Challenge Workouts for Advanced Swimmers - Blythe Lucero - ebook

Challenge Workouts for Advanced Swimmers ebook

Blythe Lucero



The third book in the series, called "Challenge Workouts for Advanced Swimmers", contains 100 advanced level workouts that focus on speed and yardage, with specific workouts for freestyle, individual medley, sprint and distance swimming. The workouts in this book use pace work, descending and building sets, and goal swims, that total up to 6,000 yards/meters. Each workout is accompanied by a "Personal Challenge" to meet advanced training goals through controlled exertion, and improved pace and recovery time.

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To Lorna Anderson

who believed in me, and my swimming.



by Blythe Lucero

Meyer & Meyer Sport

British Library Cataloguing in Publication Data

A catalogue record for this book is available from the British Library

Challenge Workouts for Advanced Swimmers

Maidenhead: Meyer & Meyer Sport (UK) Ltd., 2010

ISBN 978-1-84126-989-4

All rights reserved, especially the right to copy and distribute, including the translation rights. No part of this work may be reproduced—including by photocopy, microfilm or any other means—processed, stored electronically, copied or distributed in any form whatsoever without the written permission of the publisher.

© 2010 by Meyer & Meyer Sport (UK) Ltd.

Aachen, Adelaide, Auckland, Budapest, Cape Town, Graz, Indianapolis, Maidenhead, Olten (CH), Singapore, Toronto

Member of the World

Sport Publishers’ Association (WSPA)

Printed by: B.O.S.S Druck und Medien GmbH

ISBN: 978-1-84126-293-2

E-Mail: [email protected]




What is an Advanced Swimmer?

Are these Workouts for You?

Swim Level Test

Scoring the Test


The Training Needs of Developed Athletes

Begin with Self-Knowledge

Self-Awareness Exercise

Taking the Challenge

Goal Affirmation

Positive Self-Talk

Focusing on the Task at Hand

Controlling and Adapting

Visualizing Optimal Performance




Workout Shorthand

Workout Presentation

Drills with a Purpose


Base/Freestyle Workouts

I.M./Stroke Specialty Workouts

Sprint Workouts

Distance Workouts




I remember one Saturday afternoon, when I was 15, my best friend Zonnie invited me to go to Recreational Swim at the pool. The pool was a familiar place to us. It was where we spent an important part of our day, six days a week, as members of the swim team. We were both developed swimmers with dreams of becoming the best. Zonnie was a gifted sprinter. I was the distance swimmer and a true workout monster.

Dedicated to our training routine, we were motivated by the swimmers we had become. Our desire and determination to be great had led us to develop the workout capacity that others envied. We had full body strength that enabled uncanny speed on demand. We had refined swimming technique that allowed thousands of repetitive motions without failure. Being a swimmer was central to our identity. Looking back, we possessed amazing confidence.

So, that Saturday, on a rare weekend that there was no swim meet, Zonnie and I went to the place we knew best. I had never been to Recreational Swim, but if it meant being at the pool, I was ready. Upon arrival, Zonnie immediately went to talk to one of the lifeguards she had a crush on. I sat down on the edge of the pool where I usually did before workout, ready to lead Lane 3. It was rare to see the pool without lane lines, and with dozens of kids splashing through the water in all directions. The air was full of the exuberant squeals and balls flying between friends.

I put my cap on, hopped in the pool and immediately began stroking, as I did every time I got in, to warm up for workout. Within four strokes, I stopped suddenly to avoid a young boy bobbing up and down towards his encouraging father. I cleared my goggles and began swimming again. I hadn’t made it ten yards before I swerved to avoid two teenagers playing tag across my path. I stood up again and looked around me. There was no swimming going on at all! People were playing.

At that moment it occurred to me, as I observed the erratic though joyful goings on in the pool, that I had forgotten how to play in the water. Feeling awkward, I proceeded forward doing heads up breaststroke, to prevent any further close encounters, toward the far side of the pool. As I moved at quarter speed, I felt a strange sort of loss. I wondered how, and when, without my awareness, my transformation into a swimming machine had happened.

For quite a while after that Saturday Recreational Swim, I thought about those people playing at the pool, and how I had found myself feeling like a fish out of water in that situation. It bothered me that I could feel so out of my element, in my element. I remember asking myself as I conquered yard after yard, day after day, if being a high level competitive swimmer came at the expense of having fun in the water.

One day, during a high-volume training phase, in preparation for our Winter Championship, the swimmers in my lane were coming into the wall on their final effort in a set of 10 x 200 on a ridiculous interval. I looked around at my teammates who were as red faced and spent as I was. They were smiling, congratulating each other, and exuding pride in their accomplishment. Zonnie was the last to touch the wall. Without missing a heart beat, she cracked a joke about what bringing up the rear did for a sprinter’s pride, and a hoot of community laughter filled the air.

Then it all made sense. I was having fun in the pool! I realized that day, that as a developed swimmer, my relationship with the water was different than most other people. To swimmers like me, it is fun to swim hard. It is fun to train for hours on end. Ultimately, I realized that day that I fuel my motivation, and kindle my drive with challenge because it is fun to be a fast swimmer.

This is the third in a three-book series, called “Coach Blythe’s Swim Workouts.” This book contains challenging workouts for advanced-level training. The first book in the series contains technique-based workouts, designed to help swimmers improve swimming efficiency by focusing on swimming mechanics. The second book contains conditioning workouts, designed to build swimming capacity and versatility. Swimmers may use the material in this book to train for competitive swimming or triathlon on their own, when their coach is not present. These books can also be useful to coaches looking for workout content to use in the training programs they design for their swimmers.

Without the intent of discouraging anyone taking up the wonderful sport of swimming, this book is neither a Learn to Swim manual, nor a Swimming Technique guide. Users of this book are expected to have the ability to move safely through the water, have a solid understanding, both in theory and practice of swimming mechanics, and, have the fitness development to perform these workouts at a certain speed and rate. On page 12, a test is included to evaluate if these workouts are appropriate for you. Always consult a doctor before beginning a fitness routine such as this.

The 100 workouts in this book provide challenging physical and mental workout content for advanced swimmers who have the fitness, maturity, motivation and guts to dedicate to their swimming. The workouts range from 4,000 to 6,000 yards/meters. Specific workouts are included for Base/Freestyle, IM/Stroke Specialty, Sprint, and Distance Swimming. Each workout is designed as a balanced practice session unto itself, but also as a part of a long-term program of training.

So, if you are up for the challenge ... Ready, go!


What is An Advanced Swimmer?

The workouts and challenges in this book are geared for advanced swimmers. An advanced swimmer can be defined as a swimmer with well developed stroke mechanics, swimming endurance and power. The combination of these elements enables the swimmer to be energy efficient, and use less effort to get across the pool, so more energy remains to swim farther and faster. Efficiency gives a swimmer more training capacity, and more potential for speed.

Advanced swimmers move through the water with less drag; they access more available power; they feel the water better because they have well developed swimming technique. Solid technique is essential essential when doing a high volume training, as the repetitive nature of swimming makes even a small stroke flaw a source of potential injury when it is repeated over and over. Further, advanced swimmers are able to keep going without much decline in quality or speed. The endurance necessary to accomplish high volume workouts, also allows the swimmer to hold a pace. It is also a factor in the swimmer’s rate of recovery between sets or repeats. Finally, advanced swimmers have the ability to apply force. This developed strength, or power, gives the advanced swimmer the ability to swim with intensity, and change speeds on demand. Together with well developed stroke mechanics and endurance, power enables the advanced swimmer to swim fast.

Are These Workouts For You?

The benefit from these workouts, is not just in completing them, but in maintaining quality and efficiency throughout each practice session. The level of swimming asked for in these workouts requires well developed technique, endurance and power that enables the athlete to use a base interval of 1:30 for 100 yards/meters freestyle. This interval includes swim time and rest time of at least 15 seconds, that can be maintained for a series of 10 x 100. This rate of 3,000 yards/meters per hour, includes breaks between sets, as well as rests within sets. If the breaks and rests that are designed into each workout are skipped or shortened, in order to keep up, the swimmer will be constantly swimming in a state of fatigue, losing quality, efficiency and speed. Working out in a constant state of fatigue only trains a swimmer to swim slowly for a long time. This is not the goal of this workout collection. Therefore, swimming quality, fitness level and rate of speed should be evaluated carefully before doing these workouts.

Swim Level Test

The following test will be helpful in determining if these workouts are appropriate for you. If you are not sure of an answer, rather than guess, swim what is asked in the questions, and find out.

Scoring the Test

If all of your answers are in Column 4:

These workouts are appropriate for you. Proceed to the next section, which describes the philosophy behind theses workouts. If you are a swimmer whose answers could have fallen into Column 5, meaning you have more endurance, technique and speed than is required, don’t dismiss these workouts as too easy. Remember, these workouts are an exercise in personal challenge, not represented only by yard-age or interval.

If all of your answers are in Column 3:

These workouts will be hard for you. Before deciding to do these workouts, you should spend time making sure your swimming technique is sound, so shoulder problems do not come up again. You should also ask yourself if you are ready to lower your interval on 100s and 200s, as it will be required.

If all of your answers are in Column 1 or 2:

These workouts are not appropriate for you. Consider the other two books in this series, “Technique Swim Workouts” or “Shape Up” workouts. Both books contain excellent workouts which will help you improve your technique, endurance and speed.

If your answers fall under multiple columns:

Assuming no answers are in Column 1, add the point value above the column of each answer you circled. Total your score and use the following guidelines to see if these workouts are for you:

Score over 23


Score of 17 – 22

No. Try “Shape Up” Workouts (2nd book of this series)

Score under 17

No. Try “Technique Swim Workouts” (1st book of this series)


The Training Needs of Developed Athletes

Equipped with superior endurance, refined technique and awesome strength, the workout capacity of developed swimmers is quite extraordinary. This high level of fitness is the result of a lot of time in the water. Its cumulative effect allows these athletes the to train frequently, for long periods of time, at a high rate of speed. There are, however, two unexpected consequences of training with this level of swimming fitness.


Swimmers can become so fit that workouts do not phase them. Known as “the more you do, the more you have to do” syndrome, there is a danger of overtraining that can lead to fatigue rather than improvement.