Whether you’re training for a Games appearance or you simply want additional variety in your workouts, swimming is a great way to improve your overall fitness. Not only is it easy on your joints, but it also forces you to control your breathing and leads to increased aerobic capacity. Swimming WODs combine laps and water treading with typical functional fitness movements performed on the deck. For your safety, we recommend using a yoga mat on the deck and taking your time in the transition from the pool; the childhood command of “no running on the deck” still applies. Also, be sure to warm up with 10 to 15 minutes of easy swimming before jumping into a workout.

Here are some of our favorite swimming WODs for athletes.

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5 Best Swimming WODs for Athletes

Workout 1: 20-minute AMRAP

50-meter kick (swim 50 meters without using your arms)
50-meter swim (use both your arms and your legs)
10 teabags
15 V-ups on the deck

How to do a teabag:
1. Face the side of the pool.
2. Pull yourself up, like a muscle-up, until you are fully locked at the top, as if you are about to get out of the pool.

Workout 2: Six Rounds For Time

In the water:
25-meter swim sprint
25-meter underwater

On the deck:
45-second plank
45-second wall sit
30 leg raises
30 supermans
20 bird dogs
10 inchworms with push-up

How to Do

  • Leg raises: Lie on your back on the floor and lift your legs up, bending at the hip. Keep your core tight and your butt on the ground.
  • Bird dogs: On your hands and knees, with your core engaged, extend one leg backward while raising the opposite arm in front of you. Return to the start position and repeat with the opposite limbs.
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Workout 3: 15-Minute EMOM

Minute 1: Tread water with both arms and legs.
Minute 2: Tread water with only your legs, holding your arms overhead.
Minute 3: Tread water with only your arms, keeping your legs straight and still.

Repeat circuit five times for a total of 15 minutes.

Note: This workout requires a pool deep enough that your feet won’t touch the bottom while you tread water.

Workout 4: For Time

500-meter swim
25 push-ups
15 V-ups
400-meter swim
45-second plank
30 mountain climbers
300-meter swim
50 air squats
25 good mornings
200-meter swim
45-second plank
30 mountain climbers
100-meter swim
25 push-ups
15 V-ups

Note: Feel free to alternate front and back strokes on the swim.

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Workout 5: 1,000 Meters For Time

200-meter kick (legs only)
200-meter pull (arms only)
150-meter kick
150-meter pull
100-meter kick
100-meter pull
50-meter kick
50-meter pull

Add these swimming WODs to your athletic training for greater workout variety, aerobic gains, and a chance to be drenched by something other than sweat.

Main image: Pat Vellner/Instagram, photo by johanyjutras