Swimming laps is a great choice when considering a workout plan to get in shape. Swimming is an aerobic exercise that’s easy on the joints while building flexibility and muscular strength. If you’re new to lap swimming, or want to add swimming to your running and biking routines in preparation for a first triathlon, consider signing up for a swim class to learn basic stroke technique or joining a local U.S. Masters Swim club.
Before diving into your workout, warm up to protect against injury or muscle strain. Start with slow and controlled dynamic stretching through the full range of motion, followed by some easy laps of front or back crawl. If you’re practicing your stroke in shallow water or taking a swim lesson, warm up first for the best results. Warm up for five to 10 minutes in the shallow end, including 10 to 15 bobs, flutter kicking while holding onto the wall, kicking with a kick board and walking both forward and backward in chest deep water while swinging your arms.
If you’re not ready to swim a full pool length, check your facility’s schedule for open swim times or ask if there is lane during lap swim times where you can practice swimming half-lengths. Grab a kick board after your warm up and flutter kick as far as you can. Stand up when you need to and push off again, turning around at the halfway mark. Do the same with freestyle. Mix it up a little with some kicking and swimming on your back. Work on this for 20 to 30 minutes each day, at least three days a week for the best results. When you can kick and swim halfway and back without feeling tired, you should be ready to try swimming full laps. For best results, try a few swim lessons to learn new strokes and brush up on technique.
When you can swim one length, 25 yards, without being out of breath, add another length to do 50 yards. Keep adding sets of consecutive lengths until you are comfortable swimming a combination of 25, 50, and 100 yard sets. Swim for at least 20 to 30 minutes each day, three or more days a week for the best results.
Get the most out of your time in the water with some conditioning outside the pool. Hit the gym to work those muscles you’ll be using in the pool with squats, lat pull downs, low presses and tricep dips. Skipping rope and seated rowing are also great for working the muscles you’ll use in the pool. Keeping your body flat in water is important to your stroke, and for that you’ll need a strong core. To work the core, try adding some crunches, sit-ups and leg lifts to your workout session at the gym or at home.
Looking for a place to swim in the Lehigh Valley? Try your township or community center pool, or check out one of these facilities:
• The Y – Enter zip code to find closest YMCA
• Emmaus Aquatic Club – Emmaus / 610-965-5800
• JCC of Allentown – Allentown / 610-435-3571
• Rodale Aquatic Center at Cedar Crest College – Allentown / 610-606-4670
• Swim-In Zone Swimming Academy – Center Valley / 610-625-4848