Triathlon Swimmers Inthe Open Sea,view From Behind

Maximize a Small Pool With this Bungee Cord Swim Workout

BY Mary Timoney

Got a small pool? You can get a solid swim workout with a bungee cord and some creativity.

COVID-19 has forced us all to “think outside the box” for the past few months. We’ve had to get creative in how we communicate with each other, how we physically interact, and how we navigate our world, at least for the time being. With most of our public pools and gyms being closed, it’s been a rough go for swimmers who are anxiously awaiting their return to the water. For me, I’ve been super fortunate that we actually have a small pool in our backyard with the deepest part being at about 5 feet. This is plenty deep for bungee cord swimming.

Bungee cord swim training is best explained in terms of swimming in place—kind of like running on a treadmill—while tethered to a bungee cord. I secure the other end of the cord with a stake in the ground (one for tethering pets works well!). I think I paid under $100 for the stake and the bungee cord belt combined—the cord provides some nice resistance (depending on how hard you want to work), and the belt is easy to put on and secure.

If you want to get creative, you can use a few pieces of swim equipment such as pull buoy, paddles, and fins. I wear the pull buoy pretty much the entire time. There isn’t much kicking going on, so the pull buoy can help lift your hips out of the water to a more level position.

It definitely helps to wear your Garmin or any other waterproof watch with a timer. I have actually put a clock on the deck a few times for timed efforts, but your watch will do just fine. It is helpful to know your stroke rate (the number of times you pull the water per 100 yards). Like I said, it’s not perfect, but at least it gets you in the water using your swim muscles!

I created this short workout (you can add to it if you want or even do the entire thing twice) as a guideline for your first bungee cord swim. Take this and make it your own! The important thing is to get in the water and get moving until our lap pools re-open in the following weeks.

Bungee Cord Swim Workout:

You will need to be wearing a watch with a timer and if you know your stroke count per 100 yards, that is helpful! I am using 20 strokes per 100 yards as a guideline.

Warm-up: 5 minutes easy; 


40 strokes high elbow fingertip drag (about 50 yards)

40 strokes breathing every third stroke 

40 strokes swim with fists

40 strokes swim with head out of water

40 strokes backstroke

40 strokes breaststroke

(~300 yards)

Main Set

80 strokes easy @15 sec rest

80 strokes moderate @15 sec rest

80 strokes fast @15 sec rest

(~300 yards)

40 strokes breathing every 5 @10 sec rest

40 strokes breathing every 3 @10 sec rest

20 strokes with only 2 breaths @15 sec rest

20 strokes with only 1 breath @15 sec rest

80 strokes moderate @10 sec rest

(~250 yards)

80 strokes butterfly done as 20 strokes swim/15 sec rest

80 strokes backstroke @15 sec rest

80 breaststroke @ 15 sec rest

80 strokes freestyle @ 15 sec rest

(~400 yards)

80 strokes swim with fins @10 sec rest

80 strokes paddles @10 sec rest

80 strokes single-arm swim (40 R/40 L) @10 sec rest

80 strokes freestyle @10 sec rest

(~400 yards)

Cool Down: 80 strokes easy

Total: ~1750 yards

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About Mary Timoney

Mary Timoney is a USA Triathlon Level 1 Certified Coach, Ironman University Certified Coach, and ACSM Personal Trainer. Want to improve your race times? Work toward a podium finish? Complete an Ironman? You can message her HERE

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