Unlike sprinting, in which you expend all your energy in a very short amount of time, swimming a half-mile requires endurance over speed. Consistently swimming the half-mile forces swimmers to concentrate on stamina versus speed while still providing an excellent cardiovascular workout. If a half-mile freestyle swim sounds too far, do not be intimidated -- you can build towards swimming a half-mile easily by breaking down the length into more manageable distances.
Staying strong through a half-mile freestyle swim requires balance. Don't hold your head up above the water, but rather turn to your side and breathe in while you take your stroke. Breath every three strokes on your right and left, alternating between the two, to maintain optimal balance. If you're an intermediate swimmer, go for five or seven strokes without breathing.
Swimming a half-mile of freestyle means you have to keep a steady pace. To help with this, keep your body aligned and straight as possible and keep your head down, leading with the top of your head and not your forehead. Moreover, if you only kick or only use your arms, you will become tired much more quickly. Swim with one arm out in the front of the other, creating smooth, streamlined movements. It may seem obvious, but it's easy to forget the basics if you're a beginner and your body starts to wear down halfway through your workout.
Breaking Up the Half-Mile
Swimming 800 yards of freestyle is equal to swimming a half-mile. This means that swimming a half-mile is equivalent to swimming 40 laps in a 25-yard pool. If it's easier you can also think of this workout in terms of laps as opposed to yards so that it seems like a more manageable swim. With 100 yards each for warming up and warming down, or eight laps each for warm-up and warm-down, you only need to swim 600 yards, or 32 laps, more. In this 600 yards, you can then break it down further. Swim three sets of 200 yards freestyle, four sets of 150 yards freestyle or six sets of 100 yards freestyle.
Simple Half-Mile Swim Workouts
Choose a workout that encompasses a little of everything for your half-mile routine. Start by warming up for 100 yards with an easy swim. Next, swim 300 yards of freestyle that works on technique and specific parts of the body. Swim 150 yards with a kick board to work out the legs and 150 yards of swimming using a pull buoy and water paddles to focus on arm stroke. Follow this up with 300 yards of freestyle swimming without stopping. Make sure to breathe every three strokes and maintain body position. Warm down with an easy 100 yards afterwards.
Nadia Osman is a California-based writer. She has covered travel, real estate, fashion, fitness and other topics for various online publications. Osman holds a B.A. in history from UC Irvine.