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Supergirl's avatar

Tips/techniques for swimming as exercise?

Asked by Supergirl (1669 points ) July 3rd, 2008

I want to start swimming and split up the time I spend running. I am looking at 3–4 times per week. How “much” swimming is considered a good workout? What types of strokes are preferable for an intense workout?

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6 Answers

marinelife's avatar

I always warmed up with side stroke alternating sides, and then did the crawl for the bulk of my workout, cooling down with some breaststroke followed by back stroke. Here is a swimmer’s site with a list of 50 different ones. I never got bored enough to switch around. I guess because I love being in the water.

delirium's avatar

Correctly done freestyle would be the best idea. You might think that butterfly would be best, but if you’re not actually a swimmer you run the risk of injuring yourself because your technique is going to be awful. (It just is. It takes a lot of training to do perfect butterfly. I was the butterfly swimmer for an Olympic level swim team. I swear, I actually know what i’m talking about.)

The amount of swimming really depends on what you’re capable of. Its probably better to swim for an hour than set a distance for yourself until you really know what your speed/capability is. I would suggest that you do slow freestyle and when you get tired do breaststroke (go back to freestyle as soon as you can). Do Not Stop unless you’re desperate. (Or you’re taking a sip of water).

Don’t forget, Drink a lot of water. Just because you’re in the water doesn’t mean that you’re not sweating.

robmandu's avatar

An hour?!?! Goodness, @del… you really were an Olympic level swimmer if that’s how you recommend starting out.

(Takes a moment to stand in awe)

No expert here… I swim just enough to ensure I won’t drown in open water tri’s. For me, that’s about 1,000 yds over 20 minutes two to three times a week. I just freestyle (crawl) it.

Now the competitive swimmers leave boards up with their daily exercise. Going from memory, it’s like:
– 400 yds. easy warmup
– 300 yds. legs
– 4×500 fast freestyle
– 2×500 breaststroke
– 500 yds cool down

(I’m sure I butchered that list horribly. Do not use that as a guide. Just an example of what @del was getting at probably.)

I’ve heard it said that the average, run-of-the-mill swimmer can traverse 100 yds in 2 minutes (don’t laugh @del!). So I try to meet/beat that. Not very well, I’m afraid.

If I were to get real serious about my swim, I’d likely invest in some real training.

But as part of a basic cardio regimen, what I do works for me well enough.

marinelife's avatar

@robmandu I used to swim 3–4 times a week with my friend whose mother was a Olympic caliber swimmer. He had this beautiful flat crawl. I, on the other hand, could have adapted the Melanie rollerskating credo, “Don’t go too fast, but I go pretty far . . .”

One day (I had been swimming for months at the Y!) there was a new lifeguard. He leaned over as I reached the edge of the pool preparatory to executing my clumsy version of a flip turn and said in a kindly voice, “Don’t worry, we’re all a little rusty at the beginning. It’s been a while, huh?”

delirium's avatar

Hahahahahaha, oh rob… I swam over 24 hours a week, back then. (Note: not counting weight training, dry land practice, and physical therapy.)

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