Fun Swim Sets- By: Jasper Blake

“Fishy, fishy, fishy fish”

By: Jasper Blake

Oh Canada, the days are getting shorter, the temperature is getting cooler and the pool is becoming a more frequent local for swim sessions.  Winter is looming and even in Victoria it is becoming increasingly difficult to swim outdoors as the temperature drops.
And so we trudge to the pool, often in darkness, and slog away up and down, up and down.  It is at this time of year I am reminded of the joys of group pool swimming and think back on some of the more memorable swim sessions I have participated in.
And so without further ado, here are some of my all time favorite swim sets.  I hope these inspire you to challenge yourself with a set you might not have thought possible or simply add some spice to your swimming adventures.

100*100

This workout seems to be a New Years Day tradition and an unofficial initiation into the world of most swim clubs.  I’ve heard all kinds of versions of this set from 10*(10*100) of varying strokes to straight up freestyle for all 100.  Regardless of how it’s broken down, it’s a big swim and one that will leave you with a feeling of great accomplishment.  You may not think you can get through it but you can!

The Ken Royds Special

For those of you from Ontario you may well know one of Canada’s most infamous swim coaches in Ken Royds.  Several of my all time favorite challenging sets have been summoned up by Ken.  He is a man of relentless passion and an iron fist to say the least.  The hardest set I have done under his watchful eye was 30*100 on 2 minutes with 10 push ups between each 100.  The first five are quite easy but after that it’s just plain awful.  In the words of Dane Cook, it’s kind of like eating pancakes.

Hypoxic Sets

The term “hypoxic” can be simply defined as “not enough oxygen”.  In a nutshell hypoxic sets involve swimming while controlling the amount of breaths you are allowed in each length.  A great one to try is a set of 50’s where you are allowed fewer and fewer breaths as the set progresses.

10*50 on 1 minute as two rounds of:

8 breaths (4 per 25)

6 breaths (3 per 25)

4 breaths (2 per 25)

2 breaths (1 per 25)

No breath 50

I have lost more than my fair share of urine trying to perform this set but it is a great challenge.  I would recommend performing this set in a supervised environment and appreciating that a challenge is good but so is breathing if you absolutely have to.
Circuit Training

Circuit training is a great way to break up the monotony of regular swim sessions.  I would recommend picking ten different exercises that last around one minute then allow 10-20 seconds to change stations. Here are some examples of stations I have participated in.

Tricep dips

All out 50m sprint

Vertical kicking

Warm shower

2* Underwater 25 on 30 seconds

Walking lunges

Core work

Be inventive, have some fun!
Get out swims

Many of you might be familiar with the term “get out swim” but for those you who have not heard this expression I will elaborate.  Occasionally the coach would pose an option during workout.  You could either do the next looming set or attempt a “get out swim”.  The get out swim was usually an all out effort for time.  If you hit the goal time or faster you were allowed to warm down and get out.  However, if you did not then you had to perform the next set with extremely tired arms and legs.
Luck of the draw adventure swims

This lovely idea is brought to you by Pip Taylor and in part by Simon Whitfield who has also used this idea in the past.  Prior to the workout write out a bunch of different swim sets on pieces of paper and place them in a hat.  These sets can be everything from a 1km time trial to a nice 5 minute hot shower.  Each athlete picks their destiny from the hat at the beginning of each round.
There are as many swim sets as you have an imagination for.  Don’t be afraid to step out of the box and challenge yourself in a different way.  Often the body and mind will respond well to something completely different …..Have Fun!


3 Comments

  1. Julie Z Said

    Hey Jasper- my name is Julie and I used to swim for Ken Royds on the Beaconsfield Bluefins! I was just thinking of him this morning and how nice it would be to reach back and thank him for all his time spent training me- so I goodled his name and came upon this website! Do you know how to get in touch with him?
    PS- I remember hypoxic workouts and also how Ken liked to combine wet and dry workouts- never found that anywhere else when I was a kid ( a very long time ago! )

    April 6th, 2011 at 7:56 pm

  2. Julie Z Said

    Hey Jasper- my name is Julie and I used to swim for Ken Royds on the Beaconsfield Bluefins! I was just thinking of him this morning and how nice it would be to reach back and thank him for all his time spent training me- so I goodled his name and came upon this website! Do you know how to get in touch with him?
    PS- I remember hypoxic workouts and also how Ken liked to combine wet and dry workouts- never found that anywhere else when I was a kid ( a very long time ago! )

    April 6th, 2011 at 7:56 pm

  3. Julie Z Said

    Hey Jasper- my name is Julie and I used to swim for Ken Royds on the Beaconsfield Bluefins! I was just thinking of him this morning and how nice it would be to reach back and thank him for all his time spent training me- so I goodled his name and came upon this website! Do you know how to get in touch with him?
    PS- I remember hypoxic workouts and also how Ken liked to combine wet and dry workouts- never found that anywhere else when I was a kid ( a very long time ago! )

    April 6th, 2011 at 7:56 pm

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