If you're looking for a full-body workout, jumping in the pool is a great way to start. Swimming engages all of your body's muscle groups without putting a lot of pressure on your joints. Improving your performance in the pool requires more than a fancy swimsuit. Your workouts should incorporate drills in the water to improve stamina and form, as well as weight training on dry land to build strength.
While any swimming will help you burn calories, doing drills will help you improve as an athlete. Drills involve a series of laps at different speeds with a short time to rest in between. They can help you improve your endurance, speed and form in the pool. Adjust the drills according to the size of pool you are using. In the United States, most athletic pools are 25 yards across, so one lap is 50 yards long.
Workout No. 1
Get your blood pumping by swimming 10 laps at a slower pace. Rest for up to 20 seconds between every other lap. Once you are finished with all 10 laps, rest for one minute. Do six laps focusing on the form of your stroke. Rest for up to 20 seconds between each lap. Once you complete all six laps, rest for one minute. Swim 20 laps at a faster pace, resting up to 30 seconds on every other lap. Rest for one minute. Do two more laps focusing on your kicking form. Finish with two laps to stretch your muscles and cool down.
Workout No. 2
Warm up with 10 laps, resting for up to 20 seconds between every other lap. Rest for one minute. Swim eight laps starting each one at a slow pace and building to a fast pace. Rest for up to 30 seconds between each lap, and make sure to maintain good form, even when you are at your fastest pace. Swim two laps consecutively at a medium pace. Rest for up to one minute. Swim two more laps consecutively at a fast pace. Rest for up to one minute. Return to a medium pace for two more consecutive laps. Rest for up to one minute. Finish with two consecutive laps at a fast pace. Cool down with two kicking-focused laps and two laps for stretching.
To improve your moves in the pool, it's also important to strengthen your muscles on dry land. Lunges with an overhead press will help you work a variety of muscles that swimmers rely on. Hold a medicine ball at chest level. Step forward slowly with your left foot until you reach a lunge position with your left knee bent directly above your foot. At the same time you are moving toward the lunge position, push the medicine ball above your head. Look straight ahead and focus on engaging your stomach muscles for stability. Lower the ball back to your chest, and then push back off your left foot to return to a standing position. Repeat on the right side. Aim for two or three sets of 12 reps on each leg. Pushups with a leg raise can also be an effective move for swimmers looking to improve their skills. Lower your body toward the floor as you would for a standard push-up. As you push upwards though to return to the starting position, lift one leg off the floor as well. Repeat this move with the opposite leg. Aim for two or three sets of up to 12 repetitions each.
Elizabeth Peterson has been a reporter since 2005, working in television, radio and online. Specializing in health and environmental coverage, she has contributed to MSNBC and several local affiliates. Peterson earned a Bachelor of Arts in journalism.