Structured Swim Workouts (and I am a doofus)

Yes, Yes.  Those of you who are regular swimmers (or at least have been at it much longer than I) will roll your eyes at this one.  But I must say that I am a new and eager convert to the structured swim workout. Mind you, when I first started swimming last July, it was merely to pass the time until a running injury (ITBS) healed up.  I stuck with it long enough to survive a Triathlon and now have seen what it can do for my running fitness.  I’m sold on swimming. No doubt.

But my wiorkouts have been of the “go swim for x,000 yards and go home” variety, with little perceived growth in the pool.  In fact, there were times where I left the pool thinking that I had regressed.  Over the past couple of months I have witnessed the growth in Megan’s swimming ( as she has attended Masters Swimming classes (or completed their workouts independently). Yet, I never thought to do a “workout” for myself, thinking that I wasn’t advanced enough. I felt I needed to be able to swim better before I should focus on becoming a better swimmer.  Dumb thinking, eh?  Yes, I am a doofus.

Then yesterday I read IronBrandon’s blog entry ( on the need for structured workouts in the pool.  On a whim I went to and downloaded a 30-45 minute 1,200 yard workout for yesterday’s swim.  I. HAD. A. BLAST.

Talking to Megan about it made me realize that I had been such a doofus. Yes, a DOOFUS. We approach running with the intent that structured run plans create growth opportunities in different phases of our running.  Hill workouts give us climbing strength and can be “disguised” speed work for flat roads.  Tempo sessions give our bodies the idea what it is like to run at faster paces and we build speed and endurance.  But why hadn’t I applied that thought to the pool?  Well, I am a doofus.  That’s why.

Yesterday’s swim was fun.  I felt like I had a sense of purpose in the pool other than to swim x-amount of yards. I BELIEVED I was improving. And I was because I was doing drills and intervals designed for just that.

I am so excited for this new phase in my swimming and can’t wait to see where it gets me.  And, oh yes, I’m headed back to the pool today for more structure!


Here is today’s plan:

Duration 30-45 mins
Distance 1200yd
Pool length 25yd
Issued Feb 10 2011
Warm up
8 x 25yd Freestyle Swim (even pace), rest 0:10 / 25yd [Easy]
Freestyle swim at a steady pace.
Build up (repeat 4 times)
1 x 25yd Streamline Kicking, rest 0:10 / 25yd [Aerobic]
Freestyle kick with arms held out front in a streamlined position. Fingers overlap with one thumb lightly gripping the opposite hand. Lift your chin above the water to breath without turning your head.
1 x 25yd Freestyle Push & Glide, rest 0:10 / 25yd [Easy]
Freestyle swim, pausing at the end of every stroke with arms out-stretched, one held out front, the other held loosely against the body.
6 x 100yd Freestyle Swim, target time 02:00 / 100yd, rest 0:30 / 100yd [Aerobic]
Freestyle swim at a steady pace, trying to keep closely to the given target time for every 100yd. If your target time is too easy or too difficult please complete another time trial.
Warm down (repeat 2 times)
1 x 50yd Freestyle Push & Glide, rest 0:15 / 50yd [Easy]
Freestyle swim, pausing at the end of every stroke with arms out-stretched, one held out front, the other held loosely against the body.
1 x 50yd Freestyle Easy, rest 0:15 / 50yd [Easy]
Freestyle swim at a slow, relaxed pace.



  1. Another thing you can do is just print them out, get the paper wet and put it on a kickboard – it’ll stick to the kickboard and you can reference it for as long as you need. That’s what we did in high school and it worked great, workouts were usually 2- 2.5 hours and with 8 people in a lane we could just pass the kickboard around to see the workout. Gordon, that’s what I need to apply to my running and riding as well. Since I Started going to spinning on mondays I can spend and hour and a half on the bike and not go crazy with boredom. Now, to figure out how to apply to running for me is a challenge. I hope to get back to running soon- it’s starting to melt our 5+ feet of snow finally. 🙂 YAY!


  2. Nah, not a doofus. Maybe you just weren’t ready for it yet – but you are now!

    I love I’ve also got a few Tri Swimming books with good workouts. I use the plastic bag trick as well. Now you’re making me feel like I should be at the pool….

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