Swimming Workouts for Middle Distance Training

Middle distance swimming combines speed with endurance.
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Designing the right workout can take your middle distance swimming to the next level. Middle distance training focuses on distances between 400 and 1,500 meters. This style of swimming is unique because it combines sprinting with distance. Your training needs to teach your body to have endurance to cover an extended distance while still having enough energy to go hard for the wall at the finish.


    As with any workout, start your swim with a warm-up. This increases blood flow to your muscles and joints, which increases your range of motion and flexibility. As a middle distance swimmer, your workouts can get lengthy. Instead of just swimming a few easy laps, mix up your warm-ups to avoid monotony. Incorporate some light kicking or pulling or gradually speed up each lap until you are swimming at your workout speed by the end of your warm-up. At the end of your workout, add on at least a 200-meter warm-down.


    Deciding where to add your drills is a personal decision. Some swimmers prefer to tackle their main set first and then focus on speed work or drills after completing the meat of your workout. Focus your drills to complement your main set. If you cover many meters in your main set, keep your drills short. An example is a set of eight 50-meter laps maintaining a time of one minute per 50 meters. If your main set is shorter, add in longer drills, such as a 400-meter pull and a 200-meter kick. As a middle distance swimmer, having a good flip-turn is vital. In a 1,500 meter swim, you could do as many as 45 flip turns. Flip turn drills can ensure you are as efficient as possible and don't lose energy with poor technique.

Main Set

    As a middle distance swimmer, focus the majority of your workout on building endurance and maintaining pace. Consistency is key to excelling at this distance, so focus your training on swimming at a constant pace. Do this by choosing a pace that you can hold over an extended distance and maintain it throughout your set. An example is swimming four 400-meters at seven minutes each with 30 seconds rest between each 400-meter swim.

Dry lands

    As a swimmer, you want to spend your workout time in the pool. To really excel, add out of pool training, called dry lands. Because swimming incorporates complex body movements to propel you forward in the water, you need to have technical skill, muscular balance and coordination to excel. A study published in the “British Journal of Sports Medicine” in 1992 showed a direct correlation between peak muscular power in the arms and middle distance swimming performance. Dry land workouts that help you improve skill, muscular balance and coordination include weight lifting, plyometrics, core work, running and stair climbing.

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