This is not a course that attempts to teach you a single, correct, style of swimming. This course is intended to stimulate athletes to find their own optimal stroke technique. It also coaches them to find their correct balance of effort and relaxation, stroke and breathing rhythm, and their ability to adjust speeds and effort levels during a race as needed. It includes activities that are intended to develop particular skills that we believe are common to all effective styles of swimming. In this way, the athlete may learn new skills and drills that are effective by themselves, but that will also assist them in integrating that which they have learned from other programs of swimming instruction.
There is a document titled "Basic Course Overview"attached to this workout that should be read carefully before attempting this course. (See paperclip icon at top of workout. )
Sometimes the hyperlinks in the overview do not function. The forum for question and video uploads is located at
and the password for that forum is elegantmile
You will need to create a quick membership to post.
Email firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any technical issues.
On to the program...
Week 1 begins at the ends - two ends of the “Float & Paddle – Statue of Liberty continuum”. These two drills mark the outer ranges of the stroke pattern that your arms will ultimately find themselves in when you have developed and tuned your stroke to its optimum level. The contrast offered by these two drills is stark in terms of complexity as well as the basic arm mechanics employed.
In the Float & Paddle, (see video) you have the Australian crawl in its most stripped down, elemental form – constant kinetic motion, switching between two basic forms – right arm extended/left arm at your side and left arm extended/right arm at your side – with the only “moving parts” being your torso (and your head, of course, when you need to breath).
With the SoL, (see video) you have a complicated interaction between kicking, pulling, pausing, floating, breathing, and counting.
While very different, these two contrasting drills intersect in fast swimming; specifically, F&P will teach you to engage the muscles of your torso in order to propel your arms, this is a fundamental characteristic of optimal swimming propulsion. SoL will help you to develop a sense of body balance and positioning in the water, and it will encourage you to integrate the pull and the kick together in a smooth rhythmic flow – this too is a fundamental for propulsion.
When you are doing the “Technical Focus” portion of the workout, explore and exaggerate these contrasts. Make the shoulder joint as rigid as possible when doing the F&P, trying to make torso rotation the only means of moving your arms. Contrast is a powerful tool to increase your awareness. By taking these first steps to developing aquatic body awareness, you will be on your way to knowing where you are, an essential part of getting to where you want to go.
Most importantly, however, is to be patient with your execution. Many will find it next to impossible to “turn off” the legs entirely when doing F&P. Others may find it hard to switch from one side to the next rhythmically in SoL. Even if you are a relatively experienced swimmer, your body only “knows what it knows” (not what it doesn’t know) – there will be many motions that are foreign to you. This is a fact of life when building physical vocabulary. When you are developing new vocabulary, remember to treat yourself like you would a child learning new words, if you can even discern the word from the noise, you are headed in the right direction.
The pulling we have you do is encouraged to be done with a pull buoy, forcing you to learn how to lift the legs with muscular control and timing. When you first start with this activity, the legs may ride VERY low in the water. Sometimes the only way out is through.
Float and Paddle - http://tinyurl.com/p4hsa3z
SoL 1-6 - http://tinyurl.com/omfhd68
Pull w/o buoy - http://tinyurl.com/q643fsn
PRIMARY WORKOUT – WEEK #1
1 x 300 CHOICE, REST 1:00
4 x 25 PULL (NO BUOY) REST on :10 REST
1 x 100 KICK (BOARD OPTIONAL) REST :20
4 x 25 SWIM, REST on :10 REST
TECHNICAL FOCUS - Take your time!
As Much Rest As Needed (AMRAN)
6 x 25 PULL
6 x 25 STATUE OF LIBERTY 1-6 (SoL)
4 x 25 FLOAT & PADDLE (F&P)
CONDITIONING / REINFORCEMENT
4X THROUGH on :10 REST AFTER EACH SWIM
[1 x 25; 1 x 50; 1 x 75; 1 x 100]
#1 ALTernate SoL / SWIM / SoL / SWIM
#2 ALT PULL / SWIM / PULL / SWIM
#3 ALT F&P / SWIM / F&P / SWIM
#4 ALL SWIM
4 X 25 EASY CHOICE, AMRAN
FLOAT AND PADDLE (F&P) – sometimes referred to as “kayak paddle”, or “t-paddle”
because the arms are fixed at the shoulders, and all propulsion is achieved by rotating the
body to drive these fixed arms. Legs float behind – challenge is to keep them elevated,
however, proper body motion will make this happen for the most part.
Swimmer floats horizontally and extends arms outward from shoulders into a “T” starting position, rotating the body core to paddle the arms. Maintain the “T” arm position by attempting to limit all rotation at the shoulder joint. If shoulder joint is immobile, the only way to make the arms move in a paddling motion is to rotate the torso. Legs remain still, simply “floating” behind the upper body.
Skills: basic pull propulsion, engaging torso in time with arms and head for “full body” pulling, reduced shoulder rotation.
PULL – it is OK to let the legs dangle independently, or even to have a little “counterbalancing” motion from them.
Try it without a pull buoy.
STATUE OF LIBERTY (SoL) – the key objective for this drill is to achieve a comfortable
body position while kicking on your side, and try to smoothly transition from the side
kicking to the pulling phase. 1-6 (1 pull, 6 kicks) is our basic form for this drill, but it can be
done in numerous combinations, such as 3-6 (3 pulls, 6 kicks), 1-9 (1p9k), etc. Do not over roatate to perform this drill. The body should be held at about a 45 degree angle from the water surface while kickingon the side. Beware going completely onto the side (90 degree angle) as this will cause difficulty in proper execution.
The swimmer kicks on their side with one arm extended forward and one extended back towards the feet (at their side).
After a pre-designated number of kicks, the swimmer pulls, rotating to the opposite side.
Body position, balance, integrated timing of kicking and pulling.
Proper rotation (not all the way to 90 degrees) allows leverage during the catch and power developed from the body.
The head "leads", in other words, put the face in the water, with eyes looking at the bottom of the pool before pulling phase begins.
Turn head to the side when a breath is needed, put it back in the water to exhale.
"Continuous kick" - Work to eliminate any pause in the kick while you transition from kicking on your side to taking the stroke and rotating to the opposite side.
Shoulder of "down" arm is out of the water, body forming approximately a 45 degree angle with the water surface to optimize balance work
The supplementary workout(s) for the first week are geared to allow the swimmer time to digest and refine their understanding of the basic concepts introduced in the primary workouts.
Similarly, they are intended to begin the process of fitness building, introduce the concept of speed-play, and “hybrid” swims – swims in which the athlete performs a mixture of drills and swims during a more fitness oriented set.
The drills that are chosen for hybrid swims are often ones that can be performed at a speed that is similar to swimming, enabling the athlete to have options when working out with a group, but still wishing to spend time advancing their own agenda using the techniques in this book.
Over the course of the 12-week program, these hybrid sets will become more demanding. As the athlete learns more advanced drills and activities, their ability to integrate hybrid swims into fitness-oriented workouts will increase dramatically.
Finally, the Supplemental workouts tend to be lengthy. This is why we refer to them as workouts, rather than a workout, even though only one appears weekly. Swimmers are encouraged to go as far as their fitness and time allows and to finish the supplemental activities at another time. More advanced swimmers who complete the supplemental in one session are encouraged to take advantage of a more conditioning based 3rd session provided weekly.
[3X 25 on :10 REST]
#1 – F&P
#2 – PULL
#3 – SWIM
(12 x 25 total)
2X [3 X 50 on :15 REST]
#1 – SoL 1-6
#2 – SoL 3-6
#3 - SWIM
(6 x 50 total)
INTEGRATED INTO LONGER AEROBIC WORK
3 X 300 on :20 REST
#1 – 100 SWIM / 100 F&P / 100 SWIM
#2 – 100 PULL / 100 SWIM / 100 PULL
#3 – 100 SWIM / 100 1-6 SoL / 100 SWIM
1 X 500 PULL WITH BUOY, REST :30
6 X 25 SoL on :10 REST
ODD - SoL 1-6
EVEN - SoL 3-6
1 X 300 ALT 50 SWIM FAST / 50 PULL EASY, REST :20
6 X 25 F&P on :10 REST
1 X 100 FAST SWIM, REST :30
2700 yards/meters done- Good time for a break?
INTEGRATED INTO SPEED-PLAY
12 X 75 IN SETS OF 3 on :15 REST
SET #1 – 1-6 SoL / 3-6 SoL / 25 SWIM FAST
SET #2 – PULL, DESCEND 1-3
SET #3 – 25 SWIM FAST / 25 F&P / 25 SWIM FAST
SET #4 – SWIM, DESCEND 1-3
4 x 25 CHOICE, AMRAN
3700 TOTAL yards/meters
DESCEND – This is a basic speed-play concept which generally refers to increasing speed
between successive swims in a set (increasing speed = decreasing time, hence
“descending”). So, if we are doing a set of 6 X 50, descending 1-3, it means we will increase our
speed as we go from the 1st to the 2nd to the 3rd swim of the set, and then begin the process
again through the 4th, 5th and 6th swims.
It should be stressed here that descending is a time based activity, not an effort based one. The idea is not necessarily to work harder, rather, to go faster on successive swims. Seems simple, but that first swim needs to be well under control to have any chance of descending success.
You don't have to do flip turns to successfully use this course, but we think they make it more fun. You are likely to hit slightly faster paces as you will spend less time not he wall. Consider flipturns a somewhat optional piece of physical vocabularly.
You need to learn to do the 'flip' part before moving on to the steps in the video. DO this away from the walls!
Flip Turn Progression: https://youtu.be/BdrFOFmBorc
WARM-UP / DRILL REVIEW
1 x 300 as 25 F&P / 25 SWIM
Flip turn progression: Complete each step at least 2-3x or until you have plateaued your improvements. Take your time. As much rest as needed.
20 x 50 SWIM on :15 REST
Starting from the middle of the pool. Complete 2 flipturns /50. Easy to moderate pace.
4X through on :15 REST AFTER EACH REPEAT
1 x 75 HARD
1 x 50 EASY
1 x 25 HARD
#1 WITH KICKBOARD AND FINS
#2 WITH KICKBOARD, NO FINS
#3 NO TOYS, ON STOMACH
#4 NO TOYS, ON BACK
8 X 25 EASY SoL 1-6
While the first week began with the two ends of the Float & Paddle and Statue of Liberty Continuum, the focus of the second week is smack dab in the middle – the kick. The kick is the single most important element of effective swimming rhythm, as well as being a prime factor in the style of pulling that a swimmer employs. Our approach to learning kick rhythm is begun with the very basics:
1. Not kicking at all
2. Kicking with only one leg
3. Kicking intermittently
The pulling and F&P drills from the first week delivered the first concept, now we move on to the second and third, which are in essence varying degrees of kicking. The 1-legged kick drill involves swimming with a regular arm pull, while kicking with only one of your legs. Another way of thinking about the 1-legged kick is that you are turning off one of your legs. For now, we do NOT want you to focus on any specific number of kicks (nor any specific kick timing, as these will come in weeks 3,4 and 5), simply focusing on turning off the other leg is the sole objective.
Turning off one leg can be exceedingly difficult, especially if you tend to be a vigorous kicker. Similarly, the leg that is kicking will be challenged because it does not have its mate to provide counter-balance, and the timing of this single legs kick with respect to the arm pull becomes highlighted. Swimming with a single leg kick may feel entirely awkward, or fluid at certain points of the stroke, and awkward at other points of the stroke. Any and all of these situations are important to take note of, and the athlete may benefit from asking themselves the question: “when does it feel awkward?”, and “when does it feel fluid?” or perhaps more accurately, “do I experience varying degrees of awkward?”.
When first learning these types of activities, a “lighter shade of awkward” may be as good as it gets! This is to be expected, and is no reason for concern. In fact, feeling awkward is a sign that you have a sense that something is not right, which is a cornerstone for being able to identify when something is right. Athletes who struggle with simply “making one leg stop” are encouraged to go along and practice this, having patience – over the course of a few weeks, your ability to move your legs independent of one another will increase. At these early stages, it is sufficient to simply become aware of each leg independently. This awareness building exercise will pay dividends down the road as we introduce more complex relationships between the pull and the kick.
Beat Kicking on a Kick Board
The second kick activity for this week is the “3-beat kick”. This involves kicking with a kick-board, pausing every 3rd kick. The athlete will perform a “burst” of 3 kicks, followed by a pause that lasts for 1 second or less, and the athlete should attempt to freeze the leg in motion (kind of like the old game “freeze tag”). The initial goal of this activity is to make sure that there is a perceptible pause in your kick. An onlooker should be able to readily observe that your leg motion is stopping briefly.
The second point of focus is to actually be able to count 3 kicks. Perhaps surprisingly, many athletes will naturally fall into a rhythm of 4 kicks and a pause when doing this drill. It feels so comfortable to them, that they may not realize that they are not doing 3 kicks.
A point of reference is as follows: if you are truly pausing every 3rd kick, you will begin each new burst of kicking with alternating legs. In other words, the first burst will be initiated by the right foot, then the next burst will be initiated by the left foot, and this will continue on in alternating fashion. If you are doing a 4-beat kick (or any even numbered amount of kicks) you will initiate each successive burst with the same foot.
The athlete should expect this to be a very slow form of kicking, considerably less speedy than simply kicking in an uninterrupted fashion. It is possible to do this without a kickboard, either in streamline position (arms above your head) or in “luge” position with your arms at your side. The only difficulty with performing this activity without a kick board is that breathing tends to confound the pauses every 3rd kick.
Develops general rhythmic ability.
By mastering the 3-beat rhythm the essential rhythm for swimming with a 6-beat kick is developed.
Legs should "freeze" in place when pausing, with one leg up above the surface and one leg below the surface.
If you are doing an odd number of kicks, then the leading leg (that which initiates the next burst of kicks) will alternate. If you are doing an even number of kicks in each burst, you will lead with the same leg each time.
Once athletes have begun to master this skill, they should attempt to make their bursts of kicking more rapid.
2-beat - pause every 2nd kick
4-beat - pause every 4th kick
5-beat - pause every 5th kick
3-beat - pause every 3rd kick
Swim w/ 1 Leg - https://youtu.be/ffXiXCgjdvA
Beat Kicking, 3 bt - http://tinyurl.com/pckndcx
PRIMARY WORKOUT – WEEK #2
1 X 300 done as 50 CHOICE / 25 PULL
3 X 50 done as 25 F&P / 25 SWIM on :10 REST
2 X 75 PULL / KICK / SWIM BY 25s on :10 REST
1 X 150 done as 25 1-6 SoL / 25 SWIM
6 X 25 F&P on :15 REST
6 X 25 1-LEG KICK (SWIM, ONLY USING ONE LEG) on :15 REST
4 X 25 3 BEAT KICK WITH BOARD on :15 REST
4 X 150 on :20 REST
#1,2 – PULL
#3 – F&P
#4 – done as 50 KICK / 50 SWIM / 50 KICK
REST 3:00 - PREPARE FOR A LITTLE SPEED WORK
Goal of this set is to push your skills related to pulling, and to minimize the use of your legs
while trying to move the arms quickly. Additionally, by trying to go fast with just your arms, you will be stimulated to use your body as a more effective component.
8 X 25 on :10 or :15 REST
ODD - PULL FAST
EVEN - CHOICE DRILL EZ
8 X 25 on :10 or :15 REST
ODD - SWIM FAST
EVEN - PULL WITH LONG STROKES
REST 1:00 – PUT ON FINS
1 X 100 KICK ON BACK WITH FINS
1 X 100 EASY CHOICE WITH FINS
3 BEAT KICK – kicking on a board with a momentary pause every 3 kicks. This helps to
develop rhythm, helps you to become aware of kick count, and builds the ability to control
the kick frequency.
PULLING FAST – when pulling fast, you want to find that sweet spot where your turnover
(rate of arm rotation) is quick, but where you are still able to synch your body rotation with
your pull, and where your hands are not slipping through the water (often called “spinning
TECHNIQUE SPECIFIC / WARM-UP
12 X 50 on :15 REST
#1 – F&P
#2 – SWIM w/ 1-LEG KICK,
#3 – SWIM w/ NORMAL KICK
12 X 25 on :10 REST
#1 – PULL, BREATHE EVERY 3rd STROKE
#2 – 3-6 SoL
#3 – SWIM
INTEGRATED INTO LONGER AEROBIC WORK
3 X 400 on :30 REST
#1 – done as 50 PULL / 50 SWIM w/ 1-LEG KICK / 50 PULL / 50 SWIM (repeat 2X)
#2 – 400 PULL, WITH BUOY, BREATHE EVERY 3RD
#3 – done as 75 SWIM / 25 1-6 SoL / 75 SWIM / 25 PULL FAST (repeat 2X)
1 x 100 EASY SWIM
2200 yards/meters may be a good time to end the session. Or...
REST 1:00 AND PUT ON FINS
4 X 100 KICK WITH FINS on :20 REST
ODD – 3-BEAT
EVEN – FAST
6 X 50 on :15 REST
#1 – 1-6 SoL
#2 – 3-6 SoL
#3 - SWIM
Take off fins.
INTEGRATED INTO SPEED-PLAY – approach this conservatively on #1, and #2 so that
you have something left for #3 and #4
4 x 200 on :20 REST
#1 – PULL, MODERATE PACE
#2 – PULL, FASTER THAN #1
#3 – SWIM FASTER THAN #2
#4 – SWIM WITH FINS, FASTEST!
1 x 100 EASY SWIM
The supplementary workout from week two, and both primary and supplementary workouts from the third week introduce no new skills per se, but gives you activities that will allow you to reinforce what you have already begun to learn.
To challenge your level of skill mastery we will use speed-play as an added stimulus. Speed-play activities, like “build-ups”, “descends”, and adding/subtracting speed aids (such as fins) forces you to speed up or slow down your execution, or try to maintain a propulsive grip on the water while moving at a higher than normal speed. Many programs do not use drills in combination with speed-play, however, I feel that it can be extremely helpful. While initial learning of skills is generally best done at slow speeds, by trying to speed up your execution of a drill, even one not yet mastered, can give your body a new perspective on the motions that go into the activity, and on the ways in which those motions fit together. This is not a conscious realization, but rather, this is simply a way to stimulate your bodies’ own instinctive ability to “integrate”.
During week two, we actually began our speed-play/drill hybridization when we performed the high speed pulling set (10 X 25, ODD – fast pull, EVEN – easy drill). This week we introduce speed play with the SoL series – a marvelous integrator on its own. The SoL is a fairly complicated drill, so “FAST” here may be a relative concept indeed. The main objective is just to make it at least “one notch” faster than normal – perhaps this might be accomplished by focusing on a faster execution of the kicks, while the arm pull, body rotation and breath are all done at a slow pace. Conversely, you might opt to try to make the pull and rotation part of the drill fast, and take your time on the kicking and breathing, so that you are properly aligned for you next cycle. Or, you might opt to simply do the drill a tiny bit faster. Whatever your approach, do not be overly concerned with “succeeding”.
If you fail to execute the drill properly while attempting to increase the speed, do not be worried – simply use it as an opportunity to increase your awareness. Where did the drill break down? Were you able to maintain the proper order, in which you “lead with the head”, i.e., put your face in the water before beginning the pull each time?
Head Lead SoL - https://youtu.be/iJt7OcueRy8
Build Up w/ Kick - http://tinyurl.com/qgbqbgv
Build Up w/ Pull - https://youtu.be/zL64uf4NnuY
PRIMARY WORKOUT - WEEK #3
1 X 300 done as 50 CHOICE / 50 F&P :20 REST
6 X 25 on :10 REST
ODD – 1-6 SoL
EVEN - BUILD-UP SWIM
6 X 25 SWIM w/ 1-LEGGED KICK :10 REST
4 X 25 3-BEAT KICK w/ BOARD :10 REST
NO NEW DRILLS TODAY
PREPARE FOR A LITTLE FITNESS/SPEED WORK
We will experiment with a short “fixed time interval” based prep set, then the main set will
be a “fixed rest interval” set. Choose a 'send-off interval' that gives you at least :!0 but no more than :15 rest between swims
3 X [ on 1:00/1:15/1:30 /?:??
1 X 50 – done as 25 PULL or F&P / 25 SWIM
1 X 50 – SWIM w/ EASY, LONG STROKES
1 X 50 – SWIM FAST
For stuff labeled “fast”, not all out sprint, just need to make a noticeable change in speed –
care should be taken to avoid fatiguing yourself too early!
3 X 150 on :20 REST
#1 – 50 3-6 SoL / 50 SWIM / 50 3-6 SoL
#2 – 50 SWIM / 50 3-6 SoL FAST / 50 SWIM
#3 – 50 SWIM FAST / 50 3-6 SoL / 50 SWIM FAST
1 X 200 ALT. 25 F&P / 25 SWIM
1 X 300
100 SWIM W/HARD KICK / 100 EASY PULL or SWIM W/EASY KICK / 100 SWIM FAST
4 x 25 PERFECT SWIM on :20 REST
SUPPLEMENTARY WORKOUTS - WEEK #3
8 X 50 on :15 REST
ODD – SWIM w/ 1-LEG KICK (SWITCH LEGS BY 25)
EVEN – PULL FAST
12 X 50 on :15 REST
#1 – 1-6 SOL
#2 – 3-6 SOL
#3 – 5-6 SOL
#4 – BUILD-UP SWIM
INTEGRATED INTO LONGER AEROBIC WORK
(May do F&P instead of pull)
2 X 500 on :30 REST
#1 – 200 SWIM / 150 F&P / 100 SWIM / 50 3-6 SOL
100 PULL / 25 3-BEAT KICK (NO BOARD)
100 SWIM / 25 SWIM W/1-LEG KICK
100 PULL / 25 KICK FAST
100 SWIM / 25 3-BEAT KICK (NO BOARD)
1 X 300 PULL WITH BUOY
4 X 100 KICK WITH FINS on :15 REST
ODD – KICK ON STOMACH
EVEN – KICK ON BACK
1 X 300 done as 50 F&P / 50 SWIM BUILD-UP
4 X 100 FAST SWIM
:10 REST BETWEEN 100s,
HOLD BEST POSSIBLE TIME
INTEGRATED INTO SPEED-PLAY
6 X 125 on :20 REST
REPEAT THE FOLLOWING:
ODD – 25 SWIM FAST / 25 PULL / 25 SWIM EASY / 25 PULL / 25 SWIM FAST
EVEN – ALT. 25 BUILD-UP SWIM / 25 F&P
1 x 100 EASY SWIM COOLDOWN