How to do swim interval training
Credit: James Mitchell
Training > Training plans

Free 2-week swim interval training plan for beginners

Swim intervals are your pool-based friend and are guaranteed to boost swim speed. Below you will find an introduction to interval training and a two-week interval-focussed training plan, plus five sample swim sessions, all designed to help beginners improve their swim performance.

Intervals provide structure, and whether concentrated on technique, speed or endurance help maintain focus through the session. By focusing on swimming different speeds, they also teach you how much effort is required to up the pace and develop a change of gears.

What’s more, intervals allow you to monitor improvement, plus there’s less chance of technique slipping because you reset after every short rep. Most importantly, though, they will simply help you swim faster on race day.

Two-week swim interval training plan

This fortnight’s cycle of interval sessions will help newcomers improve their swim.

Week 1

Workout 1 - form

Warm-up 4 x 25m Drill 4 x 25m catch-up, 4 x 25m kick, 4 x 25m fist Cool-down 4 x 25m Total 500m

Workout 2 - endurance

Warm-up 4 x 25m

Drill 4 x 25m pull, 4 x 25m kick, 4 x 25m SPL (stroke per length; count and try to reduce by length 4) Cool-down 4 x 25m Total 500m

Workout 3 - form & endurance

Warm-up 4 x 25m  Drill 2 x 25m right arm,  2 x 25m left arm, 2 x 25m kick, 2 x 25m scull Endurance 2 x 50m Cool-down 4 x 25m Total 500m

Week 2

Workout 1 - form

Warm-up 4 x 25m Drill 4 x 25m pull, 4 x 25m kick, 4 x 25m SPL Cool-down 4 x 25m Total 500m

Workout 2 - endurance

Warm-up 2 x 50m Endurance 3 x 100m Cool-down 2 x 50m Total 500m

Workout 3 - form & endurance

Warm-up 2 x 50m Drill 2 x 25m catch-up, 2 x 25m fist, 2 x 25m kick,  2 x 25m scull Endurance 6 x 50m Cool-down 2 x 50m Total 700m

Five sample swim interval training sessions

Here are 2 x Ironman UK winner Dan Halksworth’s sets to help improve endurance, speed and technique, increase the strength of swim-specific muscles and aid recovery.

Endurance

Warm-up 10 x 25m alternate freestyle/backstroke
Main set 5 x 100m freestyle, 20secs rest per interval
Cool-down 4 x 50m choice of stroke

Speed

Warm-up 200m choice of stroke, pick-up pace either into or out of the turn
Main set 12 x 25m as: 12.5m fast, focusing on increasing arm speed; 12.5m easy, 30secs rest per interval
Cool-down 200m very easy

Technique

Warm-up 3 x 100m as 25m swim/drill/kick/swim
Main set 14 x 25m alternating drill/swim. Try and change drills (ie. single arm/catch-up/water polo)
Cool-down 200m easy but still focus on technique

Strength

Warm-up 200m swim
Main set 5 x 100m as: 100m breathing every 2 strokes; 100m breathing every 3 strokes; 100m pull-buoy; 100m pull and paddles; 100m breathing every 4 strokes
Cool-down 5 x 50m easy

Recovery

Warm-up 5 x 50m freestyle
Main set 4 x 100m mixing strokes but all easy
Cool-down 6 x 50m


 
 

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