It’s possible that you haven’t seen the inside of a swimming pool since your best friends birthday party in middle school. That is completely okay! Many of us kind of forget about swimming as we age. However, with swimming being one of the most effective full-body, low-impact exercise, you may find it compelling to jump into the swim lanes the next time you visit your gym. And, as for a workout, we have you covered with advice on how to complete some fantastic lap swimming workouts for beginners.
Swimming for Beginners
Hopping in the pool and working on your freestyle stroke (or any other stroke for that matter) is an excellent way for a beginner to work on their fitness and endurance. The feeling of weightlessness from the water allows you to complete a fairly rigorous workout, without putting too much pressure on your joints and bones. You know, the pressure you feel if you run for three miles, or spend time jumping onto plyo boxes. This is because when you are submerged entirely underwater, you are displacing water from where it once was, making it push you up, and building pressure around you to keep you afloat (though, much more complicated than that, but we don’t have all day to explain it to you in detail ;)). All of that to say, you “weigh” a lot less according to your joints. Just try picking someone up the next time you are in a swimming pool. You will find that someone who you usually couldn’t even move on land is very easy to keep afloat with a little bit of muscle.
Let’s Get Started
Before you try any swimming workout, you must first know how to swim. So, if you are brand spanking new to the pool, take some time to have a friend or instructor teach you the basics or take a beginner swim class. It is important that you don’t just go dive into the deep end without knowing how to keep your head above water so that you can breathe. Also, as with any workout, ask your doctor if swimming is right for you! We want to make sure that you are completing the best exercises for your body, and your doctor will know what is best depending on your current health. It is important to start off slow. As with any new exercise, swimming requires work from specific muscle groups and a beginner might not have that specific strength yet.
How to Freestyle
Now that we have that covered let’s work on your freestyle stroke. The freestyle is the most popular stroke when swimming. It is the stroke you are probably envisioning when you are thinking about swimming in the first place. It should feel something like this:
First, stretch your arms above your head with your hands facing the bottom of the pool. While moving your face from being submerged underwater (read: face. Your entire head should not be submerged for this move) to your left side, sweep your left arm in a big movement towards the bottom of the pool, and once your arm is making a 90 degree angle with your chest, pull it up until your elbow is at 45 degrees and above water slightly behind your shoulder muscles, then go back to the starting position. Remember, we are not moving quite yet, just standing in the water and practicing the body position. Now, repeat that move on your right side, moving your head to the right to catch your breath and sweeping your right arm through the water.
The Importance Of Breathing
Some swimmers people breathe on every stroke, others only breathe on one side, but as you learn this stroke, you will see that you do not have to lift your head or rotate your neck to catch a breath because your body is naturally rotating with each stroke from your core up. So, find the breathing pattern that feels right for you and work on perfecting it. We love this Wiki-How page that goes through each step of this movement.
Your breathing pattern may also depend on the distance you are swimming. If you are doing a shorter distance sprint you may have to come up for air more often. Whereas if you are doing a more long distance endurance swim, you will probably come up for air less often. Once you are comfortable with that movement and the timing of your breath it is time to add on the legs.
Perfecting the Flutter Kick
For the freestyle stroke, you will be doing what is known as the flutter kick. Forget about your arms for a second and just allow yourself to float on your chest above water (you can even hold onto the wall for this if you would like), now start to flutter your feet like you are gently kicking towards the bottom of the pool. If you are not holding onto the wall, you should begin to feel yourself accelerate forward. This simple motion will account for about 10% of your overall muscle exertion, and your arms and core will hold up the rest of the work. Once you feel comfortable with your flutter, add on those arms that we learned earlier and now let’s get on with this exercise.
400 Meter Swim
For beginners, we recommend aiming for a 400-meter swim. The length of an Olympic sized pool is 50 meters, so a 400-meter swim would be eight times across the pool or four full laps. Don’t worry about kicking off of the wall when you are starting out, simply turn around at the end and head back again. The fancy-wall-kick-off (open turn) can come later.
Now that you know how far you will be swimming, focus on the 50 meters ahead of you. Go at your maximum pace and then stop at the end of the pool. If you feel that you can turn around and immediately head back, do so. If not, take a second to catch your breath and hang on to the edge of the pool. Once you are ready, head back and repeat until you reach 400 meters. As you get more comfortable with this exercise and begin to build your endurance, you can add on 50 meters at a time before stopping to rest. Pretty soon you will see that you will be able to complete all 400 meters without really thinking about it and that is going to feel so great. We are already proud of you!
After learning the most popular stroke, the freestyle, you can mix up your workout by implementing this same strategy to learn other swim workouts for beginners like the breaststroke, backstroke, butterfly, and so on. Pretty soon you will be able to switch up your form for every 50 meters, and it is going to make for one exciting workout.
Chuze Fitness Locations with Swimming Pools
Want to swim at a Chuze near you? Check out our locations with pools below!
Winrock Town Center