Once you have developed a good swim style and good endurance, it is time to develop your speed or, in other words, to perform drills aimed at making you swim faster.
The speed at which a swimmer moves forward depends on three factors: the length, power and speed of their arm stroke; all of which are very closely tied to the techniques we have already looked at.
We would like to point out that, to prevent any possible injuries and to make sure the main workout is effective, every speed session should be performed after a long warmup.
The usual methods for improving your swim speed are sprint training or anaerobic lactate threshold training. This method involves a set of different drills, as follows:
MAXIMUM INTENSITY SPRINTS: do 6-8 maximum intensity sprints (15-20 m) with 2’ – 2’30” recovery.
VARIABLE INTENSITY SPRINTS: this drill involves swimming very short reps (25 m) without full recovery (1’ – 1’30”) varying the intensity. For example, 12×25 with 1’30” recovery: 1 with 12.5 m max/12.5m easy + 1 with 12.5m easy/12.5m maxi + 1 accelerating + 1 flat out.
ALTERNATING SPRINTS: this type of drill is performed alternating flat-out sprints with easy swimming. There is less recovery time, because easy swimming already allows you to recover energy. For example, swim 18 × 25 with 30” recovery, performing 1 rep flat-out and two very slowly.
There are also less conventional methods for developing your swim speed, methods using swimming aids and outside support. Let’s take a look at some of them:
ASSISTED SPEED WORK: Swimming aids allow you to perform this type of exercise faster than you could without them. More specifically, fasten an elastic band around your hips (harness), get somebody to help you stretch the elastic band to its maximum and then swim as hard as you can against the pull of the elastic band.
Using fins can also help you swim faster, and they can be incorporated in the drills for the 3 conventional methods we have looked at.
VARIABLE RESISTANCE: Here again you need to use swimming aids. This drill involves performing flat-out sprints after already doing a number of sprints with resistances. For example, swim 8×25 (2×4×25) with a full recovery (2’ – 2’30”) performing the first 4 reps wearing a scuba diver-s belt or a bucket tied around your waist or even just wearing a heavy shirt, and then do the second set of 4 without any “ballast” to slow you down.
Performing drills like this 2/3 times-a-week for a period of 3-4 weeks will allow you to achieve the goal of increasing your swim speed.