One-Hour Workout: Find Your Top-End Swim Speed

Don't get lost in slow, steady miles—add some speed and power to your swim with this fast, fun swim set.

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Although many of us are well into winter training, this doesn’t mean you should let all of your fast twitch muscle fibers forget what it feels like to do a little work. Too much time spent doing long, slow, steady miles can leave you feeling sluggish, so this week’s One-Hour Workout is designed to help you change that in the pool. It comes from coach Marilyn Chychota, who said: “Remember there needs to be a certain amount of speed and power in your training program all year long. You may not be looking for full gas speed work in the middle of winter, but you do want to keep ticking over. This applies to swim, bike, and run workouts.”

This workout begins with a 400 warm-up, aiming to work in a mix of strokes, not just freestyle. You’ll then hit a short prep set of 4 x 50 as 25 fast/25 easy, taking 15 seconds rest between each 50.

The main set is fast and fun: grab your fins and get ready to bring the speed! You’ll do 20 x 25, going all-out (as fast as you can) for the first 10-15 yards/meters of the lap. Swim easy for the remainder of the lap—super easy! You really want to focus on fast arm turnover/stroke rate on the fast sections. Your rest interval between each 25 should be equal to the work, so if it’s taking 30 seconds to swim 25, rest for 30 seconds.

The second part of the main set is 4 x 100 with paddles, buoy, and band, focusing on good form and stroke mechanics. You’ll then wrap up the workout with a 200 kick, followed by a 200 easy swim.

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The workout as described above totals 2,400 yards/meters, so if you’re looking to increase that, add to the prep set, swimming 8 x 50 instead of 4 x 50, and if you’re feeling really ambitious, do two rounds of 20 x 25—but only if you’re used to this volume of speed work.

One-Hour Workout: Find Your Top-End Swim Speed


400 mixed strokes

Prep set

4 x 50 as 25 fast/25 easy

Main set

With fins: 20 x 10-15m/yards all-out fast; remainder of the 25 swim easy

Rest interval should be equal to work

4 x 100 pull with paddles, buoy, band


200 kick

200 easy swim

Get more 60-minute sessions from top athletes and coaches around the world in our One-Hour Workout archives.