World Class Workouts 7: A Short, Fast, Speed-building Set

Dawn Heckman sitting poolside.

Dawn Heckman needs little introduction as?our next?World Class Workout contributor.

Appearing a year ago on with a list of top 10 tips for open-water swimming, Dawn made a splash with a few of her suggestions, like telling readers to be more aggressive by growing their nails long and clawing their way to the lead of the pack!

Beneath this fierce competitiveness—which has won her gold and bronze medals at the 1999 Pan Pacific Games, a berth on the World Championship Open Water team, and several recent masters world records—is actually a shrewd businesswoman. Last year, Dawn founded Splish, a swimsuit company with a twist.

Splish features racing-quality swimsuits in designs that are not just funky, but outright show-stopping. With names like Blue Bandanna, Cherries, and That 70's Suit, the swimsuits feature whimsical patterns that deliver high-concept fashion with hydrodynamic performance. Check out the 'Round the World (featuring a patchwork of countries stitched together to mimic a globe) or Got Suit? (a Ben & Jerry-style cowhide design in shocking pink).

With more than 65 patterns (and still growing) there is something for everyone at Splish and if Dawn has her wish, then open-water swimming and triathlons will soon enough become runways for the individualist athlete in all of us.

Dawn's World Class Workout was as original as her suit designs: Whereas other contributors focused on big sets that primarily stressed endurance development, Dawn's workout is short and deceptively simple-looking (but certainly not easy).

"Once a week, I would do a low-yardage, high-intensity set where the purpose was to swim at race speed and lay everything down on the line," she explains. "In order to be a fast swimmer, you have to practice swimming fast."

Indeed, many swimmers and triathletes enjoy training endurance because it feels like a real workout (the "no pain, no gain" approach). However with consistent endurance training, it is easy to fall into a pattern of swimming longer distances at slower paces.

Every now and then it is necessary to practice speed and keep your body conditioned to sprint. Dawn's workout is designed to do just that.

Pre-meet Warm-up

A pre-meet warm-up is whatever it is you do to get ready before a big race. Some swimmers take longer than others and prefer to do up to an hour of drills and light sets. Others like to get their body moving with an easy 1,500 meters and call it quits.

Whatever the case may be, take your time and warm up correctly every time you do the following set. To successfully complete the workout, you need to be prepared to swim fast.

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