Long-distance swimming workouts, depending on your fitness, may range from 1,000 meters to 2 miles. Swimmers should include a warmup and cool-down at least 200-meters each to get the body prepared for the workout. The simplest, shortest long-distance workout is freestyle. Other long-distance workouts may incorporate drills to improve swimming technique, which also improves speed. This is important for competitive swimmers and triathletes who are concerned with swimming efficiency.
1,000-Meter Freestyle Workout
For beginner to intermediate long-distance swimmers, a 1,000-meter freestyle swim is an appropriate starting point. Freestyle is the most efficient stroke and when swum at a consistent pace, can help build cardiovascular endurance. Strong cardiovascular endurance is needed for longer distances and periods of time. A 1,000-meter freestyle swim ranges from a 30- to 60-minute workout. If you cannot swim for 1,000 meters without stopping, break the workout into five 200-meter chunks with one-minute intervals. More than two minutes of rest decreases your heart rate and signals to your body that you are finished working out.
1,600-Meter Freestyle Build Workout
For a longer 45- to 80-minute, 1,600-meter workout and to maximize cardiovascular fitness for an intermediate to advanced swimmer, include different intensity levels. Freestyle build workouts mean that each chunk is faster than the previous chunk. Complete the workout in chunks of 400 meters. The first 400 meters should be performed slowly, the second 400 meters at a slow-moderate pace, the third 400 meters at a moderate-high intensity and the last 400 meters at a sprint. Intensity levels vary among individuals.
You can use your target heart rate, which is 220 minus your age, to measure your maximum exertion rate or your highest intensity level. Twenty percent of your maximum heart rate will be at a slower pace, 30 to 50 percent at a slow-moderate pace, 50 to 60 percent of your maximum heart rate is a moderate-high intensity speed and 70 to 100 percent of your maximum heart rate is a sprint or vigorous intensity level.
3,200-Meter Freestyle Workout
Longer workouts of 3,200 meters are usually for individuals interested in triathlons. At this distance, swimming freestyle for the swimming duration and with lots of practice is the best way to improve. Triathletes training for a long-distance event should swim 3,200 meters -- approximately 2 miles -- at least three times weekly and work their way up to four or five. Swimmers should focus on proper technique and a consistent rhythm. Breathing every three strokes to avoid overuse of one arm, which could cause tendinitis or muscle strain.
Long-distance swimming is as much about physical fitness as it is about a strong mindset. Allow your mind to wander while you are swimming and focus on proper breathing and stroke technique. This can serve as a form of meditation, which can help you formulate and sort your thoughts and prepare you for the rest of your swim. It can also leave you feeling refreshed after your workout.
- Fitness Swimming: Chapter 6: Workout Intensity; Emmet Hines
- Daytona State College: Health and Exercise Tips for All Ages
- Mountain View Masters: Swimming Drills
- Ohio Center for Sports Psychology: The Nine Mental Skills of Successful Athletes
- U.S. Navy: Dynamic Warm-Up Exercises
- MindTools.Com: Sports Psychology
Madison Hawthorne holds a bachelor's degree in creative writing, a master's degree in social work and a master's degree in elementary education. She also holds a reading endorsement and two years experience working with ELD students. She has been a writer for more than five years, served as a magazine submission reviewer and secured funding for a federal grant for a nonprofit organization. Hawthorne also swam competitively for 10 years and taught for two years.