To make a long story short, I am now one of the biggest advocates of swimming and aqua running. It is something that improved my fitness level so drastically that I now incorporate it into my regimen at least once if not twice per week. I could write a whole book on the benefits of the water and write endless pool running workouts, so please let me know if you are interested, I can provide you with a few (see http://dynamicworkouts.blogspot.com/2009/09/training-after-injury.html for an example).
However, this article is in response to a friend who wrote me recently. As many of you know, whether you are a recreational swimmer for exercise, training for a triathlon, using swimming as an alternate workout to help your running or simply just trying to get in shape and take off a few pounds – swimming endless mundane laps can be boring. AND to further that, while you will be able to improve your endurance over time, you are not likely to get faster unless you can get in some more targeted workouts.
Below is a great example of a swimming workout I do frequently. You can manipulate the number of lengths in each portion of the workout depending upon your level, time available and length of pool. This workout is based on a 25ft pool.
-Jump up and down in the water a couple times to get wet and get the blood flowing.
-Swim 2-4 laps easy (or 4-8 lengths: I count a lap as swimming to the end of the pool and back)
-Kickboard Drills: 1 lap flutter kicks
-1 Lap: Use Buoy (if pool has it) between legs and just swim with arms
5 -10 by one lap hard (as fast as you can go for one lap) with 30 seconds to one minute of recovery between each lap
Cool Down and Drills:
Two easy laps to recover
1 Lap of Breast Stroke
2 laps of flutter kicks with kickboard
1 Lap of double stroking with arms (meaning take two strokes with left arm, then two strokes with right side)