Swimming Workout Creation

Lesson Topic:

Swimming Workout Creation

Lesson Description:

This lesson is to be used as a guide for teaching students to write a swimming workout for themselves and others.

Learning Goals/Outcomes:

Students will write a challenging workout using a warm up and cool down.

Students will develop a workout to further develop his/her/their stroke technique and selected health-related components of fitness.

Nebraska Standards:

PE.HS.3 Intermediate/Advanced Swimming

PE.HS.3.2 Applies knowledge of concepts, principles, tactics and strategies related to movement and performance to achieve and maintain a health enhancing level of physical activity and fitness

         PE.HS.3.2.b Designs and implements personal workouts and fitness goals in an aquatic environment (e.g., warm up, workout, cool down, Frequency, Intensity, Type, and Time {FITT}). 

PE.HS.4 Fitness Swimming and Aquatic Activities

PE.HS.4.2 Applies knowledge of concepts, principles, tactics and strategies related to movement and performance to achieve and maintain a health enhancing level of physical activity and fitness. 

         PE.HS.4.2.a Designs and implements a plan to improve performance and/or maintain a healthy and active lifestyle (e.g., workouts, fin & paddle use, water exercise courses in community). 

PE.HS.4.3 Recognizes the benefits of physical activity and exhibits responsible personal and social behavior in a variety of physical activity settings.

          PE.HS.4.3.b Selects an appropriate level of challenge to experience success and desire to participate in a self-selected aquatic activity. 

Teacher Planning:

Equipment/Materials Needed:

Paper & pencil OR computer/tablet; guidelines in worksheet form or projector/TV to display the guidelines

Time Required for Lesson:

approximately 15 minutes to write and at least 30 minutes to swim   

(this can be broken into multiple days, or written and swam in the same day)


Technology Use:

___X__ YES               _____NO

Instructional Plan:

Anticipatory Set/Pre-Activity:

Must have previously taught how to read and swim a workout as well as stroke technique/development.

Have the students reflect on and write down their favorite type of workout (do they like shorter distances and sprints, or longer endurance yards; pull sets, kick sets, or whole stroke?)

Benefits/Explanation/Real-World Connection:

Swimming is one form of exercise that can be used at all stages of life and all body types/health because it is low impact. By learning and understanding how to write your own workout, you can build on and improve your cardiovascular endurance, muscular strength and endurance, and stroke technique.  Stroke technique is essential in order to effectively improve your endurance and vice versa.  As you get tired, your technique gets worse; however, if you don't have the proper technique you will tire quicker as your body creates more drag or resistance in the water.

The same goes for creating a workout for others.  If you are or plan to be a swimming lesson instructor or coach, you will need to assess technique and the individuals' abilities to best create a workout for their needs.

Activities (i.e. instructions, warm-up, lesson, cool-down):

What you have previously taught and where you are in your curriculum will determine the following instructions and criteria for the workout.  I utilize this lesson multiple times throughout my semester.  The first time is after I teach the proper technique of Freestyle and they have multiple days to work on and practice the proper arm stroke, kick, body position, breathing technique and whole stroke then analyzed their technique.  At this time, I would have the students focus on Freestyle for their workout.  Towards the end of the semester and for Advanced or Fitness Swimming, they need to include a variety of strokes and components throughout their workout.  The duration of the workout will also depend on the class and/or student as well as where in the semester you are. 

Again, the first few times, we do this step by step in class (i.e. I review warm-up and give examples, then they write their own warm-up). As the students get good at it, they can create their own at home and turn it into me to check.

Directions: Create full workout for yourself using the 4 swimming strokes (Breaststroke, Backstroke, Freestyle, and Butterfly) we have learned in class.  Type your workout in detail and email it to me. 

Include the following things:

     1) All four swimming strokes (can be in kick, pull or whole form)

     2) Have a warm-up, workout, and cool-down

             -Your workout can include a kick and pull set, or a pre- and main set, or set 1,2, 3, etc

     3) Be sure to include enough exercises that the workout will last 20+ minutes  (write more rather than less and note what you want to cut out if time does not allow it)

             -I have those new to writing workouts in the intermediate swimming class aim for at least 5 minute warm-up, 20 minute workout and at least 5 minute cool-down.  For my fitness swimmers they have to do 8-10 minute warm-up and cool-down with a 30 minute workout)

               ***Why do we do at least 20 minutes for the workout portion?  Because research shows that at least 20 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity strengthens the heart and lungs, allowing for improvement in cardiovascular endurance.

       4) BE CREATIVE and add variety!!! Look up new drills or skill work, but do not copy and paste an entire workout from the internet....I will check.

       5) Include stipulations for yourself; if you are doing sets and reps (i.e. 5 x 50 kick) then set a resting interval (i.e. :15 RI----15 second rest in between). If doing sprints or working on times, you can state how quick you want to swim (i.e. 100 Free @ 1:30) meaning you swim the 100 Freestyle within 1 minute 30 seconds; whatever time within the 1:30 is left, is your rest, then you go again.

The students will complete their workout, and then I go over each student's workout with them taking their ability and endurance level into consideration.  We make any corrections, then they go grab their equipment needed for their workout and find a lane to get started.  

The first few times, I have everyone start together and time the workout, so they know how they did time wise for their warm-up, workout, and cool-down. This way they know if they need to cut some out or add more to meet the time requirement. For the upper level classes and swimmers, I simply start the running pace clock for them to refer to time and manage themselves. I also have the fitness swimmers stop halfway through their workout and check their heart rate to make sure they are in their target heart rate zone (we previously calculated this and resting heart rate).


Have the students reflect back onto their workout to see if they set the correct distances, amount of exercises, and skill work.  They then need to note what changes they will want to make for next time (i.e. they did not enjoy doing 12x25 Free Sprints). We want them to enjoy it and make it their own.

Assessment :

Formative:  I provide 15 points for creating the workout (quality doesn't come into play since we make corrections before they swim it) and 15 points for swimming it. 

Supplemental Information:


You may have to write workouts for some students, but be sure to ask their favorite strokes and if they want to swim longer or shorter distances.  My adapted swimming individuals learned to pick their exercises and distances; some were able to create an entire workout over time.

You might also need to increase time if you have upper level swimmers in a lower level class.  I would quickly review my varsity swim team kids workouts first and send them in to get started as I finished working through the workouts with the other students.

Safety Precautions:

Make sure you have pre-taught lane etiquette and proper equipment use as well as technique and reading workouts before moving onto writing workouts.  Know your students; if you have a kid who can barely swim a 50 and they wrote to swim a 300; talk them through that and help them make changes so it is safe.  Always keep an eye on the pool, or have a student who is lifeguard certified do so, if you let kids start as you continue reviewing workouts.  

Also, take injuries or past history into account.  If you have a shoulder injury, then encourage the kid to do kick sets or strokes that do not agitate the shoulder like Breaststroke.

Comments (adaptations for various grades/ages, teaching styles, etc.)

I find it is helpful to provide a couple examples of workouts for them to remember as they learn.  

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