6 One-Hour Freestyle Workouts

A former college swimmer and high school assistant coach, Margaret Cyphers has built a number of workouts that she uses to keep her stroke strong. All of these workouts are between 2,000 and 3,000 yards and take about an hour to complete. Cyphers has printed all of them out, laminated them, and now takes them to the pool with her.

Before we get to the drills, swimming newcomers (the so-called "adult-onset swimmers") may benefit from learning some quick terminology in the drills that you may not immediately understand:

  • Kick: A set focusing on your kicking. Often done while holding a kickboard to prevent assistance from your arms.
  • Pull: A set focusing on your stroke (the "pulling" is your arms pulling the water behind you and propelling you forward). Often done with a pull buoy between your legs to prevent you from kicking.
  • Drill: Sets that focus solely on your technique, with no time demands. Examples of drills are catch-up, fingertip drag and sculling.
  • Descend: Swim each repetition faster than the one before it.
  • Negative Split: The second half of the swim is completed faster than the first half.
  • Dolphin Dives: Dive down below the surface of the water, similar to diving under waves. Here is a video demonstration.
  • Choice: Choose whichever stroke you want for that particular set.
  • Reverse IM: Opposite of the regular IM order. A reverse IM order would be freestyle, breaststroke, backstroke and butterfly.

Need for Speed

Warm-Up (500

  • Complete a mixed warm-up totaling 500 yards.

Intro Set (200)

  • 4 x 25: Build speed throughout each 25 (10 sec rest)
  • 1 x 50: All-out fast (30 sec rest)
  • 1 x 25: Easy (30 sec rest)
  • 1 x 25: All-out fast

Main Set (900)

  • 3 x 100 moderate (15-second rest)
  • 3 x 100 Negative-split within the 100 (15-second rest)
  • 3 x 100 Slow, medium, fast. (15-second rest)

Cool Down (150)

  • 150 easy. Free/dolphin dives/free

Total Yards: 1,750

About the Author

Margaret Cyphers was a Division-I swimmer for the University of Minnesota, and an assistant high school swim coach. After leaving college swimming due to injuries, and taking a break from the pool, she again found her love for the sport on a casual level. She now swims twice a week, for the general fitness and pure enjoyment.

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