11 One-Hour Medley Swim Workouts

A former college swimmer and high school assistant coach, Margaret Cyphers has built a number of workouts that she uses to keep her stroke strong. All of these workouts involve some or all of the four strokes. They are all between 2,000 and 3,000 yards and take about an hour to complete. Cyphers has printed all of them out, laminated them, and now takes them to the pool with her.

Before we get to the drills, swimming newcomers (the so-called "adult-onset swimmers") may benefit from learning some quick terminology in the drills that you may not immediately understand:

  • Kick: A set focusing on your kicking. Often done while holding a kickboard to prevent assistance from your arms.
  • Pull: A set focusing on your strokes. Often done with a pull buoy to prevent assistance from your legs.
  • Drill: These sets do not have goal times. Focus solely on your technique during drill sets.
  • Descend: Swim each repetition faster than the one before it.
  • Dolphin Dives: Dive down below the surface of the water, similar to diving under waves. Here is a video demonstration.
  • IM Order: The order of medley swims are butterfly, backstroke, breaststroke and freestyle.
  • Dolphin Kick: A type of kicking (typically used in the butterfly) where both legs kick together in rhythm.
  • Choice: Choose whichever stroke you want.
  • Negative Split: The second half of the set is swum faster than the first half.

More: 6 One-Hour Freestyle Workouts

Mix Tape

Warm-up (800)

  • 200 free
  • 150 breast
  • 100 back
  • 50 butterfly
  • 6x50 kick (odd: freestyle, even: breaststroke)

Main set (1600)

  • 4x100 with 15-second rest (first 25 butterfly)
  • 100 easy breaststroke
  • 3x100 with 10-second rest (first 25 butterfly)
  • 100 easy backstroke
  • 2x100 with 5-second rest (first 25 butterfly)
  • 100 easy breaststroke
  • 8x50 freestyle (easy/fast)

Cooldown (400)

  • 4 x 100 (free, back, breast, free by 100's)

Total: 2800 yards

The Medley

Warm-Up (400)

  • 1 x 400 (75 swim, 25 kick of each stroke)

Main Set (800)

  • 200 freestyle, moderate
  • 2x50 drill breast/50 swim breast
  • 200 freestyle, moderate
  • 200 breaststroke, negative split

Pull/Kick Set (600)

  • 8 x 50 Pull freestyle (10-second rest)
  • 200 moderate kick

Final Set (400)

  • 8 x 50, descend 1-4 and 5-8
  • Cool Down (100)

  • 100 Easy
  • Total: 2300 yards

    More: 2 IM Workouts for Your Open Water Swim

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    About the Author

    Margaret Cyphers

    Margaret Cyphers was a Division-I swimmer for the University of Minnesota, and an assistant high school swim coach. After leaving college swimming due to injuries, and taking a break from the pool, she again found her love for the sport on a casual level. She now swims twice a week, for the general fitness and pure enjoyment.

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