Ester Marsh: Swim more to gain strength

Published 12:00 am Monday, September 5, 2011

Q: I want to start swimming more times and longer distances. When I went for my first swim I thought I was going to pass out. What can I do to build up my endurance?
A: Our pool will re-open Tuesday with completely fresh water after being totally drained and a great annual “super scrub” and maintenance.
I have been where you are. I consider myself a strong swimmer, but when I have not swam in a while and get in and do my 100-meter warm-up, I am sucking air. So my tip to you is swim, swim and swim some more.
First of all, don’t get discouraged if you are “ready to pass out” after swimming one length of the pool and your shoulders are burning with each stroke. Stick with it and you will swim distance before you know it. Actually, within a short amount of time you can see results. You have to be persistent.
To start your swim program I would try to swim as many lengths of the pool as you can handle, if you need to stop at each end that is OK. Try to shorten your rest time each time you swim and before you know you are swimming laps without stopping. When you get up to half mile (36 lengths in a 25-meter pool) you could try this workout:
• Warm up 150 meter. Easy swim.
• Leg kick. Four, 25-meter swims. Use a float in front, front crawl leg kick.
• Distance. Two, 200-meter swims. Aim for a steady pace and work on your breathing.
• Drills. Six, 25-meter swims. Concentrate on hand entry and leg kick.
• Sprint. Four, 25-meter swims. Work to increase your speed. Front crawl only.
• Cool down. Swim 100 meters. Easy swim focus on your breathing.
When this workout gets easier, reduce the rest periods between swims, and increase swimming speed.
Be creative. Switch things around. Swim different strokes (Yes, even the ones that you don’t like as much) One thing you don’t want to do is get in the water and do the same thing day after day. Swimming is excellent for anyone! It is easy on the joints, it burns a bunch of calories, and it gives you great muscle tone. It’s a great way for athletes to stay in cardio vascular shape after an injury (make sure doctor says you can because it depends what injury you are dealing with) And if this is your main workout and want to improve your bone density make sure you apply land exercises and some weight training.
Good luck!
Ester H Marsh ACSM Cpt