T Nation

Swimming for Conditioning

Anybody here have any experience swimming for conditioning? If so I was wondering what sort of swim workouts and set you do…
Thanks!

I swim about 3 times a week (I used to swim daily when I was coaching) and vary the workouts. I don’t usually swim anything other than freestyle and combat side stroke anymore, but will occasionally throw in some breast or fly. I never really do the same thing, but it’s generally something like:
distance day
6 x 50 drill
4 x 400 free, 1:00 rest
4 x 100 free @ 2:00
4 x 50 free @ :55
15:00 CSS non-stop

sprint day
3 x 150 (50 swim, 50 kick, 50 swim) warmup
8 x 100 free sprint all out @ 3:00
or
3 x 150 warmup
6 x 50 free sprint @ 1:00
50 easy choice
4 x 50 fly sprint
2 x 100 free fast

In all honesty it just depends on what I’m working on. When I used to swim competitively I would try to focus on sprints but would just do whatever my teams’ workout was, but now I’m in the military and want to get into SOF so now I do a lot more free/css.

The most important thing is technique though, there are fat chicks who are faster than me because their technique is amazing. My technique is very good but not perfect so they have the upper hand.

What are your goals? Just to get in better shape or what?

ever see a fat swimmer? every swimmer i ever knew is very fit…

Yes. As a swim coach i’ve seen many.

coach

the masters swimmers i know are a spittin image of spitz, lean and mean, as are the college and high school kids that i knew that swam… and the triathlete swimmers i know. sure the oddball is a bit bigger than most, but if coached correctly, and putting in the yards,with a good diet, most swimmers should be fit and lean, like the ones we all seen in the olympics. i know those swimmers put in mega miles in the pool, way more miles than most,but my neice puts in 4-5-6 miles a day. age 17, hard as a rock. as well as my masters friends in thier mid/late 50’s.

i seen not the leanest, almost fat looking belgiun cyclists put the hurtin on me and some other way better pros in kermesee races, but thats not your norm.

most swimmers that put in anykind of serious training are not fat…

theres always the oddball, but MOST are fit and lean…

I understand that, and I didn’t say if you’re fat and out of shape you’ll be amazing. But what I am saying is that technique is enormously important. And as such, if you want to train in the pool for conditioning, you need to do technique work first. Just like if you wanted to use oly lifts, you need to make sure you have proper technique. Most swimmers should be fit and lean, just like most athletes, but again, technique is super important in the pool.

So, ryanisrizzle, there are some websites that have sample workouts and drills that you should check out (just do a google or youtube search for swim drills). Try to focus on drills for a while, slowly working up to more conditioning.

My favorite drills (and the ones I think work best) are:
fingertip drag- while doing freestyle, try and just lightly graze the water with the very tips of your fingers
zipper drill- freestyle, pretend there is a zipper from your hip to the top of your shoulder, keep your hand in contact with your side the whole time (this will help teach staying on your side until the last second)
dps (distance per stroke)- basically just trying to get as far as possible with each stroke, your turn over should be slow, but the strokes powerful enough that you’re actually moving through the water fairly quickly
1/6 or 3/6- 1 stroke per 6 kicks or 3 strokes per 6 kicks ensuring you are all the way on your side (opposite shoulder out of the water) and looking straight at the bottom, only rotating your head up to take a breath, not picking it up and looking forward

Are you familiar with all the strokes? I only mentioned those for freestyle because that seems to be what most people want to swim for conditioning.

FTR, pretty much the entire female swim team at my school is fat. Not like sloppy fat, but it looks like they’ve been bulking. The guys, on the other hand, are all pretty lean.

It could be that guys/girls are drawn to swimming for different reasons.

That distance day seems brutal… I’m dead tired (and bored) about halfway through that, but I probably have some of the worst technique around (only training I had was a swim class when I was 7). I also normally have to rest every 50-100 breast, and that’s not sprinting.

Yeah, it seems female swimmers aren’t always the leanest bunch.

Do you ever work on your technique or just swim for conditioning? Even just watching youtube videos of good swimmers can help your stroke, and practicing drills (even as just a warm-up) will help a lot. I’ve swam with plenty of friends who were in great shape but didn’t have the technique and so they never progressed as much as they’d have liked in the pool. But just a little technique practice every time will help a ton.

Yeah distance days are not my favorite, but I need to get them in at least once a week. Just like I don’t particularly enjoy running 8 or so miles once a week, but it’s gotta be done sometimes.

billy is dropping some serious knowledge - thanks!

On a sidenote, I believe that while swimming is pretty great all around, it is not the best for stripping bodyfat.
The body of a young male athlete may be an exception, but for women it is not ideal.

Maybe it is because you expose your body to a very warmth draining environment. It thinks you’re suddently in Siberia and orders more insulation material, something the female body is hormonally much more inclined to do then the male is.
It sounds a bit silly, but climate seems to have a pretty drastic effect on body composition of indigenous tribes.
Just a thought.

Decades ago i was doing 3 times weekly 25 minutes, 5 styles, up and down the pool 1 style, etc…
It is an effective safe way to be active and get benefits.

Billy’s routine looks pretty tough.

I have been having a lot of fun doing the following swim routine in the pool:

warm up: 200
Main set: sprint 50 free, then go right into 50 breast (recovery). I do this for sets of 5-10
cool down: slow 100 free

I like this because 50 is a distance that I can maintain a pretty good sprint speed, and the 50 breast allows me to work a different stroke and recover at the same time

post up some more routines if you guys have them!