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Swim Fast to Get Fast: The 50s

By Gale Bernhardt
For Active.com

swimmingIn an earlier column, I encouraged you to try some fast 25s to boost your swimming speed. People have been trying the workouts and, lo and behold, they are swimming faster. Excellent!

Now that you've mastered some of the shorter workouts, let's bump the distance up some. Below are new workouts for you to try:

Workout No. 1

Complete a mixed warm-up totaling 500 to 1,000 yards/meters.

After the warm-up, go through the following set two or three times:

  • 2 x 25 — Build speed throughout each 25
  • 2 x 25 — Swim half the distance as fast as you can, it doesn't matter if it is first half or last half. Swim the "other half" easy.
  • 1 x 50 — All-out fast
  • 1 x 50 — Easy

Make your swim interval something that gives you 5 to 10 seconds rest on the 25s, about 20 seconds of rest on the 50-all-out-fast and about 90 seconds on the 50 easy.

After the speedy set, head into your main set. The main set can include swims in the 100 to 300 range.

Workout No. 2

Complete a mixed warm-up totaling 500 to 1,000.

After the warm-up, go through the following set two to four times:

  • 4 x 25 — Build speed throughout each 25 (Make the swim interval something that gives you about 10 seconds of rest.)
  • 1 x 50 — All-out fast (Make the swim interval something that gives you about 20 seconds of rest.)
  • 1 x 25 — Easy (Make the swim interval something that gives you 15 to 20 seconds of rest.)
  • 1 x 25 — All-out fast (Make the swim interval something that gives you about 10 seconds of rest.)

After the speedy set, head into your main set. The main set can include swims in the 100 to 300 range.

Optional Main Set

An optional main set to include after Workout No. 1 or 2 follows:

  • 3 x 100 on a swim interval that gives you 10 to 15 seconds of rest. Swim all of these at a steady pace.
  • 3 x 100 on a swim interval that gives you 15 to 20 seconds rest. Negative-split each 100.
  • 3 x 100 on a swim interval that gives you 20 to 30 seconds rest. Swim these so that each 100 is faster than the previous one. The last one is a fast one.

If you have the time and fitness, go through the set of 100s twice.

Workout No. 3

Complete a mixed warm-up totaling 500 to 1,000.

After the warm-up, do 4 x 25 building speed throughout each 25 (Make the swim interval something that gives you about 10 seconds of rest.)

Take one minute of rest, then do:

  • 6 x 50 — All-out fast. No holding back. Expect the fastest one to be the second or third one. It's okay if speed fades some, just swim fast. Make the swim interval something that gives you 80 to 100 seconds of rest between each 50 swim.

After the speedy set, head into your main set. Keep it primarily aerobic. If you swim really, really fast (like the instructions tell you to do) you won't have much high-end speed for the rest of the workout.

The biggest mistake you can make in the workouts above is to try to be a Sammie Save-up. Of course there are times when you should be holding some speed in reserve so you can negative-split a swim; but not in these workouts. Cut loose and see how fast you can go.

How much did you improve? If you've tried these workouts, head to USAT's Facebook page and tell us about it!

Gale Bernhardt was the 2003 USA Triathlon Pan American Games and 2004 USA Triathlon Olympic coach for both the men's and women's teams. Her first Olympic experience was as a personal cycling coach at the 2000 Sydney Olympic Games. Thousands of athletes have had successful training and racing experiences using Gale's pre-built, easy-to-follow training plans. For more information, click here. Let Gale and Active Trainer help you succeed. 

This article originally appeared on Active.com—your source for event information, training plans, expert advice, and everything you need to connect with the sport you love.

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