CrossFit and Swim Training

By Chris Michelmore and Sage Hopkins

Video Article

Sport-specific training is a hot topic in collegiate athletic programs. How to optimize in-sport capacity through gym work is a very important part of training, and how teams go about that can be as varied as the schools themselves. Chris Michelmore and Sage Hopkins of the San Jose State women’s swimming team choose CrossFit to prepare their women to do battle in the water.

“Everything we do in CrossFit starts from our core and moves outward. That’s the same thing as swimming,” Michelmore says in this continuing series about dry-land training for swimmers.

7min 38sec

Additional reading: CrossFit Kids: Dryland Training for Young Swimmers by Kaitlin Lyons, published June 1, 2008.

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12 Comments on “CrossFit and Swim Training”


wrote …



replied to comment from Brian Ethridge

All this stuff makes me think "why didn't I think of that?" It's so beautifully simple.


wrote …

This is great stuff! From first hand experience, it really works. I swim at Middlebury College and myself and two of my teammates followed Crossfit Football (because of the strength emphasis and same sub-2:00 time domain as swimming) and afterless than 10 pool workouts over 3 months I swam a 50 fly, one of my best events, a full second faster than at my conference meet.

Also, I am getting Level 1 certified next weekend and starting this fall I am gonna run a Crossfit Football/Crossfit Endurance program with some of my teammates for our pre-season training and do CFFB training in season. Like Chris said his team does, we're going to make some swim and stroke-specific movement changes. For instance, have our breaststrokers and butterfliers mix in snatch grip deads. Also, in one of Dave Tate's CFJ pieces he talks about the importance of sport-specific warmups, so we will have a unique warmup protocol for each stroke.

Look for a Midd Swimming Crossfit blog in the next month!!!


wrote …

That's awesome Tyler, keep up the good work! And keep me updated.


wrote …

Predicting that the Crossfit 2011 Games will have something similar to an "Odyssey Custom Made PORTABLE Pool", 80ft x 130ft, 60in deep, costing ~ $40K.

Photos from the Odyssey Custom Portable Pools website ... ... it would fit in the parking lot.

Brainstorming either a straight metabolic single event (swim AMRAP) or a multiple modality event along the lines of:
(a) For time or AMRAP
(b) swim length of a 130-foot pool
(c) rope climb from pool
(d) climb down ladder or stairs
(e) Fran
(f) sprint 130-feet to pool beginning
(g) repeat X rounds


James Glinn wrote …

Good to see some coaches in the swimming world embrace a better dryland approach!

In fairness, it is difficult to know what programming is being used through their entire season. My personal take is that there are tenets of Crossfit that are applicable to the sport of swimming BUT in the end if swimmers need to go really fast at specific times in specific events a periodized dryland program will be superior to Crossfit.

Now, for keeping swimmers fresh in the off season and making sure they don't gain the weight that is so typical of swimmers, Crossfit is great for swimmers. It is coached, timed and competitive.....but when you know what your window for specific performance is, a periodized program will be superior in my humble opinion....

Great to see Chris and Sage innovating and using some actual science to improve their Team!


wrote …


Thanks for the kind words. It's good to see such support ot there. Training for the known and knowable is definitely challenging and agreed about a level of periodization. One thing we keep in mind is the fact that "constantly varied" is not the same as random.



wrote …

who wants to bet durning the 2011 games they bus everyone to a olympic poor for a swimming WOD


wrote …

Good article..

I have recently started swimming on my rest days, in order to improve upon my dryland WOD activities. Really enjoy the swimming.


Ronald Fielder wrote …

Better start getting some swimming in your training!


wrote …

This is awesome! We are actually having our first swim clinic this sunday so we are already starting to gear up! I wouldn't doubt that a swim would be in next year's games.


wrote …

Having followed and coached swimming for 25 years I can say that this is 100% accurate. Replicating the intensity of an event while holding technique together is the key to this sport. Tens of thousands of mid intensity yards every day and week is counter productive to swimming.

Until the old school coaches at all levels realize this, the new Crossfit thinking coaches will have a significant advantage. Oh if I would have found this all those years ago.

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