Guest Blogger Swim Workout From Joe

A few weeks ago I invited my fellow swimmers to send workouts to be posted as Guest Bloggers here.  Luckily someone step forward and his name is Joe not Joel.  Here is his workout -

HI!  My name is Joe Denton, I am a 41 year old swimmer in Seattle Washington.  I've been swimming competitively since I was 11 (with an 8 year break in the middle somewhere) and find the pleasure to be worth the sacrifice.  I swim with a  few local master's teams in the Seattle area and also on my own due to scheduling conflicts.  Because of that, I end up writing a lot of my own workouts which is something I've recently discovered I really enjoy.  I end up reading a lot about the training techniques that are being developed and in my free time watch training videos on YouTube and other sites. My workouts tend to focus on stroke as I am primarily and IM'er, but I also do a fair amount of distance free training as I swim a few open water distance events as well (but those workouts tend to be in the spring/summer). 

Hope you enjoy this little workout I did a few days ago.  My focus currently is 'back to basics', so a lot of work on kick and drill...  I've included as much detail in the workout below as I could to help you understand the intent...


















swim, free





kick HARD





ez kick (no board)






IM Drill

15 sec




stroke build to 'sprint'





ez kick (no board)




8-10 dolphins off each wall









So, the workout above (in case you can’t tell) is designed to show the number of times through a set (first column), the number of reps, the distance, the details of the set, the interval and the distance (and then total yardage at the end). 

Intervals can be changed to suit the swimmer, but the ‘general’ rule is that it should be 10-15 seconds for the typical set and more rest (1+ minutes) for sets that are SPRINT (none of those above). 

I have a few standard warm-ups and you’ll see one of them above – I like a nice long one – you can modify if you like. I try to put in between 4-5k per workout, I don’t like to swim longer than an hour and a half…

The set above: 

The first main set is meant to focus on the KICK aspect of the set.  The swim should be good effort but the kick should be hard.  For this set, the kick is either flutter kick (stomach or back) or dolphin kick.  The send off is a bit shorter than a typical ‘hard’ set as the 150 is your ‘recovery’ (but still a solid effort)

For the second main set, the focus is on the DRILL aspect.  Drills are as follows: 

fly –3/3/3  (three strokes right, three strokes left, three full strokes)

back – 10 kicks per arm

breast – 1 pull 2 kicks

free – finger tip drag.

Clearly these can be modified (but I’m right)  J

Drills explained:

Fly – the 3/3/3 drill helps you focus on your dolphin kick while you get one arm around at a time – let’s face it, a much easier method of doing fly.  Focus on the dolphin kick and make sure your hips are up and you’re getting two kicks per stroke.  If you find it difficult, change it to 3/3/2.  IF you opt to do fly on the 50s, remember to get your kicks in and keep your hips up.  Switching back to a 2/2/4 pattern on the 50s is okay if you have trouble.

Back – the 10 kicks per stroke is intended to get the swimmer to ROLL his shoulders (I make sure I am looking up my hand at each stroke) and again, the kick helps keep the body afloat.  Also remember, pinky in first, roll shoulders and dig deep.  DO NOT do little pulls as you kick – keep your stroke as normal as you can…

Breast – 1 pull 2 kicks  - the focus (again) is the kick.  Do a normal pull and kick and then extend your arms and body into a long stream line and do a second kick – focus the kick on pushing the water back with your feet.  (I can explain this further if you need clarity)

Free – the fingertip drill is a pretty standard drill.  Dragging your fingertips serves two purposes – one, to get your elbows up which we all know we should be doing.  Secondly, it helps you work on your kick (sense a theme?).  drag your fingers on each stroke and keep your head position focused and keep kicking.

The 50s then become a continuation of the drill focus but here you’re trying to bring the focus of the drills into your swimming – remember the key elements above and switch to a full stroke and (to make it more complicated) build to a strong effort.  Regardless of the increased effort focus on the technique.

The last set is what I call one of the Lochte/Coughlin sets.  The focus is the walls.  The 75s can be free or stroke, but there should be 8+ dolphin kicks off each wall then into a good effort swim.  Aside from the benefits of the better push off, this is also a great way to work your lungs.

Enjoy an easy 200 (or whatever) and a hot shower. 


That Was Harder Then It Looked On Paper

I am slowly getting use to my routine of going to bed early and waking up early to go swimming.  It only took a week but it seems like my body is getting use to it.  Luckily for me it comes just in time for me recomitment to swimming.  At least for now I've cut back the alcohol consumption to none and eating healthier.  Or at least trying as I am not about to give up brownies and cookies!  And although I haven't been drinking in a week I will have a cocktail from time to time just not when I have to get up and go work out in the morning.  This morning I woke up before my alarm went off and didn't need to hit snooze to get out of bed.  It was a bit cooler in my room when I woke up but I got on my Pink Gator brief swim suit and started to layer up.  While I was in the parking lot waiting for the pool to be unlocked I could see steam rising from the pool.  Wahoo!  That means the heater is on.  But how hot will it be?  Since I was first for once in the pool I got the honor of using the digital thermometer to test the water.  It read 80.1F.  Then another swimmer tested in mid-length in another lane and got 80F.  Not so bad.  With the air being about 40F I can live with pool water at 80F. 

Since the people left the pool without swimming yesterday the turnout today was very light and I had my own lane.  On the bad side was that I had to swim the workout on my own.  I don't know what the other lanes did but it wasn't what I did. 

What I Swam:
1x400 loosen

1x300 swim, kick, pull, build by 50 (300/700)

Main Set: Continious...
2x50 (100)
1x100 (100/200)
4x50 (200/400)
1x200 (200/600)
6x50 (300/900)
1x300 (300/1200)
6x50  (300/1500)
1x300 (300/1800)
4x50 (200/2000)
1x200 (200/2200)
2x50 (100/2300)
1x100  (100/2400/3100)

Do your 50s on :50 and your longer swims on 1:30.  The object is to swim the corresponding longer swims faster on the second half of the set.  Use the 50s to set up your pace.

1x200 easy pull (200/3300)

4x50 - easy/fast on 1:15 - use your legs! (200/3500)

During warmup I was feeling good.  Must have been the water.  I felt strong.  Hell I told myself that maybe I'd stay and do the main set a second time.  Ha!  Wishful thinking.  By the time I was done with the main set I was done!  I decided I'd try to hold at least a 35 for the 50's pace and the pace for the set.  For the 50's that was easily done for the whole set both up and down the ladder of the workout.  The first 100 I went pretty fast and came in at like a 1:08.  My first 200 I did about a 2:24.  My first 300 was I think a 3:34.  Or was it slower? Can't remember.  I do know that I was able to descend the 2nd half.  Which was methodology of the set.  To be stronger in the long swims.  I did a 3:30 for the second 300, a 2:18 for the second 200 and a 1:07 for the second 100.  The 50's towards the ends I was coming in at 34/35's.  Which was all I wanted to do for the 50's.  I wanted to hold pace and not use them as complete recovery swims.

A couple of things that the coach pointed out to me today were my feet.  I tend to drag my feet which I knew but almost like anvils.  I keep my toes pointed down created lots of drag.  So I was doing my best keeping my toes up pointing towards the wall.  The second thing was again with my feet and legs but off the wall.  I was really dropping my legs on my push off creating lots of drag.  So I had that in mind as I was swimming including all the other stuff with my head position, breathing, left arm entry and so many other things. 

Then after my very easy 200 pull I did the 4x50's.  I really worked on using my legs and kicking like crazy.  Since it was easy down and fast coming back I tried to engage my feet a bit during the easy part and let them rip in the fast part.  It's a different concept for me to move my arms fast while using my legs.  So this is a great set for me.  I need to do this more.  I was coming in under 35 seconds which ain't bad considering the first 25 was easy.  Showing me that using my legs is key.

The full workout was 3,500 SCY something I haven't done in a while but need to do.  Best Workout In Months!  Well till tomorrow!  I really do feel like I'm on a comeback just need to keep it going.

Wednesday Morning Comeback To Swim

Well this morning's swim went better then last nights.  After warming up I felt good in the water making it a redemption workout.  I am actually shocked how well I was swimming this morning.  It wasn't easy and I had a lane full of swimmers pushing me to go faster and faster.

Warm Up

400 Mixed

Then we did a warm up set but I can't remember it all.  Between last nights swimming and this mornings it's all a blur.  I think it was -

3 Rounds (1 Fly / 1 Back / 1 Breast)

100 - 25 kick / 50 Drill / 25 Kick  ( i think)

50 Free Swim

50 Stroke Swim (600/1000)  Don't remember the intervals.  Even though I was leader.

More warming up...

150 Pull breathing 3/5/7 on 2:10????

3x50's Free Descend on 45

150 Pull breathing 3/5/7 again

3x50's Switches on 50 (600/1600)

Main Set:

300 Free  on 3:50

250 (50 Free / 50 Stroke / 50 Free / 50 Stroke / 50 Free) I want to say 3:25

200 Free on 2:30

150 (50 Free / 50 Stroke / 50 Fee) Don't remember interval.

100 Free on 1:20

50 Stroke.  Don't remember the interval but we waited for the next top.

300 Free on 3:50

250 (50 Stroke / 50 Free / 50 Stroke / 50 Free / 50 Stroke) Maybe 3:20 this time

200 Free on 2:30

150 (50 Stroke / 50 Free / 50 Stroke) Have no idea the interval

100 Free on 1:15

50 Stroke

I did backstroke for all the stroke.  Since I was leading the lane I really pushed myself today.  The free/stroke section were a bit more comfortable as my backstroke was stronger and was able to get some distance between me and the person behind me.  But the all free were a challenge.  I really had to work to stay ahead.(2100/3700)  I don't remember the last time  I had to work so hard in a workout.  Glad I lead the fast lane otherwise I would have slacked off.

We finished up with

4x75's. The 1st one was recovery, 2nd one the last 25 was with a 6 beat kick, 3rd one the last 50 was 6 beat kick and the final one was all with a 6 beat kick. (300/4000)

Damn that was a good workout.


Thursday PM Workout

Warm Up
550 Mxed

4x150's on 2:20 100 Pull Breathing 3/5/3/7 by 25 / 25 streamline off wall 1/2 way then choice Kick to wall / 25 butterfly Kick on back

3x150's 50 Drill / 50 finger tip drag / 50 swim

Man Free Set:

300 on 4:00 (left early on 3:50)
200 on 2:40
300 on 4:00 in theory  took extra rest to regroup lane mates.
100 on 1:30
200 on 3:00
300 no interval
easy 50 on about 1:20
next top…
4x100's on 1:20 all fast / all out.  my times 1:07/1:07/1:07/1:06. 

50 warm down

Really good workout even though I only swam the one hour.  Total of 3500 yards for the workout.

Middle Distance 500 Freestyle Workout

After swimming last night I was up and ready this morning for another swim. Well maybe not ready but I was up and headed to the pool.  After last nights killer IM/Stroke workout I was looking forward to a freestyle workout this morning.  And boy did I get a freestyle workout this morning. OY!  My arms are sore but in a good way.

Warm Up


2 Rounds of 75 Kick / 50 Swordfish / 50 Drill (1 Arm / Turn on 3) / 75 DPS Freestyle.  10 seconds rest between the rounds.  (500/950)

500 Pulling (500/1450)

4x25's on 35 concentrating on pushing off underwater with butterfly kick (!00/1550)

5x100's 1st one 10 seconds rest but continuing with the underwater steamline then the rest all pace on 1:20 (500/2050)

The Meat Of the Freestyle Portion of the workout -

2x500's - 1st one broken by 250 taking 10 seconds rest on 7 minutes.  Negative split the 500.  I did a 3:10 and a 3:05.  The second 500 was straight.  I did a 5:56. I think. (1000/3050)

100 easy (100/3150)

Stroke time with a short stroke warm up and then set.

100 Breast Kick / 50 Fly Drill / 50 Back Swim (200/3350)

3x100's IM descend on 1:45 (300/3650)

I then warmed down a 100 for 3750 yards.  Overall I liked the workout.  I was sore from last night but was able to rally and finish.  I'll be hurting for the rest of the day but it was worth it.  Over the last few months getting motivated to swim has been tough but between this week's three swims I'm feeling a bit motivated.  Hopefully this will carry over next week and then the week after that.

Freestyle Drill, Baby, Drill Workout

Tonight's workout was the perfect workout for me.  It was all about freestyle drilling.  I know some people don't the drill portions of workouts that seem to take a majority of the workout but I love them.  Okay, so maybe not love them but I know I need to slow down and learn to swim correctly. 

Warm Up

600 Swim.  I mixed it up with some drilling and pulling.  I was really concentrating on keep my elbows up and my stroke long so I was doing fingertip drag and catch up drills. 

4x50's Kick

3x50's Pull

And that was warm up.  There also was 2x50's drill but I took a pee break and when I got back the coach held us to start the workout.  (950)

Drill, Baby, Drill Time!

We first started with some 25's.  A few Head Up Freestyle working on rotating your hips while at the same time looking at your hand entry.  My lack of kicking really made this difficult.  Felt with heads up drill my feet just dragged behind me.

So then we did Drill work which I can't remember but it was all about breathing correctly and head position.  We did a couple of 25's then a 50.  Normally my head goes way out of the water to breathing so trying to keep my head low I kept getting more water then oxygen.  Sometimes I would be afraid to open my mouth and skip breathing. 

Then we did some 6 beat and 4 beat kicking with our stroke.  Starting with 25's then 50's.  This was a tough one for me.  So many things to think about.  Head position, rotation of hips, hand entry, elbows up and now I gotta move my little legs.  Since we were on no interval I was able to slow up and do it right.  Pretty much for the rest of the workout I tried to hold all those things together.  Never kicked so much while swimming in my life. 

After the drilling I was beat.  Out of breath, tired, sore and we still had the main set to swim.  Swimming correctly or attempting to is harder then just sprinting back and forth.  But we only had 20 minutes left of our workout.

Main Set:

4x75's on 1:20.  This was all about technique and keeping with what we just did in our drills.  I really tried holding my technique and kicking.  I was out of breath at every 75 and still was taking in more water when breathing. (300)

6x50's on 45 (150/450)

something here...but what?

4x50's on 45 (200/650)

4x25's Stroke on 30 (100/750)

4x50's on 40 (200/950)

Hmm...I missed something so it was more then 950 yards.  Mostly for me it was working on my technique.  Intervals were generous enough to do that.  Well excpe thte last set of 50's but those were sprint and technique went out the window.

Workout was more then the 1900 I know of.  Don't remember how many drill 25's and 50's.  I was thinking about my stroke and not how many more.  Not that yardage matters as it was more about the focus of the swim to swim correctly.  Anyone can do garbage yardage sets.  Tonight's workout was part two of the Friday nights coach emphasis on freestyle technique.  I may email him and ask how long we'll be doing this so I can arrange my swim practices to allow Friday night swims.  I so need all the help on my stroke that I can get. 

Oh and I created a new category for my swim workouts that I like "Favorite Sets &/Or Swim Workouts".  Mostly I'm doing this for me to go back and look at what I like and what makes me tick.  I've swum lots of great sets that I really liked over the years but I'm too lazy to search for them all and mark them in this category.  But for future workouts they'll all be grouped together. 

Best Swim Workout Set In The History of Swimming

Okay, maybe not the best set but I really liked tonight's main set.  But before I get to that it took me a bit to get out of my sluggish mood.  I had to run an errand by the pool before swimming so after that I waited 40 minutes on deck watching the lap swimmers.  Everytime I watch them I'm reminded why I like going to a practice.  I don't know how anyone can swim in the same lane with 3 other people doing 3 different things at the same time.  You got one guy doing breaststroke, some guy kicking and another guy swimming with paddles.  Actually the guy with paddles wasn't swimming as much as slapping the water really hard.  I couldn't stop wondering how bad his shoulder pain is going to be tonight. 

Once it was time to swim I got in and did the following:
100 swim
300 pull w/o paddles
300 pull with paddles
150 kick
The given warm up to be completed to the coach holds us up was 400 swim, 300 pull, 200 kick and 100 swim.  I get in late and well goof off at the start of workout.  Stopping every 50 to adjust my goggles and what not. (850)

Kick warm up set:
100 easy on 2:00
2x50's fast on 55
100 easy on 2:00
4x50's fast on 55 (i swear we did 5 but whatever)
100 easy on 2:00
pee break so i missed 2x50's out of 6 so I did 4x50's fast on 55 (800/1650)

warming up still:
4x50's on 45.  one easy / one build (200/1850)

Now for the best main set in the history of swimming:
5x400's Freestyle!  Wahoo distance swimming! As follows:
1x400 on 5:20
2x200's on 2:30
1x400 on 5:20
4x100's on 1:15
1x400 on 5:20
For the first 400 I started off with a 1:10 before settling in at about 1:11's or so.  I caught up to the lane leader who was 10 seconds ahead of me so we switched for the rest of the set.  For the 2x200's I held 1:11/1:12 which I continued to hold for the middle 400.  Then at the 4x100's I slowed up each 100 finishing up at 1:15.  I took a second and was off for the last 400.  I started with a 1:15 and descended down to a 1:10 for the last 100 of it.  (2000/3850)

100 easy (100/3950)

10x50's on 55.  #'s3/5/7/10 sprint choice of stroke.  I did those backstroke swimming but wasn't super fast just fast or to however I could go after that main set.  The rest of them I pulled them freestyle. (500/4350)

So tonight's workout was pretty good.  I broke past my sluggish feeling and really rallied during the main set.  Maybe because I like distance sets like this.  I'd prefer to have done just 5x400's but this was close enough!  Plus it was a perfect night for swimming.  Well in lane mates that is as I had a pretty laid back swimmer in my lane who never stopped and just kept swimming.  He never gave up and put on paddles during the main set to keep up.  He didn't sit out any part of it and then leave on my heels.  It was the most perfect swim set at a workout in a very long time.  I wish every swim was like this. 

My running total of yardage for 2009 is 16,250.  Oh and doing weights today didn't bother me at all to the very last 10x50's.  Nice to be almost back in shape!