How to Write a Personal Swim Workout

One of the recommendations to exercise during this pandemic is to get outside and swim. The Houstonian Club has three beautiful pools that are heated or cooled and open all year.
One of the hardest things to do, however, is to design and effective, efficient workout on your own. The Houstonian Club offers many coaches classes using the MindBody App to book spots, but not everyone can make it at those times.  
Here are some great tips about creating your own workout from Clement Dulac, our Lead Swim Coach at the Houstonian. Our Sports Pool is 25 yards across, so in swim-speak, distances are usually referred to as 25 (1 length), 50 (2 lengths), 75 (3 lengths, 100 (4 lengths) and so on.
We are going to look at the 3 main portions of a swim workout and how to write one for yourself.
The Warm Up
The warm up in swimming has a couple of primary objectives. First, we want to slowly loosen up our muscles, especially the shoulders and the surrounding area. Second, we want to begin to raise the heart rate in a controlled manner while letting the lungs gets used to the rhythmic exchange of oxygen. It is important to remember that in swimming you are working out with a limited oxygen intake. This lack of oxygen can quickly raise your heart rate and tire you out. Keep your heart rate low through the beginning of the warm up and slowly start to raise it as you finish to get ready for the main set.

Main Set
The main set is the portion of the workout in which we are working our muscles and heart rate more aggressively.
We can mix and match different exercises with varying distances and levels of rest to create a set that’s both a fun and challenging workout.
Types of Exercises:
  • Holding a Steady Pace with Minimal Rest Example: 8 x 50 with 10 seconds rest
  • Holding an Aggressive Pace with Long Rests Example: 8 x 50 fast with 30 seconds rest
  • Descend Time each Repetition Example: 2 X (4 x 50, each one faster) with 15 seconds reset
  • Pulling with a Pull Buoy & Paddles: 3 x 200 Pull, build speed as you go, with 30 seconds rest
  • Kicking with and without Fins: Example 6 x 75 kick with 20 seconds rest
  • Drills (Technique Focused Exercises): Example 8 x 50 One Arm Swimming 
  • Low Stroke Count or Low Breath Count Example  8 x 25 Low Stroke Count, only 2 breaths at 30 seconds rest
  • Individual Medley (Fly, Back, Breast, Free) Example: 4 x 100 IM (25 each stroke) at 30 seconds rest

Cool Down
The cool down is an often overlooked aspect of any workout. The cool down at the end of a hard swim is especially important to minimize the lactic acid buildup in your muscles. An example of a good cool down in swimming is a set in which you ascend time (get slower) each lap with a minimum of 4 laps. Bringing the heart rate back down with easy swimming is the key component of any cool down.

Putting all of these elements together creates a medley of exercises, intensity patterns, strokes, distances and amounts of rest that all combine to create a comprehensive swim workout. 
Get creative and have fun!

by Clement Dulac, Lead Swim Coach

To make a 55 minute reservation for a lane in the Sports Pool, please download the Swim Reservation software found at Click on Aquatics, Aquatics Reservations and then Make A Reservation.  If you need assistance with reservations, please call 713.316.2705 and leave a message.

For adult swim Instruction and swim workout suggestions, contact Coach Clement at
For children’s lessons, contact Kaitlyn Sowell at