Swimming is one of the best gifts you can give your body.
It’s a great cardio workout, but it’s also much gentler on your body than running is, and it works your entire body.
I know if you aren’t a swimmer, getting in the pool for the first time can be a pretty intimidating thing.
Forget the fact that you may not feel totally comfortable in a bathing suit.
There is also the fact that you might not know how things work once you step on the pool deck, you are convinced everyone else in the pool will be a former Olympic swimmer, you are afraid the people who do know what is going on won’t be very nice to you, and you are wondering if you are going to make a fool out of yourself.
This is not the case with swimmers!
In fact, experienced swimmers are the coolest people in the pool.
They will share a lane with you and if they are fifty times faster than you, they will just swim around you.
You don’t need to worry about them at all.
In most pools when there is lap swimming, if there is one person already in a lane, you ask them if you can share the lane with them. They will move over and swim on one side while you swim on the other side.
When there are more than two people in a lane, you are supposed to do what is called circle swimming.
This is what people on the swim team do.
You swim down on the right side of the lane and back on the left side. So you are swimming in a circle (really a super big oblong oval) in your lane. It’s just like you are driving on the road.
Experienced swimmers are used to circle swimming. They will swim with multiple people in a lane without hesitation. If they are much fast than you, they will swim around you when they catch up to you and they will alter their workout or speed to make things work. They don’t mind.
It’s the non-experienced swimmers who are much more likely to give you a hard time. They don’t like to circle swim because they have never done it that way, and they want to go along at whatever pace they feel comfortable with without having to worry about anyone else bothering them.
Some pools are good about enforcing circle swimming when there are a lot of people who want to swim.
Other pools, not so much. And swimmers will end up standing at the end of the pool, waiting for someone else to finish swimming, and jump in as soon as they see an open spot.
So my first suggestion for novice swimmers and triathletes is to go to the pool before you swim and talk to the lifeguards. Ask them when the least busy times of day are at the pool and try to go then if you can.
Next, if you know someone who is a good swimmer, ask them to go with you to the pool. They will show you the ropes, and they will not care how slow you are or how you look in a bathing suit. They will just be happy to help you out!
Once you get your butt in a lane, here is the next thing.
Swimming cane be pretty boring.
Your face is in the water. You can’t talk to anyone, and you can’t even breathe whenever you want to.
While they do make some sort of iPod or something that is waterproof, nobody ever really uses those. So you can’t listen to music or anything to distract you like you do when you run or when you are in a spin class.
So once you get past the intimidation factor, then you have to deal with the boredom factor.
This is where swimming with a buddy is helpful if you can swing it.
You may not be able to talk to each other like you would if you were going for a walk or a run, but at least you are getting through the workout together!
For me, when I’m swimming alone though, the quiet is nice. It’s sort of like a meditation in water.
Even still, there is only so long you can go back and forth in a pool with your face in the water.
And I see a lot of people get in the pool and just swim non-stop for thirty minutes or an hour.
Now that is boring.
People on the swim team don’t get into the pool and just swim non-stop for two hours.
Practice is broken up into sets.
Swim practices are similar to a Tabata class or a HIIT workout where you do a certain number of reps of a particular exercise for a certain amount of time.
Most pools are 25 yards long.
1 length of the pool = 25 yards
2 lengths = 50 yards
4 lengths = 100 yards
On the swim team, if I want my swimmers to swim one length of backstroke, I tell them to swim a 25 back.
If I want them to swim 4 lengths of butterfly, I’d tell them to swim a 100 fly.
If I want them to swim twenty lengths of freestyle, I tell them to swim a 500 free.
So most swim practices are broken up into several sets of different distances, where you have a certain amount of time (an interval) in which to swim that distance.
That’s way more fun to get through than swimming non-stop for a half hour or an hour!
Plus, when you break up your swim workout into different reps of different distances, you can increase the intensity of those reps, and you get more out of your workout than swimming back and forth for thirty minutes at a moderate pace.
All that being said, below is a half mile swim workout for you.
Oh yeah. One more thing.
Technically a mile is 1760 yards.
This does not translate to an exact number of lengths of a 25 yard pool. In competitive swimming, the “mile” event is 1650 yards. That’s 66 lengths of the pool.
It’s not technically a mile.
But that’s what we call it.
The workout I have here for you today is 8oo yards (approximately half of a 1650), and it’s a great place to start if you are new to swimming:
Give it a try!
For a new swimmer, this will probably take you around thirty – forty-five minutes to complete, depending on your speed.
The total distance is 800 yards, which is the same distance you swim in a sprint triathlon.
Stay tuned for more swim workouts! I’m hoping to post a new one each week where we will build up the distances you swim at once.
Now go pack your swim bag. Because you are ready to get your butt in the pool!