Become a stronger swimmer

Swimming is a low-impact aerobic exercise, which helps strengthen important muscle groups like shoulders, back, legs, hips, abdominals and glutes.

Swimming endless laps is not many people’s idea of an enjoyable exercise. With a bit of training, you can get used to the routine and enjoy the isolation, while also improving your fitness. Swimming requires a lot of movements and muscles not typically used on land. If you haven’t swum regularly, you will need to train and practise for a while before it feels easy.

Here are some tips to help you become a stronger swimmer:

Plan a swimming routine

You don’t need to swim every day, but try to commit to at least three days a week. Decide what time works best for you. Some people prefer an early morning swim before the day starts, while others benefit more from swimming after work.

Structure you swim sessions

You may prefer to just swim at a constant pace for a set period of time or number of laps. If you want to improve your fitness, then you’ll need to consider the following:

  • A warm-up.
  • Kick session with a small board or pull session on your back.
  • Five-minute hypoxic session, where you hold your breath for long periods while doing your strokes. Do sprints while only taking one or two breaths per length, or butterfly kick underwater to halfway and then butterfly (breathing every 3 strokes) for the rest of the length. Don’t do hypoxic training for very long if you expect to be doing the main set afterwards.
  • Main session with a short amount of lengths done at high intensity on fast times, or lower intensity but lots of laps without rest.
  • Warm down.

Work on your breathing

Focus on both your inhales and your exhales. When you’re not breathing, don’t move your head. Keeping your head in a fixed position is more efficient.

Develop your backstroke

Backstroke can be one the most challenging strokes, as it requires strong back and shoulder muscles. The key to performing a fluid backstroke lies in your hips. Practice a simple drill of flutter kicks on your back while one arm is raised. Switch arms after a lap and then finish with a lap of normal backstroke.

Strengthen your breaststroke

The breaststroke relies on the synchronisation of your glide and stroke. It is not easy and is not recommended for people with chronic knee problems. Take time to master the stroke and become fluid in its execution.

Isolate a single stroke per exercise

If you commit a full day, or even a week, to just one type of stroke, you’ll sync into the rhythm of that stroke faster.