These are something everybody should do to “test” their progress in training. Throughout the swim seasons we had various test sets that were great motivators. I suggest finding a handful that you will push yourself on and repeat the test set on a weekly, bi-weekly, monthly, or even seasonal basis. The first time through will serve as a baseline for comparison for the subsequent repeats. Treat these sets like you would your weight on a scale…do NOT get discouraged if you don’t improve week to week. Track your progress over a longer period of time to see the true results.
Here are some examples of a test set that could be included as a portion of a larger workout. Keep track mentally or by writing down your times.
100, 200, 500, 1000, or 1500 yards. Give yourself a good warm-up and really see how fast you can go for any of these distances. These can be done on a weekly or bi-weekly basis.
Touch and go 100’s
5 x 100’s @ 1:30 (or the fastest pace you can hold for those 5 x 100’s…you should be “touch and go”). When your pace is no longer challenging pick it up by dropping 3-5 seconds per 100.
30 minutes straight count your lengths. I only suggest doing this on a seasonal basis. Figure out what pace you did the 30 minute swim in and this can be your base pace …for example if you did 80 lengths (25 yards) over 30 minutes then your base pace is 1:30/100 yards. This set can be done on a monthly or seasonal basis.
50’s to failure
Start out with 5 x 50’s on a pace that you are barely able to make. If you come close to the pace you picked but couldn’t finish each 50 yards in that given time try that pace the next time. If your pace was either too fast or slow adjust accordingly so that the pace is challenging but doable. Once you have found the best pace keep adding an extra 50 each time you complete this test set.
There are so many different test sets out there…get creative and make up some of your own. I’ve given you a handful to add to your swim workout routine. There are literally hundreds of details that go into swimming fast and it can get overwhelming at times when you actually consider all of the little tweaks and modifications a swimmer makes to their stroke, training and race strategy. The details are extremely important, but in the “big picture” I see a few key elements to swimming fast. First is actually getting wet and swimming. This is followed by the fundamentals of proper stroke that are taught by swim coaches and now apparently there are plenty of videos on the internet. Next is consistency in the water with a variety of training sessions with different focuses like technique, distance, strength, etc. Lastly, in order to swim fast you must….swim fast! This sounds silly but I’ve run into so many people who don’t add speed into their workouts. Throw one or two test sets into your swim routine and really push yourself on them. Let me know how fast your are next season :0)