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Endurance Training For Swimmers: 8 Training Tips For Results

endurance training for swimmers

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Whether you are an open water-, competitive-, or recreational swimmer, endurance and stamina is an important aspect ensuring that you are able to train at peak levels all season and swim faster for longer periods of time.

endurance training for swimmers
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Think about it- what does it help you to get out in front of your competition during the first portion of your race and then to fall apart and struggle the rest of the way? That’s right, it helps nothing. And that’s why a good base of endurance is important when in competition and even training.

That said, you might think- well I’m focused on shorter events like 50m and 100m sprints for example. Well, guess what? You still need that swimming endurance in training. You may be able to do 2 or 3 fast 50’s or 100’s in training, but how about 8 or even 16? Would you be able to sustain that?

My point is- whether you are a distance swimmer that naturally requires endurance or a sprint swimmer that focuses on speed, you are going to require endurance to some degree or another, some swimmers probably more than others, but we all require it regardless.

That’s why in today’s article we’ll be taking an in-depth look into some advanced yet simple training tips that will help you to increase your swimming endurance and stamina in the pool and swim faster both in competition and in training.

Endurance training for swimmers: Follow these 8 tips for results.

Endurance training for swimmers- 8 tips:

  • Start slow and stay consistent
  • Perfect your swimming technique.
  • Increase distance per set and lower reps when swimming.
  • Swim on intervals for better endurance.
  • Use training equipment when swimming.
  • Incorporate dry-land and cross-training.
  • Complete endurance-specific swimming workouts.
  • Maximize recovery, nutrition, and sleep.

1. Start slow, stay consistent, and be patient.

I know this sounds simple and might not be what you want to here, but it’s an important part to understand before getting to more physical training tips because, in the end, it will all be for nothing if you give up halfway along your journey.

When embarking on accomplishing any goal, it is always a good idea to keep the bigger picture in mind. Building a solid base of swimming endurance is something that takes time and a lot of training.

So if you aren’t where you want to be in terms of swimming endurance right now, take a step back and think about the long term goal and how you are going to get there in the most effective manner possible. 

Start slowly and stay consistent with your training. Set weekly and monthly training goals like swimming X amount of distance this week and Y amount the next.

Rushing into things and doing too much too quickly will place you at a high likelihood of giving up and never getting to where you want to be. You’ll also be at higher risk for injury since your body won’t be used to training so much and won’t be able to effectively recover and sustain your training.

Maybe you are a beginner just starting out- learn good swimming technique and swim 1000m to 1500m per workout a few times a week. In a month’s time you’ll be able to do 1500m to 2000m per workout and so on. The same applies to more experienced swimmers who are also just looking to improve. 

Just remember, you may not see results in a week or a month, but give it 6 months and the progress will be clear. Think long term, work hard, and stay consistent, and you’ll reach your swimming endurance goals.

I found something I love and never gave up.

-Michael Phelps, greatest swimmer of all time.

2. Work on perfecting your swimming technique.

Nothing in swimming is as important as good technique. If you don’t have good technique first, you won’t be able to train effectively, and building swimming endurance effectively will be a much slower process since you’ll take longer to swim and will fatigue faster.

It is important not to get discouraged as swimming has many technical aspects and even many professional swimmers still work on improving their technique. Focus on the bigger technique aspects like your body position, kicking, hand placement, pulling, and so on.

Fortunately, developing basic swimming technique isn’t too hard, and the best part is that once you’ve got the basics down you’ll be able to work on it while doing your endurance swimming workouts, ultimately helping you to kill 2 birds with one stone.

I recommend doing some research- read up on swimming technique and watch videos. If you know someone that is an experienced swimmer ask them to help you. Incorporate some swimming drills, just doing 200m to 400m drills as part of your warmup can make a big difference in the long run.

If you are a distance swimmer, consider reading my article on perfecting your distance swimming technique in 7 steps. I’m sure you’ll find some useful information to improve your swimming technique or check out the swimming technique category for a bunch of more articles.

3. Increase the distance per set and use lower reps when swimming.

One of the most time-effective ways to improve your swimming endurance is not to do more swimming in total but to lower the reps and do more in a given set. This training technique will help you to maximize your time in the pool in order to build some good endurance.

As an example, instead of doing 20x50s, do 10x100s, and then 5x200s, and so on, until you are able to swim a 1000 without stopping. By doing this you are still swimming the same amount of distance, but you are taking away rest and swimming for longer without stopping, and in doing so you are increasing your swimming endurance.

4. Swim on intervals to improve your swimming endurance.

Interval training is another simple, yet effective training technique used by the majority of swimmers out there. It has many different ways you can apply it and can serve as a great tool for improving both your swimming speed and endurance, as well as your aerobic and anaerobic systems which will help you to build strength and endurance in the water.

clock for swimming intervals

As mentioned, there are many ways interval training can be applied into your workouts-

One way is to decrease the intervals for a specific swim set. So say, you were doing 10x100s on 2 minutes, you could then lower it to 1:45 and once you as you get comfortable with that pace lower it to 1:40, then 1:35, 1:30, etc.

If you were basing your intervals on resting times, you can also consider lowering your rest between reps, say from 30 seconds to 25 seconds, to 20 seconds.

The final way you can increase your endurance and speed using interval training is by keeping the same intervals, but increasing your swimming intensity. For example, keep swimming 10x100s on 2 minutes but aim to come in on 1:30 for each one, and then on 1:25 for each one in a month’s time.

5. Use training equipment in your swimming workouts.

The usage of training equipment in the pool can help you reach certain goals faster and can also improve your swimming technique in various ways by zoning in on a specific part of your stroke.

The most used swimming equipment includes fins, paddles, pull-buoys, kick-boards, snorkels, and tempo trainers or pool-side clocks, which all usually get bundled into our colorful swimming bags.

Let’s have a quick look at how you can use these various pieces of swimming equipment to improve your endurance in the water-

Fins: Can be used to strengthen your kick and improve ankle flexibility. It helps you to cover more distance in a shorter amount of time. Work on training at high speeds, otherwise not possible. Combine with a kickboard to create fun kicking sets. (See my article on the best fins for training)

>Check out my favorite pair, the Arena Powerfin Pro, on SwimOutlet by clicking here.

Paddles: Helps you to pull more water at once, ultimately improving your pull and increasing arm strength. It can improve your feel for the water allowing you to work on pulling technique to find the most propulsive pulling position for you.

>Check out my favorite set of paddles, the TYR Catalyst paddles, on SwimOutlet by clicking here.

Pull-buoys: Helps you to zone in on the upper-body portion of your stroke to improve strength and pulling technique. You can combine it with paddles to create pulling sets. 

>Check out my favorite pull-buoy, the Speedo Team pull-buoy, on SwimOutlet by clicking here.

Kick-boards: In contrast to the pull-buoy, it helps you to focus on the lower body portion of your stroke to improve leg strength and kicking technique. As mentioned, you can combine it with your fins to create kicking sets.

>Check out my favorite kick-board, the Arena Kickboard, on SwimOutlet by clicking here.

Snorkels: Helps you to improve your head position in the water and focus on stroke technique without having to worry about breathing. It can also be used to improve breathing patterns and lung capacity. (See my article on the best breathing exercises for swimmers for more information).

>Check out my favorite snorkel, the Finis Swimmer’s Snorkel, on SwimOutlet by clicking here.

Tempo-trainers or pool clocks: Required for interval training sets and to get accurate rest in between your sets. A very useful tool that all swimmers should have. Luckily, most pools already have a clock on pool-deck. 

>Check out the best tempo-trainer, the Finis Tempo Trainer Pro, on SwimOutlet by clicking here or consider a swimming watch, I recommend the Garmin Swim 2, it is by far the most accurate swimming watch. Check it out on Amazon by clicking here.

6. Incorporate dry-land or cross-training workouts to improve swimming endurance.

Personally, dry-land training and spending time in the gym has helped me tremendously to become a better and faster swimmer. Doing dry-land workouts help you to develop a more powerful stroke and increase propulsion in the water by strengthening important muscle groups like your back, legs, core, and chest. 

cross training for swimmers

Strengthening these muscles will also help you to swim longer without fatiguing and will prevent injuries by strengthening areas that get overused when swimming such the shoulders and back muscles.

Combining swimming and cross-training is a good way to improve endurance and strength outside of the water as well as a serving as a form of active recovery on days where you don’t swim or need to take a break from the pool.

I recommend keeping the majority of your dry-land training focused on the strength aspect of things as swimming already trains your cardiovascular system a lot. But feel free to throw in a cardio workout like running, cycling, skipping, or high-intensity interval training here and there.

For more information about dry-land training for swimmers consider checking out these articles on my site-

7. Utilize endurance training swimming workouts in the pool: 3 examples-

As we’ve been discussing, there are many ways you can change up your swimming workouts to focus on endurance, but one of the most effective ways is to simply complete swimming workouts geared toward endurance, here are a few examples that you can try or adjust to suit you-

Workout 1- Beginner

  • Warm-up: 200 easy swim; 4x50s drills (10 seconds rest between)
  • Main-set: 1×100; 1×200; 1×300; 1×400; 1×500 (all free, 30 seconds rest between)
  • Cool-down: 100 easy choice

Total: 2000 meters/yards

Workout 2- Intermediate/Advanced

  • Warm-up: 5x200s choice (20 seconds rest between)
  • Main-set: 500 steady; 100 fast; 400 steady; 100 fast; 300 steady; 100 fast; 200 steady; 100 fast; 100 easy; 100 fast (all freestyle, 45 seconds rest between)
  • Kick-set: 5×100 kick w/board and fins (20 seconds rest between)
  • Cooldown: 12×50 drill/swim choice; 200 easy (5-10 seconds rest between)

Total: 4300 meters/yards

Workout 3- Advanced

  • Warm-up: 800 choice (swim, kick, drill, swim by 200)
  • Main-set: 10x400s w/fins (on 5:30)
  • Kick-set: 5x100s kick w/board (15 seconds rest)
  • Cool-down: 500 choice swim

Total: 5800 meters/yards

Related: 12 Awesome swimming endurance workouts for all levels

8. Optimize your recovery and increase your progress outside of training.

As important as training is, there are other things that you could and should be doing outside of it to ensure optimal progress and performance in the pool and gym. In the long run, this can make a massive difference in your progress by ensuring that you’re always ready to train hard.

stretching for recovery and warmup

The first thing you should be doing is taking a look at your nutrition. Are you eating enough? Are you eating healthy? Are you eating at the right times? Are you getting in the right micro-nutrients to sustain proper performance and recovery? These are all things to consider. 

Check out these articles to make sure your nutrition is correct-

Next, you want to make sure that you are staying flexible and mobile. Do things like foam rolling, as well as static- and dynamic stretching. 

A study published by the Journal Of Athletic Training [1] found that foam rolling was able to effectively decrease muscle soreness and rate of recovery after workouts, while a meta-analysis conducted by the American College Of Sports Medicine [2] found that dynamic stretching was able to improve physical performance when performed pre-workout. This included speed, agility, power, and strength, as well as endurance.

The last thing you want to make sure of outside of the water is your sleep. I can not stress how important this is for your recovery and performance in the pool. Aim to get around 7 to 8 hours of sleep every night for good recovery. During hard training periods, you may need up to 9-10 hours of sleep every night.

Conclusion

Endurance is an important part of being a good swimmer- whether you are a competitive sprint swimmer or long-distance pool or open water swimmer. Developing a decent base of swimming endurance can do wonders for your performance and will help you in many ways as discussed earlier.

With that said, I hope you found these training tips helpful and that you’ll incorporate them into your training so that you can build a solid base of endurance. If you liked this article consider checking out my blog for many more that you may find useful in becoming a better swimmer. Anyway, guess I’ll see you there!

More related swimming articles-

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About the author

Benjamin

Benjamin

I am Benjamin, a competitive swimmer with many years of experience in the sport of swimming. I am very passionate about competitive swimming and love sharing everything I have learned about the sport. I specialize in swimming butterfly and my favorite event is the 100m butterfly with the 50m and 200m fly closely following.

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