Mix Up Your Swim Workout - See Her Swim

Mix Up Your Swim Workout

Of course we think swimming is the best exercise! We also think the best workout is one that mixes up many skills and activities so you stay engaged and build muscle and stamina. 

We know everyone has their favorite stroke, but it’s good for your body and mind to branch out and move in a different way. Maybe you just made it to the pool for the first time and are thinking, now what? Or maybe you’re a diehard swimmer who is getting bored with lap after lap of freestyle. Here is a great workout plan to help all swimmers mix up their routine and stay on track for all summer goals. 

Note on measuring distance: 

1 length = 25 yards (the length of most swimming pool lanes) 

2 lengths = 50 yards, 3 lengths = 75 yards, 4 lengths = 100yds 

66 lengths = 1650 yards = 1 mile

The Warm Up

It’s important to take the time to help your body transition from land to water – you’re using different muscles! Go easy to get the blood flowing to your joints to help them loose up. Focus on your breathing – a forceful exhale out of your mouth and then a smooth inhale is perfect for warm up.

Get Started: 4-8 lengths

Swim freestyle if that’s your favorite or most comfortable stroke. Feel free to try mixing up your strokes, adding backstroke or breaststroke to use all the different body motions. 

Kick Only: 4 lengths

Try 2 lengths flutter kick and 2 lengths your choice (dolphin kick or breaststroke kick). Dolphin kick is a good one to help activate your stomach muscles. You can do these lengths with or without a kickboard. If you’re not using a kickboard, hold your arms out in front of you or keep them next to your body to give your shoulders a break. 

Warm Up Set: 18 lengths

This is a good time to try all the strokes! Freestyle and backstroke are very linear, using side-to-side motion. Butterfly and breaststroke incorporate bending at the waist. When you mix up your strokes, you use a full-body range of motion. Try something like this:

Swim 6 lengths x 3. Take a 30 second rest between rounds.  

Round 1: backstroke, breaststroke, freestyle. 30 seconds rest.

Round 2:  backstroke, backstroke, breaststroke. 30 seconds rest.

Round 3: breaststroke, breaststroke, backstroke. 30 seconds rest.

The Main Set

Now that you’re all warmed up, you can focus on different parts of your body, get your heart rate up and play around with timing. 

Sprint: 8 lengths total (1 length x 4 with 45 seconds rest in between lengths.)  

Going fast for short bursts is fun, but it also helps keep you focused on your form. Swim each stroke, completing one length each of butterfly, backstroke, breaststroke, and freestyle. For each length, sprint 10 fast strokes and then finish the length at normal speed. 

Easy: 2 lengths

Do whatever feels good for one full lap, out and back. Try dolphin dives, corkscrew freestyle, breaststroke arms and butterfly legs, or swim underwater.

Kick Only: 8 lengths (2 lengths x 4)

Isolated kicking is a great leg strengthener. It also helps train your brain and body to kick more when swimming, especially freestyle. A steady kick adds power to each stroke. Mix it up like this:

Length #1 and #3: flutter kick

Length #2 and #4: breaststroke or dolphin kick

Long Swim: 20 lengths (4 lengths x 5 with a 15 second rest after 4 lengths)

Take this time to focus on one or two things at a time, like your kick or your pace. A gentle kick will leave a wake behind you that looks like boiling water on the surface, just a little splash. 

As for timing, clock how long it takes to swim 4 lengths. Take a 15 second rest and then time yourself again. This is a classic set to determine what your base interval is, for other distances or where you fit in a Masters swim program.  

The Warm Down

Doing a warm down is key to your recovery. Those earlier sprints cause lactic acid to build up in your muscles which will lead to extreme soreness. A mellow swim will help flush the lactic acid out of your system so you won’t be hurting later. Warming down is also a great time to check in with your body. Appreciate the fatigue you feel and celebrate the effort you put in today. 

Easy swim: 2 lengths

Total workout distance: 66 lengths. This will take approximately 30-45 minutes, depending on your speed in the pool. Have fun with it!

Quick Guide

Get Started: 4-8 lengths, any stroke

Kick Only: 4 lengths

Warm Up Set: 18 lengths, all strokes

Sprint: 8 lengths 

Easy: 2 lengths

Kick Only: 8 lengths

Long Swim: 20 lengths 

Warm Down: easy swim for 2 lengths

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