One of My Favorite Fast Swim Workouts

In two past columns I have written about swimming fast to get fast. This column is a continuation of that thread.

This workout builds on the past workouts with the intention of getting you to hold your increased speed for longer periods of time. The workout can be used to help you improve freestyle swimming speed for sprint and Olympic-distance triathlons.

First, I want to give you a few definitions and some instructions:

Build: Triathletes should swim freestyle and aim to build their speed (meaning "get faster") throughout each 50 (yards or meters). If you aren't training specifically for a tri (such as Masters swimmers), don't be shy about using alternate strokes.

Fast: As fast as you can possibly swim. Don't save up and don't worry if speed fades some throughout the workout. Just go fast.

Easy: Swim with very low effort and good form. Triathletes can use alternate strokes if you'd like to (backstroke or breaststroke).

SI: Swim Interval. All swim intervals are the same for the entire main set in this column. Your swim interval is your best 50 time, plus 20 to 30 seconds. If the fastest you currently swim a 50 in is 35 seconds, your swim interval can be one minute. You will leave each time the clock ticks off a minute. If your best 50 time is one minute, make your swim interval 1:20 or 1:30.

As you swim through the set, your actual rest interval will vary depending on how fast you swim. No matter how fast or slow you swim, push off the wall at the designated swim interval. As you get faster and gain more fitness, you can reduce the swim interval.

Warm-up Set
Swim 100 to 400
Kick 100 to 400
Pull 100 to 400
 
Main Set
4 x 50 Build
2 x 50 Fast
1 x 50 Easy
3 x 50 Fast
1 x 50 Easy
4 x 50 Fast

Cool Down
300 Easy. You can alternate each length of the pool with another stroke.

For those of you that have trouble pushing the speed, invite a friend to do this workout with you. See if you can beat your buddy. There is nothing like a little friendly competition to bring out the faster speeds in all of us.

Workout adapted with permission from Workouts in a Binder: Swim Workouts for Triathletes.

Gale Bernhardt was the 2003 USA Triathlon Pan American Games and 2004 USA Triathlon Olympic coach for both the men's and women's teams. Her first Olympic experience was as a personal cycling coach at the 2000 Sydney Olympic Games. Thousands of athletes have had successful training and racing experiences using Gale's pre-built, easy-to-follow training plans. For more information, click here. Let Gale and Active Trainer help you succeed.

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