Swim Workouts to Spice up your Winter Training

swimmers about to enter the water
January 25, 2008

Mike Ricci


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I am often asked how to work technique work into a swim workout or swim plan and in my opinion swim technique drills should be done each and every time you get in the water. Even something as simple as using a few drills in your warm up will help promote a better stroke. The general thinking is that triathletes who want to improve their technique should use the fall and winter to improve technique. In reality, swim drills should be done year round. Below, I have listed some of my favorite swim drill workouts:

Workout #1:
Warm up(WU): 200 easy swim.Main Set (MS):30 x 50 on 10" rest. 

Part I:
10×50The 50s are done as drill for 25yds/swim for 25yds
#1: FTD/swim
#2: Right arm/swim
#3: Left arm/swim
#3: Catch up/swim
#5: Fist/swim
Repeat 1-5, for a total of 10 x 50

Part II:
The key to the next set is swimming all the 50s at the SAME EXACT PACE, focusing on one drill for each of the sets of 50s. For example in the first 5x50s work on the high elbow that you reinforced in the FTD. The second set should focus on a good catch from the right arm.

Next 5×50 are on 20″ RI
Next 5×50 are on 15″ RI
Next 5×50 are on 10″ RI
Next 5×50 are on 5″ RI
Cool down: Swim an easy 250
Total: 1950

Workout #2:
WU: 300 easy
MS: 5×50 breaststroke down/free fist back;
5×50 breaststroke fist (hard!!!) down/free back;
5×50 breaststroke down/free back;
5×50 free.
10×100 Free, on 10″ rest – keep the time the same for all!All pulling (NO buoy–just a small dolphin kick on the breaststroke for balance/timing).
CD: 100
Total: 2400

Workout #3:
WU: 400 easy. Then ‘swim golf’ = 6 x 50 on 15″ rest & count strokes. What combination of time and strokes gives you the lowest "score" (Ex: 43 strokes + 45" = 88). MS: Swim 15 x 100 on :20 rest. #1-5 – focus on your CATCH. #6-10 focus on your PULL. #11-15 focus on your FINISH. Now swim another 6×50 swim golf and see if there is a difference in strokes or time. Last set is 4 x 50 kick (20?) moderate. CD: 200 easy alternating 50 pull, 50 swim.
Total – 2900

Remember: Using a drill to work on a weakness in your swim stroke allows you to swim better each and every time you get in the water to workout. I hope you use these drill sets to help you improve your swimming year round!
'= minutes"= secondsFTD = Finger Tip Drag Drill

Coach Mike Ricci is the Founder and Head Coach for D3 Multisport.  His coaching style is ‘process-focused’ vs. ‘results-focused.’ When working with an athlete, their understanding of how and why they are improving is always going to take precedence over any race result. Yes, there is an end goal, but in over 2 decades of coaching, experience has shown him that if you do the right work, and for the right reasons, the results will follow.

Coach Mike is a USAT Level III Elite Certified Coach, Ironman University Certified Coach, and Training Peaks Level II Certified Coach. He was honored as the USAT Coach of the Year.

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