How you can improve your swim sprint performance


Original Email


Hi Pang,
I would like to consult you on many tips on swimming. I’ve seen your fan page in FB and hence this email. I’ve been swimming since young and have took up life saving sports after I turned the minimal age to take it. I also compete in LS competition as well with my institution.  I haven been trained professionally(meaning REAL professional stroke correction) instead I had MANY experiments on myself to perfect my stroke as possible.
Next, I would share with you my training habits and my problems and hope you can help me  from there to reach my aspirations , like what am I doing right or wrong based on your rich experience.

1) my training habits/routine-
@Cardio like long distance running 6-10km depending on mood. I also do long distance swimming like between 60-100laps depending too.
@i don’t gym at all, instead I prefer to do My own PT sets: land(squats, lunges&pull up) And water(push up, crunches&flutter kick)
@i also do my own pacing sprint, technique drills(arm pull, leg kick, fist pulling, paddle, fins kicking etc)
Yeah that’s about it

2)my problem. My 50free(33s) is really average to slow among my peers(28-35s). But when doing longer distance, I’m able to catch up a lot and even overlap them by 1-2laps.

So I really want to know if what i am training alone really helps to improve my speed or just improving my stamina tremendously. I love to train alone outside training hours so that no people will disturb me.
Please guide me from here like correcting my sets, any good sets you have to improve my short burst sprint! I really hope to improve my 50m timing to at least 28 or 27s! I have realize that my stamina have improve tremendously but my sprint have only improve marginally only.

Thanks for you help and awaiting for your reply


My Reply


Hi *******,

Thank you for your email, here are some advise I can give to you to improve your swim sprint performance.

From your email, I can conclude you have type I muscle fibers, a trait of an endurance athlete. Here’s a graph for your reference:


As you can see from the graph, you actually fall under the category on the right, whereby you have slow twitch muscle fibres, produce low force, and fatigue resistant. That is why you can lap your teammates when it comes to distance events.

It’s not a bad thing that you’re doing 33s for a 50m Freestyle, some people are just made for sprints and some are made for endurance, we all are different in our own ways. Like myself, I’m not a very fast sprinter as well.

But of course, there are still some things that you can do to improve your sprint performances, so here’s my advice:

First off, your training habits look fine to me. If you are looking for general fitness, this set would suit you best as it provides overall fitness. But if you’re looking to improve on sprint performance for swimming, I would advise you to spend more time swimming instead of running.

1)    Instead of doing 60-100 laps of continuous swimming, you should have some variation. Continuous swimming would only give you general cardiovascular fitness, not speed. You have to get some sprint work in your 60-100 laps if you want to improve on your speed. Here’s a sample set which you can follow:

–       Stretch for 15-20 minutes

–       Do 30 laps of warm up

–       Sprint set:

3 sets of 8x25m (half a lap) sprint freestyle on a 30 second interval

After each 25m, stop, rest and prepare to go after 30 seconds

After each set, warm down for 4 laps


1st Set: Freestyle Kick

2nd Set: Freestyle Pull

3rd Set: Freestyle swim

Total: 24 laps

–       Warm down: slow swimming until you feel that the lactate in your body is cleared

–       Total distance: 60-70 Laps

2)    For me I personally feel that gym is essential for sprinters, but I do know some sprinters that do not gym as well.

There are 3 types of weight training:

Muscle strength, muscle hypertrophy and muscle endurance.

For swim sprints, you are looking to gain muscular strength. Here’s a sample gym set I would recommend.

–       Work on areas like your abs, obliques, lower back, upper back, lats and shoulders.

–       For muscle strength, your ideal set and repetition range would be 3-4 sets with 3-6 repetitions

–       Load would be your 90%-95% of your max 1RM

–       Rest 2 minutes after each set

–       Frequency: 3 times a week, have a day rest in between each gym session to allow muscles to recover

That’s all I have for you, hope I helped! Do note that these are just from my personal experience so hope it works out well for you as well. Good luck and keep me updated!

Feel free to email if you have anymore questions and I’ll answer them to the best of my ability.

Share this article:

Leave a Reply