Swimming Intervals: The Century Challenge!

Swimming was one of the events at the 21st Ordnance Company Challenge, a three-day team competition at Kirtland testing physical and mental fitness. (Photo by Dennis Carlson)

If you are bored with counting laps in the pool and want a better way to keep track of time and distance of your swim workouts, try the 1:30 Interval Challenge.  The goal of this workout is to swim either a 50m, 75m, or 100m in a timed interval of one minute and thirty seconds (1:30).  If you choose to swim 50m – you will likely have 30-45 seconds rest every set.  If you select the 75m option, you should have about 20 seconds rest, and if you go for the 100m distance in the 1:30 set, you may only have 10-15 seconds depending upon your swimming abilities.

The Challenge

Each month for the next three months, strive to progress to what they call the Century Club.  Obviously, this is a challenge, but the goal is to do what you can and rest as needed within the 1:30 start / stop intervals.  In fact, if you are a beginner, just try 25m and rest until the next start time.

Month One:  50 Sets

50 sets of 1:30 = 75 minutes of swimming intervals.  If you have never tried swimming more than an hour, build up and do 20 sets x 1:30 to do 30 minutes of swimming.  Try a few times before going for the 50 sets and you will find that 75 minutes of swimming with intermittent rests is not that hard.

*Note – Also, if you prefer, you can add a pair of fins and swim faster and maybe push your distance each set.

Typical Distances:  50 x 50m = 2500m, 50 x 75m = 3750, 50 x 100m = 5000m.  If you find you want to try to push yourself on a few 100m sets, give it a shot, then rest with an easy 50m immediately after. 

Month 2:  75 Sets

75 sets of 1:30 = 112.5 minutes.  Now you are looking at almost two hours of swimming. During the month one and first few weeks of month two, you can practice building up to 75-90 minutes of swimming then testing yourself one day and push the 75 sets of swimming.

Typical Distances:  75 x 50m = 3,750m, 75 x 75m = 5,625, 75 x 100m = 7,500m.  If you find you want to try to push yourself on a few 100m sets, give it a shot, then rest with an easy 50m immediately after. 

Month 3: 100 Sets

100 sets of 1:30 = 150 minutes – that is 2.5 hours of swimming!  Now you are looking at likely more swimming than you have ever done. During the month two and first few weeks of month three, you can practice building up to 90-120 minutes of swimming then testing yourself one day and push the 100 sets of swimming. Obviously, you can pace yourself and do smaller sets at first and see how long you can last.

Typical Distances:  100 x 50m = 5000m, 100 x 75m = 7500, 100 x 100m = 10,000m.  If you find you want to try to push yourself on a few 100m sets, give it a shot, then rest with an easy 50m immediately after. 

Recommendation

Anytime you are swimming for longer than an hour, you should have water, electrolytes, and some sugar.  Typically a Gatorade type sports drink along with a bottle of water will be helpful for you to stay in the game and not burn out with the long swim workout.

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