Beginner Swim Workouts: Endurance, Form and Speed

author : gsmacleod
comments : 37

When I got back into the pool to start training for triathlons (after a substantial fourteen year break from lap swimming) I found a few “beginner” workouts online and, without stopping to consider how much my abilities may have declined in those fourteen years, I headed to the pool for a 1600m workout. I found that I could barely swim 50m continuously – including recovery time I was swimming between 4:00-5:00 per 100m! Since I had so much time to think while swimming back and forth in the pool, I calculated that I would be spending over an hour in the pool for the 1600m workout! Realizing that this was probably not going to be the path to improving my swimming; mainly since I could not complete the shortest set (100m) in the workout; I went back online. I assumed that in my ignorance (or overconfidence in my swimming abilities) I had missed the secret stash of true beginner workouts. But after several more searches, I still had trouble finding any workout that was not over 1200-1600m.

So I struggled in the pool – thrashed and splashed but never really made any progress. I was frustrated because I was not making progress, so I therefore did not want to swim. When I did swim, I spent more time standing at the end of the lane than swimming because my sets were too long – I just did not have the endurance. While swimming I had many visions of DNFing because I would either not be able to finish the swim or I would be completely wasted at the end of the swim. However, over time some of my online searches paid off and that, combined with suggestions from the forums here at BT, finally started to yield some improvement.

About the workouts

The workouts that are included are by no means my own – I am only attempting to compile a number of my favorite workouts so that you do not have to waste as much time as I did finding workouts that would work for your swim level. These workouts are all designed for beginners and range in length from 400m to 1200m – hopefully providing some useful workouts until you are able to tackle the 2000m+ workouts that are easily found online. These workouts are not designed to take the place of a coach or masters swim class; rather, they should help on the days when you have to figure out your own workout.

When to do endurance, form and speed workouts?

For a beginning swimmer who is working on mechanics and endurance, I would recommend that, if you are swimming three times a week, you do not do the speed workouts on a regular basis. I would instead do two form and one endurance workout with an occasional speed workout used for variety every two or three weeks. If you have the chance to swim four times a week then I would add in the speed session if you feel up to it - if not, another endurance session will not be wasted.

How often should I swim?

As a beginning swimmer you will probably find the greatest results from swimming three or four times per week for a shorter duration rather than trying to do a couple of long sessions. These shorter sessions will allow you to maintain your form throughout the workout rather than allowing fatigue to ruin your technique.

Terms:
Right Arm - right arm only - use a pull buoy keep your left arm extended and stroke only with your right arm.
Pull - using the pull buoy, concentrate on stroke mechanics and body position (i.e. maintain horizontal position in the water).
Left Arm - left arm only – use a pull buoy keep your right arm extended and stroke only with your left arm.
Kick - kicking only - can be completed on front or back with or without fins. I have found these drills to be the most useful when done without the flutterboard. If you do them this way, extend arms above the head and roll to your side to breathe.
Catch up - using the pull buoy, complete the stroke with one arm before starting the catch with the other arm.

 


 

 400m800m1200m
EnduranceWarm-up
4x25
Main Set
Drill

2x25 pull
Ladder
25, 50, 50, 25
Cool-down
2x25
 
Warm-up
1x25, 1x50, 1x75
Main Set
Drill
2x25 pull
2x25 kick
Ladder
25, 50, 75, 100, 75, 50, 25
Cool-down
1x75, 1x50, 1x25
 
Warm-up
2x50, 1x100
Main Set
Drill
2x50 as 25 right arm, 25 left arm
2x50 or 4x25 kick
Ladder
50, 100, 150, 150, 100, 50
Cool-down
1x100, 2x50
 
FormWarm-up
4x25
Main Set
Drill
2x25 right arm
2x25 pull
2x25 left arm
2x25 kick
2x25 catch up
Cool-down
2x25
 
Warm-up
1x25, 1x50, 1x75
Main Set
Drill
3x25 right arm
3x25 pull
3x25 left arm
3x25 kick
3x25 catch up
Swim
3x50 easy (focus on technique)
Cool-down
2x50, 1x25
 
Warm-up
2x50, 1x100
Main Set
Drill
4x25 right arm
4x25 pull
4x25 left arm
4x25 kick
4x25 catch up
Swim
3x100 easy (focus on technique)
Cool-down
1x100, 2x50
 
SpeedWarm-up
4x25
Main Set
8x25 (hard with long recovery)
Cool-down
4x25
 
Warm-up
2x25, 2x50
Main Set
12x25 (hard with long recovery)
4x50 (hard with long recovery)
Cool-down
2x50, 2x25
 
Warm-up
2x50, 1x100
Main Set
12x25 (hard with long recovery)
10x50 (hard with long recovery)
Cool-down
1x100, 2x50
 

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date: June 14, 2005

Author


gsmacleod

 






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