Best Swim Workouts for Beginner, Intermediate and Advanced Swimmers

Swimming is one of the best forms of cardiovascular exercises and sports to get fit, strong, and toned, and to stay healthy, both physically and mentally. It gives you a full-body workout, where almost every muscle in the body is used, it burns calories, and helps with weight loss and maintenance, and de-stresses and relaxes you.

Swimming is a non-contact and non-weight-bearing sport and supports the body when in the water, as well as has a very low risk of injury. It increases your metabolism, which results in increased energy levels and feeling great overall.

There are different levels of swimming, ranging from swimming for recreation to competitive swimming, all of which require different workouts in the pool to achieve different goals. Depending on your goal, workouts will differ in a range of factors from distance or mileage and time spent in the water to types of drills and sets in the pool and the speed at which they are done.


Swimming is a great form of exercise.

Swimming for Recreation

Swimming is a great recreational activity for people of all ages. Recreational swimming can provide you with a low-impact workout, keep your body fit and healthy, and it’s a fantastic way to relax, de-stress, and feel good.


Recreational swimming is a great way to keep fit.

Competitive Swimming

Swimming can also be enjoyed at a competitive level. Competitive swimming can range from competing in events in the pool, the open water, and triathlons at all ages and levels. Competitive swimming generally requires training with a coach and working towards specific goals like training to win a 100-meter freestyle event in the pool, taking part in an open water swim in the ocean, or completing your first triathlon.


Work towards a goal with competitive swimming.

Get Started: Swimming Workout Tips

You don’t need to be an Olympic hopeful to benefit from a swim workout – anyone can enjoy a great swim workout as long as you’re comfortable in the water and able to swim at least a few consecutive laps.

If you’re not yet comfortable in the water and find yourself struggling to make it from one wall to the other, it’s a good idea to take a few lessons with a certified coach or instructor to help you with the basics and to build the confidence and skills you need to swim laps safely. They will also be able to give you technique tips on breathing and stroke which will form a good base for your swimming.

Coaches aren’t only for those wanting to learn to swim or improve their technique. If you are water-confident and have set a goal to train towards, working with a coach can be invaluable as they will design programs specifically for you and your goal, and encourage and motivate you as you work towards achieving it. The value of a great coach cannot be understated!


The value of a great coach cannot be understated. With swim coach / JD Lasica / CC BY 2.0

Finding the Right Swimming Workout for You

Swimming workouts will differ according to your level of fitness and your goals, such as training for an event in a pool or the ocean. There are several factors to consider when choosing a swim workout.

Length of the Workout

If your swimming goal is to get fit, it is wise to begin with a time goal to start, like 15 or 20 minutes, rather than distance. You should still track your distance over that time just to keep a record, however, for the first few weeks, swim on time rather than distance to build your stamina.

Rest Periods in Between Sets and Swims

Rest periods are an essential part of swimming and form the basis of most workouts. The majority of workouts in the pool are designed to have interval sets, which incorporate rest periods in between sets.

It is very important to adhere to these rest times as they are an integral part of the workout. In the beginning, your rest times will make up a decent percentage of your workout, but as you improve, you’ll reduce your time at the wall. It is also important to take a rest day in between swims to allow your body to sufficiently recover.

Intensity of the Workout

New swimmers will generally swim at the same speed throughout the workout, however, as you get fitter, you will develop a feel for what “easy” versus “hard” feels like, and you can add harder efforts and sprints into your workouts. High-intensity workouts are aimed at increasing your speed.


Swim workouts are designed according to your goals. 2009.03.09 swim workout by Jeff Nichols / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

10 Best Swim Workouts for Beginner Swimmers


Beginner swim workouts are a great way to start.

Beginner Swim Workout 1

Distance: 1,100yds / 1,100 m

  •  Warm-up: 200 easy swim freestyle, 100 kick with a kickboard
  • 6 x 100 freestyle – odd lengths are easy, even lengths are moderate effort (or a build from easy to moderate) – 10 to 30 seconds rest between each set
  • Cool down: 200 easy any swim

Beginner Swim Workout 2

Distance: 1,150 yds / 1,150 m

  • Warm-up: 200 easy swim freestyle, 100 kick with a kickboard
  • Ladder Swim: 50, 100, 150, 100, 50. All at easy to moderate effort. 10 to 30 seconds rest between each set
  • 4 x 50 freestyle kicking with a board – 20 seconds rest in between each set
  • Cool down: 200 easy swim

Beginner Swim Workout 3

Distance: 1,000 yds / 1,000 m

  • Warm-up: 5 x 50 easy swim freestyle. 10 to 30 seconds rest between each set
  • 2 x 100 kick – freestyle on odd lengths, other stoke on even lengths – 20 seconds rest in between each set
  • 4 x 100 freestyle – build pace from easy to moderate over the four lengths – 20 seconds rest in between each set
  • Cool down: 200 easy swim

Beginner Swim Workout 4

Distance: 1,100 yds / 1,100 m

  • Warm-up: 200 easy swim freestyle
  • 4 x 75 freestyle pull (arms only with a pull buoy), kick, swim – 10 to 30 seconds rest between each set
  • 4 x 100 freestyle – moderate pace – 30 seconds rest between each set
  • Cool down: 200 easy swim

Beginner Swim Workout 5

Distance: 1,000 yds / 1,000 m

  • Warm-up: 2 x 100 easy swim –freestyle / another stroke
  • 4 x 50 freestyle arms only with pull buoy – 15 seconds rest in between each set
  • 4 x 50 freestyle or breaststroke kicking – 15 seconds rest in between each set
  • 4 x 50 freestyle swim – 15 seconds rest in between each set
  • Cool down: 200 easy swim

Beginner Swim Workout 6

Distance: 1,100 yds / 1,100 m

  • Warm-up: 300 easy swim freestyle
  • 2 x 200 freestyle – steady pace – 30 seconds rest between each set
  • 4 x 50 freestyle kicking – 15 seconds rest in between each set
  • Cool down: 200 easy swim

Beginner Swim Workout 7

Distance: 1,250 yds / 1,250 m

  • Warm-up: 200 easy swim freestyle
  • 6 x 75 freestyle pull (arms only with a pull buoy), kick, swim – 10 to 30 seconds between each set
  • 4 x 100 freestyle – moderate pace – 30 seconds rest in between each set
  • Cool down: 200 easy swim

Beginner Swim Workout 8

Distance: 1,250 yds / 1,250 m

  • Warm-up: 200 easy swim freestyle
  • Ladder swim: 25, 50, 75, 100, 150, 100, 75, 50, 25 freestyle – 15 seconds rest in between each set
  • 4 x 50 freestyle – pull/kick (arms only with pull buoy/kick with a kickboard) – 20 seconds rest in between each set
  • Cool down: 200 easy swim

Beginner Swim Workout 9

Distance: 1,300 yds / 1,300 m

  • Warm-up: 200 easy swim freestyle
  • 4 x 75 freestyle arms only with pull buoy – 30 seconds rest in between each set
  • 4 x 50 freestyle/breaststroke kicking – 20 seconds rest in between each set
  • 4 x 100 freestyle – moderate pace. 30 seconds rest in between each set
  • Cool down: 200 easy swim

Beginner Swim Workout 10

Distance: 1,100 yds / 1,100 m

  • Warm-up: 200 easy swim freestyle
  • 8 x 25 freestyle – going every 40 seconds on the clock
  • 4 x 50 freestyle – going every 1:15 on the clock
  • 100 freestyle – moderate pace
  • 4 x 50 freestyle/breaststroke kicking – 20 seconds rest in between each set
  • Cool down: 200 easy swim

10 Best Swim Workouts for Intermediate Swimmers


Intermediate swim workouts for good for building speed and stamina.

Intermediate Swimming Workout 1

Distance: 1,800 yds / 1,800 m

  • Warm-up: 200 easy swim freestyle
  • 8 x 25 freestyle – going every 40 seconds on the clock
  • 2 x 200 freestyle – counting strokes – 20 seconds rest in between each set
  • 8 x 25 freestyle – going every 40 seconds on the clock
  • 2 x 200 freestyle – counting strokes – 20 seconds rest in between each set
  • 4 x 50 freestyle/breaststroke kicking – 20 seconds rest in between each set
  • Cool down: 200 easy swim

Intermediate Swimming Workout 2

Distance: 1,800 yds / 1,800 m

  • Warm-up: 300 easy swim freestyle
  • 4 x 75 freestyle with paddles and pull buoy – easy, moderate, fast – 20 seconds rest in between each set
  • 5 x 100 freestyle going every 2:00 on the clock
  • 300 easy freestyle (recovery set)
  • 8 x 50 kicking – alternating freestyle and breaststroke – 15 seconds rest in between each set
  • Cool down: 200 easy swim

Intermediate Swimming Workout 3

Distance: 2,000 yds / 2,000 m

  • Warm-up: 200 easy swim freestyle
  • Ladder swim: 25, 50, 75, 100, 150, 150, 100, 75, 50, 25 freestyle – odd lengths moderate pace, even lengths – easy – 15 seconds rest in between each set
  • 8 x 50 freestyle – pull / kick – 15 seconds rest in between each set
  • 8 x 25 freestyle – going every 40 seconds on the clock
  • Cool down: 200 easy swim

Intermediate Swimming Workout 4

Distance: 2,100 yds / 2,100 m

  • Warm-up: 300 easy swim freestyle
  • 8 x 75 freestyle – pull / kick / swim – 15 seconds rest in between each set
  • 4 x 100 freestyle – odd lengths easy, even lengths fast – going every 2:00 minutes on the clock.
  • 200 easy swim – recovery set
  • 2 x 200 freestyle – counting strokes – 20 seconds rest in between each set
  • Cool down: 200 easy swim

Intermediate Swimming Workout 5

Distance: 2,200 yds / 2,200 m

  • Warm-up: 400 easy swim freestyle and another stroke – breaststroke or backstroke
  • 300 freestyle – pull / kick / swim
  • 10 x 50 first length butterfly / second freestyle – 20 seconds rest in between each set
  • 4 x 100 freestyle – going every 2:00 minutes on the clock
  • 4 x 25 butterfly – going every 40 seconds on the clock
  • 4 x 25 backstroke – going every 40 seconds on the clock
  • 4 x 25 breaststroke – – going every 50 seconds on the clock
  • 4 x 25 freestyle – going every 30 seconds on the clock
  • Cool down: 200 easy swim

Intermediate Swimming Workout 6

Distance: 2,200 yds / 2,200 m

  • Warm-up: 300 easy swim freestyle
  • 2 x 100 kicking – 1 length each flutter kick on the stomach, left side, back, and right side – – 20 seconds rest in between each set
  • 2 x 100 freestyle pull with pull buoy and paddles
  • 8 x 25 freestyle breathing every 3, 5, 7, 9 strokes and repeat – going every 30 seconds on the clock
  • 200 freestyle counting kick timing – count three kicks for each arm stroke
  • 8 x 25 freestyle breathing every 3, 5, 7, 9 strokes and repeat. going every 30 seconds on the clock
  • 200 freestyle counting kick timing – count three kicks for each arm stroke
  • 2 x 250 changing breathing pattern – 25 breathing every 6th stroke / 50 breathing every 5th stroke / 75 breathing every 4th stroke / 100 breathing every 3rd stroke
  • Cool down: 200 easy swim

Intermediate Swimming Workout 7

Distance: 2,400 yds / 2,400 m

  • Warm-up: 300 easy swim freestyle
  • 400 IM drill with fins – right arm, left arm, double arm, full swim through all four strokes
  • 200 kicking – any stroke
  • 5 x 100 freestyle – going every 2:00 minutes seconds on the clock
  • 4 x 50 freestyle/breaststroke kicking – 20 seconds rest in between each set
  • 4 x 75 freestyle – going every 1:45 seconds on the clock
  • 4 x 50 freestyle/breaststroke kicking – 20 seconds rest in between each set
  • 2 x 50 freestyle – going every 1:00 minute on the clock
  • Cool down: 200 easy swim

Intermediate Swimming Workout 8

Distance: 2,400 yds / 2,400 m

  • Warm-up: 200 easy swim freestyle
  • 8 x 75 freestyle with pull buoy and paddles – 20 seconds rest in between each set
  • 200 kicking – any stroke
  • 4 x 100 freestyle / another stroke alternating – 20 seconds rest in between each set
  • 300 easy freestyle recovery set
  • 20 x 25 IM order with fins – going every 40 seconds on the clock
  • Cool down: 200 easy swim

Intermediate Swimming Workout 9

Distance: 2,400 yds / 2,400 m

  • Warm-up: 200 easy swim freestyle
  • 12 x 50 fly-free / back-free / breast-free / free-free – 30 seconds rest in between each set
  • 400 freestyle with pull buoy and paddles – counting strokes on each length
  • 6 x 100 freestyle – easy/hard – going every 2:00 minutes seconds on the clock
  • 200 easy kicking recovery set
  • 8 x 25 freestyle – hypoxic – breathing every 3,5,7,9 and repeat – going every 40 seconds on the clock
  • Cool down: 200 easy swim

Intermediate Swimming Workout 10

Distance: 2,500 yds / 2,500 m

  • Warm-up: 200 easy swim freestyle
  • Ladder swim: 25 easy – 25 fast / 50 easy – 50 fast / 75 easy – 75 fast / 100 easy – 100 fast / 75 easy – 75 fast / 50 easy – 50 fast / 25 easy – 25 fast – continuous
  • 10 x 50 freestyle – pull / kick (arms only with pull buoy / kick with kickboard) – 20 seconds rest in between each set
  • 200 easy kicking recovery set
  • 12 x 25 IM order sprints with fins
  • Cool down: 200 easy swim

10 Best Swim Workouts for Advanced Swimmers


Advanced swimmers will work towards meeting their goals.

Workout for Advanced Swimmers 1

Distance: 2,900 yds / 2,900 m

  • Warm-up: 300 easy swim freestyle
  • 4 x 250 alternating breathing pattern: – 25 breathing every 6th stroke / 50 breathing every 5th stroke / 75 breathing every 4th stroke / 100 breathing every 3rd stroke
  • 4 x 100 choice of strokes – any stroke except freestyle – 30 seconds rest between each set
  • 8 x 50 freestyle – fast/easy – 15 seconds rest in between each set
  • 8 x 25 freestyle – fast/easy – 15 seconds rest in between each set
  • 4 x 100 IM – going every 1:45 minutes seconds on the clock
  • Cool down: 200 easy swim

 

Workout for Advanced Swimmers 2

Distance: 3,000 yds / 3,000 m

  • Warm-up: 200 easy swim freestyle
  • 4 x 200 IM in reverse order – 30 seconds rest between each set
  • 4 x 100 butterfly with fins – 20 seconds rest between each set – keep the time consistent
  • 4 x 100 backstroke – 20 seconds rest between each set – keep the time consistent
  • 4 x 100 breaststroke – 20 seconds rest between each set – keep the time consistent
  • 4 x 100 freestyle – 20 seconds rest between each set – keep the time consistent
  • 200 recovery set – kicking or swimming own stroke
  • Cool down: 200 easy swim

Workout for Advanced Swimmers 3

Distance: 3,250 yds / 3,250 m

  • Warm-up: 300 easy swim freestyle
  • 400 IM drill with fins – right arm, left arm, double arm, full swim through all four strokes
  • 200 kicking – any stroke
  • 6 x 100 freestyle – going every 1:45 minutes seconds on the clock
  • 200 recovery set – kicking or swimming own stroke
  • 4 x 50 butterfly kick fins – right side / left side – 20 seconds rest in between each set
  • 6 x 75 freestyle with paddles – going every 1:45 seconds on the clock
  • 4 x 50 breaststroke kicking – 20 seconds rest in between each set
  • 8 x 50 freestyle – going every 1:00 minute on the clock
  • Cool down: 200 easy swim

Workout for Advanced Swimmers 4

Distance: 3,300 yds / 3,300 m

  • Warm-up: 300 easy swim freestyle
  • 10 x 50 butterfly / freestyle – going every 1:00 minute on the clock
  • 4 x 200 IM with fins – 20 seconds rest in between each set
  • 200 recovery set – kicking or swimming own stroke
  • 8 x 100 freestyle – going every 1:45 minutes seconds on the clock
  • 10 x 50 butterfly / freestyle – going every 1:00 minute on the clock
  • Cool down: 200 easy swim

Workout for Advanced Swimmers 5

Distance: 3,100 yds / 3,100 m

  • Warm-up: 500 easy swim freestyle
  • 4 x 100 freestyle – going every 1:45 minutes seconds on the clock
  • 10 x flip turns – no breathing for four strokes after turn
  • 2 x 200 freestyle – going every 3:30 minutes seconds on the clock
  • 10 x flip turns – no breathing for four strokes after turn
  • 4 x 200 IM with fins focusing on turns and transitions between strokes
  • 200 recovery set – kicking or swimming own stroke
  • 8 x 50 freestyle focusing on turns going every 1:00 minute on the clock
  • 8 x 25 IM order with fins – 15 seconds rest in between each set
  • Cool down: 200 easy swim

Workout for Advanced Swimmers 6

Distance: 3,400 yds / 3,400 m

  • Warm-up: 300 easy swim freestyle
  • 12 x 75 freestyle with pull buoy – pull / kick/swim – 20 seconds rest in between each set
  • 8 x 50 kicking – alternating between freestyle and other strokes – 15 seconds rest in between each set
  • 2 x 200 freestyle – counting strokes – 20 seconds rest in between each set
  • 8 x 50 IM order with fins – going every 1:15 on the clock
  • 2 x 200 freestyle – counting strokes – 20 seconds rest in between each set
  • 8 x 50 IM order with fins – going every 1:00 seconds on the clock
  • Cool down: 200 easy swim

Workout for Advanced Swimmers 7

Distance: 3,200 yds / 3,200 m

  • Warm-up: 300 easy swim freestyle
  • 400 IM drill with fins – right arm, left arm, double arm, full swim through all four strokes
  • 4 x 100 kicking – any stroke – 20 seconds rest in between each set
  • 8 x 75 arms only with a pull buoy
  • 12 x 25 butterfly kick with fins – 15 seconds rest in between each set
  • 200 recovery set – easy swim
  • 5 x 100 freestyle – going every 1:45 minutes seconds on the clock
  • Cool down: 200 easy swim

 

Workout for Advanced Swimmers 8

Distance: 3,600 yds / 3,600 m

  • Warm-up: 200 easy swim freestyle
  • Ladder swim: 25, 50, 75, 100, 125, 150, 175, 200, 175, 150, 125, 100, 75, 50, 25 freestyle – 10 second rest in between each set – every 3rd length is butterfly
  • 12 x 50 kicking alternating freestyle and other strokes – 15 seconds rest in between each set
  • 12 x 50 arms only with pull buoy and paddles – alternating freestyle and other strokes – 15 seconds rest in between each set
  • 16 x 25 IM order sprints with fins
  • Cool down: 200 easy swim

Workout for Advanced Swimmers 9

Distance: 3,200 yds / 3,200 m

  • Warm-up: 200 easy swim freestyle
  • 4 x 200 IM order drill with fins – right arm, left, arm repeat through the medley
  • 8 x 100 freestyle – going every 1:45 minutes seconds on the clock
  • 200 recovery set – easy swim or kick
  • 12 x 50 pull/kick – 20 seconds rest in between each set
  • 16 x 25 freestyle – easy/hard – going every 30 seconds on the clock
  • Cool down: 200 easy swim

Workout for Advanced Swimmers 10

Distance: 3,300 yds / 3,300 m

  • Warm-up: 400 easy swim freestyle and another stroke – breaststroke or backstroke
  • 300 freestyle – pull / kick / swim
  • 12 x 75 pull/kick/swim freestyle with a pull buoy
  • 4 x 100 freestyle – going every 2:00 minutes on the clock
  • 4 x 100 own stroke – going every 40 seconds on the clock
  • 200 recovery set – easy swim or kick
  • 2 x 200 freestyle – counting strokes – 20 seconds rest in between each set
  • 8 x 50 IM order with fins – going every 1:00 seconds on the clock
  • Cool down: 200 easy swim

5 Best One-Mile Swim Workouts


One mile workouts for those wanting to stay fit in a fun way.
Here are some workouts for swimmers who like to swim around one mile per session. Most of the workouts concentrate on freestyle, but you can substitute another stroke for variety. These workouts aim to improve your swimming technique and fitness level.

Workout 1

Distance: 1,750 yds / 1,750 m

  • Warm-up: 250 easy swim freestyle
  • 4 x 100 choice of strokes – 15 seconds rest in between each set
  • 200 freestyle alternating breathing patterns – change the breathing pattern on each length, do not breath within 4 strokes of the wall going in or leaving the wall
  • 4 x 100 freestyle – breathing on your weakest side – 15 seconds rest in between each set
  • 250 freestyle changing breathing pattern – – 25 breathing every 6th stroke / 50 breathing every 5th stroke / 75 breathing every 4th stroke / 100 breathing every 3rd stroke
  • Cool down: 250 easy swim

Workout 2

Distance: 1,850 yds / 1,850 m

  • Warm-up: 400 easy swim freestyle
  • 4 x 25 freestyle counting strokes
  • 4 x 100 freestyle reducing strokes per length
  • 4 x 50 freestyle – right arm / left arm
  • 100 choice of strokes – 15 seconds res
  • 4 x 100 freestyle sprinting first 50 of each – 15 seconds rest in between each set
  • Cool down: 250 easy swim

Workout 3

Distance: 1,850 yds / 1,850 m

  • Warm-up: 400 easy swim alternating freestyle/backstroke
  • 4 x 100 backstroke, counting strokes – 20 seconds rest in between each set
  • 8 x 50 freestyle going every 1:00 on the the clock
  • 200 easy freestyle recovery set
  • 8 X 25 backstroke – 20 seconds rest in between each set
  • Cool down: 200 easy swim

Workout 4

Distance: 1,700 yds / 1,700 m

  • Warm-up: 300 easy swim freestyle
  • 8 x 50 freestyle with paddles and pull buoy – 20 seconds rest in between each set
  • 8 x 50 freestyle kick – 20 seconds rest in between each set
  • 8 x 50 freestyle – easy/hard – – 20 seconds rest in between each set
  • Cool down: 200 easy swim

Workout 5

Distance: 1,800 yds / 1,800 m

  • Warm-up: 400 easy swim freestyle
  • 2 x 200 freestyle – keeping consistent stroke count – 30 seconds rest in between each set
  • 4 x 100 freestyle – hard / easy / hard / easy – 20 seconds rest in between each set
  • 8 x 50 freestyle / backstroke – going every 1:00 / 1:15 on the the clock
  • Cool down: 200 easy swim

Final Thoughts

Swimming is a fantastic sport to take up if you are looking to get fit and healthy. If you are already a swimmer, it is one of the best forms of exercise to maintain a healthy body, mind, and soul, and to leave you feeling great overall.

When starting a workout, remember to always ease into it and let your body warm-up before you begin to push yourself. If you are at the beginning of your fitness journey, take it one step at a time and work steadily towards your goal.

And most important of all – enjoy being in the water!