SBSC Partners
Coaching Corner


In the “old days” we swam with our arms and our legs.  We conditioned our upper body and our lower body but we never brought the two together.  Now when we watch swimmers especially elite swimmer we see swimming as a full body sport.  The ability to bring your upper and lower body along with your core together leads to faster swimming performance.  At Santa Barbara Swim Club we have designed a workout using High Intensity Interval Training and Functional Strength Training to increase muscular and cardiovascular endurance to make our swimmers fitter and faster.  Plus these workouts are “fun”.


High Intensity Interval Training is a method of training where relatively short bursts of an exercise are performed at or near maximal effort, and are followed by some form of rest (active or inactive). Studies have shown that HIIT burns up to nine times more fat than steady state cardio while sparing muscle mass. With intense exertion, the spike in heart rate and metabolism accounts for more calories burned both during the workout and after, for up to 24 hours.


Functional strength training builds strength and endurance through natural movements and using your core to activate your muscles.  You use this strength to reinforce proper biomechanics. 


For the workout we have multiple stations, divide the swimmers into groups and rotate them through the stations.  We have four types of stations:


Dry land Strength                               burpees, squat jumps, planks and many more

Maximum swim and kick sets             sprint intervals

Resisted swim and kick sets               resistance bands and power racks

Speed assisted swim and kick sets     running dives, resistance bands and fins


The workout lasts 60 to 120 minutes.  We have a warm up and warm down periods.  Our stations are usually 4 minutes of work with 1 minute of rest and rotation or 8 minutes of work and 2 minutes of rest and rotation. 


Here is a sample workout:


10 minute general warm up


Round 1


Dry land

8 x 15M @ 30 seconds all out odds Fly evens choice

Kick for 30 seconds against resistance band rest 30 seconds.  Repeat four times. 

Swim against resistance band for 15M, then sprint back to the wall with the band.


Round 2


Dry land

1 x 60 @ 60 seconds all out, 1 x 30 @ 60 seconds EZ. Repeat twice.

4 x 30 @ 60 seconds swim with fins all out.

8 x power racks @ 30 seconds


10 minutes of warm down. 


Each station has 4 minutes of work with 1 minute of rest to rotate to the next station.  Each round lasts 20 minutes.  The workout last approximately 60 minutes, if everybody gets there on time and pays attention to the instructions.  This never happens. 


We train in a seven lane 50 meter pool for our circuit workouts we configure the pool so that we have sixteen 15 meter lanes.  If you have ever been to a Santa Barbara Swim Club practice or swim meet you know that we are very close to the beach.  We take advantage of this luxury by running a variation of this workout utilizing open water intervals and beach strength training.  We also have a variation where we use paddle boarding along with the open water intervals and beach strength training. 



This workout can have hundreds of variations.   We use this type of workout with our senior age groupers as well as our master’s swimmers.  We use it for all our swimmers, distance, middle distance and sprinters.  This is not the only type of training our team does.  We do traditional aerobic training along with the various forms of quality based training.  The debate over the different types of training, Aerobic, High Intensity, High Intensity Intervals, and Ultra Short Race Pace rages on.  You can find volumes of research on every side this issue.  We believe that most coaches use all different types of workouts, trying to find out what works.  Believing that coaching is art and science.  We try to find workouts which make our swimmers faster and which they “enjoy”.  




These High Intensity Interval Circuit Workouts are an interregnal part of our Santa Barbara Swim Club Masters Camp Program.  We run our camps from our beautiful oceanfront 50 meter pool.  But we also make full use of our adjacent beaches for open water workouts and beach strength workouts.  We will be running two camps during Santa Barbara’s Semana Nautica Summer Ocean Festival (June 29-July 10).  During the Semana Nautica Camp you will have the opportunity for pool, open water, strength workouts and five open water races.  Our camps are great for the triathlete.  Along with the swim technique and open water workouts we will have coached running and biking workouts.  Santa Barbara is famous for its trail running and bike hill climbing.  Who doesn’t want to run or ride up a 3000 to 4000 foot elevation gain to be rewarded with a spectacular ocean view?  We have many camp options from 3 days to two weeks.  For more information go to