This is part of a series called The Happier Swimmer: how to set up your practice lifestyle so that you are making steady improvement toward your goal, making the body safer and stronger, and enjoying the process more than ever so you have the motivation to keep going.

In this series:

  1. Do Only That Which Matters
  2. Tips For Designing A Single Practice Session
  3. Designing A Weekly Practice Pattern
  4. More to come…


Simple Practice Pattern

Here is a simple, single practice pattern you may use to organize your time in the water…

A simple practice can be divided into three sections:

  1. Tune Up (a.k.a. Warm Up)
  2. Main Set
  3. Cool Down


Tune Up Tips

Start swimming as gently as possible. Make initial movements as pleasant as possible.

Keep your attention in the water, in your body.

Listen carefully to signals coming from your body.

While moving, wait patiently for alignment, synchronization and then lengthening. Don’t force this.

Wait patiently for energy to increase its flow into the increasingly unified body. Don’t push it too soon. You may need 10 minutes or more.

Vary your movements to work the joints and muscles in many directions. Insert one or two other stroke styles.

Gradually increase the intensity of movements, bringing the heart rate close to what it will be during the main set.

You may read more about Tune Up:



Main Set Tips

The assignment should fit the event you are training for.

The assignment deliberately exposes and works on some weakness in your performance system: metabolic, muscular, motor or mental subsystems.

The assignment combines both quantity and quality objectives. It has a clear, measurable skill objective, not just an amount of meters or time to accomplish.

You have a clear feedback process. (And read more on feedback!)

The assignment is designed to provoke some failure, but not too much and not too little. There should be some uncertainty as to whether you can do it or not with your best effort and attention. This is a large part of what makes the practice engaging.

Often, the assignment should bring you into a place of fatigue for that subsystem you are targeting. Under fatigue you are then training the brain and body how to respond to fatigue. You want to train your response to protect and correct the most valuable parts of the stroke while under stress.


Cool Down Tips

Review the skills you just worked on.

It should be at lower intensity.

Let it be pleasurable movement. Finish with the most pleasing movements. Leave the water on a wonderful note.


Learn To Design Your Own Series Of Practices

If you are intrigued by this and would like to understand the principles that would enable you to design a whole series of practices toward a specific swimming goal, I invite you to consider our Self-Coaching 101 course. It takes you step-by-step through a systematic process for creating your own practice series.

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