Training

Benchmark a Better You: Dive into Swim Month!

With our run and bike months completed, now it’s time to kickstart your swimming with this benchmark test and opening week workouts from pro Lauren Brandon.

Welcome to our Benchmark A Better You challenge—swim month! Hopefully you’ve seen some great gains from January’s run month and February’s bike month and now you’re ready to dive into some swim-specific work in March to really improve your performance in the water.

As with the previous two months, we’ll be starting swim month with a benchmark test to see where you’re at. We’ll then work our way through four weeks of workouts before we test again to see how you’ve improved. Ironman champion and uber swimmer Lauren Brandon will be guiding you through swim month—with three workouts per week, as well as the benchmark tests. 

Of course, for those of you who’ve recently completed the final benchmark bike test, be sure to give yourself a few recovery days before getting started on swim month. For those who’ve not recently done the bike test or are just joining us for swim month, the benchmark swim test is intended to be done on Monday or Tuesday. There are then another three swim workouts for the first week (see below). Each week’s workouts will be posted on Sunday, so you can plan ahead. Get ready to crush it!

As you’ll see here, Brandon has included two options for every workout with option one for those athletes who typically swim an average of 2,000 yards/meters per session and option two for those who usually cover 3,000 to 4,000 yards/meters per session. Every week there will be an easy aerobic/strength day, a sprint/speed day, and a threshold day. The benchmark tests will be performed twice: once at the start of the month and again at the end of the month when you should (hopefully!) see some improvement.

Workout 1: The Benchmark Test

Warm-up:
Do an easy 10 min. swim, gradually increasing effort throughout the 10 min. so you feel well warmed up by the end.

Prep Set:

8 x 50 – progress effort 1-4, 5-8, from easy to fast, taking 10-15 sec. rest between each 50. The idea here is to “open your engine up” ready for the main set and benchmark test.

Main Set/Benchmark Test:

Option 1: 5 x 200 with 20 sec. rest between each 200 (record your best average time)
Option 2: 10 x 200 with 20 sec. rest between each 200 (record your best average time) 

Cool-down:

100-200 easy swim

Workout 2: Aerobic/Strength

Option 1: Go through this once, taking 15-30 sec. rest between each swim
Option 2: Go through this twice taking 15-30 sec. rest between each swim

100 swim choice
200 buoy and band only
300 (75 easy swim free/25 easy swim no free)
400 buoy and paddles
400 (75 easy swim free/25 easy swim no free)
300 paddles only
200 (75 easy swim free/25 easy swim no free)
100 swim choice

Workout 3: Sprint/Speed

Option 1: 2,000 yards 

Warm-up
300 swim
6 x 50 (odds kick/evens swim) on 10 sec. rest
6 x 50 (odd drill/even swim) on 10 sec. rest 

Prep Set:

12 x 25 (#1: ½ fast/ ½ easy, #2 ½ easy, ½ fast, 25 all fast, 25 all easy)  on 10 sec. rest
100 easy choice

Main Set:

6 x 100 as: odds (#1, 3, 5) – 25 fast/50 easy/25 fast; evens (#2, 4, 6) – steady swim on 20 sec. rest 

Cool-down:

100 easy choice

Option 2: 3,600 yards

Warm-up:
500 swim

Prep Set:
10 x 50 (odd kick/even swim)  on 10 sec. rest
10 x 50  (odd drill/even swim) on 10 sec. rest
12 x 25 (#1: ½ fast/ ½ easy, #2 ½ easy, ½ fast, 25 all fast, 25 all easy)  on 10 sec. rest 

Main Set:
12 x 100: odds (25 fast/50 easy/25 fast), evens steady swim on 20 sec. rest
100 easy
12 x 25 with fins (odds fast kick/evens swim easy) on 10 sec. rest 

Cool-down:
200 easy 

Workout 4: Threshold

Option 1: 2,000 yards

Warm-up:
200 swim
8 x 25 (odd kick/even swim) on 10 sec. rest

Main Set:
100 steady, 10 sec. rest
1 x 50 fast, 15 sec. rest
200 steady, 10 sec. rest
2 x 50 fast, 15 sec. rest
300 steady, 10 sec. rest
3 x 50 fast, 15 sec. rest
400 steady, 10 sec. rest
4 x 50 fast, 15 sec. rest

Cool-down:
100 easy

Option 2: 4,000 yards

Warm-up:
400 swim
8 x 25 (odd kick/even swim) on 10 sec. rest
200 buoy only
8 x 25 (odd drill/even swim) on 10 sec. rest

100 choice swim
Prep Set:
4 x 75 (25 easy/25 fast/25 easy, not free) on 15 sec. rest
Main Set:
100 steady on 10 sec. rest
1 x 50 fast on 15 sec. rest
200 steady on 10 sec. rest
2 x 50 fast on 15 sec. rest
300 steady on 10 sec. rest
3 x 50 fast on 15 sec. rest
400 steady on 10 sec. rest
4 x 50 fast on 15 sec. rest
100 choice easy
4x 200 (pull with paddles) descend 1-4 (get faster with each one) on 20 sec. rest

Cool-down:
200 easy