butterfly One Arm Drill = Do three butterfly pulls with one arm and then three with the opposite side.  You can also do three normal fly strokes after that if you are able to.  This will help with your pull.  FYI:  If you aren’t able to do the full fly stroke yet, you can use the one arm technique during your workouts.  You can either do one arm down and the other back or do a certain number of strokes with one arm and then switch.  See video HERE or on You Tube HERE.

Descend (or descending) in time = You would swim progressively faster for each one.

Ex:  3×100 free descend (or descending) in time

The first 100 would be your slowest, the second would be a little faster and the third 100 would be your fastest.

Fast = 90% effort (not a full-out sprint)

Fly = Butterfly

Free = Freestyle

Freestyle Catch Up Drill = Take a stroke with one arm.  When that hand touches the other (in front of you), you can take a stroke with the opposite arm.  Think of it as your hands playing tag.  See video HERE or on You Tube HERE.

Freestyle Fingertip Drag Drill = Drag your fingers through the water on recovery.  This will help with keeping your elbows high on recovery.  See video HERE or on You Tube HERE.

Freestyle Rotation Drill = With each stroke, rotate onto one side for six flutter kicks (with your arm extended and stomach towards the wall).  After the sixth kick, switch to the other side.  This helps with body rotation.  See video HERE or on You Tube HERE.

Hypoxic = a shortage of oxygen, so for our purposes = breath control

IM  = Fly, Back, Breast, Free (in that order)

Kick = Swim by strictly kicking with your legs (no arms).  Kickboards and/or fins can be used.

Knock off = Start swimming the distance listed and subtract by amount given each time until you hit the ending distance.

Ex:  200 free knock off 25 each time until at 25 = swim a 200, 175, 150, 125, 100, 75, 50, 25

Negative split = the second half of the distance is faster than the first half.

Ex:  200 free negative split = the 2nd 100 would be faster than the first 100.

Ex:  2×1000 free negative split by 500 = the 2nd 500 of each 1000 would be faster than the first 500

No Breather = no breathing

Pace = swimming at a consistent speed.

Example: 12×25 free sprint at 100 pace, RI :20 = You would first need to figure out how long it takes you to swim a 100 free. If it takes you 1:30, then you would swim a 25 in approximately :22. You would then try to sprint your 25s in :22 and rest (RI) for :20 between each 25.

Pull = Swim by strictly using your arms (no legs).  Pull buoys and/or paddles can be used.

Pyramid = A set that either descends and then ascends in distance or ascends then descends.

Ex:  100 free, 200 free, 300 free, 200 free, 100 free

Reverse IM = free, breast, back, fly

RI = Rest interval = A repeated distance that is swum with a prescribed amount of rest in between each one.

Ex:  5×100 RI 10 seconds (or 5×100, RI :10) = Swim 5 100s and rest 10 seconds in between each 100

Set = Swimming a certain distance a prescribed number of times.

Ex:  5×100 free = Swim 5 100s free

S.O.B = shortness of breath.  These sets will help with your breath control.

Sprint = Swim as fast as you can.

Test Set = A set performed periodically to determine your progress.

Timed = Swim distance as quickly as possibly without stopping.

Timed Intervals = A repeated distance that is swum in a certain amount of time.

Ex:  5×100 on the 1:30 = Swim 5 100s.  You have 1 minute and 30 seconds to complete each 100.  Any leftover time would be used to rest.  So, if you completed your first 100 in a minute, you would have 30 seconds to rest before you started your second 100.  If you finished the second 100 in 1 minute and 10 seconds, you would then have 20 seconds to rest before you started your third 100.

Underwater Travel = streamlined underwater butterfly kick, coming up for air as needed.

@ = on the

Ex:  4×50 free @ 1:10.  You would have 1 minute and 10 seconds to complete each 50.  Any leftover time would be used for rest.

How do I read the workouts?

First, make sure that you are familiar with the swimming terms listed in the previous question.  As for reading the actual workouts, we’ll use our first BEGINNER WORKOUT as an example:

1.  5 minute easy swim (warm-up)

Swim 5 minutes consecutively with any stroke (or multiple strokes).  Use this time to loosen up.

2.  5×100 free, RI 10 seconds

This is an example of a rest interval.  It means that you are going to swim 5 100’s and rest 10 seconds between each 100.  If the pool you are swimming in is 25 yards, a 100 would be down and back 2 times.  If the pool you are swimming in is 50 yards, a 100 would be down and back.  Ask the pool staff if you aren’t sure of the length of the pool you are swimming in. 

3.  200 kick free

200 flutter kick – you can use a kickboard and/or fins if you have them.

4.  10×25 free, RI 15 seconds

Swim 10 25’s and rest 15 seconds between each 25.

5.  5×50 (25 free/25 back), RI 15 seconds

Swim 10 50’s.  For each 50, the first 25 will be freestyle and the second 25 will be backstroke.  Rest 15 seconds between each 50. 

6.  5 minute easy swim (cool down)

Swim 5 minutes, any stroke (or multiple strokes).  Take this time and swim as slow as you want to cool down.

= 1200 total + 10 minutes

Amount of yards that you swam.  Since the warm-up and cool-down were given in minutes, instead of yards, you will need to keep track of how far you swam during this time and add it to the total yards listed to get your accurate total.  For example, if you swam 200 during the warm-up and 200 during the cool down, you would add 400 to the 1200 listed = 1600 yards total. 

You may also see something like this on your workout:

5×100 free on the 1:30 (in newer posts, you may see @ instead of “on the”)

This is an example of a timed interval.  You would swim 5 100’s freestyle.  You would have 1 minute and 30 seconds to complete each 100.  Any leftover time would be used to rest.  So, if you completed your first 100 in a minute, you would have 30 seconds to rest before you started your second 100.  If you finished the second 100 in 1 minute and 10 seconds, you would then have 20 seconds to rest before you started your third 100. 

6×100 breast best average time on the 2:00 (in newer posts, you may see @ instead of “on the”)

First, you would need to determine what your best average time is.  To do that, figure out what the fastest pace you could swim each of the 6 100s in.  If 1:30 is your best average time, you would swim the 6 100s in 1:30 (each) and then use the other 30 seconds to rest. 

3×100 descending in time on the 1:15 (in newer posts, you may see @ instead of “on the”)

Swim 3 100s.  You would have 1:15 to swim each 100.  Because it says to descend in time, your first 100 would be your slowest one, your second 100 would be a little faster and your third 100 would be the fastest. 

4×75 free S.O.B. (50 sprint/10 out of water push-ups/25 no breathing)

Swim 4 75s.  For each 75, you would sprint a 50 free, hop out of the pool and do 10 push-ups on the deck and then get back in the water and swim the last 25 free without taking any breaths.

2×1000 free negative split by 500

Swim 2 1000s.  The second 500 of each 1000 would be faster than the first 500. 

5×100 free sprint on the 5:00 – TEST SET (in newer posts, you may see @ instead of “on the”)

Swim 5x100s.  You would have 5:00 to swim each 100.  Swim each 100 as fast as you possibly can.  Keep track of your times so you can compare them to how you swim the same set at a future date.  You should get faster the more you swim.

Example:

October 2011                    December 2011

1st 100 – 1:10                    1:08

2nd 100 – 1:12                   1:09

3rd 100 – 1:11                    1:09

4th 100 – 1:13                    1:10

5th 100 – 1:15                    1:11

How long should I rest between each set?

Rest 1-3 minutes between each set.

Can I still do the workouts without the timed intervals?

Yes, you can swim at your own pace.  Just swim the sets without worrying about how fast or slow you are going.  You do, however, still need to rest between sets.

What do I do if the BEGINNING WORKOUTS are too hard for me?

If the beginning workouts are too hard for you, start swimming on your own.  You may want to swim 10 laps the first time you swim and then work on adding more yards as you go until you are ready to try one of the BEGINNING WORKOUTS again.

What do I do if the BEGINNING WORKOUTS are too easy but the INTERMEDIATE WORKOUTS are too hard?  Or, what do I do if the INTERMEDIATE WORKOUTS are too easy but the ADVANCED WORKOUTS are too hard?

The easiest way to fix this is to subtract time from the intervals if they are too easy or to add time to the intervals if they are too hard.  You want to have to work to complete each set but they shouldn’t be impossible.

For example, if the workout says to do 5×100 free on the 2 minute and that is too hard, try adding 10 seconds to each 100 so the workout would now be 5×100 on the 2:10.  See how that feels and adjust again as needed.

What are drills?

Drills are designed to improve your stroke technique.

Back Drills:

– Dolphin Kick on Back

– Double Arm

– The Wave

Breast Drills:

– Scull

– 2/1

Fly Drills:

– Dolphin Kick

– One Arm

Free drills:

– Catch Up

– Fingertip Drag

– Rotation

Click HERE to see videos of each individual drill  They can also be found on You Tube HERE.

How many days a week should I be swimming?

You do not need to swim every day but the more you swim, the better you’ll get.  Beginners should aim to swim 3 times per week.  Intermediate and advanced swimmers should ideally try to swim 5 days per week.  That might not be possible so do what works for you, your schedule and your family.

What if I don’t have enough time to swim the whole workout?

That’s okay, just swim as much as you can get in.  Make sure you don’t skip your warm-up and cool down completely.

Should I be doing other types of exercise with my swimming?

Yes.  Strength training (which swimmers usually call dryland) and other aerobic activities can only improve your swimming.  We will begin to add dryland to our Monday, Wednesday and Friday workouts beginning on November 1, 2011 here and there.  Click HERE for more information on dryland and to see videos of the different exercises.

I am training for a meet or triathlon and need practices tailored for that.  Can you help?

We are working on this.  We are hoping to eventually offer PERSONALIZED TRAINING.  Once we get it going, personalized practices will be fee based.  More info to come.

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9 thoughts on “Swimming Q&A

  1. Hi,
    I have a question. I am a lifeguard who is having issues with long distance swimming. To pass one of our fitness requirements I need to swim 400 m in less than 10 mins. The last time I did this I was very tired and hadn’t eaten almost all day.. But I was 30 seconds over the time limit. The next try I have is in a month from now. I know that part of the time I lost was because I was tired and hadn’t eaten properly that day. Do u think it’s possible for me to be able to attain 30 sec less on my swim with a months prep time? If I can how can should I train to achieve that?
    Thanks!

    • Chris, I think if you adhere to some of our beginner practices for a month, that should help you reach your goal. I would also really strive for efficient swimming. That is, make your stroke technically correct. There are several freestyle drills on our blog that you can use to correct any problems with your stroke. Without seeing you swim I can’t tell you exactly what to work on. If you want to have someone video you while swimming and then send it to me, I would be happy to take a look at it.

      Eric

  2. Hi,

    how do i put all your workout in my training plan? For instance, everyday i go to the pool, i pick a workout. Is it the correct way to use your workouts?

    p.s: i love your work :)

    • That works if you are swimming for general fitness. If you are training for something specific, then you would need to find ones that would fit what you need. Thanks!

  3. Hi,I am a mom of a 12 yr old girl who has decided swimming is her sport. She swam for 3 summers but wants to swim year round. We cannot afford this now, but we have an indoor pool at our gym soI am trying to come up with workouts she could do to improve for next summer. She is pretty good,placed 5 th in the division in breast last summer. Any suggestions? Thanks!

  4. hi i am 33 years old ,5 feet 8 and 94 kg.i was a former swimmer and at 24 i swim my 50m freestyle 27:22 seconds and butterfly 30:00 seconds,last night i tried and i finished freestyle at 32:13 seconds ..is it possible to me to swim in 27 second ..any suggestions ?

  5. We’re not going to lie, it might be hard. A lot of it depends on how much time you have to train and how good your technique is and was. If your stroke is a little sloppy, working on sprints and technique could get your time down. Good luck and let us know how it goes.

  6. thanks …
    i swim yesterday .. i did a 200*2 warm up freestyle
    and i sprint wearing a short 15m at 7.6 sec,20m at 10.5 sec and later i did a 25m at 14.4 sec..on a 25m pool.
    but i didnt try a 50m yet….
    so does this sound good ..

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