One-Hour Workout: Swim Skills and Drills

This swim workout blends technical work with some aerobic endurance training.

Photo: Getty Images

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This week’s One-Hour Workout is a favorite of junior elite triathlete Sadé Smith. The full workout is 3,500 yards, but can be pared back depending on individual speed, fitness, time available, and, of course, pool availability.

Smith said: “This is a swim workout that I find to be very efficient. There’s a good mix of drills and high cadence work throughout the set.”

After a 400 warm-up, you’ll hit the first of two main sets. In the first set (which you repeat twice) you’ll focus on stroke rate for the 5 x 100, trying to maintain as high a stroke rate as possible. You’ll then progress to 4 x 100 stroke count drill. With this drill, you should focus on each and every pull, making sure to catch and pull the water all the way past your thigh, keeping count of your strokes per lap and aiming to keep this number consistent with each 100 repeat.

On the second set, you start with a straight 500 swim with controlled stroke rate and a focus on breathing, making sure you’re not holding your breath but gradually exhaling into the water, turning your head to inhale, and then returning your face to the water. The next 3 x 100 focus on strong pull, before finishing with 300 pull with buoy and paddles. If you feel comfortable and proficient doing this, play with your breathing on this 300, breathing every 3, 5, 7 strokes by 25 (e.g. you breathe every three strokes on the first 25, every five strokes on the second 25, every seven strokes on the third 25). Also, you should only use paddles if this is something you typically include in your swim training. Wrap up the session with a 200 easy cool-down.

One-Hour Workout: Swim Skills and Drills


400 as: 200 swim, 100 pull, 100 kick

Main Set:

Set 1:
5 x 100 swim, focusing on stroke rate, taking 15 sec. rest between each 100
4 x 100 stroke count drill, taking 15 sec. rest between each 100
Repeat twice

Set 2:
1 x 500 swim with controlled stroke rate and focus on breathing
3 x 100 swim focusing on strong pull
1 x 300 pull with pull buoy and paddles, breathing every 3, 5, 7, 9 strokes by 25


200 easy

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