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Looking back at the start of your swimming journey, what do you wish you knew? Would you do anything differently? I certainly would.
If I had approached my training differently, I would have improved my swimming so much faster. I’d be more efficient in the water, have fewer injuries, and have a lot more fun!
Whether you just started swimming or you’ve been doing it a while, consider these five tips to help take your swimming to the next level, plus a 2,500-meter swim workout to help you put my advice into practice.
1. Focus on Technique
Swimming is incredibly technique focused, so it’s important to build a strong foundation of stroke fundamentals before increasing your workout volume or ramping up your speed.
Spend time mastering the basics of body position in all four strokes, especially your head position. Slow things down and be patient. The time you spend in this phase of your training will pay off big time when you start going a bit harder in your workouts.
Related: How to Swim Perfect Freestyle
Oftentimes swimmers think they need to push through the pain to see results, and while it’s true that tough training sessions can yield results, you won’t see maximum gains if you neglected to build your foundation.
2. Every Stroke Matters
Every stroke contributes to your overall swimming performance, building that foundation I mentioned earlier.
You build muscle memory in your workouts, and if you fall into lazy swimming habits, you’re missing out on extra speed and efficiency in your stroke.
Finish every rep in your swim workout with a strong finish at the wall, and don’t neglect your turns and underwaters. Think about your head position, hand entry, and catch. Staying on track with these facets of your swimming will pay dividends when it’s time to race.
This concept applies out of the pool as well. Each dryland workout you do plays a role in your success in the water, and it’s important to stay focused on each aspect of your training.
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3. Swim All the Strokes
So many swimmers stick with one or two strokes and while they may be getting a good workout, they’re missing out on the benefits of a well-rounded program.
I don’t blame you for wanting to swim only the strokes you’re good at. But when you swim your weaker strokes, you challenge your muscles in new ways, which can help build strength for your dominant strokes. You’ll also improve your feel of the water.
Related: Why You Should Swim All Four Strokes
You can still see great improvements if you just swim freestyle. But you’ll become a more well-rounded athlete if you can swim all four strokes.
If you’re in a swimming rut, try adding some IM work into your training schedule. That might be just the thing to help you break free of your plateau!
For a little extra oomph, try adding equipment to your training as well. Fins, paddles, a pull buoy, a parachute…whatever you enjoy. Equipment not only adds variety, but it also adds resistance to help you build strength.
4. How You Finish a Workout is How You Start the Next One
This tip is as much about your workout as it is about your mindset. Understand that the way you leave the pool at the end of your swim is the way you’ll start your next one.
Your feel of the water translates between workouts. If you neglect your cool down (or skip it altogether), you’re training your brain to expect a lackluster or sloppy workout next time.
Even if your workout was extra challenging, take a few minutes to collect yourself and finish your workout properly. Swim a few hundred yards of easy freestyle and turn on your senses. How does the water feel as your hand enters and starts to pull? What does the water sound like? At MySwimPro we call this Silent Swimming.
5. Be Better Than Yesterday
No matter how dedicated and focused you are, you’re going to have good and bad days in the pool. And that’s ok! What is important is that you strive to come back better the next day.
Each workout, identify an aspect of your stroke to work on. Maybe it’s your streamline one day, and your breathing the next.
Don’t compare yourself to other swimmers – there will always be someone who is faster than you. It’s easy to fall into this trap, especially if you compete regularly. Instead, learn from your own swimming and set SMART goals to keep yourself moving forward. SMART goals are:
- Attainable for you
- Relevant to you
A great SMART goal would be “I will swim a 100 breaststroke in 1:30 by the end of August.”
Learn more about SMART goal setting >
Try This Swim Workout
This workout incorporates each of the five points mentioned above to create a well-rounded session.
- Distance: 2,500 yards/meters
- Duration: 50 minutes
- 1 x 300 Freestyle @ 5:00
- 8 x 25 Kick @ :40
- 4 x 50 Drill @ 1:00 Negative Split Strokes*
*To negative split strokes, count your strokes for the first 25 and try to take one less stroke on the second 25.
- 3 x 100 IM @ 1:30
- 4 x 25 Butterfly Descend :40
- 3 x 100 IM @ 1:30
- 4 x 25 Backstroke Descend :40
- 3 x 100 IM @ 1:30
- 4 x 25 Breaststroke Descend :40
- 3 x 100 IM @ 1:30
- 4 x 25 Freestyle Descend :40
4 x 50 Freestyle Silent Swimming, Ascend @ :50
If you liked this workout, you’ll find more just like it in the MySwimPro app, plus personalized Training Plans and 1-on-1 coaching. Download the app on iPhone and Android to get started!
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I am 64 years old and just starting to swim a little bit more again. I am coming off of 3 surgeries in 2021 and trying to get back into shape. I never learned how to do back stroke and don’t have the shoulder strength for butterfly anymore. Can I get there? I live in the Atlanta area and wondering if I should take some lessons again?
You can definitely get back into swimming and learn some new strokes! Before you dive into a routine, double check with your doctor or physical therapist that you’re approved to start exercising. Start small and make sure to focus on building a good base of technique so you avoid future injuries. Here are a few MySwimPro Training Plans you might like:
Beginner Freestyle: https://blog.myswimpro.com/2018/06/21/4-week-beginner-freestyle-training-plan/
Get Fit: https://blog.myswimpro.com/2017/10/20/6-week-swim-training-plan-to-get-fit/
Couch to 1k: https://blog.myswimpro.com/2019/12/18/couch-to-1k-swim-plan/