Less experienced swimmers should spend more of their time in the Drills portion of a workout, focusing on form and technique, before they start to rack up the yardage in long distance/endurance sets. It is important not to attempt to apply power and speed until your technique and form have advance considerably.
While technique is important, you need to build endurance in the water in order to race. Start with a total workout distance you are comfortable with and structure a workout around that target distance. Gradually increase the distance of your workout as you build toward a competition. Do not eliminate the technique and form drills from the workout in favor of long distances, good form and technique are what allow you to swim efficiently and be able to gain more speed while spending less energy.
Here is a good way to structure a work out:
- Warm-up: easy swimming, stretching, getting comfortable in the water
- Drills: focusing on technique, swimming at a low intensity concentrating on form
- Focus Sets: sets designed to improve your key limiter in swimming (e.g. endurance, power, speed)
- Cool-down: similar to warm-up, stretch out following tough sets