Power Swimming Workouts
If you swim at the same moderate pace at every workout, your performance will eventually stall. Adding workouts intended to improve swimming power can help improve your performance and technique, which allows you to be more efficient in the water and make swimming feel easier. Specific strength training workouts, swim dive training, short-distance, high-intensity sprints and kick sets in the pool are all instrumental to enhance swimming power.
Specific Strength Training
Many competitive swim coaches will include resistance training out of the water—often referred to as dry land workouts—to help improve their athletes’ strength and ultimately swimming performance. However, general strength training does not always lead to improved swimming times, as highlighted in a 1993 study in the journal Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise. Therefore, strength training workouts to improve swimming times should include resisted movements that mimic the swim stroke, as these will help whole-body coordination with the swim stroke along with strength improvements.
Dive Start Training
Practicing diving starts from the blocks or edge of the pool deck is a swim-specific form of plyometric training, which trains the elastic components of the muscles and tendons to improve power. An effective dive start can have a significant impact on sprint performance in which races are often won by a fraction of a second and the jumping practice helps improve your lower-body power. Practice diving from the blocks or edge of the pool, with a focus on maximizing your distance and sprinting to the opposite wall. Swim back to the start, and repeat three to five more dives.
Strength and plyometric training will improve power, but the best way to improve your overall swim performance is high-intensity swimming. Since muscular power depends on the muscle’s ability to produce force in a short period of time, your muscles need to practice executing quick changes in speed. An example of a power-swimming workout would include 10 to 20, 25-yard swims in which you sprint the first half of the length on the odd repetitions, then sprint the second half of the length on the even repetitions. You should rest about 10 seconds between each swim. You should warm up at least 10 minutes before doing this set.
The role of your kick in swimming is important in optimizing your body position in the water, which reduces your drag in the water and maximizes your power-generating capability. Incorporate sets that include sprint kicking in a streamline position, along with sets that focus on swimming with a six-beat kick rhythm. You should do the latter set at a moderate pace, focusing on achieving the correct rhythm, then trying to increase your stroke rate until you are sprinting at maximal speed.
- "Medicine and Science in Sport and Exercise"; Dry-land resistance training for competitive swimming; H. Tanaka et al, August 1993
- Swim Smooth; All About the Freestyle Leg Kick
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.