No matter where you are in life, we want you to always remember that you are more than capable to reach your goals and become the best swimmer you can be – at any age.

Your body might be changing, or you might not have as much energy as you used to, but if you train correctly and have the right mindset, it is absolutely possible to get stronger and swim faster than you did in your younger years.

It’s time to make peace with that fact that you are no longer 20 years old.

Stop comparing yourself to how fast you used to be, and start creating habits that are sustainable and healthy for many years to come. There is nothing more inspiring than watching a 95-year-old get on the blocks and compete at international masters swimming competitions.

If you want to swim for the rest of your life, check out tips from MySwimPro Community Member Sean Riga!

Hi, I’m Sean

My name is Sean Riga. I’m 49 years old, and I made my swimming comeback in June 2018. Here is what I’ve learned getting back in the pool, and some tips for any “older” folks looking to improve their swimming.

Related: How To Make a Swimming Comeback

I returned to the pool after many years of not swimming or exercising, due to complications associated with kidney stones. My return to the pool was not a simple one, and it took some time for me to learn how to better prepare myself for the pool, how to recover from workouts, and how to get the most out of each and every yard that I swam. The last time that I worked out as intensely as I am now, these tips were not even a thought or consideration to me.

But as all of us age, we begin to battle past and current injuries, medical conditions, fatiguing bodies, reduced endurance/stamina, as well as overall dwindling energy levels. Through some simple personal care tips, one can enjoy the wonderful benefits of swimming, while mitigating some of those effects of aging.


When I first returned to swimming, I would often only use a 200-400 yard easy swim as my warmup. I quickly started to experience pain in my shoulders until my muscles were actually warmed up.

To help facilitate this more, I started to do simple slow arm circles, both forwards and backwards, while varying the angles of my arm circles. I do these until I feel a decent burn in my shoulder muscles. The purpose of varying that angle of the arm circle relative to the plane of my body is to engage the entire shoulder muscle group. Warming up my shoulders in this way eliminated any pain that I had previously felt during my warmup swim set, and better prepared me for the stresses placed on my shoulders once in the water.

Shoulder injuries and damage from swimming is a major concern, both Julie Kamat and Sara Lark have shared their experiences overcoming surgeries, and any lifelong swimmer should take steps now to minimize any chances of injury.


I have noticed that my muscles do not rebound as quickly as they used to. To help loosen tense muscles and reduce cramping during my swim workouts, I always make sure to stretch before I get in the water.

Related: Try These 5 Stretches for Swimmers

Another way to help reduce cramping is to significantly increase my water intake, and reduce alcohol, coffee and tea consumption. I also make sure to add fruits, vegetables and nuts in my diet to help provide the nutrients necessary to eliminate lactic acid that can buildup during and after workouts resulting in cramping or sore muscles.


Training aids, such as swim fins and paddles can be a great tool to emphasize certain portions of your stroke while working out. The downside of some of these is that they can enhance or even intensify the stresses placed on muscles, joints, and bones while swimming.

As a result of this reality, I had to eliminate the use of paddles from my swimming, as well as limit the number and distances of pull sets within my swim workouts, and even through the week.

Additionally, I have to be very careful with swim fins, because for some reason I am prone to stress fractures in my metatarsal bones in my feet.


When I first got back into swimming, I focused heavily on the distance and duration of my workouts. I did not vary the strokes, distances or even entire workouts enough, which was slowly training my body to swim at only one speed.

The easiest way to break this is to vary the sets within a swim workout, and not focus as much on swimming for a specific time or distance.

I use the Workout of the Day (WOD) in the MySwimPro app to change up my workouts. Another method to advance your swimming would be to utilize the MySwimPro Training Plans, which are designed to achieve a specific outcome. I would recommend checking these out.

Related: How I Lost 75lbs Swimming & Reclaimed My Life

Varying your training zones, rest times, distances, and strokes can boost the efficacy of your swim workouts. Varying strokes is a great way to develop your swimming skill as a four-stroke swimmer. I see too many swimmers and especially triathletes who only swim freestyle for their entire workout. Swimming other strokes engages your muscles differently, as well as different sets of muscles than by only swimming freestyle. For instance, when swimming backstroke, the main muscles engaged are the stabilizing muscles for freestyle.

Additionally, swimming only one or two strokes does not allow your muscles to rest during a single swim.

When you span this out over several days of swim workouts, you have a chance of severely injuring your main muscles and setting the stage for an injury.

Variety can also be achieved through exercising in other forms outside of the pool. I like to couple my swim workouts with cycling workouts either out on the road, or on my trainer to enhance my cardio fitness, maintain low impact routines, and strengthen my legs for swimming.

Try This Free 200-Meter Swim Workout 


Dryland training (another term for strength training) can be a great way to get stronger. In addition to warmups and stretching, dryland training has many advantages for the swimmer who is looking to feel more powerful in the water and improve their times. Check out the Dryland Training Plans in the MySwimPro app, along with the dryland resources below!

Bodyweight Dryland Exercises

Read the blog here.

Low Impact Dryland Exercises

Read the blog here.

Swiss Ball Exercises

Read the blog here.

Best Core Exercises for Swimmers

Read the blog here.

Resistance Band Exercises

Read the blog here.


None of us are getting younger, and as we age, we inherently lose muscle mass, energy and speed.

Refining one’s technique is so important to improve your efficiency and combat your natural loss of physical ability. The MySwimPro app has a full library of Technique Videos demonstrating drills that you can incorporate into Workouts that will improve your stroke performance.

The Training Plans and WOD incorporate many of these drills, which is a great way to develop your stroke while achieving other goals. Doing these drills in my workouts and watching the stroke videos has helped me to become a more efficient and powerful swimmer. Improving my technique reduced the amount of effort that I was using in each stroke, which most often results in additional resistance, more expended effort per yard swam, and overall slower times.


I have never been a good butterfly swimmer, and have taken many efforts to avoid swimming butterfly in my workouts, despite the fact that I knew how beneficial it could be to my overall performance.

Recently, I completed the workout below for the first time, and it has become one of my favorite workouts to swim. The first time that I went to swim this workout I was not even sure that I could complete it, and I was pleasantly surprised when I did, while keeping my times appropriately grouped based on the training zone specified for each set.


  • 1 x 400 yd Freestyle Easy 6:00

Main Set

  • 6 x 100 yd IM Moderate 2:00
  • 5 x 100 yd IM Endurance 1:55
  • 4 x 100 yd IM Threshold 1:50
  • 3 x 100 yd IM Best Average 2:20
  • 2 x 100 yd IM Race Pace 3:00
  • 1 x 100 yd IM Sprint 4:00


  • 2 x 100 yd Freestyle Easy 2:00

FYI – This workout is not for everyone. If you’re looking for something more novice, try this free 500 Meter Swim Workout.


Swimming is obviously a competitive sport that is based around comparing your own performance against that of others. This is a very hard habit to break, and it can undermine your confidence and proficiency.

While it can be advantageous to swim with others to push you harder than you can yourself, it is necessary to not be overly critical of your skill or speed.

Make peace with the fact that you are no longer 20 years old. Strive to be the best swimmer that you and your body are capable of. That said, look into swimming with a Masters Swimming Team, or equivalent, can help to push your workouts to the next level.


While some accommodations must be made in order to continue swimming at an older age, that does not necessarily mean that you are a less proficient or weaker swimmer. It is equally important to prepare yourself for the pool physically as it is to prepare your self psychologically.

While it is true that you are no longer in the prime of your life physically, you are still capable of great things. Remove those mental barriers and stop limiting yourself. Check out this video of Ambassador Patty Deters competing for the first time in years!


One could easily argue that enjoying swimming needs to be the first tip in becoming a better swimmer. If you have negative feelings prior to a swim workout, then you are much less likely to get as much from the experience.

Additionally, the chances of sticking with a long-term swimming routine increases exponentially when you are enjoying yourself. For me, my time in the pool is a nearly peaceful alone time that I have in my day, which allows me to focus on me and not be interrupted or distracted with life’s demands.

For some inspiration, meet Ralph Davis, who made an incredible swimming comeback after a heart transplant. “If a guy who had a heart transplant can still swim competitively, anybody can”

I hope these tips help you become a happier and healthier swimmer. If you have any questions, please feel free to comment below, or chat in our MySwimPro Global Community Facebook Group.

Need help with your swimming? Get Swimming and Dryland Workouts, drills and videos in the MySwimPro app! Sign up for MySwimPro Coach to unlock personalized Training Plans, Guided Workouts and 1-on-1 coaching. Save $35 on your first year of training with code SWIM35 >



  1. Fantastic blog! Do you have any suggestions for aspiring writers?
    I’m hoping to start my own blog soon but I’m
    a little lost on everything. Would you suggest starting with a free platform
    like WordPress or go for a paid option? There are so many choices out
    there that I’m totally confused .. Any tips? Bless you!

  2. Hi, great article- I still think back to whatI used to be able to do – and this is not at all helpful I am not 20 or 14 nope 51 – and I would love to swim again – your article is well written and very helpful – but as a woman in exactly my age it is hard to keep reading when I see photos of gorgeously in shape teenagers stretching and showing me what I should be doing ( should feel and look like) …. I do thank you for the article- I might trust my self to enter the pool deck again and try to get my first 1k under the belt again…. would be a wonderful feeling,I hope

  3. I am 77 years old and swim 1000 yards every day. However, only two years ago I was able to do it in 30 minutes, now on a good day it takes me between 40 and 45 minutes. What can I do to get back to the energy level that I had when I was only 75s on

    I am 77 years old and swim 1000 yards every day. However, only two years ago I was able to do it in 30 minutes, now on a good day it takes me between 40 and 45 minutes. What can I do to get back to the energy level that I had when I was only 75

  4. This seems like a very ambitious workout plan, especially for older swimmers just getting into the sport. I consider my self to be in pretty good shape, and I have difficulty just finishing 500 meters of mixed breast stroke / back stroke / crawl. I am still having fun and enjoying swimming, but it is ridiculous to try to compare myself to this plan.

  5. Hi people! 35 year old here. I started to swimm again after five years (I stopped pro swimming 20 years ago) and it’s just amazing. I’ve been swimming for exactly three months now. I am doing 2km trainings 3-4 times per week (around 50min to hour) and few days ago I started with the dry trainings again (god knows I hate them).
    Anyway, lost 8kg, got much faster, I feel 10 years younger and I can eat like a bear and the kilos are going down 🙂
    If you guys are thinking to start again, just do it. They say after two weeks you get used to it and after two months it’s becoming a habbit. I enjoy every time I get into the pool. After it I feel like I just won lotery. And I walk from that pool to the locker room feeling like Apolon 🙂
    My tip is to strech after the training – I dunno why I’m not doing it anymore but I should. Arms hurt like crazy sometimes.
    Also interesting training I did yesterday:
    300yard freestyle
    200yard legs freesyle

    12*100 75y freestyle easy (nails touching water)+ 25y butterfly sprint (first 100 i started with butterfly then second time I swam butterfly after 25 yards, third after 50 and so on)
    on 2:00min

    200 legs IM
    100 backstroke
    100 breakstroke
    100 backstroke
    100 freestyle

  6. Robert Marshall Puchta on

    I’m 68 year old male swimming in the Pacific Ocean in Northern California {Santa Cruz California area} water temp. around 50- 52 degrees. What is min. and max time for warm up exercise recommended ?

    • Taylor Holmes on

      Hi Robert! Warm up time really depends on your individual situation. We recommend spending 10-15 minutes warming up before your swim!

  7. Thank you so much for this candid and relevant advice. I am a 55 year old woman who loves swimming and working out in general. Lately, I seem to be coming down with fitness related injuries which I know are due to my falling back into my old habits of a time when I was much younger. Very humbling. It is difficult to find sound advice for us older athletes. Your messages are just what I needed to hear.

  8. 63 years old , recently swam in Florida senior games, did well, but noticed the second half of my race needs some stronger endurance and strength in general. Overall good swimmer, but want times to be faster, like 4-5 seconds faster in 100, and 200 IM. and 100 fly. 50′ times are fast but cant hold second half.

  9. Lifeguard4Life on

    Currently 40 years old and swimming faster and farther than when I was 20 even though I am heavier. Improved technique and regular practice make all the difference!

  10. I am 63 years old and thought I would look up anything on line that would be of interest for a swimmer like me. I love the ocean swimming. Long distance seems to be my thing. Ibwas swimmer with a few fellows and we were doing 50 minutes around a local island here ib Vancouver. I wanted to do more and being a masters swimmer and early riser I would find myself enjoying 5:30 am swims in the peacful calm mornings. Finally found a 47 year old swim friend that liked morning too and we swam 7 days a week on averge all summer. No injuries and 3 to 3.5 k each time, keeping track on strava. I never felt stronger! Someone mentioned that frequency makes it easier. Tip is that I learned to take electrolytes before and sometimes after the swim. It really helped recovery and not getting too tired in the afternoon. Hsppy swimming!

  11. I am 73 years old and swim 2,000 yards 5 mornings a week. It takes me about 50 – 60 minutes I’ve been swimming since I retired 8 years ago. I’m fairly slender and feel strong, so I believe it’s beneficial exercise. Swimming is so enjoyable for me. I taught myself the racing turn. Next I will try to teach myself the butterfly stroke by watching YouTube. Any suggestions for how to improve speed?

  12. Love the stories ..I have one too..
    I am 64 and have a second chance at life and don’t take it for granted..
    I just had carotid artery was a surprise to say the least and I had no idea.
    I have been married 42 years…. kids raised . I am a tri athlete and train accordingly. Play competitive tennis and been doing that routine since 1987… I have been very healthy have a low heart rate not overweight….
    .I was not ready for what came next…
    The miracle…..that I am alive, is worth sharing.
    If I had not lost vision a couple of times in January of 2021 I may not be writing this….I listened to my body and my primary care Doctor who suggested a eye exam..that produced an alarming piece of calcium behind my pupil which suggested the eye doctor to order an ultra sound…
    That produced an alarming discovery a 99% blockage in my carotid artery..
    The vascular surgeon performed the surgery..
    I am 2 months out feeling like I am 40..swimming 5000 yards a week biking 25miles and hiking / waking 8 miles week .Back playing tennis. Fortunate and blessed to have not had a stroke !
    I listened to the prompting in my spirit to get things checked and tell my doctor about my vision loss..
    God did the rest….🙏
    Humbled and blessed
    I love swimming and see my self doing it until I cannot 🤔
    What is the best watch for my lifestyle?

    • I too am 63 year old male, last October was sitting around with a bunch of guys watching baseball when all of a sudden I went blind in 1 eye. I’m very active going to the gym 5 days per week. 6’1 207 pds…………blessed to have been near an excellent stroke hospital that was able to correct my 90-95% blocked carotid artery. Like you felt a crazy sense of relief and have been swimming ever since. Started I was swimming for like 5 or ten minutes and was just wore out. Now swimming everyday. Today swam 2500 yards in 1 hour and felt like a million dollars. Currently mixing breast with crawl. 1 day per week mix back/breast and crawl. The result has been amazing. I’m down to 182 pounds and back to a 32 inch waist. Resting heart rate has been reduced to 54bpm. Went to my surgeon who has given clearance to get off plavix and return to my normal crazy life.

      To say I feel lucky would be a terrible understatement.

      Thank you for posting it helps knowing there are more of us out there!!


  13. Just started, 62 years old, hadn’t swam lengths before, just playing in the pool with children and more recently grandchildren. I can only manage the front crawl. 2 to 3 times a week, 10 lengths of a 25m pool was tough. I had to stop after every length. By the 3rd week I was able to manage two lengths at a time.
    After reading this and now in my 4th week I am enjoying it more, sticking with 12 lengths for a while, but all the tips included here have helped. The stretches, warmup and variety of stroke helped the most.

  14. Paul Johnson on

    I am an 80 yr old male who started swimming about two years ago year round instead of doing 5K walks in the Florida heat and humidity. I was able to work up to 20 breaststroke laps in a 25yd city pool year round 3 times per week. The pool was closed for 4 months from mid January to mid May. I went back to doing 5K walks in about 58 minutes until the pool opened again. I am finding it is a struggle to get back to 20 laps, sometimes only getting to 12, 14, or 16 laps. Admittedly, the feels like temperature has been 100 to 105 degrees on many days this summer. I really thought I would be back to 20 laps much quicker.

      • I am a 74 year old woman. Had sciatica pain that kept me awake for 4 nights. Dr. Google, computer, told me swimming would be good for that pain. I went the next day to our YMCA. Water very cold, I am afraid of the water, but did best I could. My pain was completely gone in 2 days. Did Free style, and then backstroke. No one else there before Christmas so lifeguard gave me a pair of goggles and tried to tell me how to swim and breathe. Well, 7 weeks out from first day, I swim free style one length of pool, backstroke back, swim without stopping for 60 minutes. I feel no pain! I still am afraid of the water, but hope to keep up this great time forever! Not a morning person, but now at the pool at 6:00AM and swim until 7:00AM. Home, bubble bath and ready for anything! I had lost 45 pounds from February to August, so swimming is helping keep the weight off even through the Holidays!I guess it is good for my heart also?

  15. This was very helpful for me! I’m in my 50s and trying to get back into swimming like I did when I was young, but I have to remember I’m not young anymore but that shouldn’t stop me from being active and getting back out there.
    Alex Chung | Director of Operations, VTNatSec |

  16. Great article. I learned how to swim 2 years ago at age 65 and I love it. I can front crawl, breast stroke and back stroke. Have not learned the butterfly yet. I’m just hearing about warming up and stretching before getting into the water. Not sure what all I should be doing. Thanks Also I find the comments very inspiring to keep going and get better!

  17. 66 almost 67. Swimming 2000 yards 5 days a week. Discovered resting between sets at 500 , 1000 and 1500 help. Mix in 200 yards of each breast and backstroke in the middle. Need to work on butterfly.

  18. Richard Lennox on

    75 years old: I walk 2 miles (about 1 hour in the hills 3 times a week) I joined the YMCA and am ‘nibbling’ toward 100 miles by next December! I do a mixed kibble of 30 lengths 3 times a week…no hurry, no times…start with a 15 min sauna soak to warm up, then 2 x IM of 2 lengths each stroke… Then 2 dolphin kick laps 2 flutter kick sengths… Then 2 at-a-time freestyle lengths concentrating on long as possible dolphin kicks underwater, off the wall (half a length) then concentrate on long stroke ‘form is king’ laps…rinse and repeat… Introduce a 50 sprin,t a couple of times. Always aiming at the magical number of 7full freestyle strokes (often 10) per length of short course pool,..after dolphining 1/2 off the wall. Still allergic to times… I don’t. . 96 miles to go-life is not a race, it is always form over distance or time,

  19. I’m 70 years old and want to get back into lap swimming. I stopped when COVID came in 2019. At that time I was swimming 1 mile 3x/week. I just went to the pool and did a s=l=o=w for 20 minutes and I am BEAT. The day after I was fine but the 2nd and now 3rd day I am so fatigued. Do you think once I recover (how can I now recover???) will I be able to swim more laps? I would be happy with 1/2 mile 2x/week. Thanks for your info.

Leave A Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.