Friday FunDAY: Six Swim Workout Sets to Try at Practice

Photo Courtesy: Sarah Crocker

Friday FunDAY: Six Swim Workout Sets to Try at Practice

By Kelsey Mitchell

For every swimmer and coach, there is that one set they always love to come back to. Whether it be for the intense speed work, high yardage, or minute attention to technique, everyone’s favorite set holds a place near and dear to their hearts. Here are some of our favorite sets.

1. The Descend


Photo Courtesy: Brian Jenkins – UVM Athletics

The Descend is 10x100s on 1:40 in short course meters broken into four groups, with each group followed by a 100 or 200 easy. The first group is 4x100s, the second group is 3x100s, the third group is 2x100s and the fourth group is 1×100. The first 100 should be swum at goal time plus 18 seconds, with every following 100 swum two seconds faster. The final 100 should be swum at the goal time or at max effort.

2. The Big M

The Big M is a distance freestyle and IM set. The freestyle portions of The Big M are on the 1:30 base in short course yards, while the IM portions are swum with fins on the 1:40 base. When drawn out using the increase and decrease in yardage, the set resembles the appearance of an M:

500 Free                                                 500 Free

400 IM          400 IM              400 IM          400 IM

300 Free                   300 Free                  300 Free

200 IM                                                      200 IM

100 Free                                                 100 Free

The set begins at the bottom left of the M with the 100 free, and traces the shape of the M as it is written. The set should end with the second 100 free.

3. The Forester Square


Photo Courtesy: lfc_swimdive

The Forester Square is a circuit set stationed around different areas of the pool, thus giving the set its name. Each station focuses on turns and underwaters, helping swimmers to improve their speed and technique on both.

At the first station, swimmers stand about a yard from the wall and jump off the bottom into a flip turn, allowing for turns to be practiced at a speed normally unachievable. At the next station, swimmers go to the deep end and sink to the bottom of the pool. Then, they push off of the bottom into a streamline, trying to reach the surface as quickly as possible with their kick. At the next station, swimmers dive off the blocks into a fast breakout. At the following station, swimmers do underwater kicking horizontally across the pool, alternating between flutter and dolphin kicks by length. At the final station, swimmers flip over a lane line to practice tight flip turns.

4. Whistle Kick


Photo Courtesy: Michael-David Morales

Swimmers begin kicking on a set time (ten minutes, for example) at a moderate pace. The coach then blows a whistle, indicating for the pace to be increased to a sprint. At the coach’s choosing, the whistle is blown again, and the pace is brought back down to moderate. This set can be done as social kick, encouraging racing and bonding between teammates.

5. Mile for Smiles


Photo Courtesy: Emma Schoettmer

Mile for Smiles is a set in which swimmers complete a broken mile. The set can be broken up in different ways, with swimmers choosing what to swim in each section. In one variation, swimmers alternate between freestyle and choice by group. For example, the first group will swim 11 lengths in short course yards, with every subsequent group decreasing by one length. After completing each of the 11 groups, decreasing by one lap every time, the swimmer will have completed a mile.

6. IM Progression 25s

women-100-butterfly-mesa-2016-3 swimming workouts

Photo Courtesy: Brooke Wright

IM Progression 25s is a set used to work on technique and speed for all four strokes. The set is 20x25s, five of each stroke. The first 25 of each stroke is kick with arms at one’s side, the second 25 is streamline kick, the third 25 is a technique drill, the fourth 25 is a speed drill, and the fifth 25 is build. This progression is then repeated for the other three strokes.

All commentaries are the opinion of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Swimming World Magazine nor its staff.

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Kyle Lima
5 years ago

“Fun” lol

Cass Kaiuha
3 years ago

Rochelle Chase
These are awesome ideas

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