View Full Version : Training for 500 Free

February 9th, 2015, 06:32 PM
Hello, all:

I just recently joined these forums but was hoping I could get some tips on how to improve my 500 free. My current times lie around 5:40 (PR is 5:35), usually with my split from a dive being around 28.00 then having the rest of my splits level off to around 34.00-35.00. My goal is to have my time down to a 5:25 by memorial day weekend (15 weeks), and eventually down to under 5:00, although I haven't set a time for that. I currently swim 3800-4200 5 days a week with no real focus in my workouts. I plan to up my workouts gradually so that I'm swimming around 30,000 yards a week (up from 20,000). What things should I be focusing on in my workouts to help my splits? Are there any specific aspects of swimming that I should be focusing on for the 500?



February 10th, 2015, 09:35 AM
30k a week is a lot..to the point of being absurd unless you are under 30 (maybe even 34).
dont let total yardage be a focus point.
you need endurance, stamina, speed...here have a blue pill....whoops wrong commercial!
so intervaul training, race pace training and some grinding at times too. as well as a few meets to actually race in.

February 10th, 2015, 10:17 AM
I have a few questions about your original post. First…when you say “500 free”…is that yards or meters? The reason I ask is because you refer to your weekly total as “yards” and I think there’s noticeable difference between the 500y and 500m race distance. Secondly, I’m kind of curious what your age is too? And, is that weekly total all toward 500 free training? Do you train/race other strokes? And although I think there’s merit for a young swimmer to specialize in this manner (if he/she wants to)…there are many in these forums who’ll argue that specializing at the high school level is ill advised.


February 10th, 2015, 10:26 AM
I've never heard of a 500 race in meters, just 400, 800, 1500. I think the 500 free is a peculiarly American invention. :)

February 10th, 2015, 10:45 AM
I've never heard of a 500 race in meters, just 400, 800, 1500. I think the 500 free is a peculiarly American invention. :)

Here in Rhode Island high schools race 500 meters free (individual). But the free relay is 400 meters.


February 10th, 2015, 11:08 AM
I'll leave comments on training to others but you definitely should slow down on the first 50. You shouldn't be 6-7 seconds faster. Aim for about 3 seconds and your overall race should be faster.

February 10th, 2015, 12:17 PM
Okay, I'll clarify a few things:

First of all, I am a male high school swimmer (sophomore), 6'0" and growing with size 12 feet and hands big enough to palm basketballs so I think I can take high distance and intensity workouts if I really put in the effort.
Second of all, I was referring to the 500 yard freestyle, which is the longest available race in high school swimming.
Third of all, I usually swim freestyle exclusively, but I think it would be fun to add in another stroke or two (not breaststroke, though).
Judging from the comments, I am getting the vibe that I should not necessarily specialize yet as I am so young. And I guess it is much more logical to open myself up to multiple strokes and events by training all around. But I still feel like I belong in the weird space in between sprinters and long distance swimmers.

So, modifying my question a bit, how should I train for events LIKE the 500 (yard) freestyle, so that includes things like the 200y/m, 400m/500y etc. swims in different strokes (mostly freestyle but I want to add in back and later fly)? I've read a little about things like USRPT but I'm not 100% sure of its philosophy. But, should I leave days where I do primarily kick, or primarily pull, or mainly distance, or mainly sprints?



Gary P
February 10th, 2015, 02:24 PM
Are you part of a team or are you an "unattached" swimmer who has complete control over your workouts?
You say you work out 5 days a week, is that once a day? Are 2-a-days possible? Are you currently resting 2 consecutive days?

February 10th, 2015, 02:38 PM
I am an unattached swimmer for the spring, summer, and fall, but I swim on a winter team. I usually practice once a day for 5 days per week, resting Saturday and Sunday. I would be willing to up my number of practices, but I'd rather fill up all my afternoons than to get up in the morning and swim.

February 10th, 2015, 03:12 PM
soph in hs? oh snap!

this -> so intervaul training, race pace training and some grinding at times too.

you will need to work up to 5x100s on 1:10 or 05 even ... touch and go
4x300s on 4min...maybe start at 4:30 and take 10secs off a week at a time...if you can.
come to texas and after a week training with me or up in dallas with McRibs you will be faster...or passed out :D

you REALLY need to be on a club team. it is the only way to get faster.

February 10th, 2015, 06:07 PM

Do what sunruh says! I've been following some of his workouts (12x200 skips) for the last few months, and I've had 5 Master's PR's in the last 2 months.

Painful truth is, if you want to swim the 500 free fast, it's going to hurt. A lot.
To build on that 5x100s set, we've started doing a "test" set of 10x100s, starting on 1:05. Do as many 100's as you can until you miss the interval(I'm up to 4) and then change the interval to 1:10 and continue.

February 10th, 2015, 07:10 PM
I think I'm going to combine some of the traditional high intensity sets with some USRPT. Thank you for your input everybody. If theres any more questions or suggestions I'll be happy to read/reply.


Jazz Hands
February 10th, 2015, 08:30 PM
it is the only way to get faster.

Never a true statement.

February 10th, 2015, 09:12 PM
A big big aerobic base as Mr Unruh describes, most definitely helps when swimming the 500. in both Mr Unruh and my case years of age group and College training was required to build our base. It's hard to build a base yet so easy to loose it.

I am surprised you did not throw out Blue Bell ice cream as a tool when training for the 500 Mr Unruh.

February 11th, 2015, 12:36 AM
On another note - please fill in your "view profile" to include info about yourself. That will help us in understanding your background.

February 11th, 2015, 12:38 AM
Here's a set for you. Once or twice a week do 20 X 50 on :45 and try to hold :32s.

February 11th, 2015, 08:39 AM
Hi Bow, It sounds like you're already working hard. If I were your coach, I would advise you to work smarter in your existing practices rather than adding more workouts. Bodies need rest, and it's better to do fewer practices with excellent technique than to do more yardage and practices with poor technique.

In a short course 500 free, turns can make a huge difference. Can you find ways to do them better? Your streamline, your breakout, your pushoff. Rather than do extra practices, I would work every single streamline off the wall during your current practices. Are you doing dolphin kicks off the wall? Are you getting a nice line off the wall that enables you to get the most from your pushoff by minimizing resistance?

Then there is the whole area of stroke technique. Can your coach take a look and offer some tips? How is your body position? Are your hips high? Where are your eyes focused? So much to think about, which makes the sport so interesting.

You mentioned you do mainly freestyle. I would also suggest adding different strokes to your repertoire. For variety, fun, and to prevent injury from too much repetitive motion. Backstroke, for example, is a great complement to freestyle.

Finally, high school swimming should be fun. It's a place where you can make lifelong friends. Relays are the best. Practice relay starts with your teammates, cheer for your teammates, and enjoy those duel meets.

Best wishes, have fun, and please keep us posted!

February 11th, 2015, 09:44 AM
All good intentions...no doubt. But this thread seems to be all over the place. More yardage; more rest; more USRPT; more traditional training; more stroke variety; more technique concentration; more teamwork. Depending on the swimmer...they're all good suggestions. But I think every swimmer has a different background, different natural abilities, and a different work ethic. What is a good proven regime for one swimmer may not work with another. Perhaps the best thing for young bow to do is work with a good coach, preferably one that knows him, and have that coach evaluate him, set realistic goals, and prescribe a training regiment that works best for him.