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8 Swimming Workouts for All Types of Swimmers

8 Swimming Workouts for All Types of Swimmers

If you’re here, you already know how amazing swimming is as a workout. With swimming, there’s truly something for everybody — whether you’re mastering the breaststroke, backstroke, or dolphin kick. 

Advanced swimmers and beginners alike can experience the many benefits of swimming by incorporating various swimming workouts into their swim training. This can help you achieve your fitness goals while enjoying the advantages of this low-impact, full-body workout.

Let’s dive in! 

1. Interval Training for Improved Cardiovascular Fitness

Interval training is popular in many forms of exercise, but it’s especially effective when it comes to swim sets. Interval training is a training method that alternates between high-intensity bursts and periods of rest or lower intensity. Or a combination of both! 

This type of workout can help improve aerobic capacity, increase endurance, and elevate your heart rate for a more effective overall cardio workout. By including intervals in your swim routine, you can challenge yourself, boost your fitness level, and enhance your overall performance in the water. 

Here’s an example of a beginner-friendly HIIT swimming workout that alternates high-intensity intervals with slower speeds:

  • 300m swim,+ 200m pull, + 100m kick to warm up.
  • 12x25 as four swim, four pull, and four kick. Descend each set of four to 90% effort. Rest for 30 seconds in between each set of repetitions.
  • 20x25 fast freestyle swim! Rest 30 seconds between each set of repetitions.
  • 100m easy swim. Repeat if you want!

2. Endurance Swim for Building Stamina

Are you looking to build endurance and stamina to swim longer distances or for a longer period of time? Add endurance swims to your repertoire! Endurance swimming focuses on building stamina and increasing your ability to sustain energy during longer swims.

By gradually increasing the distance you swim without stopping, you can improve your cardiovascular fitness, enhance your muscular endurance, and push your limits to achieve greater swimming milestones. This type of workout is ideal for swimmers looking to participate in longer, more intense races or simply trying to build endurance levels overall. 

Try this workout called the “Lucky Number 8”:

  • 10-minute easy swim to warm up

  • 800m pull at a moderate pace

  • 8 x 100m decreasing intervals; 1:40, 1:35, 1:25, 1:40, 1:35, 1:30, 1:25

  • 4 x 200m. Build pace from slow and easy for the first repetition up to a fast race pace by the 4th.

  • 8 x 50m. Alternate speeds for each rep. Odd numbers fast, even numbers slow and easy.

  • Cool down for five minutes at the end

3. Speed Workouts for Enhancing Performance

Let’s get speedy! Swimming at high speeds requires physical strength, efficient technique, and mental focus. Speed workouts are designed to help swimmers improve their sprinting abilities, refine their stroke mechanics, and increase overall speed in the water. 

By incorporating drills that emphasize quick turnover, powerful kicks, and strong pulls, you can work on developing the explosive power needed for faster swimming times. 

You can work on developing your own speed workouts by using a combination of interval training and a series of drills to build on your speed and power. Outside the pool, you may consider doing plyometric training to build those fast-twitch muscle fibers. 

4. A Focus on Technique for Precision and Efficiency

Mastering the proper swimming technique is essential for swimmers to maximize their performance and prevent injury. Technique-focused workouts involve drills that target specific aspects of each stroke, focusing on body position, arm movement, breathing coordination, and kick propulsion.

By honing your technical skills through focused practice and feedback from a swim coach or an experienced swim buddy, you can refine your skills, swim more efficiently, and ultimately swim faster, with less effort. 

5. Pyramid Swims for Varied Intensity

Pyramid swims involve gradually increasing and then decreasing the distance or intensity of each set within a workout. Tapering, just like a pyramid shape. This type of structured workout challenges swimmers to push themselves during the ascending portion of the pyramid and then maintain their effort as they descend back down.

Pyramid swims are effective for building both aerobic capacity and muscular endurance while adding variety to a swim routine. It’s super important to remember that boredom can be a factor that makes us put less effort into a workout. Keep your muscles guessing by changing up your workouts often!

Try this simple pyramid swim. The times are suggested, but just do your best to get as close to these times as you can. Rest as needed between each set.

  • 1 lap: 50 meters in 50 seconds
  • 2 laps: 100 meters in 100 seconds
  • 3 laps: 150 meters in 150 seconds
  • 4 laps: 200 meters in 200 seconds
  • 5 laps: 250 meters in 250 seconds

You can choose how high you want to go, but for a true challenge, go all the way up to 10 laps and then work your way back down in reverse order: 9 laps, then 8, then 7, and so on. And enjoy the killer workout!

6. Kick Sets for Lower Body Strength

Kicking plays a crucial role in swimming, as we all know. Kick sets focus on developing lower body strength, improving kicking technique, improving propulsion and stability, and enhancing leg muscle endurance through various kickboard drills and flutter kick exercises.

Incorporate kick sets into your workouts to target those specific muscle groups and increase your kicking power overall.

This workout is simple but challenging: a HIIT-style kick-set workout! 

  • 40x 25 kick at 85 to 90% effort, alternate each repetition with 20 to 25 seconds of easy swimming. 

7. Pull Workout for Upper Body Conditioning

Pull workouts emphasize upper body strength and endurance by isolating the arms and shoulders during swimming. Using a pull buoy to keep the legs afloat, swimmers can concentrate on pulling through the water with greater force and efficiency. 

Pull sets help develop arm muscles, improve stroke mechanics, and enhance overall upper-body conditioning for more powerful swimming strokes and increased speed in the water. 

Try this example of a killer pull workout:

  • 200m swim and 200m pull for warm-up
  • 8 × 50m freestyle with pull-buoy. Pick up speed in the last 25m of each 50. Take 20 seconds of rest after each repetition.
  • 4 x 100m freestyle with pull-buoy. Pick up speed in the last 50 m of each 100. Take 20 seconds of rest after each repetition.
  • 2 x 200m freestyle with pull-buoy. Pick up speed in the last 100 m of each 100. Take 20 seconds of rest after each repetition.
  • 100m of a nice easy swim
  • 6 x 50m freestyle with pull-buoy and swim paddles. Keep a fact pace! Thirty seconds rest after each repetition.
  • 3 x 100 freestyle with pull-buoy and swim paddles. Keep a fast pace! Thirty-five seconds rest after each repetition.
  • Easy 100 m cool down

8. Open Water Simulation for Real-World Practice

This workout is geared toward competitive swimmers who have an upcoming outdoor race like a triathlon to train for. Simulating open water conditions in a pool setting can help swimmers prepare for competition under such conditions. 

Open water simulations often involve practicing skills like sighting (lifting your head to see where you’re going), drafting (swimming behind another swimmer to reduce drag), and navigating through choppy waters or currents. Making these workouts part of your training regimen can help build the confidence, adaptability, and resilience needed for swimming in diverse environments. 

Here are a few drills to incorporate into your training if you want to engage in some open-water simulation exercises:

1. Swim Straight Drill

This drill can help you use all of your senses to swim in a straight line. In open water, take note of your starting position, then swim with your head down for 20 to 30 strokes before stopping. Then, look at where you are now in relation to where you started.

Did you swim straight, or did you veer left or right? Do this a few times to get a proper baseline of your swim technique and direction. If you happen to veer to the right, you will definitely want to sight more to the left because, in a race scenario, it’s more likely you’ll have a buoy on your left anyway. 

2. Eyes-Closed Drill

Another drill that is great for helping you swim straight in an environment where you can’t see the bottom is the eyes-closed drill. This one is exactly what it sounds like! Practice swimming in a pool with your eyes closed, and see how far you can swim straight, noting which way you veer. 

Work on increasing the number of strokes you can swim before veering off course. Just take care not to swim so far that you crash into the far wall of the pool. (Although if you made it that far without veering, that would be impressive!) 

3. Heads Up!

This is a great drill for improving your sighting. In open water, swim for roughly 10 to 20 strokes, keeping your head out of the water and looking straight ahead. The key to this drill is keeping your head as still as possible and your eyes on a fixed point ahead. 

Your goal is to ultimately decrease the number of “head up” strokes you will need to take, which turns into more of a sighting drill than anything. The motion will eventually become more natural, and you will figure out how to lift your head and sight without keeping your head up for longer periods of time. 

4. Pick-It-Up Drill

Want to improve your concentration and ability to change speeds during a race? If you’re racing an endurance outdoor swim race, you may need to shift speeds at the start, finish, or at points where you’re trying to reach a group of swimmers ahead of you. 

Practice this drill by starting off with 25 easy strokes, then 25 fast strokes. Practice a few times, and then change it up however you want! 

Vary the number of strokes or the distance. Your goal is to simply be able to change pace easily without having to think too much about it or take too much time making such adjustments. 

5. Buoy Turn Drills

In outdoor swim competitions, it’s almost guaranteed that you will need to navigate buoys at some point in the race. For this drill, you need access to a buoy or can fashion one out of an inner tube or a few foam noodles hooked together. 

In the pool, you could remove the lane lines and set up buoys in a mock course. We know this isn’t possible for everyone, but it’s one of the best ways to train.

If you can achieve this, you can practice swimming around the buoys using normal strokes, going around both sides. You could also practice a rudder turn: hold your right arm (if you’re going around the buoy on your right shoulder) straight out in front of you as you approach, then stroke with your left arm only, using the other arm as a rudder. Repeat with the other side. 

Are There Underwater Headphones for Drills?

Listening to music underwater can be confusing, as many people are unsure about possible solutions. However, there are real solutions now. In 2024, experts have developed methods to listen to music reliably while swimming. 

The updated Zygo headphones model offers better audio quality, increased range, longer battery life, lap counting, and portable charging. You can stream directly from your phone to the headset, enjoying music, podcasts, audiobooks, or any app while swimming. Also, the Zygo App provides audio workout guides, a tempo trainer, a leaderboard, and one-way live chat.


If you’re looking to be your best self in the pool this year, it’s time to start incorporating new training protocols to bust through any plateaus you’ve been experiencing. From interval training to open water drills, kick sets, and pull workouts, the best swim workouts detailed here will help you achieve all of your swimming goals. 

Good luck and happy swimming! 


15 Swimming Workouts for Every Type of Swimmer and Goal | Swim Swam

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