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What You Need to Know About Swimming for Exercise

What You Need to Know About Swimming for Exercise

Swimmers know that this time of year, during the post-Olympic glow, is when the local lap lanes become a whole lot more crowded.

With a brand new swimsuit, goggles in hand, and stomach bursting with pride and motivation after watching the top swimmers in the world race over the course of a week, an intrepid wave of new and returning swimmers head to their local lap swims to take on the sport of swimming.

For some, watching the Olympics has gotten them excited to get back into the water, while for others, it’s their first foray into organized swimming.

You have a few different options for what to do:

  • Hit up the local lap swim. Almost every neighborhood pool has scheduled lap swims scattered over the course of the day. Late afternoon is typically one of the harder times to get pool time, as club teams, lessons, and other aquatic programs like synchro take advantage of the after-school hours to schedule programming. Swimming at your own pace is fun and safe in terms of the challenge. You can progress at your own pace, although the big limitation is that with no one to instruct you, there are some technical improvements to be missed out on.
  • Join a local club team. USA Swimming has nearly 3,000 club teams spread across the United States, so if you are a kid and you are looking to get competitive with the sport, you can start here by searching for a team in your area.
  • Sign up with a Masters team. There are heaps of benefits of swimming masters — they take everyone from newbies to former Olympians, meaning that whether you are dipping in for the first time or getting back into your age group hero days, there is a lane for you. You can learn more about whether there is a club near you here.

Building a Swim Workout

Assuming that you want to get a few sessions in on your own or you want to supplement the swimming workouts you are already getting, here is how to build your own swim workout.

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There are 4 parts to your typical swimming workout.

  1. The warm-up. If you have worked out in any capacity at any point in your life, you know the purpose behind this. Start with a low intensity to loosen up the arms and legs. How much you want to do varies with the workout at hand, but devote 20% of your total workout time. Throw in a bunch of kick work — it will really help increase your core temperature.
  2. Drill/Pre-set. Here is where we set the stage for the main set that is to come. Feeling loosey goosey, we escalate the intensity and attention to technique. Alternating efforts of moderate-intensity swimming with drill work is one of my favorite ways to go about this. For the drill work, pick those that reflect what you need to improve on the most in your stroke.
  3. The Main-set. The bread and butter! This is where the bulk of the hard work is done. What you end up doing here is unique to you and your goals in the water. For straight aerobic work, you could swim a series of 100’s with about 10 seconds rest in between, or unleash some high-end speed with a set of sprint 25’s and 50’s with a little bit more rest.
  4. The warm-down. Now that you have worked your butt off, it is time to kickstart the recovery process with a structured cool down. Depending on the intensity of your workout, the warm-down should last about 10-15% of your total workout (so 5-10 minutes for an hour workout). Remember to keep your technique intact and swim out the lactate and neuromuscular fatigue so that you can come back and take another healthy swing at tomorrow’s workout.

Breaking Down the Lingo of Competitive Swimming

If you’ve ever looked at the whiteboard at a swim practice, you might be forgiven for thinking you were staring at a Fourier equation. Heavy on abbreviations, short hand, and code that is recognizable only to that particular group of swimmers, it can be a lot to take in.

Here is a sample set and the explanation of how they are laid out:

8×50 freestyle swimming @1:00

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  • 8 = number of repetitions
  • 50 = distance covered per rep
  • @1:00 = the interval per rep

Here are some of the common terms you will see scrawled up on the whiteboard in addition to the sets:

Bilateral breathing: This means that swimmers breathe to both sides during freestyle. To breathe bilaterally, you would take a breath after every 3 strokes, for instance.

EZ: Shorthand for “easy.”

Negative split: Come back faster on the second half of the rep. If you swim :31 seconds for the first 50 of a 100, the goal would be to swim :30 seconds or faster on the second 50.

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Even Pace/Split: The goal here is to swim the first half and the second half of the repetition at the same speed.

Stroke: A majority of swim sets are performed in freestyle (or front crawl). When “stroke” is listed in the set, this means to do any of the other three strokes (butterfly, backstroke, or breaststroke).

Distance Per Stroke (DPS): The goal here is to maximize length with each stroke without over-gliding.

Kick (sometimes just “K”): This is when you use a kickboard (or in a streamline on your back for backstrokers) and perform kick with a board.

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Pull (or “P”): Know that pull buoy that coach had you grab from the equipment bin? Throw it between your legs (between your thighs — not your ankles) and let your arms and shoulders do all the work.

Getting Faster

Swimming is a highly technical sport. The importance of technique is hard to overstate. When we watch swimmers like Ledecky and Phelps, it’s not just their conditioning that allows them to overtake the rest of the world — it’s their ability to swim faster with less exertion than the competition.

Keep this in mind as you are improving and getting a better feel for the water. If you are serious about wanting to get faster in the pool, you need to pay equal attention to swimming better and faster.

Featured photo credit: Flickr via flickr.com

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Last Updated on June 24, 2019

5 Fitness Tips That Will Help You Start the New Year

5 Fitness Tips That Will Help You Start the New Year

The New Year has come and passed, and we are starting yet another new and exciting year that awaits us. We are curious to find out what 2017 has hidden for us, but until then you know what you need to do! Just because it is a new year, that does not mean that you should get rid of your habit of regular exercising. And if you by any chance do not have this wonderful habit, this is exactly the year to own it.

Start researching for the best exercising plans, join the nearest gym or that yoga class that you have been thinking of, and start taking better care of your body and mind!

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Why Is Exercising Important?

Of course, you will think of a thousand excuses why this is not the right time to start exercising. So, before I proceed with telling you all about these 5 fitness tips that are meant to help you with your exercising routine, I will start off by sharing some of the many benefits of exercising. This way you can see for yourself that for every excuse you can think of, there is a benefit that will make you forget all about it!

  • Exercising is the perfect way to get rid of that unwanted body weight and control your weight from now on! Not to mention it’s completely healthy compared with all those expensive, promising products filled with chemicals.
  • Exercising reduces the risk for Diabetes 2 and heart attacks. If you are at risk for these conditions, then exercising is the best way to fight it.
  • Exercising helps with pain and stiffness relief with all types of arthritis.
  • Exercising strengthens your bones and muscles.
  • Exercising improves your mood and helps you maintain your mental health.

For whatever reason you have dedicated to starting exercising, I congratulate you! Knowing how many people are out there suffering from types of arthritis, cardiovascular diseases, strokes, etc., choosing exercising to become a part of your everyday routine is the smartest decision that you could have done! And you are not alone. 

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To start you off, here are these 5 fabulous fitness tips that will help you start yet another year on the right path!

1. Schedule your workouts

Make time each Sunday to make a week plan that will include enough time for your workouts. That way, you will not be able to make the excuse that you do not have the time to spend at least an hour a day exercising.

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2. Do not wait for Monday to come

Aren’t you tired of making the same plan over and over and not fulfilling it? Yes, we are talking about that good old plan to start exercising on Monday. Instead, start exercising right now. It is completely irrelevant if it is Tuesday, or Friday, or any other day! Start exercising whenever you feel the urge!

3. Find a workout plan that will work for you

Do not choose a workout plan just because your best friend has chosen it. Choose whatever you feel comfortable doing, are capable of doing, and most importantly, what you love. If you do not like to run, then don’t! Do a 30-minute cardio routine at home instead. If needed, you can hire a personal trainer, who will hear all of your interests when it comes to exercising, and create a promising exercising plan just for you!

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4. Remember why you work out

Do not let yourself forget why you have started working out in the first place. Motivation is everything when it comes to exercising! Create a motivation board near your mirror that will remind you each day why you started as you look in the mirror every day.

5. Leave out the big expectations for later

If you are just starting to exercise now, it is essential to be proud of what you can accomplish right now. Do not get disappointed if you can’t run for an hour; it is normal! You will soon run for an hour and more if you just stick to your plan!

Exercising is fun, beneficial, and probably the best activity that you could have chosen to start your year right! Choose the best diet plan to go with your new exercising routine, and enjoy in the results that are soon to come. And to help you through the process, look back at these fitness tips to help you stay on track with your new exercising routine! Use these tips to keep yourself healthy, or get rid of that unwanted body weight gained during the holidays, and love your soon to be fit body starting today!

Featured photo credit: goodhousekeeping.com/ via google.com

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