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by Kris Goodrich

May 5, 2021

Swimming workouts that should be in every Masters swimmer’s rotation

Experienced and novice Masters swimmers alike take time out of their daily lives to improve both their physical and mental health through swimming. Not all Masters swimmers have the experience and knowledge to design a training and workout plan for themselves, so USMS created the Workout Library to offer any swimmer who wants one an easy way to train.

The vast library offers many types of workouts written by experienced coaches. There are workouts for triathletes, competitive swimmers, distance swimmers, open water swimmers, sprinters, rookies, and others. The workouts include all the important parts: warm-up and cool-down, cardiovascular conditioning, injury prevention, specialty training, recovery, and much, much more.

Workouts are sorted into categories and you can use a filter for targeting specific types of workouts you’re looking for. As you’re browsing and thinking about planning your workouts, remember that there are some workouts every Masters swimmer should have in their routine. A well-rounded training plan makes for a more successful swimmer, whether the goal is fitness or competition. Look for these five types of workouts, along with many others, in the Workout Library, available exclusively to USMS members.

Workout 1: Pace Workouts

Pace workouts challenge you mentally and physically. Mentally you have to learn how to swim a set time over and over again. When working on pace, the goal is not to swim fast at the beginning and slow at the end but to maintain your speed throughout the set or sometimes the entire workout. Physically, as you progress through the set, you’re challenged aerobically, and muscle fatigue begins to set in.

  • Maintain good technique throughout the entire set. Don’t let your strokes, turns, and streamlines fall apart.
  • This workout allows you to choose the yardage you’d like to swim. If this is your first pace set, feel free to skip the first two segments and jump right to the 3 x 100s and 300 swim.
  • If you’re no rookie to pace sets, make sure you maintain your effort and technique as you swim the entire workout.

Warm-up

400 choice on 15 seconds rest

4 x 75s choice on 15 seconds rest

(25 kick, 25 drill, 25 build)

Main Set

5 x 100s choice on 10 seconds rest

(Swim these at 500 pace)

500 choice on 10:00

(Maintain same pace as 100s)

4 x 100s choice on 15 seconds rest

(Swim these at 500 pace)

400 choice on 8:00

(Strong swim)

3 x 100s choice on 20 seconds rest

(Maintain 500 pace)

300 choice on 6:00

(Best effort)

Cool-down

200 choice on 3:00

Total: 3300           

USMS members can view this workout and hundreds more in our Workout Library

Workout 2: Ultra-Short Race-Pace Training

USRPT workouts consist of low yardage sets done at race pace (or close to it). You have a goal time to maintain for each repetition, and when you miss the goal time, you sit out for a repetition. If you miss two repetitions in a row, you’re unable to maintain that pace, and you’re done with the set.

USRPT is a great way to practice the pace of your race, breakouts, breathing patterns, etc., as well as swimming fast when you’re fatigued. Adding a USRPT workout into your weekly or monthly rotation will prepare you for your races, and you’ll have some fun at the same time.

  • USRPT sets typically consist of repetitions of 25 or 50 yards with a lots of rest.
  • No equipment is used for USRPT training.
  • The workout below has a USRPT set based on your 200 pace time. If this is your first time doing this type of workout, give yourself a couple seconds on your goal time. It is much harder than it looks to go all out for 20 x 50s.

Warm-up

400 choice on 15 seconds rest

3 x 200s choice on 3:30

(With fins, work on distance per stroke, breathe every 3 then 5, submerged dolphin kicks off each wall)

4 x 50s choice build on 1:00

Main Set

20 x 50s choice on 20 seconds rest

(Set interval for your 200 pace 50 time plus 20 seconds. If you don’t make your goal time, sit out one 50 and try again.)

300 choice on 2:00 rest

20 x 25s choice on 20 seconds rest

(Alternate 2 stroke, 2 freestyle. Set your goal 100 time pace plus 20 seconds.)

Cool-down

300 choice

Total: 3300           

USMS members can view this workout and hundreds more in our Workout Library

Workout 3: Test Sets

If you’re swimming by yourself, it can be hard to gauge the success or failure of your training program. If your goal is competition, are you practicing and training at speeds adequate to prepare yourself for your race? If you’re not interested in competing but your goal is improvement, are you better than you were last year at this time? The answers to both questions can be found by swimming a test set several times per year.

Results of test sets can help you direct your training throughout the year. If you notice that your times are slower than previous results, but you’ve only made it to the pool twice a week lately, it may be time to buckle down and get back in more often. If you’re recovering from an injury, it will be common for test set results to be slower, but you can use those results to set a goal for your training to get back to full speed. If you crush the set and maintain your fast speed based on the interval you typically use in practice, you know it’s time to decrease that training interval and push yourself a little harder. There are many different test sets out there, but one of the most widely used ones is in the workout below.

  • After a nice long warm-up, you’ll swim 10 x 100s holding your best average.
  • The goal is not to start out to fast and have no speed left for the end or save all your speed for the last couple of repeats.
  • Pick an interval that works for you with about 15 to 20 seconds rest.
  • Swim as fast as you can, trying to maintain the same pace, for all 10 repeats.

Warm-up

400 choice on 20 seconds rest

400 IM on 20 seconds rest

(25 drill, 25 build)

Main Set

6 x 150s choice on 3:15

(IM rotation: 50 of each stroke, continue the next 150 where you left off)

10 x 100s freestyle on 2:00

(Adjust for 15 to 20 seconds rest)

Cool-down

300 descending 50s

(Take 10 seconds rest after each 50. Start out faster and get slower on each one.)

6 x 50s choice descending on 10 seconds rest

Total: 3000           

USMS members can view this workout and hundreds more in our Workout Library

Workout 4: Breathing Workout

Breathing is something swimmers think about all the time. How far is it to the wall when I can breathe? How long do I get to rest and catch my breath while I’m there? Swimmers are often forced to use their bodies at maximum potential with limited oxygen. How often do you swim a workout that focuses on and trains your breathing? If the answer is never or close to it, you’re skipping an important part of training.

This type of training comes with a warning: Breath-control training is NEVER swimming as far as you can without a breath. This is extremely dangerous and can lead to shallow water blackout and death. When you practice breath-control training, it means that you’re breathing a planned number of times per repeat or length of the pool. You’ll improve your speed and ability to race when adding breath control workouts into your routine. This workout asks you to think about your breathing for all four strokes.

  • When racing, what’s your breathing pattern for freestyle and butterfly? Do you ever use it in practice? What about backstroke—do you swim holding your breath until you finally gasp when there’s an opportunity to breath? After your breaststroke pullout, does your head pop out gasping for breath or are you aggressive and get right into the swim?
  • What about practicing underwater dolphin kicks for your strokes? Are they right for you and if so, how many do you do before you come up to swim?
  • This workout gives you an opportunity to answer these questions and practice all of these things. If you don’t do it in practice, you won’t be able to do it in a race.

Warm-up

300 choice on 15 seconds rest

100 kick on 15 seconds rest

4 x 50 choice on 15 seconds rest

(IM order: 25 drill, 25 build)

8 x 25s choice on 10 seconds rest

(Descend 1-4 and 5-8)

50 choice easy on 1:00 rest

Main Set

2 x 25s freestyle on 45 seconds sprint with no breaths

100 choice on 2:00 EASY

4 x 25s breaststroke on 40 seconds sprint with triple pullouts

100 choice on 2:00 EASY

6 x 25s backstroke on 35 seconds sprint, underwater kick to 20 yards

100 choice on 2:00 EASY

8 x 25s butterfly on 30 seconds sprint, take fewer than 3 breaths per 25

100 choice on 2:00 EASY

6 x 25s backstroke on 35 seconds sprint, underwater kick to 15 yards

100 choice on 2:00 EASY

4 x 25s breaststroke on 40 seconds sprint with triple pullouts

100 choice on 2:00 EASY

2 x 25s freestyle on 45 seconds sprint with no breaths

Cool-down

300 choice

Total: 2550           

USMS members can view this workout and hundreds more in our Workout Library

Workout 5: Recovery

Everyone needs one workout for recovery. It’s easy to jump in the pool and float around for a couple of thousand yards for some mindless swimming. A great recovery workout will not only give your body time to rest but can help to reset strokes, work on breath control, focus on turns, etc.

  • This recovery workout includes a mix of kick, drill, and swim.
  • There aren’t any goal times or fast swims, so take the time to focus on a perfect stroke.
  • If you find the intervals too short or too long, adjust accordingly.
  • The goal is just to get your heart rate elevated and your body moving.

Warm-up

400 choice on 15 seconds rest

4 x 100s choice on 15 seconds rest

(50 kick, 50 drill)

100 IM on 30 seconds rest

(Reverse IM order)

Main Set

4 times through:

  • 2 x 25s kick on 40 seconds
  • 2 x 50s drill on 1:00
  • 2 x 100s choice on 2:30
  • 2:00 rest
  • 500 on 30 seconds rest (25 freestyle/25 stroke, 50 freestyle/50 stroke, 75 freestyle/75 stroke, 100 freestyle/100 stroke)

Cool-down

300 choice on 5:00

Total: 3100           

USMS members can view this workout and hundreds more in our Workout Library

Get More Swimming Workouts in USMS’s Workout Library

U.S. Masters Swimming has created a searchable database of online workouts, developed for seven swimming specialties and featuring all ranges of distances, strokes, and skill levels. With this members-only feature, you can:

  • Subscribe to receive workouts for the week emailed to you every Monday
  • Filter by course, desired distance, and type of sets you want to do
  • Send workouts to your smartwatch via our Swim.com integration
  • Customize a workout via Swim.com and truly make the workout yours
  • Print workouts easily so you can bring them to the pool

JOIN NOW TO GET ACCESS


Categories:

  • Technique and Training

Tags:

  • Workouts