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Descending Distance Swimming Workout


This endurance swimming workout starts longer and ends shorter, pushing you to swim a faster pace as you swim through the training session. You can do all freestyle, any mix of strokes or IM for these sets, but try to do the same pattern for the same distance. For example, if you do the first 400 as a 100 IM + 100 Backstroke + 200 Free, use that same pattern for the second 400, too. Some patterns you could try for the 400s:
  • 100 IM + 100 non-Free + 200 Free
  • 100 IM + 100 Back + 100 Breast + 100 Free
  • 100 IM + 50 Fly/50 Back + 50 Back/50 Breast + 50 Breast/50 Free
  • 200 IM + 200 Free
You could use similar patterns for the shorter distances, 100.

Swim on!

The Swim Workout

NOTE: It is OK to shorten this warm-up to fit the main set within your allotted amount of time to swim
2 x 200 (:20 Swim and drill mix. Do drills for technique practice for one length, then swim for one length, then repeat.
2 x 200 (:10 Kick. First and last 50 of each at a moderate effort, the rest of each is easy.
4 x 100 (:20 Pull. First and last 25 of each at a moderate effort, the rest of each is easy.

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

Main Set
2 x 400 (:30 Swim. Descend 1-2. That means swim the second repeat at a faster pace or effort than the first repeat.
2 x 300 (:30 Swim. Descend 1-2.
2 x 200 (:30 Swim. Descend 1-2.
2 x 100 (:30 Swim. Descend 1-2.

1 x 100 Swim. Loosen a bit more, collect your thoughts, and you are done

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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