Issue 25 • June 2014

Swim Sets for Success

Planet Swim instructor, Leo Hobi, shares swim sets for improving your technique, speed and endurance in the water.

It’s easy to get in a workout rut. However, avoiding complacent laps in the pool can be as easy as having a plan before jumping in. Leo Hobi, swim instructor of Ponte Vedra’s Planet Swim emphasizes high-quality, technique-driven swim sets to improve swimming speed and endurance.

3 Swim Sets to Improve Your Regimen

Set 1) Save Energy

  • Warm Up – 500 choice
  • Sets – 8×50 with descending time intervals laps 1 to 4 , and laps 5 to 8
  • Count the total number of strokes for the first 50, and every 50 after, try to decrease by at least 5 strokes and still complete faster laps.

The goal behind this set is to help you save lots of energy by becoming more efficient. While distance per stroke is a hot topic today, the idea is always to take full advantage of each stroke, achieving an efficient catch and pull.

Many master’s coaches consider an efficient stroke count per 25 yards about 17 and under. The average stroke count is 18 to 20 and a high count would be 21 and above.

Set 2) Improve Breathing


  • Warm Up – 500 choice
  • Sets – 5 x 300 swim
  • For the first 100, breathe every 3rd stroke, second 100 every 5th stroke,and last 100 every 7th stroke.

A theory behind controlled breathing swim practice is that you will experience the same effect as high-altitude training. It requires concentration on the exhale and also gives you the opportunity to ready yourself for bilateral breathing (breathing on both sides – a necessary skill in open water swims). This set will drastically help improve your endurance.

Set 3) Increase Speed

  • Warm Up – 500 choice
  • Sets – 10 x 100
  • 50 all out sprint, fast swim (short interval), 25 all out strong swim, 25 easy or recovery, rest 30 seconds. Repeat 10 times.

This is a good set to improve your race pace. Many people swim comfortably at one pace forever, and as a result, all out race pace is not that much faster. Train specifically for speed, incorporating short, fast efforts with full recovery at least once a week.

On rest stroke, make sure you have a relaxed shoulder arm and wrist, making the elbow the highest point, entering fingertips into the water first.

planet 4 copy

Meet Leo, Gus and Katerina at Planet Swim, 272 Alta Mar Dr., Ponte Vedra Beach
Whether you are training for your next Ironman, triathlon, masters swimming or just want to stay in shape, Planet Swim partners with you to make your swimming experience better.  Planet Swim Triathlon/Masters offers experts who guide you with an optimum training plan. Coaching staff includes former world class swimmers and internationally recognized swimmers who have over 20 years of combined swimming experience.


Is it important to train with gear?

Training with swimming gear is a great way to build strength and improve technique. While it isn’t necessary for recreational swimming, the following gear will help form and technique in the water:

Recommended Gear

Fins: Full length, flexible rubber fins improve your kick by helping you perform proper motion without straining lower legs and ankles.

Paddles: Use paddles for short sets to improve your pull technique. Keep straps loose and you’ll quickly see where your pull is incorrect because paddles will pop off.

Pull-Buoy: Use with or without paddles to isolate upper body technique and improve strength.

Necessary Gear

Besides a swimsuit, goggles are the single most important swim equipment in the pool or open water. To know if goggles truly fit your unique facial contours you have to try them in water. However, here are a few tips about goggle design to help you make a purchase decision before getting wet:

  • place goggles on your head at an angle (slightly higher at the back of the head), pulling nose bridge apart. The gaskets, or soft silicone or foam that goes around the eye should lay comfortably on the face.   Forget trying to push goggles for more suction.
  • some gaskets sit in the eye socket (these are usually only comfortable once a swimmer acclimates to pressure) while others press against the bone. The latter are usually more comfortable and fit a wide range of people.


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