Swimming Intervals and Open Water Training

Navy SEAL Fitness

Running and swimming are great for cardiovascular improvement when training for the Navy Seals. We’ve talked in previous articles about the benefits of running so in this article we’re going to cover swim training with intervals.

Since you’re goal is to be prepared for duties as a Navy Seal then you want to create a fitness training program that uses the principle of “specificity of training.” This is just a fancy way to say workout and practice doing what you will actually be doing on the job. And when you’re training for the Navy Seals, you’ve got to swim.

Pool vs. Open Water Swimming when Training for the Navy Seals

Training to be a navy seal 5There are benefits to both locations for Navy Seals training.

A pool setting allows you to focus on your technique and time during interval training. Open water swimming prepares you for the actual conditions you’ll be faced with when you’re on a mission.

It’s recommended that your open water swims are done using fins. And since you are in the open water, there are some safety issues to be aware of. No need to go all commando here or your training for Navy Seals days will be numbered!

  • Swim with a buddy – this is basic safety in open water.
  • Swim with a group – there is less chance of a shark attack. It seems that they prefer a single entrée over a buffet.
  • Be aware of water temperature – the colder the water, and the longer your time in the water, the more protective gear you’ll need. Wetsuits, booties, gloves and hoods will keep your body temperature at a safe level when training for the Navy Seals, but you don’t need all of the gear all of the time.  For example, a 2 mile swim in water temperature that is around 63° may only require a hood, whereas a swim in water temperatures below 60° will require a full wet suit and hood.
  • Protect yourself from chafing – caused by the points of your wetsuit around the arms and also fins. Use booties, Vaseline or ointment, and an anti-​​chafing shirt worn under the wetsuit.
  • Body surfing, sidestroke pulling with a scissor kick, and regular free-​​style swimming in open water will help you navigate waves, practice staying on course, and gain confidence in even turbulent washing-​​machine conditions.

The more you swim in cold water conditions, the better your body will become at adapting to the temperature changes.

Another tactic is to use nutrition and dietary supplements that give your body the nutritional support needed to easily adapt to extreme conditions such as cold.

Benefits of Training in the Pool for Navy Seals

Pool TherapyWhen you bring your Navy Seal training to the pool, you have a controlled environment where you focus on technique, strength building, and endurance. This is conditioning.

And just like any kind of sports training you should have a plan in place.

Diving in and splashing around for an hour isn’t really going to give you the full benefits of your pool time.

It’s easy to believe that you’ll “just know” what to do once you jump in the water. But that’s not the case. If you’re serious about your training and your goal is to become a Navy Seal or stay in shape if you’ve already made it, then you should be documenting your training routine.

This includes logging in what you do during your workouts; the weights /​ time /​ intervals /​ repetitions; what you’re eating; and which dietary supplements you’re taking.

With all this information in front of you, you will see your progress, stay motivated and also identify what’s working so you can do more of that.

Sample Interval Workouts when training for the Navy Seals

Every pool session should begin with a warm-​​up that’s about 60% of what you would consider your race pace. And, you should also include a time at the end of your workout to cool down with an easy swim.

What you do in between is where the magic happens.

Here’s one example of an interval swim training routine that will build your endurance as a Navy Seal:
*note: m=meters

  • 500 m Warm-​​up
  • 5x50 m – 30 seconds rest in between each set
  • 5x50 m freestyle – 30 seconds rest in between each set
  • 200 m easy swim
  • 5x100 m freestyle swim with 45 seconds rest in between each set
  • 5x100 m freestyle swim with 90 seconds rest in between each set
  • 500 m easy swim to finalize

As your fitness levels improve, the harder your pool training time can be.

And even though swimming is easier on the joints than running, be sure that you are still stretching and training in the weight room to support your muscles and improve overall flexibility. This will help the quality of your training for the Navy Seals.

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Jeff Anderson

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