SWOLF: Improving Swimming Efficiency and Power

By Chris Michelmore and Brian Nabeta

In Sports Applications, Videos

November 08, 2010

Video Article

Swimming is as much about efficiency as it is about power output. More efficient swimmers are able to swim faster while using less strokes per lap. One way to calculate a swimmer’s efficiency is to find his or her swimming golf or “SWOLF” score. The SWOLF score combines a swimmer’s 25-yard swim time with the number of strokes he or she takes.

In this video, the CrossFit Endurance team takes a group of athletes through four 25-yard swims where they try to improve their SWOLF score on each swim. CrossFit Endurance coach Brian Nabeta says there are several ways to get a better score, but the ultimate goal is simply to go faster while using less strokes.

8min 21sec

Additional Video: Yards: Swimming With Champions by Sevan Matossian, published March 9, 2010.

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9 Comments on “SWOLF: Improving Swimming Efficiency and Power”


wrote …

For collegiate swimmers what interval would be used for SWOLF 25s? And in terms of pacing are these all out? 100 pace? 200 pace?


wrote …

Tyler, I have my national group do SWOLF 50's. I learned most of my skills as an assistant coach at UC Berkeley under Nort Thornton. The interval I use for the 50's is 1:00. I do not do SWOLF any further than 50's. The score for some of my best swimmers is 45 for boys (19 strokes/26 seconds). The distance swimmers I sent off to TCU and USC this past year were very efficient and in a race took 12-13 strokes per 25 and were 4:26,4:28 500 yard freestylers.


wrote …

I certainly understand the power/ efficiency dynamic. As I watched the video, I was waiting for some in the water tips and advice for lowering my SWOLF score. Imagine my disappointment when the video ended without a few nuggets I could take to the pool. What advice can you give.


wrote …

Peter, over the course of the weekend we took the participants through a bunch of progressions that worked on ways to get faster easier. They were also about an hour worth of work at a time. I wouldn't do them justice trying to explain over comments. Stay tuned though, as there may be more video to come ;)


wrote …

Nice. We need more on swimming technique. Would love to see swimming in the games. IMHO the lack of swimming is the ONLY major legit criticism of the games. One of my friends, a former division 1 college swimmer, was incredulous when she found out there was no swimming in the games . . . "So, you're telling me that someone could win the title of the 'World's Fittest Man' and possibly not even know how to swim?"


wrote …

I can't wait to get back in the pool!


wrote …

I too am disappointed not to find any tips for improving either efficiency or power. Given the enormous variables among swimmers in terms of fitness, experience, and bouyancy, what actions and concepts, in and out of the pool, physically, emotionally and mentally, assist toward improving as a swimmer?


wrote …

Donna, as Chris mentioned above we took the swimmers through many of the progressions that he and I take our collegiate and club swimmers through. Throughout the weekend we were able to take from the classroom and apply it in the pool. The pool time was about 3+ hrs on one day and 2+ on the other working on many skills. We had a wide variety of swimming abilities and each swimmer had their faults but for the most part they improved on their efficiency.


wrote …

14/14 - 28
Okay for a self-taught old man, I guess.

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