When I returned to the water after a lengthy absence, I was excited just to be in the pool again. Swimming laps was satisfying as I worked to regain my strength, but after a few weeks, I found myself feeling bored with the challenge of increasing just my distance and I yearned for something more challenging.
I’d spent years in the pool doing drills (and grumbling about my various coaches’ expectations), and, as I tried to figure out how to construct my own workout, I quickly realized that I’d taken my workouts (and my coaches’ skills) for granted. I was fortunate in that I swim in a community pool that the Master’s team uses, and, as a result, I was able to pick the brains of the swimmers who showed up for mid-day practices. They directed me to their club’s website where coaches keep a Swim Practice Vault of all the current season’s workouts.
These workouts were more than a bit beyond my ability, but I was able to modify them to meet my needs and provide me with a challenge.
After a little more research, I discovered The Random Swimming Workout Generator. This site asks for swimmer specific information regarding current times, desired focus and workout level, and time available, then generates a personalized workout with explanations and helpful hints.
The only drawback to this and the Swim Practice Vault was that I had to find a way to bring the workout sheets to the pool and keep them dry. For a while, I tucked the workouts in sealed sandwich bags, but they weren’t waterproof and after a few workouts disintegrated in the bags, I knew I had to find another solution.
The solution came in the form of Sheila Taormina’s Swim Speed Workouts. Taormina’s 16-week training program comes printed on waterproof cards and includes sets of cards that demonstrate all of the stroke and tubing drills she incorporates into the workout and provides a set of Took Kit cards that clearly explain all of the terms she uses (i.e. build, negative split, and descend).
What I’ve loved about this set of workouts is that once wet, not only do they stick to a propped up kickboard making it easy to read and follow the workout, but they are also geared toward multiple levels because Taormina provides options for longer and shorter workouts with adaptations for varying speeds. I also like the fact that each workout begins with a description of its purpose, which makes it easy to choose the skills I want to work on in any given workout.
I also appreciate the fact that Taormina breaks down the workouts into three workouts per week that hover around the 2,000 yard mark and then includes an additional workout (called a “She-Ra” after her college swimming nickname) that is more training oriented than technique focused and is also substantially longer (around 4,000 yards). The cards can be easily arranged and rearranged to meet different swimmers’ needs, and after more than a year of use, mine still look brand new.
No matter what level you’re at, with a little research and a few resources you can create a workout that meets your needs! And while it will take some time and effort to create a suitable workout for yourself, seeing the results will make it all worthwhile!