For a week of my vacation, I will be staying at a hotel that has a short pool (17m). My question is: Given a set of swim drills (e.g. some swim drills), for a short pool what should a workout program look like that focuses on technique? Workouts should be around 45 min.

I am a beginner at swimming, typically I swim 50m at around 50s with around 30-31 strokes and can keep that pace for some time.

My goal for swimming this "trainingperiod" is to participate in an open water race in the center of Stockholm that is about 1.6 km long, see Riddarfjardssimmningen or FB. Besides on the vacation, I have practiced swimming 3-4 times per week.

  • 1
    1500m is a typical triathlon distance. For the week you are gone, you won't lose much fitness (if any) if you still work on drills, etc. I would recommend you take a look at some triathlon swim training programs, especially swim workouts in a binder, they will help develop stamina and speed for that type of a race. I would also substitute a pool day for an open water swim (OWS). OWS is a completely different animal, no lane lines, sighting problems, etc., and first timers can get a bit panicky, even if they are experienced in the pool. Re: water temps, you might need wetsuit experience also.
    – JohnP
    Commented Jul 20, 2012 at 18:48
  • @JohnP 1500m is a typical OLYMPIC distance. triathlons can vary widely in swim distance from < 100 yards to well over 2.4 miles. Commented Jul 20, 2012 at 19:15
  • Yes, I know, I've been to Nationals. I classify them as one of 4, sprint, Oly, Half Im, IM. "typically", swim distances are 500m, 1500m, 1.2 miles and 2.4 miles respectively. I wasn't implying anything else.
    – JohnP
    Commented Jul 20, 2012 at 20:27

3 Answers 3


With a short pool, you are limited, especially if you have an efficient flip turn. Since you are a beginner, I don't think that is a problem (Not a knock, just a fact. Flip turns take lots of practice to be effective).

I would take a pull buoy with you and concentrate on form drills. As a beginner swimmer in a very technique driven sport, this would serve you the best, as it's hard to get effective aerobic work in a short length pool. I would recommend single arm drills, sculling, and concentration on early vertical forearm (EVF) and maintaining a high elbow through your pull.

Although you describe yourself as a beginner, 1:40 for 100m as a sustainable pace means that you have decent fitness and decent form already. I generally regard 2:00/100m sustainable pace as the break point, in that if you can achieve that pace, you probably don't have any glaring stroke flaws holding you back. Not to say there aren't improvements to be made, but your stroke isn't really hindering your progress much.

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    Indeed, focus on improving your technique, rather than trying to cover lots of distance.
    – Ivo Flipse
    Commented Jul 20, 2012 at 17:55
  • Good points! Almost a perfect answer. Would a typical workout be that you do n*{single arm drills, sculling, EVF} or nsingle arm drills, narm drills, etc.
    – FredrikD
    Commented Jul 20, 2012 at 18:36
  • That's going to be a personal preference. My personal setup would be n*{ (n* single) (n* scull) etc}. This gives you a few repetitions to groove in a drill, and if you structure it in a good sequence, then each drill builds on itself for the next one. Then do it all over again. :)
    – JohnP
    Commented Jul 20, 2012 at 18:42
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    @JohnP. Feedback. The advice worked well. I worked with the drills you suggested in the short pool (single arms, sculling (had to check that one on google), EVA and high elbow. Feels good now that I am back to a 50m pool.
    – FredrikD
    Commented Jul 28, 2012 at 12:28
  • Glad it worked for you!
    – JohnP
    Commented Jul 29, 2012 at 15:18

I'm not sure using the short pool for technique work is such a great idea. By the time you push off, surface, and get a couple stroke cycles in you already have to turn around.

Perhaps take advantage of the shorter pool length to work on your speed.

When one of my local pools is set up for long course there is a 17.5m width lane in the space where lane 0 or 9 would be. I'll hop in there and bang out some faster, high intensity efforts.

Doing 30 x 17.5m fast with :15-:20 seconds rest at each wall is one of my favorite all-time sets. You can maintain speed and technique for much longer than you could performing the same intensity in a longer pool.

Use your vacation from the big pool to work on your speed and save the freestyle drill work for a longer pool where you can do more than a few stroke cycles before having to turn.

About me: National level swimmer, Olympic trial qualifier.


You could also try a Swim Tether. I do not have any experience with these devices myself, but know others who use them and recommend them, and not just for short pools. One downside that I can think of is that it would be pretty difficult (impossible?) to count yards/meters. But, if you wanted to do a 45-minute straight swim, it would be ideal.

Another option that could work is just some band work

  • Looks interesting. However, it is unlikely that the hotel has it place.
    – FredrikD
    Commented Jul 21, 2012 at 7:51
  • You could purchase your own... Commented Jul 23, 2012 at 12:13
  • band work looks more doable
    – FredrikD
    Commented Jul 23, 2012 at 16:10

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