View Full Version : Frequency vs. yardage--swimming when time is limited

June 6th, 2013, 03:54 PM
Right now I have an incredibly busy schedule as I have a full time job as a teacher, and I am doing a ton of tutoring as state exams are coming up soon. I also have had some social events that were not really optional.

Finding time to swim has been difficult. Last summer, when I first got back into swimming after a 20 year layoff, I was doing 1/2 mile 4-5 days a week, plus some dry land training. Usually I would do a mile once per week.

I have completely stopped the dry land. I would say I swim three times some weeks and twice other weeks, but now I usually do 2200 yards in one workout. For example, I swam 2200 on Saturday, and haven't gone since, but I am heading to the Y in a short while.

Is a longer workout, but less frequent, better than more frequent shorter workouts? To be honest, what I was doing last summer in terms of distance seems like a joke now...I now do almost 1/2 mile for my warmup. I need to do at least a mile to feel like I have really worked out, but I can't go as often.

If one better than the other, or is it a wash?

PS...my pool stamina is much better since I cut out the heavy weights.

Rob Copeland
June 6th, 2013, 04:54 PM
It depends on your fitness and swimming goals and how much of a trade-off you are talking about. 3 days a week at 2,200 is better than 2 at 2,200. And for me 3 at 2,200 would be better than 6,600 once a week.

Are you looking to become a better swimmer or just maintain a level of fitness?

June 6th, 2013, 05:14 PM
Also what events you are focusing on is going to be a factor. If you want to focus on sprinting I'd say more short workouts would be better. For longer events, perhaps fewer but longer workouts would be better.

Allen Stark
June 6th, 2013, 08:24 PM
Everybody is different,but as a general rule one needs at least 3X/wk to maintain conditioning.At less than that most people are losing the carry over effect.4 is usually better than 3.Beyond 4 it really depends on your goals.

June 7th, 2013, 02:21 AM
Mix it up, if you can, do a couple of longer workouts and a couple of shorter workouts. As your fitness improves you'll be able to cover more yardage in less time anyway, as you've probably already noticed... but I don't like to be out of the water too many days in a row; it's probably just psychological, but I feel like my "feel" for the water suffers.

Instead of doing 3 x 2200/Week, you might try 2 x 2000 and 2 x 1300... same amount of yardage, but less time per day. Splitting the yardage up over 4 days instead of 3 might make each individual workout seem less daunting and might help you get in more "quality" yardage.

June 7th, 2013, 08:48 AM
Often it is difficult to find time to get into the water. If I squeeze in a swim some workdays it is only for 30 minutes, but other days I can get closer to an hour or 80 minutes on a date off. Especially if this is a busy time of year for your schedule, try to carve out some time, conceding it isn't what you really want to do but rather what you are able to at this time.

Great job making the gains that you have over the year! :thewave:

June 7th, 2013, 09:32 AM
I think the most important thing is to adapt to the time you've got. If you can get in the pool for 30 minutes, you can choose to do a couple of thousand at a low level, maybe some drills/technique (maybe as part of the low level work), or warm up and do some real sprints, but you can't really do much in between... But it's not terribly effective for, say, higher intensity work (say tolerance) that requires a good warmup and swim down.

I tend to find that an hour works well - that allows a good warm up, a solid main set, and a swim down. If I have longer I can do some skills work, some kicking, etc.. If I have less, there's usually some compromise but that doesn't mean it isn't worth doing...

June 9th, 2013, 08:15 AM
Just gotta experiment to see what your body responds to. I didn't know it at the time, but my old school Masters coach was a garbage yardage guy, but that's all I knew so I didn't know what I didn't know! When I moved and joined a new program I went to on average 30% less yardage and broke 3 PR's in that year. No more mindless yardage 'just because'. I had pretty much been stuck at the same level for a decade with that old coach. Experiment!

Michael Heather
June 9th, 2013, 11:58 AM
Your goals will ultimately dictate what you need to do, but since you seem to have a relatively steady routine, I generally agree with Rob in post #7.

If you are looking to increase yardage, you have two choices; (1) swim faster in the allotted time or (2) get more time to swim.

If you are trying to increase fitness, use 2 intense workouts to 1 recovery workout. The intense practices will have a short warm up and either long rest sprint sets or short rest pace/distance sets followed by a warm down.

Recovery practice can be a mix of things or concentration on one aspect of your swimming, such as a whole hour of kicking drills/sets.

If you have someone who will watch or knows what to look for, ask them to participate while you are doing any drills. Drills without outside feedback are very nearly pointless.

Most of all, persevere. It is very discouraging at times when you remember how easy some sets or time intervals used to be. Keep with it and there will be a breakthrough.

Good luck!