Swimming workouts

3 Swim-Faster Workouts

The secret to a faster first leg: Interval sessions.

You don’t need Lochte-like lung capacity to feel stronger and faster in the water. Adding interval workouts to your regular pool regimen is the best way speed things up, according to Kai Karlstrom, a Tier 4 trainer in Chicago who is competing for Team USA at the Sprint Distance Triathlon World Championships in London this September. As opposed to slogging through steady-state laps, “interval training improves more facets of endurance performance than just long swimming does,” says Karlstrom.

Try these hard-and-fast sessions, recommended by Karlstrom. In terms of drill sets, add more as needed. “The worse your swim form, the more your time should be focused on improving it,” says Karlstrom. “Using a kickboard on your stomach or back helps you work on your kick, pull-buoys keep you buoyant so you can focus on your pull, fins reinforce proper horizontal body position as well as helping your kick.”

If you’re new to the drill scene, some of Karlstrom’s favorites include the fingertip drag (keeping a high elbow as you drag your fingertips on the surface of the water during the recovery phase), the catch-up (a freestyle stroke in which one arm is extended but stationary; when the stroking arm ‘catches up’ to the stationary arm, they switch), and triple-switch (kicking on your side with arm extended in front of you for about six kicks, then taking three strokes and switching sides, which improves side balance). 

To cruise into T1, add these swim sets to your repertoire.

Have questions about training for an endurance event? Tweet us at @Equinox using #EQWisdom and Kai Karlstrom will share his expert advice.  

(WU=warm-up; MS=main set; CD=cool-down; distance is in yards)

Workout 1:

WU: 3x (25 swim, 25 drill, 25 swim, 25 drill) on a 10 to 15-second rest interval

MS1: 6x50 fast on a 10-second rest interval

MS2: 15x100 on a 5-second rest interval

CD: 100 easy non-freestyle

Workout 2: 

WU: 200 swim, 200 kick, 200 pull.

MS1: 2X(8x50 fast on 10 seconds rest); rest 1 minute

MS2: 2X(8x25 fast on 5 seconds rest)

CD: 100 choice

Workout 3: 

WU: 200 swim, 200 kick

MS1: 3x(25 drill, 25 swim, 25 drill, 25 swim)

MS2: 4x200 on a 15 to 20-second rest interval

CD: 100 choice

Get more triathlon-training advice from Kai Karlstrom here

Photography by Tony Kim / Trunk Archive