If you are new to the world of swimming, you may initially view the sport that as monotonous – a lot of back and forth, up and down the swimming lanes form of exercise. While there is some truth to that on the surface, once you “dive in,” swimming has the potential to be a thoroughly engaging, entertaining and invigorating activity. And with a little creativity and planning, you can liven up any swim level routine. The following are a few recommendations to add some excitement to your swimming routine that in turn will develop your love for the sport – and improve your swim stroke!
- Find a Swim Friend: Swimming with another person that shares the same goals as you can make a workout fun and works for both beginner and competitive swimmers. Whether the person is there to talk to you on the wall while you wait for your next set or is there to help push you through a tough practice, human contact is a great thing all around.
- Find a Team to Swim With: Once you have gotten comfortable in the water, joining a Masters swim team truly helps and makes swimming more interesting (Visit the USA Masters Website for more information). For starters you have more than one swimmer to help push you at practice. Peer pressure (yes, peer pressure!) can be a great thing in swimming. For example, if you are participating in a hour-long swim with others, chances are that you’ll to push yourself to stay in the whole hour, instead of giving up and getting out after 15 minutes ( don’t worry – it happens to the best of us). There is also a camaraderie that is present in the pool quite unlike a lot of sports. While you are able to talk and have a good time, you can also get a more challenging workout too.
- Swim with Music: This is a favorite of many. While swimming with others may not always be an option, swim music is definitely the next best alternative. Swimming to your favorite song is something that can be motivating as well as entertaining. A swim mp3 player such as the SwiMP3 2G is a great tool for this. I would recommend creating a playlist with songs that correlate to the type of swimming you are doing. For example, for a swim set where you want to go fast I would suggest fast tempo songs, while for warming down, a slow, calming song would be appropriate.
- Make Swimming a Game: No, I’m not talking about Marco Polo here. A set like “King/Queen of The Hill” is a fun one that you can do with or without another person (yet games are more fun when played with your swim friend!). Start off on a specific interval, for example a 50m freestyle swim in 1 minute. Then drop a second after every completion and see how far you can go before you miss the interval. If you are really interested in learning various games check out Games-Gimmicks-Challenges by Bob Steele. He lays out great games that allow any type of swimmer to get a great workout in.
- Layout Your Swim: Planning your practice and laying out specific swim sets can be just the variety that you need in your swim routine. While it does require a little more work than just jumping in the pool, it helps to make the swim more interesting if you break up your time in the water into training sets. This is mainly for those of you who do not swim on a swim team, where the coach usually writes the workouts. Writing down a specific set allows you to have a checklist of things to do and what’s more fun than knowing that you completed all of your sets for that day! Alternate your strokes on days, and your goal times.
- Work on your stroke: This will not only benefit you in the long run by preventing injuries, but this will also add some variety to your swimming sessions. My suggestion is to regularly set aside some time in your pool workout to focus your stroke or technique. You can, for example, work on pushing off the wall in a streamline, or work on your side breath in freestyle. Even the most elite swimmers take time to focus on things like this to improve their technique, and ultimately their performance. If you don’t have a coach a great place to learn more about stroke drills is on the Internet: YouTube has many videos detailing various drills.
Swimming isn’t all about back and forth across a pool; it can be an exciting experience that provides camaraderie, a therapeutic way to unwind and, of course, a stroke closer to a healthier lifestyle.
All you need is a suit, cap, goggles, and a positive attitude – so off you go.