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Endurance Laps and Interval Training

Endurance training increases your ability to exert yourself and remain active for a long period of time, as well as your ability to resist, withstand, and recover from fatigue.

The need for endurance in sports is often predicated as the need of cardiovascular and simple muscular endurance and it can be shown is closely tied to the execution of skill and technique. A well conditioned athlete can be defined as, the athlete who executes his or her technique consistently and effectively with the least effort.

Long-term endurance training induces many physiological adaptations both centrally and peripherally mediated. The word endurance training generally refers to training the aerobic system as opposed to anaerobic.

Main cardiovascular adaptations include decreased heart rate, increased stroke volume of the heart, increased blood plasma, without any major changes in red blood cell count, which reduces blood viscosity and increases cardiac output.

Endurance exercise tends to be popular with non-athletes for the purpose of increasing general fitness or burning more calories to increase weight loss potential.

You enjoy swimming laps? That's great!

It's not just about swimming laps. Try intervals or drills to increase your speed, endurance, and overall fitness. Instead of swimming those monotonous laps back and forth, how about creating a structured workout?

Divide your swimming schedule into different lap sets. When you're starting, you should aim to finish 5 laps at a time, then rest. As you get better at swimming, you can finish larger sets. Good swimmers can do 25 to 30 laps without stopping.

Don’t count the laps, make the laps count!

Most standard work out pools are 25 meter. This is one end to the other, so when one refers to a lap they mean from one side the other. If one says do 100 freestyle, this means 4 laps. A set in swimming consists of numerous repetitive laps. An example of a set would be 5 x 200 meters backstroke. For beginners putting a set on a time is not necessary or recommended.

For variety incorporate different strokes into your lap sets. Swim 4 laps each of freestyle, breast stroke, side stroke or back stroke. Begin with a few smaller sets such as 4x50 meters or 2x100 meters. Each time you swim increase the amount of laps you swim.


Time yourself while swimming. A workout schedule is more effective the longer you can maintain a steady pace. Start by swimming for 30 seconds and resting for 30 seconds, repeating the cycle 10 times. When you can do it easily, increase the swimming time (to 45 seconds, then a minute, then 90 seconds) while reducing the rest time (to 20 seconds, then 15, then 10).

You may also be interested in keeping track of how far you went in one work out. 4x50 meters and 2x100 meters is 16 laps or 400 meters.

Beginners Lap Sequence

    Training Distance: 750 meters

  1. Warm up (RPE 3) 50 meters (2 lengths)

  2. Flutter kick on side (RPE 3). Lie on one side with lower arm extended, ear resting on arm, upper arm along body. Hold on to a board with top hand if necessary. Kick from hips (not knees), looking up and keeping knees and side or back of head in water. 50 meters.

  3. Flutter kick with kickboard (keep head in water and breathe to both sides; (RPE 4) 5 x 50 meters.

  4. Swim at a moderate to hard intensity (RPE 7) for 5 laps, taking a breath every 3 strokes. Take 50 to 60 seconds to swim each lap, resting at the wall if you have extra time. 2 x 50 meters.

  5. Swim easy (RPE 3) for 2 laps, taking 1 to 1:15 minutes to swim each lap. 100 meters.

  6. Swim at a moderate intensity (2 laps; RPE 6). 100 meters.

  7. Cool down, easy (RPE 3).

Advanced Lap Sequence

    Training Distance: 1200 meters

    Between laps take a 10 to 30 second recovery break. Start in swimwear, add more clothes as you get stronger. Do poolside sit-ups or push-ups between laps, if you want to push yourself more.

  1. RPE 3: Warm up, easy 100 meters.

  2. RPE 4: Pulling, freestyle. Squeeze a pull buoy between upper thighs and swim only with upper body (no kicking). 2 x 50 meters.

  3. RPE 7: Moderate/hard in 40 to 50 seconds, 1 x 50 meters.

  4. RPE 6: Moderate 2 x 50 meters in 2 to 2:15 minutes.

  5. RPE 7: Moderate/hard 1 x 50 meters in 40 to 50 seconds.

  6. RPE 4: Easy in 1 minute 2 x 50 meters.

  7. RPE 7: Moderate/hard in 2 to 2:15 minutes.
    For the first 25 meter lap, breathe every 3 strokes;
    second lap, breathe every 5;
    third lap, breathe every 7;
    fourth lap, breathe every 9 strokes.

  8. RPE 4: Easy in 1 minute 2 x 50 meters.

  9. RPE 5: Sprints with fins 4 x 25 meters.
    This gets harder with more clothes (RPE 7).

  10. RPE 4-7: Flutter kick with kickboard and fins.
    Do first 25 meters. slow, next medium, then fast and very fast. 100 meters.

  11. RPE 3: Easy cool down. Count arm strokes every 25 meters. Try to reduce stroke count with each lap.

Pyramid or Ladder Training

This training scheme is often used by competition swimmers and triathletes. It gives your muscles a short rest between fast swims and thus makes them work harder. Gradually go towards a target, then ease down to the level of the workout start. Increase the intensity levels over time.

Training Pyramid
115 seconds
215 seconds
315 seconds
215 seconds
Set a training distance, say one pool length. Swim the lengths as fast as you can.

Depending on your fitness level, you can vary the numbers a bit, say 1,3,5,7,5,3,1 lengths with 10 to 30 seconds rest.

With the pyramid workout, choose a numerical goal and build up to it. Work your way up and down the pyramid. In the sample table above, each number counts as a set. A good goal is five sets.

Begin by working at "moderate to hard" intensity for about 5-10 seconds, then rest for 10-20 seconds. Repeat until you have worked about 20 minutes.

Gradually increase the time of the work and rest intervals if necessary, according to how you feel. You'll accumulate more time burning more "stored energy" (body fat) gradually and begin to make a difference.

Make sure you start out at a comfortable pace and then increase the effort until you reach the "top". The longest distance in the set should also be the hardest effort. Then as you come "down", ease up on the effort. A good way of doing this is keep your speed and rest constant through the entire set.

Clothing Tips for Endurance Swimming

Endurance swimming involves light but prolonged effort to build up muscles and the cardiovascular system. A tight fitting swimsuit reduces muscle vibration and increases body compression which leads to better training results.

Stingersuits and diveskins are one piece outfits that streamline your body. This leads to better lap times. Some suits have hoods that double up as bathing caps where required.

Gaining more popularity, especially in Asia, are long sleeve swim shirts or compression shirts with matching tights. Korea is leading this trend with many beautiful designs. A sporty swim shirt can be worn all day, in and out of the water, so it’s ideal around the pool, and for those summer days at the beach, or out in the boat.

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