Do you feel completely out of breath and exhausted after just a few minutes of swimming? Well, we’ve got news for you: It doesn’t have to feel that way!
If you want to complete a 30-minute swim without feeling tired, check out our tips to structure your training and improve your technique for the best results.
Break Up Your Swim
If you aren’t anywhere close to a 30-minute swim, we recommend breaking it up into smaller chunks at first. As you get stronger and build endurance, you can increase your swim time until you’ve reached 30 minutes of continuous swimming. Here’s a sample progression:
- 10 rounds of 3 minutes
- 6 rounds of 5 minutes
- 3 rounds of 10 minutes
- 2 rounds of 15 minutes
- 1 round of 30 minutes
At the start, 10 rounds of 3 minutes is pretty similar to interval training. You’ll swim for 3 minutes, then take 30 seconds to a minute of rest before starting the next round.
If 10 rounds of 3 minutes is still too much for you, start small! Check out the Getting Started for Beginners or Get Fit Training Plans in the MySwimPro app for a progressive plan designed to help you increase endurance and swimming distance.
What is a Good Time for a 30-Minute Swim?
Depending on who you are and your average pace, the distance you’ll cover during a 30-minute continuous swim will vary:
- Beginner Swimmer: 1,000m in 30 minutes (3:00/100m pace)
- Average Swimmer: 1,500m in 30 minutes (2:00/100m pace)
- Average Swimmer: 1 mile (1,760 yards) in 30 minutes (1:51/100m pace)
- Strong Swimmer: 2,000m in 30 minutes (1:30/100m pace)
- Elite Swimmer: 2,500m in 30 minutes (1:12/100m pace)
- World Record Pace: 3,000m in 30 minutes (1:00/100m pace)
If your goal is to swim for 30 minutes without stopping, don’t worry too much about your pace or total distance yet. As you improve, you can set goals specific to those things!
Tips to Build Endurance for a 30-Minute Swim
Feeling good for a 30-minute swim is a result of lots of swim training, sure…but it’s also a result of time spent improving technique and analyzing your own performance.
Improve Your Technique
Body & Head Position
Look down at the bottom of the pool to keep your hips close to the surface and body in line. Proper body position reduces drag and makes it easier to move through the water with less effort. Do your best to avoid looking forward, toward the other side of the pool.
Freestyle relies heavily on rotation. With each arm stroke, think about reaching forward as far as you can and rotating away from your forward arm before initiating your pull. For a full breakdown of freestyle technique, check out this article.
Freestyle pull is all about Early Vertical Forearm! Keep your elbow high from the start of your catch through to the recovery phase. This pull technique is key to improving your power per stroke. Keep an eye on this as you get tired and your technique starts to fall apart. Don’t let your elbows drop!
If you’re a new swimmer, we recommend de-emphasizing your kick at first. Your legs use a lot of energy, and when you kick too much, you tire yourself out very quickly.
Instead, focus on using your kick to help drive your rotation and keep your hips up. We recommend using a two-beat kick to start – that’s one kick for every arm stroke. Learn more about the different types of freestyle kicking here.
For longer bouts of swimming, nailing your breathing is key to swimming at a consistent pace. When your breathing technique is off, you might experience issues maintaining your stroke rhythm, create excess drag and tire yourself out.
To breathe in freestyle, start by exhaling through your nose while your face is still underwater. Then, turn your head so one eye is in the water and one eye is out of the water. Take a quick inhale, and drop your head back into neutral, looking down at the bottom of the pool.
We recommend sticking with a specific breathing pattern for the duration of your swims. Many swimmers breathe every two or three strokes. Play around with different breathing patterns and find what feels best to you. Don’t deprive your body of oxygen during your swim!
Oftentimes swimmers may not realize that their technique isn’t optimal because they can’t see themselves. We recommend filming yourself swimming to get a look at what you’re doing in the water, and to identify where you can improve.
You can use a waterproof camera like a GoPro to get underwater shots, or ask a friend or lifeguard to film you from outside the pool. Both angles provide great feedback!
How to Train for a 30-Minute Swim
- Break Up Your Workouts
It might sound counterintuitive, but we recommend swimming multiple shorter sets instead of trying to swim for 30 minutes every time you go to the pool. This is where interval training comes in handy!
When you break up your swims into smaller chunks, you give your body a chance to recover mid-workout, and can reset your technique to make sure your mechanics are on point.
- Follow a Plan
It’s important to build up to longer workouts over time to make sure you can maintain proper technique and avoid injuries.
If you aren’t sure how to break up your training for a 30-minute swim, try following a structured Training Plan in the MySwimPro app. The Get Fit plan will build you up to a one-mile swim, with personalized Guided Workouts that you can sync to your Apple Watch for in-pool guidance and tracking.
- Test Yourself
A 30-minute swim might be your long-term goal, but that doesn’t mean you can’t set smaller goals to hit along the way! Test Sets can help keep you on track from week to week, or month to month. Depending on their structure, Test Sets can measure your overall speed, endurance, or ability to maintain a specific pace over time.
Check out Test Sets in the MySwimPro app for personalized challenges and tracking that shows you just how much you’ve improved.
- The Need For Speed Test Set measures your speed for 1×100 Freestyle at Race Pace.
- The Endurance Challenge I Test Set puts you to the test for 5×100 Freestyle at Threshold Pace.
- The Endurance Challenge II Test Set is the ultimate pacing challenge, putting you through 10×100 Freestyle at Threshold Pace.
Doing a Test Set once a month can provide valuable feedback on how effective your training is, giving you the opportunity to adjust your workout plan to ensure you’re on track to reach your goals.
If you really want to crush that 30-minute swim, stay consistent with training, progress your workout distance and intensity slowly over time, and don’t neglect your technique. Soon enough, you’ll be ready for even longer swims. If you have any tips for boosting endurance in the pool, leave a comment below!