Your arms and legs are burning, your lungs are about to collapse, you burst up through the surface and gasp for air. Then you hear the dreaded call: “Ten more laps”. If you’ve ever been in this position, you know how difficult swimming can be. But it can seem like there’s no way to improve other than swimming more. How do you really become better at something like swimming?
A Routine is Key
First off, you need a routine. You’ll never make progress until you know if you’re even getting better! Plan out your swimming routine for each day, and consider making a new routine for each week. Of course, you can’t figure out which routines work well unless you know if you’re improving. Don’t rely on how it feels, head online and find the best waterproof fitness tracker for you. Recording your statistics will help you determine what techniques you need to work on.
If you’re just starting out, don’t plan to practice for 8 hours a day right off the bat. It’s easier to make exercise a habit if you ease into it. Start with something simple, like fifteen minutes a day, three days a week. Make it your goal to push on slowly towards thirty minutes, and on from there.
What Makes a Good Routine
Of course, you can’t just swim back and forth for an hour a day and expect to improve. Your routine should include a structure that will help you become faster, stronger, and last longer. Start with a warmup. Focus on maintaining a rhythm in your strokes by applying constant pressure on your strokes and kicks.
Then follow up with a focused effort on your kicks and pulls. These will help you loosen up and fall into a strong rhythm through the rest of your practice. Next, it’s time to start on your main set. This should be the highest intensity portion of your workout. Whether you’re sprinting in short bursts or pushing your limits of endurance, this should be when you’re putting the most work into one type of stroke. Set a goal for each practice, such as a number of laps or a time you’d like to beat.
It’s very important that you end with a cooldown. If you hop out of the pool immediately after your main set, your muscles won\’t have a proper chance to relax and stretch out. Spend 10-15 minutes swimming laps at a steady pace. Aim to have as little strokes per lap as possible so that your legs and arms really have a chance to stretch out.
Breathing is Number One
One aspect of swimming that most swimmers neglect is their breathing. You should have an established technique for your inhales and your exhales when you swim. You probably already know the trick of only breathing every three or five strokes. However, when you take that breath, make sure that you’re only turning your head to the side, never up. When you turn up you constrict your trachea, making it harder to get a good breath in.
One common mistake that swimmers make is not exhaling when they’re underwater. You should be exhaling out of your nose when you turn your head back underwater in order to prevent water from filling your nose and to maintain your breathing. Throughout your practice, you should always remember your breath or else you can lapse into bad breathing habits.
A good routine can’t help you improve unless you stick to it. Try to practice at least three times a week, and be consistent with your schedule. If you stay persistent and keep your goals in mind, you’ll be able to become a better swimmer than you ever imagined.