Here are 36 swimming workouts for sprinters, distance swimmers, butterfliers, IM’ers, and everyone in between courtesy of some of the top programs, swimmers and coaches in the world.
One of the benefits of swimming is the endless variety of ways that you can train in the water. Your swim workout can be a two-hour distance odyssey of intervals on short rest, or a high-rest, high-intensity 45 minute sprint-focused set.
Below are a collection of workouts and swim sets for sprinters, for distance swimmers, for those looking to improve their kick, and everyone else in between.
No matter what your goal for today’s session is, we got ya covered…
Swimming Workouts: 36 Epic Practices and Sets for Swimmers
These swim workouts are for competitive swimmers. If you are looking for more beginner type practices you came to the wrong place.
However, it you want to:
- Improve your top-end sprinting speed;
- Swim the same insanely tough swim workout that one of the top collegiate programs in the country did;
- Do the same workouts and sets the top swimmers in the world do;
- Or drastically improve your underwater dolphin kick…
…then you are in the right spot.
Some of the swim practices I have guinea-pigged on myself, others include sets and workouts from elite swimmers, while others have been submitted by some of the top swim coaches on the planet.
(If you are looking for a particularly gruesome challenge, try out the Auburn swim workout listed below. It’s not for the feint of heart.)
- The Swimmer’s Ultimate Test Set for Measuring Improvement. We all want to get faster in the water, and it’s not enough to simply get in better shape. you also need to be more efficient. This set will teach you measure and track both.
- Wanna See If Your Kick Speed is Improving? Try This Quick Kick Set. Want to see if your kick speed is on the up and up? Here is a set that you can do in less than 10 minutes to see whether or not your kick is improving.
The sprint swimmer is a special creature.
And while though they tend to get flak for the relatively low amount of meters and yards they complete in comparison to their middle-distance and distance teammates, they make up for it with intensity and swim goggle-flattening speed.
Here are a few sprint sets and workouts for you fast-twitch swimmers:
- The Pop-and-Lock Set: A Speed Endurance Set for Sprinters. One of my favorite all time sets, and can be adapted to your own goals in the pool. Best for developing speed endurance and blinding speed.
- A Fun, Yet Crushing 20 Minute Set for Drop Dead Sprinters. Submitted by 2012 National Club Coach of the Year, Sean Baker of Oakville Aquatics, this set of blast repeats with a steadily decreasing interval that will challenge your stroke and technique integrity, especially over the last four reps.
- The Other Auburn Sprint Set, Or How I Spent Two Hours Driving the Local Lap Swimmers Crazy. One of the most difficult sets I have ever encountered. Took me over two hours to do it, and I still didn’t even finish it all. Not for the feint of heart.
- Butterfly Sets: How to Dominate Your Next 100m Butterfly. Two awesome sets for developing a monster back-half on your 100m fly (equally applicable to other strokes as well). The sets were developed by Bob Bowman for Mr. Butterfly himself, Michael Phelps.
- 3 Sprint Sets with Nick Brunelli. Nick was a stalwart on the national scene in the United States for a decade. Even though he never made an Olympic team, he did retire in 2012 with over a half dozen world championship medals to his credit. Here are a few of the sets he used during his training for the 2012 US Olympic Trials.
- Olympian Mike Alexandrov’s Favorite Set for a Faster & Powerful Breaststroke. 2-time Olympian and US Open record holder in the 100 yard breaststroke Mike Alexandrov shares one of his favorite workouts for developing a monster breaststroke.
- NCAA & World Champion Josh Schneider Shares His Favorite Sprint Set. Unleash your inner beast mode with this punishing sprint workout that features nearly 1,000 meters of all-out swimming.
The distance swimmer lifestyle is a demanding one. Relegated to the animal lane for their 10k’s for time, they live a solitary and proud existence.
Here is our collection of distance sets and workouts that include practices from Olympic coaches Gregg Troy, Ray Benecki, and also feature workouts from the greatest female distance swimmer of all time, Katie Ledecky.
- This is What Katie Ledecky’s Main Sets Look Like. The greatest female distance swimmer of all time didn’t get that way without some amazing training. Here are a some of the workouts she performed in the year leading up to the 2013 World Championships, where she dominated the 400, 800 and 1500m freestyles.
- This is How Fast Katie Ledecky Swims in Practice. Here are two more mid-distance sets that Katie Ledecky performed in the months leading up to her world-shattering performance at the 2016 Rio Olympics. Good luck!
- A Mid-Season Distance Workout with Grant Hackett. The man was legendary for his range in the freestyle events, holding world records in events ranging from the 200m to the 1500m freestyle. Here is a 7,400m mid-season workout he did in long course meters that will get your heart rate going.
- Cameron McEvoy: The Hardest Sets I’ve Ever Done. Like distance sets? Swimming until you can’t feel your shoulders? The hardest sets Australian freestyler Cameron McEvoy has ever done will push you further than you ever thought imaginable.
- Ryan Lochte’s “Brutal” Individual Medley Set. Need some work on your 400 IM? This 3,200m set that Lochte did in long course meters will push you to the limit and back.
- Improve Your 400m Individual Medley with This Challenging Set. Looking to improve your 400 IM? Here is a set that is designed to help you boost every facet of this challenging event.
- The Tennessee Vols’ Sprint & Power Set. Vols’ associate head coach Tyler Fenwick put together this workout (and video as well!) of his open water and distance swimmers doing a sprint & power workout.
- Olympic Coach Gregg Troy’s Favorite Distance Workout. He has coached over 7 5different swimmers to the Olympics, including Caeleb Dressel, Ryan Lochte and much more. Troy, head coach at the University of Florida, shares with us with his all-time favorite distance workout.
- Set of the Day: How to Step Up Your Mid-Distance Freestyle. Quest Swimming’s Dudley Duncan’s favorite set for developing mid-distance prowess. Duncan has coached numerous Olympians, including Whitney Hedgepeth, in his 40+ years of coaching.
- Get in Shape Fast with this Workout from Olympic Coach Ray Benecki. Wanna level up your conditioning in the pool? Unleash some early season distance work with this practice courtesy of Ray Benecki, head coach of the FISH and two-time Olympian Kate Ziegler’s former coach.
Having a powerful kick is critical to fast swimming.
Whether it is improving your breakouts and underwater dolphin kick, to having a strong and steady 6-beat kick throughout your races, having monster legs means that you are also able to keep better body positioning in the water, and will also keep your technique intact at the end of your races.
Within our collection of kick sets you will find a little something for everyone. There is high intensity blast kick work, higher volume aerobic stuff, and a whole bunch of kicking sets that will target your underwater dolphin kick.
- 10 Minutes a Day to a Faster Underwater Dolphin Kick. The underwater dolphin kick is the not-so-secret of top swimmers like Florent Manaudou, Cesar Cielo, Michael Phelps and others. Here is a quick and powerful set to improve your fly kicks in as little as ten minutes a day.
- Improve Your Underwater Fly Kick with the “Ropes” Kick Set. A simple rope is all you need to help encourage longer, and ultimately better, underwater dolphin kick work for your swimmers.
- A Kick Set for Faster Foot Speed in the Water. Developing a high kick tempo is imperative for swimmers who want to swim supremely fast. Here is a set that is designed specifically to help you get your feet moving.
- Supercharge Your Kick: 4 Sets for Kicking Power and Speed. Sean Baker from Oakville Aquatics shared these sets that National Team member Evan White did (also includes his results on the sets).
- My Favorite Sets for Developing Flutter Kick Thunder-Speed. Here are a handful of the kick sets that are consistently in my training rotation.
- How to Kick Faster with the Mesa Aquatic Club.Want to improve you kick? Here is a workout and a kicking drill from Paul Smith, owner and director of coaching of the Mesa Aquatics Club, one of the top age group and masters programs in the country.
- Build a Faster Kick: Kicking it with Boilermaker Aquatics. Here are two sets that will help develop lower body power and endurance over the season.
- Get Your Kick in Shape with the Variable Speed Kick Set. Michael Chapman of Boonville Aquatics shares a set designed to boost leg conditioning, promote better posture in the water, and even teach you to become a more mindful kicker.
- Faster Underwaters: The Bolles Sharks Underwater Dolphin Kick Set. Jon Sakovich, head coach of the storied Bolles Sharks program, one of the top-producing teams on the planet, shares his favorite set to help swimmers improve their underwaters. Here’s how to do it.
- Fire Up Your Kick with this USRPT Set for Faster Kicking.Keep it short, keep it fast–that is the concept behind USRPT sets. Here is a USRPT-themed kick set to help your swimmers improve both their underwater fly kick and their overall kick speed.
- How to Level Up Your Kicking Speed with the Plantation Swim Team.Good coaches know that you can’t train all swimmers in the same manner. You need to individualize training according to specialty and strength. Jimmy Parmenter, head coach of the Plantation Swim Team, shares a flexible kick set you can use with every swimmer in the group.
- How to Supercharge Your Kick with Randy Reese.One of the most legendary coaches on the planet stops by with a set for how to improve your kick. Here is ISHOF inductee Randy Reese with some advice on powering up your kicking speed.
- Race Tempo Dolphin Kicking: How to Train for a Faster Underwater. Having solid underwaters means being able to kick hard and fast. Here is a tempo-based vertical kicking set that will help you tighten up your underwater skills.
- Kick Big: Coach and Olympic Gold Medalist Martin Zubero’s Set for a Booming Kick. Former Olympian Martin Zubero stops by with a focused high intensity kick set that you can use to help condition your legs to dominate your 100 events.
- The Seminole Aquatics Kick Set: Race Hard, Kick Faster. When it comes to kicking faster, longer isn’t always better. Tony Ackerson of Seminole Aquatics shares a great kick set to stoke the competitive fires of your swimmers and also get them kicking faster.
- Want to Kick Faster? Try This Set from Southwest STARS. There is no worse feeling than our legs failing us at the end of a race. Today’s set will help your body train and power through that moment where your legs want to collapse.
- How to Build a More Powerful Kick with NTC Aquatics. Kick sets don’t need to be long, boring reps of being mounted to a kickboard. Don Gibb of NTC Aquatics shares a tough set that will push and power your legs to a faster kick.
Other guides and articles that might interest you:
- 7 Drills for a Faster Freestyle. Olympic coach Mike Bottom and Auburn University head coach Brett Hawke share some of their favorite drills (including videos) in this compilation of drills for freestylers.
- How to Improve Your Underwater Dolphin Kick. A 3,000+ word guide on everything you need to know about improving your underwaters. Includes tips from Gary Hall Sr., biomechanists, and even a rocket scientist.