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A Rainbow Swim Workout

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A Rainbow Swim Workout starts easy, then gets harder. And harder. And harder! The idea comes from a popular way to establish training paces based on a timed 30-minute swim (a T-30 swim test). You establish a baseline pace, like an aerobic swim pace, then you establish faster (ans slower) paces off of that. These paces are sometimes put on a chart, broken down as
  1. White = easy
  2. Pink = moderate
  3. Red = hard
  4. Blue = very hard
  5. Purple = best effort
My sources say this system was first used by John Urbanchek (one of the authors of the Swim Coaching Bible) at the Univeristy of Michigan.

So if you do a single set that starts in the white zone and ends on the purple zone, you have gone through the whole rainbow. You have done a Rainbow Swim Set. This swim workout does that. You start easy, and in groups of two swims, you work harder and faster, moving your efforts through each level. I hope you enjoy the rainbow. If you are lucky there will be a pot of gold at the end.

Swim on!

The Swim Workout

Warm-up1,200
1 x 400 (:20 Swim and drill mix. Do drills for technique practice for one length, then swim for one length, then repeat.
4 x 100 (:20 Kick. Alternate easy effort and moderate efforts.
4 x 100 (:20 Pull. Alternate easy effort and moderate efforts.

Take some extra rest if needed, sip some water or sports drink, and get ready for the main set.

Main Set
4 x 50 (:30 Swim. The first one is at an easy effort, then push the effort up on each successive swim.
2 x 200 (:40 Swim. Hold back a lot, think steady and strong.
2 x 200 (:30 Swim. Start increasing the effort, but remember to keep thinking steady and strong.
2 x 200 (:20 Swim. Push the effort almost into the uncomfortable zone. Try to keep it steady and strong!
2 x 200 (:10 Swim. This is it, these two swims are great efforts, get outside of the comfort zone. Can you do that and keep it steady?

1 x 100 Swim. Easy loosen to end the workout.
TOTAL DISTANCE = 3,100

Click on the "print" icon on the upper right to get a copy formatted for printing so you can print it and take the workout with you to the pool

About Swimming Workouts

This workout is designed to take between 75-minutes and 90-minutes. If that is too much time or distance, then cut things out, but do not always cut out the same thing every workout. And never skip the loosen at the end of the workout. Use that as one last bit of technique work before you leave the swimming pool at the end of the workout.

After the description of the set there is a number in a half-parentheses, like this - (:30 - that is how much rest you get after each swim. For example, 6 x 100 (:30 means you are to swim a 100 (yards or meters), rest 30-seconds, then repeat five more times.

There is nothing special about these swim practice sessions other than what you bring to them. Lots of freedom here. You control how hard or fast you swim and what swim strokes you want to use while swimming the workouts. Normally the amount of rest per swim will limit your top-end speed on a workout, but that does not mean go as fast as you can all of the time. A few guidelines:

  • The more rest you get, the faster the swim.
  • The early parts of a workout should always be easy to moderate and very deliberate.
  • Use your best swimming technique.
  • Stop the workout if you are too tired, go for it again in the future.You get to be a better swimmer by recovering from the workouts you do, not by doing more and more swimming without resting and recovering from that swimming.
  • Have fun with the workouts.
  • Change the strokes you are doing from time to time, try new things, and don't get caught in a rut.

Each workout has:

  • a warm-up
  • stroke drills or swimming technique work
  • kicking
  • pulling
  • a main set
  • a loosen or cool-down

More Reading for Swimmers on Swim Workouts:

Swim on!
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