Swim Workouts: The Complete Guide To Swim Drills For Beginners, Intermediate and For Weight Loss

As a swimmer or someone just learning how to swim, swim workouts are extremely important.

Why?

Simply because like anything in life, practice makes perfect

You need to put in the work otherwise you just might end up being average or worse a mediocre swimmer.

I have been a strong believer of the 10,000 hours rule.

This is a study carried out by scientists which says that to achieve expert status in any area of your life, you need to put in 10000 hours of work.

While this rule is a bit debatable, the reasoning behind it is correct

You need to put in the work and make sure that you do the right swim workouts.

Whether you are a beginner learning the ropes or a professional trying to get a competitive edge, you need a routine with specific pool workouts and swimming drills.

In this article, I will be showing you specific workouts which you can adopt right now to improve your swimming.

5 Swimming workouts for Beginners

As a beginner, your workouts have a specific function.

This is to get your fitness and endurance up to a spot where you are not easily tired while swimming.

So basically you want to build up your endurance so you do not get tired easily and then also improve your strokes through drills.

Here are 5 workouts which you can use today.

1. Category: Beginner

Workout Goal: Build endurance, improve crawl stroke

Total Distance: 600 yards

  • 2 x 50 yards crawl warm up

  • (rest between laps if needed)

  • 4 x 25 yards crawl counting strokes per length

  • (try to keep an even number of strokes)

  • 4 x 50 crawl resting :30 between each lap

  • (try to hit the same time on each lap)

  • 4 x 25 yards crawl counting strokes per length

  • (try to keep an even number of strokes)

  • 2 x 50 crawl warm down

  • (swim slowly and relax)

Notes: This is the beginning workout used by someone just getting started in swimming. The distance of 600 yards may seem like a long way at first glance.

However, if you follow the workout and break it up you will complete the distance easily. If your swimming techniques are not strong enough you might want to consider taking swim lessons or join a masters swim program with a coach and other swimmers that are happy to help.

If you go it alone take your time and ease into the workouts. There are very few injuries related to swimming but they do occur.

Please consult your doctor before beginning any type of training program.

2. Category: Beginner

Workout Goal: Build endurance, improve breathing

Total Distance: 600 yards

  • 100 yards crawl warm up

  • (rest between laps if needed)

  • 4 x 50 yards crawl resting :30 between each lap

  • (try to keep the timing the same for each lap)

  • 4 x 25 yards crawl changing breathing pattern

  • (breath every 4th stroke on the first two, then every 2nd stroke on the last 2)

  • 2 x 50 yards your choice of strokes resting :30 between each lap

  • (try to hit the same time for each lap)

  • 100 yards crawl warm down

  • (swim slowly and relax)

Notes:In this workout concentrate on your breathing.

The swimming drills will help you experiment with different breathing patterns. At this level you should always practice breathing the least amount of time first, and increase your breathing for subsequent laps.

If you are comfortable with the drills, increase the 4 x 25 set changing breathing to 4 x 50.

This will increase the total yardage of the workout by 100 yards. It will also have you swimming longer distances while you practice breathing.

Please consult your doctor before beginning any type of training program.

3. Category: Beginner

Workout Goal: Build endurance, improve crawl and 1 other stroke

Total Distance: 800 yards

  • 150 yards crawl warm up

  • (rest between laps if needed)

  • 4 x 50 yards alternating strokes resting :30 between each lap

  • (each lap is 25 yards crawl, then 25 yards either backstroke, breaststroke or butterfly)

  • 4 x 25 yards crawl counting strokes per length

  • (try to keep an even number of strokes)

  • 4 x 50 yards your choice of strokes resting :30 between each lap

  • (try to hit the same time for each lap)

  • 150 crawl warm down

  • (swim slowly and relax)

Notes: In this workout you will work on a stroke other than crawl.

Choose either backstroke, breaststroke or butterfly for the drills.

You will begin integrating multiple strokes into your workouts for a more well rounded swim training program.

Even if you are beginning triathlon training you will benefit from adding additional strokes to your skill base.

It will keep the training more fun and challenging, and allow you to rest your crawl muscles while you do the other strokes and continue to workout your heart.

Please consult your doctor before beginning any type of training program.

4. Category: Beginner

Workout Goal: Improve breath control and consistency

Total Distance: 800 yards

  • 150 yards crawl warm up

  • (rest between laps if needed)

  • 8 x 25 yards crawl sprints resting :30 between lengths

  • (effort should be at 60-70% of fastest swim)

  • 100 yards crawl counting strokes per length

  • (try to use less strokes on each subsequent length)

  • 4 x 25 yards windsprints resting :30 between lengths

  • (swim each length without taking a breathe)

  • 100 yards crawl counting strokes per length

  • (try to use less strokes on each subsequent length)

  • 150 crawl warm down

  • (swim slowly and relax)

Notes: In this workout you want to concentrate on becoming more consistent in your swimming.

You will also be working on your breath control, and raising your heart rate to a higher level.

The workout alternates between breath control drills and consistent swimming drills. If this workout is easy for you, increase the yardage of the sets.

Please consult your doctor before beginning any type of training program.

5. Category: Beginner

Workout Goal:Improve breath control and consistency

Total Distance: 900 yards

  • 2 x 100 yards crawl warm up

  • (rest :30 between 100 sets)

  • 4 x 25 yards windsprints resting :30 between lengths

  • (swim each length without taking a breathe)

  • 4 x 50 yards crawl resting :15 between laps

  • (count 3 kicks for each arm stroke)

  • 4 x 25 yards windsprints resting :30 between lengths

  • (swim each length without taking a breathe)

  • 4 x 50 yards crawl resting :15 between laps

  • (count 3 kicks for each arm stroke)

  • 100 freestyle warm down

  • (swim slowly and relax)

Notes: This workout combines the goal of breath control with consistent swimming.

The swimming drills that have you counting kicks will help you develop better rhythm for your stroke.

While swimming easily you should be able to kick 3 times for every 1 arm movement.

Count it as if you are dancing: 1-2-3, 1-2-3, pull-2-3, pull-2-3. On the pull you are also making one kick.

Please consult your doctor before beginning any type of training program.

Swim Workout for Intermediate

swim workouts for intermediate

As an intermediate, this means that you are way above beginners level and you want to take your swimming to the next level.

If this is you, then congrats.

I found an awesome site with different workouts for you to check out.

But here is one you can start with right now

​​​​Warmup: 300 yards

100 yards freestyle — easy

100 yards pull* freestyle

100 yards kick** freestyle

Intervals: 600 yards

100 yards freestyle — strong

4 x 25 yards (1 lap of each stroke) — sprint (rest: 30 seconds)***

100 yards freestyle — strong

Rest 60, repeat the set

Recovery: 100 yards

100 yards backstroke — easy (rest: 10)

Endurance: 600 yards

200 yards pull* freestyle — medium (rest: 60)

200 yards kick** freestyle — medium (rest: 60)

200 yards freestyle — medium (rest: 60)

Warmdown: 200 yards

4 x 50 yards — one lap freestyle, one lap backstroke (rest: as needed)

Total: 1,800 yards.

*Pull: Hold a buoy with your legs and use only your arms to swim

**Kick: Use a kickboard and use just your legs to power yourself across the pool

***Rest the listed amount between reps/laps

Swimming for Weight Loss

If you are looking to shed that excess weight and burn all that fat, then you should include swimming as part of your routine.

Swimming is an excellent cardio sport that helps you burn fat easily

While swimming might not offerup all that swag and convenience of lace up your shoes and start running, it is actually an excellent exercise for weight loss.

Health benefits of swimming for weight loss

Water is about 800 times more dense than air.

As a result, each kick, push and pull translates to a resistance workout for your body.

It also works really well for your arms, your core, hips and shoulders.

A normal and relaxed swim can burn as much as 500 calories while a rigorous workout can burn 700 calories an hour.

1. It is good for your joint

Since water neutralizes gravity, while in it, your joints are given that much needed break.

So when swimming you become weightless and your joints and bones are allowed to rest.

Also, while swimming you are not prone to any injuries unlike running, or weight training.

2. It helps you stay younger.

It has been scientifically proven that people who swim daily are biologically 20 years younger than their actual age.

Also their blood pressure, cardiovascular system, nervous system and cholesterol levels are easily comparable to someone who is much younger than them.

Awesome reason to start swimming right?

3. It is a way to aid in injury recovery

Swimming is also an excellent way to aid in injury recovery

So if you have had a major accident or injury and you are looking for a way to get back on your feet, then take up swimming

The buoyancy of the water and the healing effect will greatly help you get better.

How to Design an Effective Swim Workout for Weight Loss

1. Duration

First you want to make sure that you cover a certain distance or you swim for a certain period of time.

It is advisable that you start with 20 to 30 mins daily before moving to something higher.

This is because your body has to burn the carbohydrates reserve first before it switches to the stored fat.

While start out make sure you persist so that you can build up your endurance and stamina.

2. Strokes

To effectively burn calories and lose weight, you want to use a swim stroke that does that exactly.

Here are the swim strokes recommended for this

  • Butterfly stroke. This is a recommended that burns as many calories as possible. For a person weighing about 70 to 75 kilos, using this stroke burns as much as 150 calories in 10 minutes

  • Freestyle stroke. Also called the front crawl, this stroke burns a lot of calories when done properly. One good thing about this is that it is the easiest and most popular stroke. A person weighing 50 to 55kg will burn approximately 590 calories if they do this for about an hour.

3. Get started

Here are some tips to help you get started with your swimming for weight loss routine

  • Pick a local pool and check out the times allocated for swimming. Most pools have different times for adults, women and kids.

  • Pick a time and be committed to going in at least once a week

  • Remember to warm up and stretch before you begin. This will help improve your flexibility and also help you avoid injuries.

  • Get a buddy or friend to join you as this will help keep you focused and motivated

  • Start slowly and build your distance as you go.

  • Have adequate breaks between each lap to rest and catch your breath

  • Ensure that you do not get out of comfortable depth while swimming

  • Respect other swimmers and be aware of them while swimming

Swim Workouts for Triathlon

Swimming for the triathlon is a whole different ball game.

Here you are going up against other professional swimmers and you want to make sure that you are in top shape.

Here are some tips to help you get started

  • Slice your hand into the water just above your goggle line and then drive it forward. Most people try to pull their hand out before entering the water. This is a bit difficult and it has been shown that slicing your hand is much better

  • Keep your head down and in one position while swimming. Avoid rotating your head

  • Pull your hands all the way back past your hips. This helps in accelerating your body and giving you that initial push.

  • Reduce your kick while swimming as this will improve your balance

  • Learn to master your training intensity. The better you are able to master this, the longer you can swim for.

  • Work on improving your stroke and becoming a better swimmer

  • Keep your arms from crossing over while swimming. Doing so will greatly mess up your balance. This is the reason why you need to keep your head straight and not rotate it while swimming

  • Make sure you are always keeping the feel. What this means is that you become so comfortable with the water and you are in it at least once a day.

Here is a specific swim workout for triathlete

Swim Workouts for Runner

Are you a runner and tired of hitting the tracks?

Looking for something to replace the repetitive stress that running places on your legs and joints?

Then why not incorporate swimming into your workout routine.

The good news is that you do not necessarily have to run more miles to get faster. Yes you still need to do more of your training on the tracks, but you can supplement it with swimming.

Doing so will improve your strength, your fitness and also leave you injury free.

Here are my top 3 swim workouts for runners

1. The Puller

This is a good way to allow your legs recover and give them that much needed rest.

You can try this after your morning session at the tracks

Warmup: Swim for 400 meters at a slow and leisure pace

Main set: Complete 6 X 200 builds while increasing your speed every 25 meters. Start slow and then finish with a sprint

Cool down: Swim 400 meters at a slow, relaxed pace

2. The Lung Builder

This workout helps to increase your lung capacity by limiting the number of breaths you take while swimming

Warm up: Swim for about 200 to 400 meters at a slow pace

Main set: Do a complete 12 X 100 meters. Starting off, take a breath every 25 meters. From 25 to 50 meters, take a breath every five strokes. And then from 50 to 75 meters, take a breath every 7 strokes. Finish the last 25 meters with a sprint.

Cool down: Swim 200 meters in a relaxed and slow pace.

3. The kicker

This workout helps to strengthen your hip flexors, IT band and hamstrings with the injuries of pounding them on the tracks

Warm up: Swim for 200 to 400 meters at a slow pace

Main set: Complete 5 sets at the following interval. For the first 50 meters go slow and easy. The next 100 meters swim fast and kick. 50 meters easy, 100 meters fast swim.

 

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