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Maybe you’re pushed for time and only have 30 minutes to spare to get your swim workout in, or maybe a half-hour swim is more than enough for your fitness goals. Either way, we’ve got five 30-minute swim workouts below from four of our sport’s finest swimmers and coaches: Dede Griesbauer, Sara McClarty, Rachel Joyce, and Megan Melgaard, assistant coach at Tower26. Read on to find out the objectives of each session and the full workout prescription. And if you’re someone who usually spends longer than 30 minutes in the pool, don’t scoff at the abbreviated time—you can still accomplish a lot in the water in 30 minutes: Focus on drills and technique, get in a long aerobic swim or just maintain your “feel” for the water, which can quickly disappear if you stay out of the pool for too long.
30 minute swim workout 1: Dede Griesbauer’s fast 50s
Purpose: Blend high intensity with some aerobic endurance.
600 (alternating 100 free/50 non-free)
6 x 50 with 15 sec. rest (as 25 with sighting/25 easy)
2 x 50 fast with 10 sec. rest
100 buoy with 30 sec. rest, breathing every 3 strokes
4 x 50 all fast with 10 sec. rest
200 buoy + paddles with 30 sec. rest, breathing every 3/5 strokes by 50
6 x 50 all fast with 10 sec. rest
300 buoy/band/paddles with 30 sec. rest, breathing every 3/5/7 strokes by 25
4 min. kick with fins (as 30 sec. easy, 20 sec. fast)
Note: If you’re looking to shorten this workout, Griesbauer advises shrinking the first part of the warm-up to 300 and the cooldown to 100.
30 minute swim workout 2: Sara McClarty’s go-to drills
Purpose: Emphasize efficient technique with low-intensity, purposeful drills.
300 choice swim
All with 15 sec. rest:
4 x 25 kick
4 x 50 fingertip drag drill
4 x 75 (25 right arm, 25 left arm, 25 swim)
4 x 100 (25 scull, 75 swim emphasis on catch)
*Repeat until your time is up
30 minute swim workout 3: Sara McClarty’s strength booster
Purpose: Build strength with a pulling set (paddles are optional).
100 swim/100 non-free/100 kick
4 x 150 pull with 20 sec. rest (50 easy/50 moderate/50 strong)
100 swim recovery
4 x 100 pull with 10 sec. rest (descend time 1–4)
30 minute swim workout 4: Rachel Joyce’s speed-endurance combo
Purpose: Maximizing time available by combining speed work with endurance.
300 swim with 15 sec. rest
2 x 75 as 25 kick with board, 25 finger drag drill, 25 swim with 10 sec. rest
3 x 50 as 25 fast/25 easy, 25 easy/25 fast, 25 fast/25 easy with 15 sec. rest
4 x 25 fast swim with 10 sec. rest
200 swim steady with 20 sec. rest
4 x 25 fast with band only with 10 sec. rest
200 buoy only, steady with 20 sec. rest
4 x 25 fast with band and paddles with 10 sec. rest
200 swim steady with 20 sec. rest
4 x 25 fast with fins with 10 sec. rest
200 buoy and paddles steady with 20 sec. rest
150 alternating 25 non-free, 25 free
Note: If this is too long for a 30-minute swim, Joyce recommends cutting the 200 repeats to 150 or 100 instead.
30 minute swim workout 5: Megan Melgaard’s technique-focused session
Purpose: Improving and maintaining good body position in the water through tautness and alignment.
5 min. easy swim
6 x 50 as 25 kick/25 swim @ 70% effort with 15 sec. rest (ideally use snorkel + fins)
All 50s are 25 kick/25 swim as: #1-2: Kick on your stomach, thumbs interlaced; #3 & 4: Kick on your left side, with your left arm outstretched in front; #5 & 6: Kick on your right side, with your right arm outstretched in front. Focus on keeping the back of the head, hips, and heels at the surface of the water.
3 x 100 swim @ 70% effort with 20 sec. rest (ideally use snorkel + fins)
Keep your head fixed while maintaining proper body position
12 x 25 swim @ 75-80% with 10 sec. rest
Execute every wall push-off powerfully, emphasizing strong wall push-offs initially sets-up proper body posture and tautness
6 x 50 swim @ progressive effort with 15 sec. rest
#1-2 @ 70% effort; #3-4 @ 75% effort; #5-6 @ 80% effort
3 x 100 pull with 20 sec. rest (ideally use snorkel + pull buoy)
Maintain technical awareness on alignment and hand channels
100-200 easy swim
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