If you’ve set out to swim a 3,000-yard workout, you will probably get bored swimming 120 lengths of a 25-yard pool at the same pace. Include different types of swimming patterns such as breath control drills, pulling and kicking, sprint intervals and mixing up your strokes to keep yourself entertained and improve your technique, muscle strength and cardiovascular endurance. Include a warm-up of easy swimming, a moderate-intensity set of technique-oriented swimming, a high-intensity main set focusing on speed or endurance and a cool-down of easy swimming.
Warm up with 500 to 800 yards of easy swimming. A warm-up gradually increases muscle temperature and blood flow, which improves muscle contraction and oxygen delivery. It also prepares your muscles and joints to work through their full range of motion, improving your workout performance and possibly reducing injury risk. If your high-intensity set is short, swim about 800 yards to warm up.
Swim a moderate-intensity set focusing on strength and technique totaling about 600 to 800 yards. Kicking and swimming with fins improves swimming-specific leg strength and ankle flexibility, while swimming with a pull buoy and hand paddles works on your core rotation and arm strength. For example, do four 50-yard segments freestyle kicking with your arms in front of you and four 50-yard swims with fins. Take off your fins, put on a pull buoy and paddles and swim four 100-yard segments with 15 seconds rest between each.
Swim a high-intensity set totaling 800 to 1,000 yards. If you want to improve your sprint speed, your yardage should be at the lower end of the range and consist of short, fast swims with long recoveries, such as eight 50-yard sprints with one-minute rests between them, followed by four 100-yard sprints interspersed with two minutes' recovery.
Iincrease your aerobic endurance by going for longer swims with short recoveries, and including different strokes. For example, swim five 200-yard swims with 50 yards each of butterfly, backstroke, breaststroke and freestyle with 30 seconds rest between them. Sprint the butterfly and breaststroke on the first and third swims, and sprint the backstroke and freestyle on the second and fourth swim. Go hard for the entire 200 on the fifth swim.
Cool down with easy swimming for the remainder of the 3,000 yards. High-intensity swimming, particularly all-out sprinting, produces substances such as lactate, hydrogen ions and inorganic phosphate in your muscles. Swimming at a relaxed pace keeps blood circulating and helps remove these substances. Swim a longer cool-down following a sprint workout, since sprints produce more lactate than endurance-oriented swimming.
- Include fins or pulling equipment in your high-intensity set if you want to focus on strength and technique for your entire workout. Alternatively, combine the moderate-and high-intensity sets for some workouts if you are targeting a long race, such as an open-water swim.
- Make sure that you gradually progress to swimming 3,000 yards in a single workout. Decrease the yardage or increase the rest between intervals if you’re having an off day. Furthermore, if you’re experiencing sharp pain or feeling ill, don’t continue your workout.
Gina Battaglia has written professionally since 2006. She served as an assistant editor for the "International Journal of Sports Medicine" and coauthored a paper published in the "Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research." Battaglia completed a Doctor of Philosophy in bioenergetics and exercise science at East Carolina University and a Master of Science in biokinesiology from the University of Southern California.