Having a solid foundation of swimming endurance is an important part of becoming a good swimmer. Swimming endurance and stamina is essential for maintaining a high level of fitness and performing well on long and hard training sets.
And yes, even if you’re purely a sprint swimmer you still require a decent level of swimming endurance.
In today’s article, we will be covering 12 awesome swimming endurance workouts for swimmers as well as some other tips and techniques to increase your swimming endurance and become a better swimmer.
Building up a good level of swimming endurance can be highly beneficial for all swimmers. Whether you’re a competitive swimmer, open water swimmer or just a recreational swimmer. You will benefit from having higher levels of swim endurance, you will be able to swim faster, longer, and further.
But before we start, let’s have a look at 3 reasons why swimming endurance is important for swimmers-
3 Reasons Why Swimming Endurance Is Essential for Swimmers
1. Improved Cardiovascular Fitness: Higher Blood Oxygen Levels
Your heart is a muscle. When you train to increase your swimming endurance you are also improving your overall cardiovascular fitness levels. And when your cardiovascular fitness increases your heart and lungs also become stronger and more efficient.
Now that your heart and lungs have become stronger, they will be able to supply your body with more oxygen-rich blood. That blood will then circulate through your muscles to provide them with more oxygen and nutrients than before.
This increase in oxygen and nutrients to muscle tissue will also lead to an improvement in performance. Your muscles will now be able to work harder for longer amounts of time. This can help you to swim faster over the course of a race, whether it may be a long-distance swim or even a short sprint.
You can also increase your cardiovascular fitness in other ways like cross-training for example.
2. Faster Recovery During Hard Swim Training
Adding a swimming endurance workout to your training schedule in a hard week of swim practice can actually increase your rate of recovery. It will help to remove some of the by-products of an intense workout that you might have done earlier. For example a hard sprint set or dry-land workout.
This will help to flush out lactic acid, loosen up your muscles, and decrease muscle soreness if any is present. You, however, have to be careful with the type of swimming endurance workout you incorporate. You want to preferably do a lighter more relaxed swimming endurance workout instead of a more intense interval endurance swim workout.
3. Increased Swimming Speed for Longer Durations
This ties in with my first point. If you have higher amounts of oxygen reaching the muscle tissues due to increased fitness from swimming endurance workouts, you will be able to perform better for longer durations of time.
When you are in a race, hard swim set or just trying to push your limits, your muscles will require increased levels of oxygen and nutrients to produce energy.
Now your body will be able to supply a higher rate of oxygen and nutrients to mitochondria cells in muscles, which will ultimately produce the required energy. The mitochondria cells will be able to produce more energy over the course of a race and will ultimately help you to exert more power for longer durations of time, allowing you to swim faster.
Now that we have covered the basics let’s have a look at some awesome swimming endurance workouts. Here is a basic overview of all of the different workouts we will be covering-
- 3 Swimming endurance workouts for beginners. (Building up and improving base-level fitness).
- 2 Good endurance swim workouts. (Just for fun).
- 2 swimming endurance workouts for recovery. (Like we discussed earlier).
- 5 interval swimming endurance workouts (challenging, for intermediate and advanced swimmers).
3 Swimming Endurance Workouts for Beginners
Swimming Endurance Workout 1- Total: 2500
- Warmup: 300 easy swim, 4×50’s freestyle (breathing every 3, 5, 7, 9 by 50), 100 choice drills.
- Pre-set: 8×50’s IM order (15 seconds rest).
- Main set: 2 Rounds- 5×100’s freestyle breathing every 5 strokes (20 seconds rest).
- Cooldown: 500 easy alternating backstroke and freestyle swimming.
Endurance Swim Workout 2- Total: 2650
- Warmup: 400 easy swim, 5×50’s choice drills (any stroke with 10 seconds rest between 50s).
- Pre-set: 10×50’s freestyle (breathing every 3, 5, 7, 9, 11 strokes by 50, 10 seconds rest).
- Main set: 3 Rounds, 2×200’s freestyle descend (Meaning go faster each 50, 30 seconds rest after each 200, 1-minute rest between rounds).
- Cooldown: 300 easy backstroke swim.
Swimming Endurance Workout 3- Total: 2800
- Warmup: 400 easy swim, 200 IM order choice drills, 4×50’s freestyle breathing every 5 strokes.
- Pre-set: 4×100’s choice stroke (medium pace swimming with 15 seconds rest).
- Main set: 3×400’s freestyle (1 minute 30 seconds rest), 400s consist of- a 100 freestyle choice drills, 200 medium pace swimming, last 100 max sprint.
- Post-set: 8x25s underwater /w fins. (Rest as long as you need).
- Cooldown: 200 easy backstroke swim.
2 Good Endurance Swim Workouts for Fun
Endurance Swim Workout 4- Total: 2500
- Warmup: 500 easy choice swim.
- Pre-set: 5×50s freestyle on 0:45, 5×50s freestyle breathing every 9 strokes (15-20 seconds rest).
- Main set: 2 Rounds- 6×100s freestyle descending by 100 (Meaning going faster each 100), 30 seconds rest in between 100s.
- Cooldown: 300 easy choice swim.
Swimming Endurance Workout 5- Total: 3000
- Warmup: 300 easy swim, 4×50’s freestyle choice drill, 100 backstroke swim.
- Pre-set: 8×50’s IM Order (20 seconds rest).
- Main Set: 25 Butterfly, 50 backstroke, 75 breaststroke, 100 freestyle, 125 butterfly (3,3,3 drill allowed), 150 backstroke, 175 breaststroke, 200 freestyle, 175 breaststroke, 150 backstroke, 125 butterfly (3,3,3 drill allowed), 100 freestyle, 75 breaststroke, 50 backstroke, 25 butterfly. (5 seconds rest in between at medium pace).
- Cool-down: 400 easy choice swim.
2 Swimming Endurance Workouts for Recovery
Endurance Swim Workout 6- Total: 3000
- Warmup: 500 easy freestyle swim, 200 choice drills.
- Mainset: 20×100’s alternating 100 backstroke swim, 100 choice kick with board (30 seconds rest).
- Cooldown: 300 easy freestyle swim.
Swimming Endurance Workout 7- Total: 3000
- Warmup: 300 easy freestyle, 6×50’s easy freestyle drills (20 seconds rest).
- Main set: 8×50’s backstroke (15 seconds rest), 8×100’s freestyle with fins (20 seconds rest), ×50’s choice kicking with a kickboard (10 seconds rest).
- Cooldown: 800 easy freestyle and backstroke (alternate by 50 or 100).
A Cheat Sheet for Creating the Perfect Swimming Workout and Routine
Download this FREE cheat sheet to create the perfect swimming workout and routine. Learn how to structure your swim workout and enjoy 9 example workouts, ranging from beginner to advanced.
5 Interval Swimming Endurance Workouts
Endurance Swim Workout 8- Total: 4100
- Warmup: 400 easy choice alternating swim and kick by 50.
- Pre-set: 6×50’s choice drills (10 seconds rest), 6×50’s freestyle breathing every 7 strokes (15 seconds rest).
- Main set: 4×200’s freestyle on 3:00 (You can go faster or slower depending on your fitness level, but choose a consistent send-off and stick with it, redo the sets and try to improve over time), 8×100’s IM order on 2:30.
- Post-set: 20×50’s freestyle on 0:45 (go slower or faster if you must, but stay consistent).
- Cooldown: 500 easy freestyle.
Swimming Endurance Workout 9- Total: 4400
- Warmup: 600 easy freestyle.
- Pre-set: 200 Choice drills, 400 freestyle breathing every 3, 5, 7, 9 by 100.
- Main set: 5 Rounds- 5×100’s freestyle on 1:15 with fins and paddles (go faster or slower if you must, but stay consistent with your intervals).
- Post-set: 8×50’s backstroke on 1:00.
- Cooldown: 300 easy choice swimming.
Endurance Swim Workout 10- Total: 4650 (Sprint Set Combo)
- Warmup: 500 easy freestyle swim.
- Pre-set: 16×50’s IM order on 1:00.
- Main set: 3 Rounds- 200 freestyle on 3:00, 3×100’s freestyle on 1:45 breathing every 5 strokes, 100 easy backstroke (15 seconds rest), 4×50’s IM order on 1:00 (focus on technique), 50 main stroke max sprint, 2 minutes rest then start next round.
- 8×50’s freestyle kicking with a kickboard and fins (10 seconds rest).
- Cooldown: 400 easy backstroke.
Swimming Endurance Workout 11- Total: 6500
- Warmup: 200 choice swim.
- Main set: 60x100s freestyle on 1:30/ 1:45. (any 10 can be with fins, and then another 10 with paddles, you choose when you want to use your equipment).
- Cooldown: 300 easy backstroke.
Swimming Endurance Workout 12- Total: 4800
- Warmup: 300 easy choice swim.
- Main set: 5x800s IM order swimming, 1-minute rest between, (sprint your main stroke).
- Cooldown: 500 easy kicking with a board.
Now that we have covered all of those awesome swimming endurance workouts. I am going to be answering some simple topics that you might be interested in knowing the answers to and that could possibly benefit your swimming endurance.
Endurance Swimming Technique
If you want to go heavily into open-water or distance swimming, there are certain types of freestyle technique to use, but I’m not going to be covering them in this article. I’m rather going to give you some general swimming technique tips that will ultimately help you to reduce resistance and save energy, helping you to swim for longer without getting tired.
Here are a few technique tips for endurance swimming and good swim technique in general-
1. Use a Neutral Head Position
Many swimmers look forward, instead of down while swimming. This can cause your legs and hips to drop, ultimately increasing drag. It can also put a strain on your neck.
2. Press Your Chest Out Lightly While Swimming
This will naturally lift your legs and hips and create a good body position in the water. Ultimately, drag will be reduced and you will preserve valuable energy.
3. Stretch and Reach at the Front of Your Freestyle Stroke
This will allow your body to tilt slightly sideways instead of being flat in the water, allowing larger muscle groups like the lats and back to be activated.
4. Focus on Breathing Out While Your Head Is Underwater
When you are taking a breath there won’t be enough time to exhale and inhale effectively. Make sure to empty your lungs before taking a breath, that way you will be able to inhale more oxygen.
5. Maintain a Good Hand Position
Keep your hand flat and parallel to the water surface with your palm facing down to avoid creating resistance or breaking your body position.
Related: Long distance swimming technique.
How to Build Endurance for Swimming on Land
Many swimmers might want to work on becoming better, faster and fitter away from the pool. You can do this by building endurance for swimming on land or in other words- ‘dry-land training’.
Dryland training has many different forms and functions, you may do it to increase strength, explosive power, or in our case endurance/ cardiovascular fitness. There are a few good ways to build some additional endurance on land to supplement your swim training.
Running is one of the most basic and easiest ways to build up a good base of cardiovascular fitness, which will ultimately increase your swimming endurance in the pool.
Start by running a mile or two a few times a week and increase the distance from there to become fitter. Before going for a run make sure to warm up properly and do some dynamic stretching to avoid getting injured.
Another good way to increase your cardiovascular fitness and ultimately your swimming endurance is by cycling. Cycling is a really good way to build up cardiovascular fitness and it’s quite enjoyable.
Cycling doesn’t place a lot of strain on your body and you will easily be able to cycle a few miles per day. If you want a bit more of a challenge you can do some off-road cycling. Once, again make sure to warm up and stretch properly before starting to avoid injury.
3. Skipping Rope
Many elite swimmers, athletes, and boxers like to use rope skipping to increase their cardiovascular fitness levels. Skipping rope can also increase reaction time and agility.
You don’t need to do a lot of skipping each day since it is a highly intensive activity. Most beginners won’t be able to skip for 2 minutes without getting really tired or tripping over the rope. All in all, I highly recommend skipping to increase your swimming endurance.
Related: Dryland cardio workouts for swimmers.
How to Increase Swimming Endurance in a Lap Pool
All of the workouts in this article are designed to increase swimming endurance in a lap pool. You can use a yard or meter pool to complete the workouts. I recommend you start by learning the basic technique for all 4 swim strokes. (Butterfly, backstroke, breaststroke, and freestyle).
Complete each workout and re-swim it until you are comfortable enough and ready to move on to the next workout. This will allow you to build a base level of fitness and ultimately increase your swimming endurance over time.
Also, don’t feel afraid to make the workouts harder by adding more rounds or decreasing the given intervals.
Improve Your Swimming Endurance to Swim Faster
Swimming endurance is an important aspect of becoming a good swimmer. It will improve your cardiovascular fitness, which will allow for a stronger heart and lungs. It can be used as a way to increase recovery during hard training weeks, and ultimately it will help you to swim faster for longer.
You can do each swimming endurance workout a few times until you are comfortable and ready to progress to the next workout.
If you are a complete newbie, I recommend you start by learning the basic swimming technique for each stroke first and then slowly increase your baseline of fitness until you can complete the beginner swimming endurance workouts. And then you can work from there.