When you head to the pool for a swim workout, do you ever wonder what you should be doing?

Many swimmers jump in the pool and swim back and forth with no plan. This is not the best way to train, but not everyone can afford a personal coach to provide specific workouts designed to meet certain goals and time demands. This is why we created MySwimPro – a personal coach in your pocket.

To learn how to write a swim workout, watch this week’s Whiteboard Wednesday:

Understanding how a workout is structured will allow you to maximize your time in the water. Before you write any swim workout, the first step is figuring out the goal you’re trying to achieve!

Read Also: Workout and Set Structure

Swim Goals

  • Improve Technique
  • Speed Focus
  • Endurance Focus
  • Stroke Specific: IM, Fr, Kick, etc.
  • Technical: Dolphin Kick, Turns, Breath Control

Once you know the goal of the workout, next you determine what the optimal ‘outcome’ of the training session will be. In other words, what measurable output re you trying to achieve by the end of the set.

Possible Workout Outcomes

  • Duration (time)
  • Distance (mters)
  • Density (distance/time)
  • Energy Zones

Listen to the episode on SoundCloud:

There are five main parts to a swim workout. Not all of them need to be used in every workout. Typically a swim workout will have a Warmup, Main Set, and Cool Down.

  1. Warmup (10-20%)
  2. Pre Set/Drill Set (5-20%)
  3. Main Set (40-70%)
  4. Post Set (5-20%)
  5. Cool Down (5-20%)

Example Workout

This workout is focused on IM Speed training. It’s 3,000 meters and hits all the energy zones with a focus on producing speed.

Warmup (20%)

  • 1 x 300 Free @ 5:00 (REC)
  • 6 x 50 Kick @ 1:00 (EN2)

Pre Set (13%)

  • 8 x 25 Drill @ :40 (EN1)
  • 4 x 50 IM @ 1:10 (SP1)

Main Set (53%)

  • 3 x 200 IM @ 2:50 (EN3)
  • 1 x 200 Pull @ 3:00 (EN1)
  • 4 x 100 FRIM @ 1:45 (SP1)
  • 1 x 200 Pull @ 3:00 (EN1)
  • 1 x 200 IM @ 5:00 (SP2)

Post Set (7%)

  • 1 x 100 Free @ 1:40 (EN1)
  • 4 x 25 IM @ :50 (SP3)

Cool Down (7%)

  • 4 x 50 Free @ 1:00 (REC)

The focal point of the workout is the 200 IM performed at Race Pace! The secondary goal are the 4 x 25s IM Order Sprints. The workout hits every energy zone, but places disproportionate emphasis on performing the last few IM sets with intention.

I hope this video was helpful in understanding how swim workouts are structured and written. Happy training!

30 day trial



  1. Thank you for your in-depth explanation of the structure of a swim workout. I turn 73 tomorrow and I signed up for a year of your “elite” training today. After watching I found out what IM means. To be honest, after watching your video I almost decided to unjoin your program. I am interested in becoming more fit. I never liked any kind of racing except car racing. I will begin to use your App in hopes it will enable me to ramp up to where the kind of activity you discuss actually becomes possible but I hope I’m not kidding myself. A reply will help my confidence. 😟

    • The great thing about swimming is that it is whatever you make it! Whether you want to race or simply swim for enjoyment and fitness, we have options for you.

  2. What does the “stroke” stroke type mean in a set description? I see it as a choice in the editor for workouts in the MySwimPro app and also in a few of the provided workouts. Assuming it means to choose whichever stroke the swimmer wants, how is the dynamic interval set?

  3. I love IMs, but still don’t think I can write a workout to attack a certain goal (aside from the obvious, like lots of stroke drills to swim more efficiently). Where can I learn more?

Leave A Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.