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13 CrossFit Swimming Workouts You Can Do at the Pool

Add variety to your training and improve as a swimmer with these fun workouts. They include swim circuits, breath control workouts, skill workouts and swim-only WODs.

Perfect your swimming and improve your fitness with these CrossFit swimming workouts.

Adding swimming workouts to your training can help improve your technique and increase your endurance. Swimming is also a great low-impact sport and can be a great recovery tool.

Most CrossFit athletes are not training for competitive swimming events and don’t track paces or times. However, it is still possible to combine CrossFit-style training with swimming sessions that you can do at the pool.

crossfit swimming workoutsSource: Stevie D Photography

Why Add Swimming in Your CrossFit WODs?

  • Swimming will improve your endurance and strength: swimming is great resistance training, water is about 900 times thicker than air and a highly unstable medium for applying power, so it requires way more energy to move through.
  • Swimming is a full-body workout: especially if you train all four strokes (which, as a CrossFit athlete, you shouldn’t be surprised about), every large muscle group in your body, as well as small muscle groups around your joints, will be taxed in the pool.
  • Swimming adds variety into your training: the range of movement in your joints required to swim through all strokes is different to movement you’d usually do in the Box, which adds great variety without reducing relevance (think shoulder mobility to swim butterfly vs shoulder mobility for the overhead squat).

Getting Started with Swimming

CrossFit Games athlete and former NCAA Championship Swimmer Colleen Fotsch offers some useful advice for swimming beginners hoping to get faster.

CrossFit Swimming Workouts

These CrossFit swimming workouts assume you know how to swim – you can freestyle, breaststroke and backstroke – and are thought for a 25-meter pool.

They do not include warm ups or skill drills, so make sure you add that specific work before your sessions at the pool. A suggested warmup is three consecutively faster rounds of 150 meters swim (freestyle), 100 meters kick, 100 meters pull.

  • Pull: use only your arms, with paddles on the hands and a buoy between the legs.
  • Kick: use only your legs, placing your arms on a kickboard.

Use the following CrossFit swimming workouts as benchmarks, testing them regularly to measure improvement and to know which areas need work.

CrossFit Swim Circuits

Workout 1

For time:

  • 50 Squats + 500 Meters Kick
  • 50 Push-Ups + 500 Meters Pull
  • 25 Burpees + 500 Meters Swim

Workout 2

8 rounds for time:

  • 15 squat jumps
  • 25 meters swim underwater from dive
  • 30-second vertical kick with hands out of water (“eggbeaters”)
  • 25 meters sprint kick

Workout 3

8 Rounds for Time:

  • 20 Deep-End “Muscle-Ups” (Start From Full Extension Underwater With Knees Bent Ninety Degrees)
  • 75 Meters Pull
  • 30 Push-Ups
  • 75 Meters Pull

Workout 4

10 continuous rounds of:

  • 1:00 vertical kick with weight held overhead (use fins if needed)
  • 1:00 tread water with arms only, legs locked straight and still

Breath Control Workouts

Swimming workouts that challenge your breath control are essential for sprinters.

Total immersion swimmingSource: Courtesy of CrossFit Inc.

Workout 1

Record total time:

  • Lengths Swim
  • 1 Length Underwater (Use Fins If Needed)
  • Lengths Swim
  • 1 Length Underwater
  • 8 Lengths Swim
  • 1 Length Underwater
  • 7 Lengths Swim
  • 1 Length Underwater
  • Etc., Down to 1 Of Each

Workout 2

One minute rest between 50s:

  • 12 x 50 meters swim (first 25 meters underwater; second 25 meters sprint)

Record average 50-meter time.

Workout 3

8 rounds for time, with fins:

  • 100 Meters Kick
  • 25 Meters Swim, No Breath
  • 100 Meters Pull
  • 25 Meters Swim, No Breath

Swim-Only Workouts

Workout 1

10 x 100 meters speed-play with 30 seconds rest between 100s; hold initial 25-meter speed throughout:

  1. Sprint the first 25 meters
    1. Sprint the second 25 meters
    1. Sprint the third 25 meters
    1. Sprint the fourth 25 meters
    1. Sprint the first and third 25 meters
    1. Sprint the second and fourth 25 meters
    1. Sprint the first and second 25 meters
    1. Sprint the second and third 25 meters
    1. Sprint the third and fourth 25 meters
    1. Sprint 100 meters

Workout 2

One minute rest between 100s:

  • 10 X 100 Meters Swim

Record average 100-meter time.

Workout 3

Classic 1500 set, for time:

  • 10 X 150 Swim at Projected Race Pace

Do every 7-10 days or so. Begin with 40 seconds rest between 150s; whenever you can hold all sets at your projected race pace, reduce the rest periods by 5 seconds.

swimming wodsSource: Courtesy of CrossFit Inc.

Swim Skill Workouts

Workout 1

AMRAP in 20 minutes:

  • 100 Meters Kick (No Fins)
  • 100 Meters Pull
  • 100 Meters Swim

Record rounds and fractions.

Workout 2

1000 meters for time:

  • 200 Meters Kick
  • 200 Meters Pull
  • 150 Meters Kick
  • 150 Meters Pull
  • 100 Meters Kick
  • 100 Meters Pull
  • 50 Meters Kick
  • 50 Meters Pull (No Fins)

Workout 3

One minute rest between sets. Velocity assisted (i.e., use paddles and fins):

  • 12 x 50 meters sprint

Record average 50-meter time.

Workouts from the CrossFit Journal.

Find more CrossFit swimming workouts here.

How to measure your CrossFit swimming workouts?

Speed is a great measure of measuring training load when it comes to swimming.

The faster you swim, the greater the resistance encountered and the forces exerted.

How to add intensity to your swimming WODs?

  • Train multiple strokes regardless of your specialisation
  • Upper- or lower-body overload when swimming
  • Circuit work outside the pool combined with swimming
  • Adding resistance gear such as paddles, weight belts or pulling tubes

Read more: How to Improve your Long Distance Swimming

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