by Olivier Poirier-Leroy. Join his weekly motivational newsletter for swimmers by clicking here.
When it comes to swim sets things can get a little bit monotonous.
Doing the same swim workouts, repeats and intervals over and over again is boring and tedious. Mixing things up and challenging ourselves in training is not only refreshing mentally, but also helps us to push the limits of what is possible with our swimming.
Here are 5 epic swim sets that you should try at least once over the course of your swim career:
1. The (Other) Auburn Sprint Swim Set.
In terms of raw effort, I am not sure this one can be beat. A set that was originally written up by Brett Hawke over at Auburn, it features 100×25 of all-out swimming with a steadily descending interval and increasing rest between rounds.
The goal is to do 2,500 yards (I tried the set in meters) at or as close to your 100-race pace. By the last couple rounds you will be feeling an exceptionally thorough case of jelly shoulders.
Here is how it goes:
100×25 at your 100 race pace
(The distance outlined after the interval is the recovery swimming to be done at the end of each round.)
- Round 1: 10 x 25 @:60 – 50 easy
- Round 2: 10 x 25 @:60 – 100 easy
- Round 3: 10 x 25 @:55 – 150 easy
- Round 4: 10 x 25 @:50 – 200 easy
- Round 5: 10 x 25 @:45 – 250 easy
- Round 6:10 x 25 @:40 – 300 easy
- Round 7: 10 x 25 @:35 – 350 easy
- Round 8: 10 x 25 @:30 – 400 easy
- Round 9: 10 x 25 @:25 – 450 easy
- Round 10: 10 x 25 @:20 – 500 easy
You can read my breakdown of the swim set and how (well?) I fared trying out this lactate-maker here.
2. Josh Schneider’s Sprint-a-Thon.
NCAA and world champion Josh Schneider used this set to help power up his speed endurance. It features anywhere between 750 and 950 of high octane sprinting.
After a thorough warm-up:
6-8 rounds of–
2×50 @1 All-Out
- 50 #1 is from a dive.
- Second 50 is from a push. “The goal is trying to get as close as possible to the time you swam on the first 50,” notes Josh.
- 3 minutes rest between rounds.
3 x 50 All-Out from a Dive.
- “The goal is to beat the results of the dive 50’s from the previous set,” says Schneider.
- Long rest; 3 minutes between 50’s.
For more commentary from Josh on this sprint set read the full breakdown here.
3. Mike Alexandrov’s Favorite Set for Crushing the Competition
Two-time Olympic breaststroker likes to mix up his training in the water using various kinds of equipment, unleashing a series of super-sets to contrast heavier resistance with high speed work.
After a super-fun time warm-up that gets you primed and ready to rock and roll:
- 300 pull (buoy and swim paddles) 25 choice, 50 breast @ :20 seconds rest (4th gear breaststroke)
- 2 x 150 1st and last 50 breast, middle 50 choice @ :20 seconds rest (4th gear breaststroke)
- 3 x 100 breast with paddles descend 1-3 @ 30 seconds rest (build each one and 5th gear on the 3rd one)
- 4 x 75 swim (no gear) @ 40 seconds rest (1st 75 = last 25 5th gear, 2nd = last 50 5th gear, 3rd 75 all fast, 4th = find way to go faster)
- 6 x 50 paddles descend 1-3 @ 30 seconds rest
- 8 x 25 no gear 1 easy, 2 fast @ 30 seconds rest
3 rounds through:
- 1st round, do the 300, 2 x 150s, 3 x 100’s and then JUST the 4 x 75’s.
- 2nd round, do the 300, 2 x1 50s, 3 x 100’s and then JUST the 6 x 50’s.
- 3rd round, do the 300, 2 x 150s, 3 x 100’s and then JUST the 8 x 25s.
To read the full breakdown on Mike’s favorite swim set read the rest of his commentary by clicking here.
4. Ryan Lochte’s “Brutal” Individual Medley Set
You don’t need me to tell you how grueling the 400m individual medley is. 5ish minutes of controlled sprinting that spans all four strokes, giving you all sorts of exhaustion and agony.
The only thing harder?
Training for said event.
In this swim set that Ryan Lochte posted to his Twitter in the lead-up to London while he was still at Florida
4 rounds through—
- 2×100 butterfly from a dive all-out @1:30
- 2×50 backstroke, 1 all-out, 1 cruise @:50
- 100 freestyle @1:20
- 400 IM all-out @5
- The workout was done in long course meters.
- Just the set was 3,200 meters.
- Lochte’s times on the 400 individual medleys were as follows: 4:29, 4:29, 4:28, and 4:27.
- If you weren’t hungry before this set, you will most certainly will be afterward.
5. 10ish Minutes a Day to a Faster Underwater Dolphin Kick
This swim set is certainly the easiest out of the five presented in this little list, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t super effective!
The importance of the underwater dolphin kick has never been so prevalent in the sport, particularly for you short course yards swimmers, with races that can be done up to 60% under the water.
This set, while short and sweet, will help add some turbo-boost to your underwater fly kick.
After you have gotten your legs loose and warm:
- FAST underwater dolphin kick to 15m (12.5m okay for when not wearing fins)
- Wearing DragSox for all of them.
- Wear fins for the last 10.
- Alternate on front and on back by 25.
- Streamline must be tight and legit.
What “essential” swim sets would you like to see added to this list? What swim sets have you done in the past that were either epic or insanely effective at helping you become a better swimmer?
Let me know in the comments below!
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