For the Aspiring Fitness Swimmer: 3 Easy Ways to Start Swimming Smarter (and having A LOT more fun!)

Do you dread every time you get to the pool because you know that you will swim 40 laps, back and forth, staring directly down at the dreaded black line? Does it feel like you reached a plateau where you simply can’t improve any further in your swimming? If this is you, I’d like to give you a couple of tips that are sure to help break up the monotony! And it’s sure to help you improve your swimming at the same time. Too easy, right?

Step 1: Start Counting Your Laps in Between Rests

Simple enough right? If you stop on the wall between lap 4 and lap 8, you just swam 4 laps and thus 100 yds (in a 25 yd pool). Instead of counting your total distance, start looking at how often you stop on the wall. Swim normally during one of your sessions and try to keep track of how many times you stop. From there you can work on swimming specific distances. If your goal is to swim 80 laps in each swim, why not try swimming 10×8 laps (or 200s)? Or maybe try 5×200 and 10×100. Notice how your body reacts to the different amounts of rest.

Step 2: Keep Track of Your Times

The next big step is to start keeping track of your times as you swim one of these predetermined distances. This gives you the ability to gauge your improvement. How do you find your time? Most pools have pace clocks installed which will show seconds and minutes. Try getting your times on similar distances across a couple of weeks and you will now be able to assess how well you are swimming. I guarantee that you will see yourself improving as you try to beat your previous personal best!

Step 3: Fartlek Workouts for Swimming

Fartlek “speed play” is the revolutionary training system developed for running in the 1930s that was applied to swimming in the 1960s, with tremendous results. It focuses around putting stress on the aerobic energy system by varying the speed and intensity throughout the workout. This means in simpler terms, that you will go fast in certain parts of your swim and you will go easier in other parts. Most of the swim workouts you now see are designed around this concept, but it can be a lot simpler than that. Try swimming the first part of your workout easy to warmup. Then try swimming some faster shorter distances, pushing yourself to swim harder than your typical effort level. Make sure to take extra rest in between each of these shorter intervals. Despite the extra rest, you will notice that you are in fact breathing harder and getting a better overall workout.


Photo CC: Swimmer, Cadiz, Spain 2003 by Dr John2005, on Flickr