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Combining Speed and Skill

When you’re working on speeding it up, it’s very valuable to work in your technical exercises in combination with full stroke swimming. A key difference between developing speed as compared to learning skills or developing endurance is that you can begin to execute your technical exercises with increasing intensity and speed. You’ll perform the same exercises, you’ll simply perform them fast.

The same concepts above apply. Make sure you are swimming well, more so than just swimming hard or fast. This is even more important with the technical exercises. You need to ensure that you’re retaining the appropriate feel for each exercise. Provided you are, starting increasing the speed, going as fast as you can swim well, with the goal being able to swim these exercises as with full speed, while executing them flawlessly.

Option #1. Perform FAST technical exercises. A great way to begin the process of swimming faster is simply performing your key technical exercises with great speed. Follow all of the guidelines in the previous article, just use exercises instead of full stroke swimming.

Sample Set

8x25 Paddle Cap Freestyle FAST (or any other exercise you value)

Option #2. Alternate technical exercises and FAST swimming. With this set up, you’re performing the exercises smoothly and the full stroke swimming at high speed. The exercise locks in the skill, and then you execute the skill at high speed during the full stroke swimming.

Sample Set

8x25 ODD Paddle Cap Freestyle EVEN FAST Freestyle

Option #3. Alternate FAST technical exercises and FAST swimming. This option combines the prior two in that you’re still alternating a technical exercise and full stroke swimming. The key difference is that BOTH will be performed at speed. The goal is to carry the same sensations and intensity from the exercise to the full stroke swimming.

Sample Set

8x25 ODD FAST Paddle Cap Freestyle EVEN FAST Freestyle

Option #4. Use training gear. As I’ve described HERE and HERE, training gear can be an excellent tool to enhance learning. The use of fins help you achieve speeds you otherwise would be unable to achieve, which changes what you feel and how you execute your skills. The snorkel allows you to feel speed without breathing. When you take the snorkel off, you’re challenged with executing at the same level of skill while adding in the breathing.

Sample Set

8x25 FAST ALT 2 with fins/2 without fins


8x25 FAST ALT 2 with snorkel/2 without snorkel

Option #5. Manipulate the hands. It’s one thing to feel the water when you’re moving slowly and smoothly. It’s quite another to do so when swimming fast. Manipulating your hands will help you gain awareness of how you’re executing your arm actions will at speed by creating a better sense of what you’re feeling.

Sample Set

8x25 FAST; ALT 2 with closed fists/2 with open hands

*Please note that there is NOTHING special about 8x25. I am just using the same set up to illustrate the different ways to organize the exercises*

As when trying to learn skills for the first time, begin alternating fast repetitions of your technical exercises and regular swimming. The goal is to FEEL your skills during the technical exercises and then transfer those same skills into your full stroke swimming.

At first, you may want to begin with a high percentage of technical exercises to really lock in the feel for what you’re doing. As you improve and become more comfortable with the skills you’re executing, you’ll want to reduce the percentage of technical exercises. This reduces your reliance on the exercises to facilitate your feel, while also providing you with more repetitions of the skills that really matter- full stroke swimming!



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