Looking for a swim workout to dust off the speed in the early stages of the swim season? Give this session, which focuses on easy speed, proper body positioning, and overspeed swimming a try.
In the early days of the swim season, when warm-ups can leave us feeling a little red in the face, we face the prospect of weeks or months of swim workouts heavy on yardage, the concept of speed seems far off.
After all, says experience, we need to get in shape, first.
But it doesn’t need to be this way.
In fact, in my opinion, speed is something that should be trained year-round, regardless of the fitness of the athlete.
There is never really a bad time to inject speed into your workouts, particularly if your goal is to get… faster.
This early season swim workout has a heavy focus on developing easy speed and promoting proper body position in the water.
And it gives swimmers an opportunity to unleash some speed with some overspeed work with fins and swim paddles, which let’s be honest, is just pure, chlorinated fun.
Let’s dive right in.
The Swim Workout – Unlocking Early Season Speed
Here is a detailed breakdown of the swim workout, including key things to focus on, the swim equipment you will need, and how to maximize each part of the set.
Dryland Activation (15 Minutes)
My go-to activation warm-up before a sprint-focused session includes the following:
- 2-3 minutes of jumping rope to elevate heart rate and get the blood flowing.
- Arm swings and leg swings. Loosen up those shoulders, hips, pecs, and quads.
- 3 x :15 seconds plank holds (really focus on sucking in the belly button and bracing the trunk)
- 3 x :10 dead hangs from a pull-up bar
- 3 x 20 glute bridges (with a hip band to activate hips)
Time to hit the water.
The Pool Warm-Up
1,000m alternating 100 swim, 100 kick
- Choice strokes, but mainly freestyle.
- Build each 100 kick so that the last 25 is ~80% effort.
- Using swim fins is an excellent option, especially at the beginning of the season to reduce overall load on the shoulders.
The Main Set
Alrighty, let’s get into the meat and potatoes of the workout:
Part 1: 24×25 freestyle @:45 with light resistance (XS parachute, XS DragSox, or a very lightweight belt)
- Effort in the 75-80% range; the goal is “easy speed.”
- The shoulders should NOT be scrunched up, and clean hand entry (no slapping).
- The focus is on excellent body positioning: head down, hips up.
- The light resistance on the lower body will force the upper body to counter-balance, encouraging a more streamlined body position.
- Reminder: the resistance should be LIGHT. Avoid the urge to put on a 30lb weight belt or seven sets of swim parachutes around your waist; the goal is technique and speed, not grunting across the pool.
200 swim/kick easy recovery.
Part 2: 12×25 freestyle @1:00 with fins and swim paddles
- Effort in the 90-95% range; the goal is still “easy speed.”
- Clean technique, high body position
- The first six are done with heavier resistance (swim parachute or weight belt). It can also be done with a power tower or a swim tether/resistance tubing.
- The second six are just fins and paddles for some nuclear-grade overspeed work.
- On the final six, swimmers will feel like they are being launched like a torpedo out the side of a submarine.
- Maintain that easy speed all the way through.
8×50 swim with perfect technique, taking :20 rest between 50s
- Focus on excellent body position, crisp turns, and keep those streamlines tight, not wasting a meter or yard.
Hot tub + stretch/foam roll as time allows.
- Approximately 1:15 in duration
- 2,700m of total swimming
- Speed: Unlocked
My Notes and Thoughts
Having done this swim workout and variations of it on a few occasions, particularly when untrained, I can attest that it does get the heart rate going, so there is an excellent metabolic aspect to the workout.
The “easy speed” training will bleed into the subsequent swim workouts, injecting speed and an enhanced feel for the water into future workouts.
And finally, this is simply a really fun swim workout that also checks a lot of the boxes for improvement in the water.
Give it a try the next time you hit the pool and let me know how it goes.
More Swim Workouts and Resources:
Swimming Workouts: The 40 Ultimate Practices for Swimmers. Here are 40 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.
8 Best Swimming Workouts for Speed. Looking to crank up the speed in the pool? Here are my favorite eight sprint swim workouts for lightning-fast times in the water.