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Quality Over Quantity: Do These 3 Swim Workouts When You Don't Have a Lot of Time

Many multisport athletes find their time in the pool limited due to family obligations, kids sports, full time work, etc. By prioritizing purposeful drills and sets, short swim workouts can yield you significant gains in speed and endurance. Emphasizing quality over quantity often results in great fitness gains in the water. In this article I am going to give you 3 really great shorter swim workouts ~1800-2400 yard range to help you make the most of your time in the pool. Each workout has a purpose and the objective can be reached without a ton of yardage.

1. Race Efforts

I like this workout for the variety of drills which helps build great technique. Good technique=better swim efficiency. Staying consistent with each of the 6X150s teaches you how to hold pace especially at longer efforts.

Swim 2000

Warm up: 400 freestyle

Drills: 3X75

1. 25 back stroke, 25 breast stroke, 25 fast free

2. 25 Single arm drill R, 25 Single arm drill L, 25 High elbow fingertip drag;

3. 25 breathing every 3 strokes; 25 breathing every 5 strokes; 25 fast

Main Set:

6X150 with :20 rest (steady at race effort)

400 pull

Cooldown: 100 easy

Breath Control Sets

Although this workout is not a lot of yardage, it gives you some very important skills including hypoxic breath control sets. These are great for increasing lung capacity and getting you to breathe less often but with more efficiency. You will be able to hold your breath longer as you get good at this drill. These 25 yard efforts will enhance your ability to breathe efficiently, optimize oxygen utilization, and elevate overall endurance. The benefits of controlled breath training for improved performance in the water are endless.

Swim 1700

Warm up: 400- (200 pull/200 fins and or paddles)

Drills: 10X25 Hypoxic breath control (no breath on first, 1 breath on second, 2 breaths on 3rd, 3 breaths on 4th, 4 breaths on 5th, repeating 2X)

Main Set: 2X300 Free with 30 seconds rest in between each; smooth aerobic pace

300 Time trial; record your time in the comments below

Cooldown: 200 kick

Up and Down the Ladder

The first set of 50s in this workout are moderate with the second set done at an all out effort. The same is true of the ladder portion. I like ladder workouts because they push you to build volume at a consistent pace. The second ladder set is 10 seconds per 100 faster which should be challenging, especially because it is toward the end of the workout.

Swim 2200

Warm up: 100 free Drills: 6X50s done as 1-3 moderate and 4-6 fast

Main Set: 4X75 on 1:30 (building speed with each) 100/200/300 swim on 2:00 per 100 100 easy non-free 300/200/100 pull, on 1:50 per 100 Cooldown: 200 choice

Use these workouts for your iron distance swim training when you don't have a lot of time to spend at the pool for whatever reason. Take them and make them your own by modifying or adding as necessary.

Have you thought about hiring a coach for your next iron distance event? Click the the purple button below and fill out the form for a free chat with me to talk about your race goals!

Mary Timoney

Ironman University Certified Coach

USA Cycling

ACSM Trainer


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