Fitness Program for Swimming

This fitness program is designed to aid athletes in reaching their maximum potential as a swimmer.

Warm Up
The Warm Up is valuable to a swimmer because it prevents injuries and allows the swimmer to get the most out of the workout. The warm up should raise the body temperature and increase blood flow. Since swimming is a competive sport its warm up should prepare the athlete for the specific demands of swimming. The warm up should consist of full body movements and utilizes all strokes. Here is an example of a warm up.

5X200 Freestyle on 4 Min

Swim 200 yards at a slow pace under four minutes. Then repeat four more times. Focusing on long stretched out strokes with a high body position. Alternate breathing side every 3 strokes. Also focus on tight streamline flip turns.

  1. Body position needs to alternate from side to side with freestyle strokes. The torso should always be rotating.
  2. The arm strokes should form a hour glass shape from point of entery to exit.
  3. Kick from the hips.This produces more force. Avoid kicking from the knees which will tire the athlete faster and is less efficent. Flutter kicks needs to be short fast kicks. Larger kicks will break the the streamline body position. Producing drag.
  4. For the flip turns approach the wall with the shoulders flat to the wall. Then lead with the head by curling into your stomach. Then throw your feet over into the wall making contact with the wall. Feet shoulder width appart. Make sure the knees don't bend past 90 degrees. Then push off.
  5. Coming out of the wall the body needs to be in a streamline position. With arms stretched out in front of the body. Forming a triangle shape over head.


4X100 Medley on 2:45

Swim 100 yards in medley order ( Butterfly, Backstroke, Breaststroke, and Freestyle ). 25 yards of each stroke. Complete each repetion under 2 minutes and 45 seconds. Focus on proper turns with butterfly and breaststroke transitions.. Using both hands to make contact with the wall. Also there needs to be a pull down before the breaststroke. After completing the 100 yards repeat 3 more times.

  1. Swim the first 25 yards butterfly with main focus on dolphin kick. Make sure the turn is initiated with both hands making contact with the wall.
  2. For the next 25 yards swim backstroke. Come out of the turn under water. Dolphin kick on back under water till momentum is lost. Then break the surface of the water and start backstroke. Focus on rotating the shoulders without moving the head. After seeing the flags count your stroke till your just about to reach the wall. Then rotate body over so you are looking at the bottom of the pool. Then flip turn.
  3. After flip turning stay in streamline position. Then pull both arms down to your hips and hold them there. Then do one frog kick and break the waterline. Then swim breaststroke the rest of the 25. Before starting the final 25 yards make contact with the wall using both hands then push off
  4. For the last 25 yards swim freestyle. Concentrate on the finish by extending one arm into the wall.


5X50 Fingertip Drag Drill on 1 min

This drill is done by swimming freestyle, breathing every 3 arm strokes, but as you bring your hand up from your thigh area to above your head where it enters the water, you will drag the surface of the water with your fingertips. Drag your fingertips the whole distance from your hip area to entry, and then enter the water fingertips first. Your elbow will bend and be higher than everything else, pointing to the sky. This drill is done to get your hand from the finish of the stroke to the start of the next stroke the shortest way possible. Thus making your stroke more efficient and faster.

  1. Breath every 3 strokes
  2. Drag fingertips through water from hip area to entry point.
  3. Simultaneously as step 2 stroke opposite arm through the water
  4. Now begin different motions with opposite arm
  5. Repeat till the repetition is complete


Strength for swimmers is a key factor in their development in meeting their highest standards. The amount of work a swimmer puts in, will show there strength and stamina. In this section you will find strength exercises to help increase your level of swim.

· Aim for either high reps (15+) with low / medium size weights ideally for 1-2 sets, to build good muscular endurance, followed by 1 set using a heavier weight, for 6-10 reps to build strength (not size), or the reps outlined below.
· Training with weights 2-3 times a week, will give you good results, concentrate on the upper body for two sessions, the lower body for one session.
· Warm Up and Stretch properly before doing theses strength exercises

Wide Arm Press-Up- This is to strengthen your upper body to develop your swimming speed.

  1. Take your hands out at double shoulder width, with your palms facing forward.
  2. Hold for 30 sec.


Tricep Dips
- This exercise is to work on forearms and upper arm strength. This exercise will help arm speed while swimming.

  1. Place your hands either side of your buttocks, with fingers facing forward.
  2. Bend at your elbows, taking them backwards.
  3. Focus on taking your elbows behind you.


Bench Press- This exercise will help gain full body strength to extremely increase your swimming performance.

  1. Aim to perform the exercises in either a close arm normal or wide stance exercise.
  2. Again you can adapt the exercise by using an incline / decline / or flat bench, whilst working with either dumbbells or a barbell.
  3. Focus on a complete range of movement, lowering the weight down to your chest; however never use a weight that is too heavy so you can't lift it back up.


    External Hip Rotation

    Description: For the breaststroke kick one much use multiple joints moving through rotation angles at the same time while adducting and abducting the legs. A great exercise that helps flexibility for breaststrokers is the external/internal hip rotations.

    1. Begin with leg planted firmly, while other leg is bent at a 90 degree angle.
    2. Arms should reach to the outer side of the standing foot. This reach of the arms and torso internally rotates the standing hip slightly.
    3. To complete the movement open the arms toward the free leg, open the hips and externally rotate the free leg.

    Arm Circles

    Description: For many basic movements in swimming it is essential to have both arms flexible. Arm Circles rotate the arms back in forth in a circular motion helping the swimmer warm up his/her shoulder’s dynamically.

    1. Stand with your arms extended directly out from your sides.
    2. Move your feet shoulder-width apart and your knees slightly bent.
    3. Move your arms in wide circles, 20 times forward and 20 times backward.

  1. Exercise: Triceps/shoulder static stretch

    Description: After completing arm circles a more dynamic stretch of the shoulder and arms. Stretch out your triceps and shoulders using a static stretch to get a full range of motion.

    1. Stand straight with your arms overhead.
    2. Bend your left arm at the elbow, and then slowly reach down until your left hand touches the base of your neck.
    3. Using your right hand, gently pull your left elbow back behind you. 4. Hold for 30 seconds. Switch arms and repeat.


    Cardio-respiratory Endurance
    As a swimmer, it is vital to have a strong cardiovascular resperatory system. It is important because swimming is an areobic sport that requires high endurance for its training and competitions.

    In-Pool Training
    In-pool training is the most important type of training there is for a swimmer. While dry-land and strength training are both important, swimming is the most efficient way to get better at it.
  2. To start a cardiovascular training session, the first set is 20x25 freestyle on the 30 seconds. This means that the swimmer will swim 25 yards, 20 times leaving every thirty seconds. It is important to do sprint sets to help the athlete prepare for fast, short races that use a large amount of energy in a short amount of time.
  3. The second set, 10x200 freestyle on the 3 minutes, for longer endurance. This set is important because it strengthens the athletes cardiovascular system as well as muscles.
  4. Next, the swimmers will swim 8x100 IM (Individual Medley) on the 2 minutes and 20 seconds. The importance of this set to the swimmer is that it helps to train the swimmer for medley events, whether it is the individual medley or the relay. The order for the IM is butterfly, backstroke, breaststroke, and finally freestyle. It is also important to engrain it into the swimmer as not to do the incorrect stroke during a race and be disqualified.
  5. The next set is 5x500 leaving on the 6 minutes and 30 seconds. This is designed to push the athlete to swim hard, even when they are tired and have little energy, which is very important because competitions often come down to who has more endurance.
  6. The final set is 5x50, which is a spring set. For this set, the swimmer will not be on an interval, but rather be given a rest period. This period of rest will be 10 seconds after every 50. The reason the rest is so short is to raise the heart rate significantly, pushing the cardio-respiratory limit slightly farther than it started at.

Dry-Land Training

Dry-land training, coupled with in-pool training, is a key aspect to becoming a high level swimmer. Training out of the pool allows an athlete to train even when a pool is not available for use. Dry-land training is a great alternative to in-pool training for swimmers who suffer from swimmers ear or other ailments that prevent pool entry but do not limit activity.
  1. Long distance running will help the swimmer increase and maintain a high level heartrate over a longer period of time. Distance running can include running distances from 1 mile to 3 miles or higher, while decreasing the amount of time alotted to complete the run in every session.
  2. Running sprints is a great way to increase short bursts of energy. Sprints can range from 50 to 100 yards. These are not in an alotted time, but like the swim sprints, allowed a short rest, anywhere from 10 to 30 seconds rest.
  3. Stair running is a great way to increase cardio-respiratory limits because it includes short bursts of explosive movements for a long period of time, with an always constant amount of rest; coming back down the stairs to continue. Stair training time ranges from 2 minutes to 10 minutes.


Cool Down
The Cool Down is significant to a swimmer. The goal of a cool down is to promote recovery and return the body to its pre workout level. During a work out there are small micro tears within the muscle fibres. Theses micro tears lead to swelling which puts pressure on nerve endings. Resulting in pain. Also waste products build up within your body. Which prolongs the recovery process. For the cool down to be successful blood needs to continually circulate for 10 to 15 minutes. The cool down should consist of mild intensity excercises. Similar to the ones preformed in the workout. The cool down will remove waste products from the muscles. It will also bring oxygen and nutrients to the muscles in need of repair. The cool down , if done properly, will assist the body in the repairing process. Here is an example of a cool down for swimming.

4X100 on 2 min

Swim 100 yards freestyle under two minutes before begining the next repetition. The swimmer should be swimming with low intensisty and at a constant rate. Focusing on stretched out strokes. After completeing the first repetition repeat 3 more times to complete the set.

  1. Swim a 100 yards at a constant rate
  2. Take no more than 3 strokes before breathing. Due to that the cool down is supposed to replenish oxygen to the muscles.
  3. Do not rush through the set it needs to be done slowly.


2x200 on 4 min

Swim 200 yards freestyle under 4 minutes. But don't start the next repetition till the 4 minutes is up. Focus on stretched out strokes and controlled breathing. Then repeat.

  1. Swim 200 yards freestyle at a constant rate.
  2. Slow controlled breathing. No more than 3 strokes before breathing.
  3. Complete the set on time.