Whether you are true novice swimmer or coming back to it after a long time, you may find yourself winded even after a few consecutive laps. Efficient swimming technique is important for improving your stamina and speed in the water, but fatigue from high-volume swimming can compromise your form. Therefore, novice swimming workouts should focus on improving endurance, maintaining efficient technique, and occasionally incorporating speed workouts.
General Workout Principles
The coordination of your breathing with your body movement plays a large role in swimming efficiency and endurance. Therefore, maintaining proper technique throughout your workouts reinforces an economical swim stroke as you increase your swimming distance and intensity. Try to swim at least three to four short-to-moderate length workouts per week and incorporate drills, pulling, and/or kicking. The frequent swims will help you focus on reinforcing proper stroke form and body position, while the short workouts prevent excessive fatigue that compromises form. Interval swim workouts, which consist of several short swims interspersed by recovery intervals, also help you maintain good technique and allow you to swim more yards per workout than one long, continuous swim.
You should do technique-focused workouts at least twice per week, as they are important in the initial phases of a swim training plan and because they help you focus on proper body position and coordination of your breathing, torso rotation, pulling, and kicking while staying relaxed in the water. Efficient technique will reduce your perceived exertion level at a given pace, which will help you reach greater distances in training and racing. After an easy swim for warm up, do 25-yard swims in which you practice different drills, such as one-arm swimming, swimming with a pull buoy, and kicking with your arms overhead. Then do three 50 to 100-yard swims at an easy pace, focusing on good technique.
One or two workouts per week that focus on swimming long distances with short rest intervals will improve your swimming-specific cardiovascular and musculoskeletal endurance. Warm up with a mix of easy swimming, pulling, and kicking that focuses on technique. Take breaks every 25 to 50 yards. Then swim 25 yards, 50 yards, 75 yards, 100 yards, 75 yards, 50 yards, and 25 yards at a comfortably fast pace that still allows you to finish the workout. During your first few workouts, rest for as much time as you need to recover. As your fitness improves, focus on reducing the rest interval and increasing the distance of each swim while maintaining the same speed.
Although speed workouts are not as crucial as technique and endurance-focused workouts if you are a novice, swimming some fast swims with long recoveries provides variety in your workouts and can be an effective introduction to high-intensity swim workouts if you continue to progress your training. After a warm up swim, sprint twelve 25-yard swims and then swim four 50-yard swims, recovering completely between each. Cool down with easy swimming after these workouts. As a beginning swimmer, limit speed workouts to once or even once every other week if you are fatigued from your other training.
Gina Battaglia has written professionally since 2006. She served as an assistant editor for the "International Journal of Sports Medicine" and coauthored a paper published in the "Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research." Battaglia completed a Doctor of Philosophy in bioenergetics and exercise science at East Carolina University and a Master of Science in biokinesiology from the University of Southern California.