Swimming for Fitness
You don't have to go to run on a treadmill to get fit.
Swimming is an excellent way to keep in shape for those who don't enjoy going to the gym and running on a treadmill or sweating their way through a stair climbing routine.
Swimming activates all the main muscle groups in the body, and the intensity of the workout depends on the individual swimmer. Since swimming is performed alone, it can be less intimidating that taking up a team sport, seeing as the swimmer is only racing against their personal best times.
Before hitting the pool, the swimmer must be properly equipped with a competitive-style swimsuit, a waterproof watch, a tightly-fitting swim cap, and a pair of comfortable goggles that don't pinch the face too much, yet aren't so loose that they allow water to seep in through the sides. Many swimmers like to chart their progress in a training diary where they can log their times so that they can adjust their swimming workouts accordingly.
Writing the Routines
In order to gain maximum benefit from swimming for fitness, the swimmer will need to develop a series of swimming workouts that will evolve as the swimmer progresses with their craft. Generally, swimming workouts should consist of a short warm-up to get the muscles lubricated, a series of drills to build technique, kicking to strengthen the legs, pulling to strengthen the arms, a main set for stroke development and practice, and a cool down to help the muscles readjust after the workout.
Most swimming workouts last between 75 and 90 minutes, though they can be amended for shorter practice sessions. When reducing the length of swimming workouts always vary the parts that are lessened or cut out completely. Never omit either the warm-up or cool down sections of the workout, as that can cause injury.
It is critically important to rest between sets of strokes, since the most rest a swimmer gets, the faster they swim. When warming up and throughout the first sets of the workout, concentrate on using perfect technique as opposed to speed. If the mind begins to wander too much during swimming workouts, switch things up to avoid being caught in a rut.
Sample Swimming Workouts
Here are some sample swimming workouts, but remember these are only a guide for developing a personalized swimming program suited to the individual needs of the swimmer.
Warm-Up: 5 sets of 100 meters of stroke of choice, rest for 20 seconds between sets.
Kick Set: 5 sets of 50 meters with board performing kick of choice, rest for 20 seconds between sets.
Pull Set: 10 sets of 50 meter sprints with a leg float, rest for 20 seconds between sets.
Kick Set: 10 sets of 50 meter sprints wearing swim fins, rest for 20 seconds between sets.
Cool Down: 5 sets of 100 meters of stroke of choice, no resting between sets.
Warm-Up: 4 sets of 100 meters, one each of freestyle, backstroke, breaststroke, sidestroke or butterfly, resting for 30 seconds between each set.
Pre-Set: 4 sets of 100 meters, one each of freestyle, backstroke, breaststroke, sidestroke or butterfly focusing on proper technique, resting for 30 seconds between each set.
Main set: 400 meters freestyle, 200 meters backstroke, 200 meters breaststroke, 200 meters sidestroke or butterfly, resting for 30-60 seconds between each stroke.
Cool Down: 4 sets of 50 meters, one each of freestyle, backstroke, breaststroke, sidestroke or butterfly, swimming slowly, resting for 30 seconds between each set.