Use IM Swim Training to Boost Fitness and Technique

As a part-time runner, I also look to breaststroke as a way to stretch and prevent cramping after a long run. If you are a sprinter and have done explosive kick sets in your workout, it is wise to swim some easy breaststroke as active recovery to prevent lactic-acid buildup in your large leg muscles.


Freestyle, of course, is the most popular and easily mastered stroke of all. Understandably, no swimmer needs instruction on how to perform what was once known as the crawl, but it is important that one realize the diverse ways in which to utilize it in overall training.

For warm-up and cooldown, it is the only stroke with which to begin and end your workout; there is nothing better for loosening up your body for a hard practice ahead, or for allowing it to recover after a challenging workout.

As the easiest stroke to master, it is also the one and only stroke for all-out endurance training (in my previous article on ladder training, it was assumed the entire workout would be conducted in freestyle). It is simply impossible to cover lots of yardage swimming any of the other three strokes, or a combination thereof.

I suggest incorporating the three non-freestyle strokes into your daily workout routine. Whether you are a triathlete or a sprinter or a breast-, back-, or butterflier, your training can only benefit from cross-training strokes. Butterfly for endurance, strength, and cardiovascular improvement, backstroke for stretching and recovery, and breaststroke for leg strength and stretching.

Assuming you are a swimmer or triathlete who is looking to improve your overall performance, you can try this sample workout using all four strokes, and hopefully notice a difference in overall endurance, strength, and cardiovascular fitness over time.

400 free
200 back
200 fly / breast (by 50)
6x50 kick @ 1:00 (odd: sprint freestyle, even: easy breaststroke)

Main set
5x100 @ 20 secs rest (last 25 butterfly)
100 easy backstroke
4x100 @ 15 secs rest (last 25 butterfly)
100 easy breaststroke
3x100 @ 10 secs rest (last 25 butterfly)
100 easy backstroke
2x100 @ 5 secs rest (last 25 butterfly)
100 easy breaststroke
100 (last 50 butterfly)/200 easy (backstroke/breaststroke by 50)
8x50s @ 1:00 freestyle (easy / fast)

100 freestyle
100 backstroke
100 breaststroke
100 freestyle
(Total: 4,000 meters)


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