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What to Know Before Your First Swim Workout

Low-impact aerobic exercises like swimming can help improve cardiovascular fitness, burn calories and increase muscle strength and endurance. Swimming can also help you lower your risk of chronic illnesses and help you enjoy a longer, healthier life.

A swim workout is a great way to improve or maintain your cardio fitness levels without putting too much pressure on your joints. If you’re prone to injury, swimming is a fantastic substitute for running and other high-impact exercises.

But diving into a swimming pool for the first time can be a bit daunting. Without the proper preparation and form, you can quickly start to lose your confidence.

Read the following tips to help discover your inner swimmer.

How to Swim: Getting Started

Before you dive into your newfound swimming career, make sure you have your doctor’s blessing. If you’ve never swum before, sign up for adult swim lessons to learn the basic strokes and safety tips. If you’re already capable of swimming — but new to swimming as exercise — choose a pool that has a lifeguard and make sure to tell the lifeguard that you’re a beginner. Never start your first swim session without someone nearby to watch. Safety is the most important skill to learn as a new swimmer!

Arm yourself with the right swim gear and attire before you step into the water. Splurge on a proper swimsuit designed for sport swimming (not leisure). Goggles and a swim cap are also must-haves for swimming laps. If you have long hair, the swim cap will prevent drag in the water.

Finally, choose one or two stroke styles that work for you and master them. The most basic swimming strokes are the freestyle, breaststroke and backstroke, the latter two of which don’t even require you to submerge your head. Practice your stroke (or strokes) of choice until you can comfortably complete two laps without losing your form.

Structuring a Swim Workout

Once you’re in the pool, start slow and set a small, achievable goal. If you’re a beginner, try swimming for 30 minutes total, with a one-minute break every three minutes in order to catch your breath and recover. This plan allows you to structure your workout and feel accomplished when you’re done.

As you improve, you can change your goal. After a few months, you might be up to 45 minutes with breaks every five minutes! Most indoor pools have a large clock that you can use to time yourself; if not, a waterproof watch is a great alternative.

If watching the clock seems to make your workout drag on, try doing a lap-based workout instead. See if you can complete three or five laps in a row, and aim to swim a half of a mile over the course of your workout. In a 25-meter pool, 30 laps equal a half mile; in a 50-meter pool, 15 laps equals a half mile.

No matter what your goal is, it’s important to embrace it and be proud of your progress. The pool can be an intimidating place, especially if you’re sharing a lane with an experienced swimmer. Focus on what’s achievable for you, and don’t get bogged down by comparing yourself to others. With just a little practice, you’ll be a swimming success in no time!

Consult your doctor before beginning any diet or exercise program.

Mary Lambkin

Mary Lambkin

Mary Lambkin is a Nashville native, blogger, and healthy living enthusiast. She lives in East Nashville with her husband and loves running through downtown Music City and around Shelby Park. Mary has run nine marathons and is always looking for new recipes to fuel her exercise adventures. Learn more about her at

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