Favorite Swim Workouts for Military Training Programs

Swimmer mid-stroke in pool.

There are many military training programs that require some level of proficiency in swimming either to survive for long periods of time floating or swim or SCUBA dive with speed and efficiency.  Here are many swim workouts to choose from and spread out through the week if you need to swim several days per week.

Drown-proofing and Treading Water Skills – Even if you do not have a big pool, you can practice these skills in a small, hotel type pool or in the deep end of a backyard swimming pool.

Treading water – Practicing "vertical swimming" is a skill that can one day save your life. Some programs require you to tread water with no hands using a variety of kicks (scissor kick, breast stroke kick, egg-beater kicks) in order to challenge their water skills.

Elements of a drown-proofing test (tread, float, bottom bounce, etc) are great rest exercises in between fast swimming sets of 100-200m in length.  See sample workout:

Repeat 10 times

  • Swim 100-200m fast (any stroke)
  • Tread water 1 min in between (with or without hands)

If pressed for time, mixing in some PT exercises on the pool deck in between swim sets is a great addition to any future military member.

Repeat 10 times

  • Swim 100m fast
  • Pushups 10-20 reps
  • Abs of choice 20 reps or plank pose 1 minute

Swim with Fins – Many of your Special Ops world training programs will require you to SCUBA dive and swim with fins.  Sample workouts challenges can be long and require some time to build up:

Swim 500m with fins. Warm-up stretch legs and ankles.  Swim up to 1-2 miles in 30-60 minutes with fins.

Focus on technique and mix in cardio conditioning at the same time:

Repeat 10 times

  • Swim 100m freestyle fast / sprint mode (get very winded)
  • Rest with 50m easy stroke (side / back stroke)

Keep moving through this one – very little rest on the side of the pool

Finally, know your swim test and make it a warmup.

For many of the Special Ops swim tests you will have to swim a 500m timed swim.  Make this your daily swim warmup.  Then start your workout for another 1500-2000m of swim distance.

Stew Smith works as a presenter / editorial board with the Tactical Strength and Conditioning program of the National Strength and Conditioning Association and is Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS).  There are also over 800 articles on Military.com Fitness Forum focusing on a variety of fitness, nutritional, and tactical issues military members face throughout their career.

Latest Fitness Books: Navy SEAL Weight Training and Tactical Fitness

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