One-Hour Workout: Off-Season Endurance Swim

Kick off your winter swimming with this gentle aerobic swim session.

Photo: John David Becker

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With November just around the corner, now is the perfect time to concentrate on some lower intensity swim workouts that are more technique-focused and aerobic in nature. This particular session can be adapted based on current fitness and the time you have available. None of this off-season endurance swim workout should be hard or high intensity—quite the opposite.

After a 10-minute relaxed and smooth warm-up (ideally mixing up the strokes), you’ll begin the prep set which is all pull and you can add in other equipment too, such as snorkel, paddles, and an ankle strap. Start with a 200 and then drop 25 from the distance each time, so you are following this pattern: 200, 175, 150, 125, 100, 75, 50, 25. Take 20-30 seconds rest between the longer distances and 15 seconds between the shorter distances.

The main set involves an element of choice, depending on your time and fitness: 8 x 150 or 8 x 100 swim, with 30 seconds rest between each interval, and gently building the effort every two repeats, so: intervals #1 and #2 are at 5/10 RPE (rate of perceived exertion); #3 and #4 are at 6/10 RPE; #5 and #6 are at 7/10 RPE; #7 and #8 are at 8/10 RPE. Do not be afraid to dial back the effort here and really use these swims as an opportunity to focus on weaknesses in your stroke mechanics: How is your catch? How is your body position in the water? What about your head position? These are just a few of the things to focus on. If in doubt about what areas to work on, ask a friend or training partner to video you swimming and find a reputable swim coach to help analyze your stroke for you. This is the perfect time of year to do that. Wrap up the workout with a 200-300 easy swim.

One-Hour Workout: Off-Season Endurance Swim


10-minute easy, relaxed swimming, ideally with a mix of strokes, not just freestyle

Prep Set

200-175-150-125-100-75-50-25 with 20-30 sec. rest on longer intervals, 15 sec. rest on shorter ones

All pull, with the option to include extra equipment as you desire, such as snorkel, paddles, and/or ankle strap

Main Set

8 x 100 or 8 x 150, 30 sec. rest between each interval, progress effort every 2, so first 2 @ 5/10 RPE; next 2 @ 6/10 RPE; next 2 @ 7/10 RPE; final 2 @ 8/10 RPE.


200-300 easy swim

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