Swimming laps is one of the best exercises you can do. It gives you an aerobic workout, strengthens your muscles, increases flexibility, and for many people, even reduces stress. On top of that, it’s low-impact, resulting in fewer injuries than other sports. So why not give swimming a try?
Whether you are a seasoned swimmer putting in the laps day after day or a newcomer to the sport, you have a lot to gain every time you jump in the pool. What does it take to become a swimmer? First, make sure you’ve got everything you need:
The right swimsuit
As you can guess, swimming laps requires having a swimsuit that’s practical. It needs to be one that can keep up with your active lifestyle, but that doesn’t mean your swimsuits have to be boring. Many of our swimmers choose chlorine resistant swimsuits, designed to last 5 to 10 times longer than other swimsuits. They come in fun patterns and sporty silhouettes that give you the flexibility and coverage you need. Find out more about chlorine resistant bathing suits.
Swim caps will make your swim workout much more pleasant. They keep the hair out of your eyes, and they help minimize chlorine damage to your hair. You may also want to use special chlorine-removing shampoo to help protect your hair from the effects of the chlorine.
You don’t need any equipment to get a good workout, but a few key items can definitely intensify it. For starters, try a kickboard, swim fins, swim paddles, and a pull float. A lap counter is also helpful if you have trouble keeping track of what lap you’re on.
Once you’re suited up in your chlorine resistant swimwear and swim cap, it’s time to get started. While the health benefits of swimming are tremendous, most swimmers will tell you that swimming laps can get tedious. Here are some ideas for adding some spice and sparkle to your next swimming workout.
(1) Start with a plan
Having a plan is the number one way to get the most out of your workout. A well-designed plan will keep you focused on your workout goals and relieve any sense of indecision about what to do next. And a good workout plan also includes variety and creativity—two ingredients that help alleviate the tedium of lap swimming. Your plan should involve a combination of technique work, endurance/distance swimming, intervals, equipment usage, and speed development. Be sure to vary up your strokes to work all your muscles.
(2) Set mini goals
Swimming long sets of laps is great for endurance, but it can become mind-numbing. By setting mini goals, you can relieve some of the boredom. Mini goals might be:
- Count your strokes for one lap, and try to reduce them for the next lap
- Add intervals to your workout; they’re challenging, but keep you focused
- Focus your mind on one element only during a set of laps, such as your breathing or your kick
- Mix up your breathing—try breathing to your nondominant side for a few laps, or try bilateral breathing
(3) Use equipment
Variety is the spice of life…and it’s the spice of a swim workout too. How can you add variety? Adding equipment is a one sure-fire way to jazz up your usual workout. Swim paddles are excellent for building your arm strength. Pull floats—a small foam device that you hold between your legs—lets your legs stay buoyant while you isolate your arm technique. And kick boards can be the perfect boredom-buster, since they allow you to get your head out of the water to look around.
(4) Make it social
Like with many sports, it’s great to have someone to workout with. With a swimming partner, you can design workouts together, motivate one another to show up, and push each other to get better. You can also check to see if your pool has a trainer or a masters swim team. Working out with others not only makes swimming more social, but it holds you accountable to reaching your swimming goals.
(5) Just add music
Swimming to your favorite music will make the laps fly by faster and faster. There are many waterproof headphones and waterproof mp3 players on the market. Try for a playlist with upbeat music that makes you want to move!
Most swimmers agree that swimming is a sport that requires both physical and mental commitment. But if you stick with it, and keep your workouts interesting, you will continue to see the rewards. You’ll enjoy the health benefits, and on top of that, you will look and feel your best!