Swimming For Beginners: How To Swim A Mile

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A Beginners Guide On Learning How To Swim

Swimming pool - how to swim

Introduction – The Fundamental Basics of Swimming

Learning how to swim can be quite intimidating and scary. Your first time swimming takes you completely out of your element and it’s an entirely new experience. Don’t worry though, nearly everyone can start swimming at any age and it wont take as long as you might think!

Learning how to swim is an incredibly important and valuable life skill. Knowing how to swim could one day save your life, or maybe save someone elses life. Swimming is also a really fun activity that has loads of health benefits from increased fitness to weight loss. Playing swimming games with your kids is also a blast for both you and them.

Facing Your Fear

One of the biggest reasons people avoid learning how to swim is the fear of drowning and helplessness. While it is entirely possible that you can drown learning how to swim, the chances of it actually happening are practically zero as long as you follow these simple safety measures:

Practice in a Pool

Never try and learn how to swim in the sea, rivers, lakes, ponds, etc. Outdoor bodies of water are extremely dangerous if you do not know how to swim. They’re unpredictable, cold most of the year, and you never know how deep they are.

You should only ever learn how to swim in a pool. If learning how to swim in a pool isn’t available to you, the next best thing is practicing in the shallow part of the sea or a still lake / pond – completely avoid fast moving water. Make sure you are with at least one confident swimmer and look out for riptides. Avoid swimming in poor weather as well.

When in the pool it’s important that you start learning how to swim in the shallow section where you can touch the ground. Being able to touch the ground means you’re safe and it will give you the confidence to try and swim knowing you can back out at any time.

Having someone with you or a life guard keeping an eye on you is important and it will boost your confidence knowing you’re not at risk.

Floating in the Water

The next step is learning how to float in the water. You can still do this in the shallow end. Start by holding onto the side of the pool with your chest against the wall then extend your arms. Now what you need to do is lift your legs off the ground.

You’ll find that they naturally try and float to the surface of the pool, don’t hold back, let your legs float up. When you’ve mastered doing this, try the same again but with your back to the wall. Rest your head gently on the wall instead of extending your arms out.

So you know how to float against the wall, now we need to try floating without any support. Make sure you stay in the shallow end so you have a safety net and can just stand up if you start sinking. Now just do the same again as what you did earlier, only this time tilt your head all the way back so your ears are under the water and you’re staring at the ceiling.

It’s going to feel really weird having the water that close to your eyes and over your ears. But you’ll get used to it. Stick your arms out to the side making a T shape as well and you’ll float really easily.

You can also purchase floating aids that will help you out: Swimming TYR Pull Float

Now it’s time to get you comfortable being underwater! Practice a few times in the shallow end just going under the water. Hold your breathe and hold your nose (if you have to) and then dip under the water for a second and then come straight back up.

After that do it again, but do it for 2 seconds, and so fourth until you’re comfortable being underwater. If you don’t want to hold your nose, blow out of your nose gently and it will stop any water from shooting up where you don’t want it!

There are nose clips available if you are struggling with this: Speedo Liquid Comfort Nose Clip

Now it’s time to dip your face in the water and float while your face is submerged! Like always, do it in the shallow end. Do exactly what you did on your back, only this time put your face underwater staring at the ground.

Stick your arms out and blow gently out of your nose. Spreading your legs will also make this easier. If you blow all your air out through your nose you’re going to sink to the floor, so make sure you blow very lightly!

Don’t Panic!

When you’re in the water, panicking is the absolute worst thing you can do. You waste energy, you waste your breathe, it tires you out and you don’t think straight. If you venture past the shallow end of the pool and you can no longer touch the floor your first instinct is going to be to flap about.

If you find yourself past the point of no return, do what we practiced. Tilt your head back, let your legs float up and just stay above the water. Then calm your breathing and either try and paddle back to the shallow end or the side of the pool or shout for help to the lifeguard or your partner.

The last thing you are going to remember is what I told you when you’re fending for your life in deep water. If you can remember one thing, remember what I just mentioned. If you’re flapping about, the second someone tries to help you you’re going to force them underwater just so you can push off them to get to the surface.

You’ll be surprised how many drownings occur because of this. That’s why it’s important to notify a lifeguard that you’re training so they can intervene if something happens. If you’re calm and float to the surface you’re not going to drown and your friend isn’t going to drown.

Exhaling Underwater

You should be comfortable being submerged underwater now, so we’re going to get you practicing exhaling underwater. Getting this out of the way now will make it easier for you to learn the 4 main swimming strokes: freestyle, backstroke, breast stroke, and butterfly.

Stay in the shallow end and take a big deep breathe. Slowly submerge yourself till your head is fully underwater and exhale out of your nose until you have no breathe left, then pop back up and resurface. If you are having trouble exhaling out of your nose, you can hold your nose or put a nose clip on and exhale out of your mouth.

When you run out of breathe, resurface.

It’s important you practice this in the shallow end because as you lose air, you lose buoyancy. This means that if you exhale all the air in your body, you’re going to sink to the bottom of the pool floor.

If you are struggling with all these underwater exercises, purchasing some swimming goggles would be an excellent investment for you. Swimming goggles allow you to open your eyes underwater which in turn makes you much more comfortable submerging yourself.

Make sure your buy some good quality swimming goggles which can be tightened or loosened to the shape of your head. Try and get swimming goggles with a rubber ring around the eyes as they are the most comfortable and reliable.

The swimming goggles need to be a tight and snug fit so no water can creep in. Nothing is more annoying than water in your swimming goggles. Apart from loose swimming shorts being pulled down when you kick off the wall!

A good pair of swimming goggles are these: Aqua Sphere Kayenne Swimming Goggles

Leg Kicks

Practicing your leg kicks can be done easily and safely no matter how new you are to swimming. If you’re still holding onto the wall to get used to the water you can begin to practice your leg kicks. There are 2 methods you can use to practice your leg kicks and it all depends on how comfortable you are in the water.

For complete beginners you should stay on the wall to practice your leg kicks. If you’re a fast learner or you’ve had a few sessions in the water you can practice using a float or a kick board. The end goal is to get you doing lengths with the float / kick board using different types of leg kicks.

Here’s an example of a good kick board: Speedo Competition 2 Kickboard

The 5 leg kicks you’re going to work on are: flutter kicks, whip kicks, eggbeater kicks, scissor kicks, and dolphin kicks. There are other styles of kicks out there, but they’re only a slight variation of these 5. If you can learn these 5 types of kicks you’ll be just as good as every other advanced swimmer.

The flutter kick, whip kick, scissor kick, and eggbeater kick are the essential kicks that you need in order to learn the 4 main swimming strokes: freestyle, backstroke, sidestroke and breaststroke. For the harder stroke – butterfly, you’ll need to learn the dolphin kick. We’ll get you working on that when you have the other 4 strokes perfected.

Flutter Kick

To perform a flutter kick, grab your float / kick board or grab the wall. Point your toes as far they go so you look like a ballerina and keep your legs relatively straight. It’s important that you don’t lock up and tense your legs. They need to be straight, but relatively floppy.

Now you need to move your legs in an alternate pattern (left leg up, right leg down, left leg down, right leg up, etc) and keep your body nice and straight, don’t let your legs dip below your waist. Most of the movement should be at your ankles and knees.

The floppiness and slight bend you allow at your knee will allow you to perform fast and powerful flutter kicks. Many beginners make the mistake of kicking using their whole leg as a tensed log. This wastes a massive amount of energy. It sounds quite complicated reading this, but the second you’re in the water and you try it for yourself you’ll fully understand what I mean.

Whip Kick

The whip kick sounds complicated and it’s hard to put into words. The fastest way to learn this is holding onto a wall or a float / kick board. This kick is also referred to as a frog kick, the kick you use to perform breaststroke. Point your feet and toes out and keep your upper legs tightly together (knee to the hip).

You then need to bend your knees so your shins look like they’re at a 90 degree angle. Now bring your shins together quickly in a circular motion, keeping your upper legs nice and tight together. The best way to picture this is imagine you’re drawing a semi-circle with your legs.

Your right leg goes out to the right and your left log goes out to the left, then you curve them down and bring your shins back together at the bottom. You’ll find your feet naturally go from being together, to pointing outwards when you bend your knees.

Eggbeater Kick

The eggbeater kick is most commonly used for treading water. If you’re interested in playing water polo you need to master this kick to play efficiently. Since the aim is to tread water, your body is going to be vertical instead of horizontal with your head and shoulders poking out of the water.

Start by spreading your legs so they’re a bit more than shoulder width apart and bend your knees. You then need to make a pedal motion with both feet going in opposite directions to each other, picture it like a bike or an eggbeater.

You make small circles using your knees as the pivot point. The lower left leg moving clockwise, the lower right leg moving anti clockwise. Other than floating, this is the most efficient way to tread water, it uses the least energy and if you practice this you’ll be able to tread water for over an hour.

Scissor Kick

The scissor kick is used for sidestroke and can actually be used to rescue struggling swimmers (only attempt this is you have been trained by an expert). This kick can be broken down into 4 parts: heels up, split, squeeze and glide. Lie on your side with your head above the water, extend your underwater arm outwards and hold onto the wall or your float / kick board.

For the first part of the kick, you bring both your heels up to your butt by bending your knees (heels up), then you slice your legs in opposite directions. The leg closest to the surface goes forwards, the leg closest to the floor goes backwards (split).

You then (squeeze) your legs together like a giant pair of scissors so your legs end up straight and next to each other. Now the hard bits are out of the way, the last part is the (glide) where all you have to do is keep straight and wait until you slow back down. Then repeat.

Dolphin Kick

The dolphin kick on its own is very easy to learn, however the hard part is integrating it with your dives and the swimming stroke: butterfly. The clue is in the name, you keep your feet nice and close together and you move them up and down together like a dolphin.

The dolphin kick is very similar to the flutter kick. The only difference is you move your whole body like a worm to compliment your feet being glued together. Your feet act like a giant paddle and moving your body in a wave like motion propels you forwards.

Now that you understand what your feet do, you need to learn the whole motion of the dolphin kick. It’s a full body movement, starting at your head, moving down your body and then out through your legs.

Start of face down in the water nice and straight, keep your head in line with your torso and keep your arms either by your side or extended out in front of you like a triangle. Make sure your legs and toes are nice and pointed as well.

Now you need to force your chest down into the water a couple of inches, then relax so your body floats back up. As soon as you release your chest and begin to level back up to the surface, you need to push your hips down exactly the same way as you just did with your chest.

When your hips begin to rise back up to the surface you need to straighten your legs out fully at the same time to give yourself a big boost in the water. Then let your legs float back up in line with your hips and repeat the cycle.

The dolphin kick is hard to master and it’s hard to explain. You’re essentially doing the worm in the water and kicking by straightening your legs.

Swimming Strokes

The 5 swimming strokes you’re going to start practicing are: freestyle, backstroke, breaststroke, sidestroke, and butterfly. We’re going to prioritize the first 4 and only touch briefly on butterfly because it’s a very challenging swimming technique to learn and understand. You’re also going to learn how to tread water without wasting a ton of energy.

Backstroke

Backstroke is a swimming stroke that you’ll either love or hate. It’s perfect for beginners because you don’t have to worry about breathing in and out of the water. The only thing you have to focus on is the technique and when your head / arm is going to hit the wall.

Start by floating on your back in the water, don’t worry about starting by kicking off the wall for now. For backstroke you use flutter kicks to propel yourself with your feet, try your best to keep your legs in line with your hips and torso – avoid splashing as it’s wasted energy.

Lift your dominant arm above your head nice and straight, and keep your fingers pointed and extended. Your thumb should be heading towards the water for the first movement. As your arm is about to hit the water, you need to rotate your arm so your pinky finger is leading into the water.

When your arm is under the water you need to bend your arm and bring it back to your side so it’s straight against you. Propelling yourself in the water comes from your feet and when you’re bringing your arm back to your side.

Once your arm is by your side, switch arms and do the same again. Remember to keep your fingers nice and tight together so you’re getting as much propulsion as possible out of the water.

Frontcrawl / Freestyle

Once you practice a few of these swimming strokes you’ll find freestyle is the fastest and most efficient swimming technique. Once you understand how this swimming stroke works you’ll improve massively every time you do a workout. Start by floating face down, if you want to you can push yourself off the wall.

For freestyle you use flutter kicks again, the same as backstroke. Extend your dominant arm out of the water at a curved angle and enter the water again far out in front of you. Keep your hands and fingers pointed and keep your fingers tight together.

Make a cup with your hand so you can propel yourself with the water. When your arm is back in the water, bring it down like a giant paddle. When your arm is in the water pulling your forward, your alternate arm should be doing what your other arm just did by coming out of the water at an angle.

There are 3 methods of breathing you can use as a beginner. The first 2 methods you should only use to learn the arm strokes as they are high inefficient. Your end goal is to keep your face in the water for as long as possible while still maintaining a comfortable amount of oxygen (the more you breathe to the side, the more drag you create).

For most people this lands on 3 arm strokes, breathe, another 3 arm strokes, breathe, etc.

The first method is keep your head above the water and facing forwards. If you’re going to do this, make sure you practice swinging your arms properly. This wastes a ton of energy, but it allows you to breathe freely if you don’t like putting your face in the water.

The second method is putting your face in the water, but breathing to the side after every arm stroke. Your face will only momentarily splash the water, but you’ll get used to breathing to your side.

The final method, the one you need to perfect and work towards is breathing to the side every 3 arm strokes. This is the most efficient out of the 3 breathing methods. Your breathing also alternates from each side.

It’s bad practice to always breathe to one side (try to avoid breathing to your right or left every time). For example, right arm, left arm, right arm, breathe to the left with your right ear on your right arm, left, right, left, breathe to the right with your left ear on your left arm.

When your lung capacity begins to get larger and larger you can change to every 5 strokes, and so on.

Note: Other swimmers may tell you to pick one side and always breathe to it. The reason why you need to breathe bilaterally (alternate sides) is because it helps you massively in the long run. It keeps your swimming stroke symmetrical which develops your body roll.

Your body roll is extremely important if you want to become an advanced swimmer. Breathing to one side makes it nearly impossible to maintain a symmetrical stroke. You’ll find after a few weeks of swimming you’ll be completely lob sided and inefficient.

Breaststroke

Breaststroke is the easiest swimming stroke that can be done leisurely with your head out of the water or fast paced with your face going in and out of the water. The kick you’re going to be using is the whip kick / frog kick.

You should start with your head out of the water so you don’t have to worry about incorporating breathing while you learn. Start out looking forwards with your head out of the water and your hands together under your chest.

Keep your fingers extended and make a spike with your hands, be sure to keep your fingers together. Extend both your arms out in front of you until you’re extended 3/4 of your reach. For the last 1/4, move your arms out diagonally until you are at your full reach.

At your full reach you need to rotate both your arms outwards so both your thumbs are pointing at the floor. Then bring your arms all the way down in a wide circular motion and connect your hands under your chest again.

All of your propulsion is going to come from your whip kick and dragging your arms back to your body in the wide circular motion. The motion if your arms is really important, don’t do make a huge circle with your arms, but don’t make tiny circles either. You need to find the right balance.

Once you’ve figured out how to do breaststroke, you can incorporate breathing and going partially underwater so you can swim faster. The technique is exactly the same as breathing with your head out of the water, only this time when your hands are together under your chest your head should be out of the water to breathe.

When your arms are moving forwards and when you make the circular motion you should be face down in the water. Make sure you’re looking down and not looking forwards otherwise your face will just create drag.

If you want to begin competing in swimming competitions and races you need to practice taking a breathe every stroke. If you do more than 1 stroke per breathe you will be disqualified. If you’re just swimming for leisure you can perform multiple strokes per breathe if you wish.

Just keep your head facing down. If you’re competing, make sure you finish your race with both hands on the wall at the same time, otherwise you’ll be disqualified.

Note: Don’t forget to glide! You don’t have to crank out as many strokes as fast as you can, you need to make use of the energy you’re using by gliding with every stroke.
Sidestroke

The sidestroke is similar to breaststroke, only your head will never go into the water no matter what, so if you want to stay dry the side stroke is perfect for you. The sidestroke is also used for life saving, however it’s important you only ever attempt to save someone if you’ve been trained by an expert with a lifeguard training certificate.

If you haven’t been properly trained and you swim out, the victim will easily drag you under the water if you don’t have the proper training.

The kick you’re going to use is the scissor kick and you need to be floating on your side with your head above the water. The shoulder closest to the surface of the water should also be poking out.

Keep your head looking backwards at your hips, but make sure you don’t stick it out to create drag. The arm closest to the surface should start by your side and your other arm should start out fully extended ahead of you.

You then bring your arm up from your side to your chest and bring your other arm down to your chest at a curve so you can propel yourself off the water. When your hands meet, they return back the original position and you repeat the cycle.

Picture it as grabbing an apple from in front of you, then bringing the apple to your chest so you can pass the apple into your other hand.

Butterfly

Butterfly is by far the hardest swimming stroke to learn and it’s also the most tiring. When you’ve got a hold on the other 4 strokes you can play around with butterfly. Until then, focus on the other 4 swimming strokes.

The kick you’re going to use is the dolphin kick, which incorporates your full body. If you’ve mastered the dolphin kick all you have to do is include your arms and breathing. Whilst performing butterfly you should do 2 dolphin kicks to every arm stroke.

You will need a dive or a push off the wall to start butterfly as the starting momentum is extremely helpful. If you start from just floating to build your own momentum you will lose a lot of energy. Once you lose the momentum you will go out of rhythm and go under the water which just uses even more energy when you try to correct yourself.

If you don’t know how to dive or you’re in a shallow pool only push off the wall. A high level of fitness is also recommended for this stroke, if you can’t swim 4 lengths non stop yet, you should avoid practicing this swimming stroke until you can.

Start face down, gliding from the wall with your arms out extended. Bring both of your arms all the way back and throw them out of the water at the same time at an angle. Both of your hands should slice into the water at an angle so you can join back together when you’re under the water.

During this your whole body from head to toe needs to be undulating (worming, like the dolphin kick). When your arms recover and come back to the surface together, you do the same again by dragging your arms back and throwing them out of the water.

You should perform your 2 dolphin kicks at start of the arm pull and towards the end of the pull. This will give you the maximum propulsion.

Breathing for butterfly can be done every arm stroke or every 2 arm strokes. A breathe every arm stroke is more tiring, the most efficient method is every 2 arm strokes. You should take your breathe towards the end of the pull as your arms are flying forwards to go back into the water.

Raise your chin forwards so you can get a good breathe. You have to be fast and efficient with your breathe. If you try and take a long deep one you’re going to land back into the water and breathe in loads of water. You should try your best to exhale underwater.

If you do get a gob full of water and breathe some in, just stop swimming. Nothing is worse than swimming when you’re coughing up chlorine water!

Treading Water

Treading water is an extremely useful life skill, it helps in dangerous scenarios and it helps with swimming related sports / activities. The kick you’re going to be using is the eggbeater kick because this keeps you level and above the water.

Your arms need to be on the surface of the water and you need to move them left and right. This is called sculling. You move one arm in a clockwise fashion and you move your opposite arm in an anticlockwise pattern.

If you’re under the water and you want to get to the surface, bring your arms above your head and pull them down to your sides. Make sure you do flutter kicks until you reach the surface as well.

Caught in Fast Water / Rapids

The most important thing is trying to stay calm and not panicking. If you start flailing around you’re only going to tire yourself out and make yourself sink. You need to time you breathes since the water is going to be choppy and wavy. When you get smashed in the face with water, a second after that will be your best time to take a breathe.

In order to escape the fast current of the water, you need to swim diagonally to the shoreline with the fast current pushing you – don’t try and fight it! If you swim at a 90 degree angle to get to the shoreline you’ll be fighting with the fast water which will be extremely exhausting. You need to swim diagonally with the current so you don’t get exhausted as fast.

You should also never try and swim upstream, this is exhausting and you will go no where. Eventually you will just tire and be swept away. The only time you should ever try and swim upstream is if you are heading towards something dangerous, for example sharp rocks or a waterfall.

Riptides

A riptide can occur in any body of water which produces waves and they are potentially life threatening if you’re a poor swimmer or don’t know how to escape one. A riptide will drag you out away from the shoreline until you’re in deep water and the current stops.

If the current is light you can try and get a footing in the ground to prevent yourself from getting dragged out further. If it’s a strong current and you can no longer reach the floor the most important thing is stay calm! Panicking and wasting energy by flapping about is pointless. It will be terrifying but if you keep a calm mind you’ll be safe.

Your first instinct will be to swim straight back the shoreline, the problem is you’ll be swimming against a current and when you get close the shoreline you’ll be dragged all the way back out again. You need to swim sideways either left or right, it doesn’t matter.

As long as you swim parallel to the shoreline you’ll escape the current. Use the stroke you are most comfortable with and make sure you don’t rush. Keeping calm and not becoming exhausted is the key to escaping.

It will be hard to tell when you have escaped the riptide, but you should never have to swim more than 100 meters to escape the current. If you find yourself still caught, just keep swimming. When you think you’ve escaped the current just swim gently back to the shoreline and have a well deserved rest.

Obviously if there’s a lifeguard on duty scream for help, but if the lifeguard isn’t responsive, don’t waste all your energy and breathe screaming for them. You could be further away then you think and the ocean is very noisy. Just stay calm and do what is mentioned above.

Fine Tuning – Advanced

Your swimming technique will never be perfect and that is just a fact that you have to accept. You can however fine tune your swimming technique and improve it slowly every time you swim. Since this is the advanced swimming section I’ll assume you already know most of the basic information about swimming techniques and the main swimming strokes.

There are 2 ways you can improve your swimming technique: conditioning and efficiency. You can build up your endurance and muscles so you get tired slower, which leads to you staying in the perfect swimming position for longer, or you can focus on decreasing your drag by positioning yourself in the water perfectly.

A mixture of both is highly recommended and will generate the best swimming results.

If you want to improve your swimming fitness and conditioning, make sure you check out the swimming workouts section because I wont be covering it in this advanced swimmer section. This advanced swimmer section is dedicated to making you swim as efficiently as possible through technique.

Your swimming technique rarely improves when you’ve been swimming for a while. In fact swimming more and more lengths actually reinforces the bad habits you’ve picked up a long the way.

There are 2 major things you need to focus your effort into: improving your propulsion in the water and decreasing your drag in the water.

Swimming Propulsion – Advanced

If you are looking at improving your propulsion in the water, the way to go is by working on your swimming technique, not the power of your muscles. One way to improve propulsion is perfecting your kick. Your kick contributes to 10-15% of your propulsion in the water while your arm strokes do the rest of the work.

A lot of energy is wasted with kicks if they’re done poorly. Considering the kick contributes a significant amount to your actual overall propulsion you need to make sure you’re doing your kicks right.

When you kick you should never break the surface of the water behind you. All that splashing water is just wasted energy that could be used to push you forward. You should also avoid letting your legs drop below your horizontal body line as this will create unnecessary drag which just makes your arms do even more work!

Another way to improve your propulsion in the water is to roll as far as possible from side to side with each of your arm strokes. The further you are on your side, the more access you get to your extremely large back muscles which is complimented by your shoulder muscles.

Perfecting this swimming technique will take time and you’ll most likely see a drop in your swimming times. But if you master this swimming technique you’ll find your swimming times are faster than ever!

Focus on using all your muscles, especially your core. A lot of swimmers forget that swimming is a whole body exercise that uses pretty much every muscle in your body. You need to use all the large muscles in your back, hip, and torso while rolling to the side with each arm stroke.

The synergy between your arm muscles and core muscles allow you to apply as much force as possible into the water to propel yourself forward. Using all these core muscles takes the weight off your arm muscles as well, so you’ll find you tire a lot slower. Your core muscles can last a lot longer than your arm and shoulder muscles.

The last part you need to focus on is the positioning off your arms when they’re under the water. You arms act as giant paddles that push off the water to propel you forward. Therefor you need to make sure that your hand is as flat as possible a long with your forearm.

Your palm should be facing the ground and their should be absolutely zero gaps between your fingers and thumb. Many swimmers make the mistake of keeping their hands and forearm at an angle. This severely reduces your propulsion and is a very poor technique.

Reducing Drag – Advanced

Your aim in the water is to stay as straight as possible so you don’t have to punch a hole through as much water. I mentioned earlier how important keeping your legs in line with your body was because if you let your legs drop below your horizontal body line in the water your drag practically doubles because you have to fight through twice as much water.

Imagine walking through the water, your drag is through the roof and because of this you move at a very slow speed. You can see why you need to be as straight and streamlined as possible for the fastest and most efficient swimming times.

Most of your drag is caused from when you need to pull out of the water to take a breathe. Whilst swimming with your face in the water your drag is at a minimum. Your body is straight, your legs are in line, your hips aren’t dipping, and your face isn’t dragging a long the water.

But when you need to breathe, everything loses balance, your hips drop, which causes your legs to drop, etc. All of this creates extra drag. You need to stay as horizontal as possible whilst both breathing and swimming.

A perfect example of this is freestyle swimming. If a swimmer pulls out of the water to breathe instead of breathing to the side it forces their hips to drop and then forces their legs to work twice as hard to make the hips come back into line with the body.

This is a big waste of energy. Providing your arm strokes are nice and strong, breathing to the side shouldn’t be a problem. Every time your arms pull through the water it creates a dip in the water which is perfect for taking a good breathe.

The last piece of advice I can give you for reducing your drag in the water is make yourself as tall as possible without over reaching. A tall thin person will pierce through the water much more efficiently because of the low amount of water resistance than a short stocky person who would have a much larger amount of drag.

The taller person could use the same energy, but still travel faster and longer because the drag is much lower.

You need to be wearing proper swim wear at this point, if you’re still in loose parachute shorts and t-shirts pick up some real swim wear here: Swimming Clothes

Swimming Your First Mile

The average time it takes to swim a mile from just starting is roughly 6 weeks. You could achieve this faster or slower, don’t get disheartened if you take more than 6 weeks. Your technique and fitness will still improve phenomenally.

If you are already relatively fit, you will find the first few workouts easy. If they seem too easy, skip ahead a few workouts until you find a workout you think will challenge you.

It’s extremely important you stick to the set amount of rest breathes, never go over the limit unless you really have to. If you can stay a few breathes under the limit you’ll reach your goal faster. You’ll feel like there’s never enough rest breathes, but it’s important that you are uncomfortable.

If the workout is easy and you barely get out of breathe, you’ll improve much, much slower.

For the first few workouts you’ll be able to do any swimming stroke you like and you’ll be allowed to switch between them. It’s important that we move onto only using front crawl / free style, as this is the easiest and fastest swimming stroke to conquering your first mile.

If you wish to carry on practicing all your different swimming strokes, just swap them out and incorporate them into the workout. You’ll still be able to swim a mile in no time!

Now might be the time to pick up a swimming watch for yourself, you can measure your heart rate and track your times / swims: Swimovate Pool Mate Watch Speed, Distance and Lap Computer for Swimmers

Swimming Workout 1

This workout is for absolute beginners looking to complete their first length. You’ll build physical endurance and practice your swimming technique. The total distance we are trying to cover is 25 meters without stopping.

If you are a complete swimming beginner you may have to attempt this swimming workout several times until you nail it and can continue with the rest of the swimming workouts. This will be your most challenging swimming workout.

Once this is out of the way, the rest will be a breeze and you’ll see a steady increase in your swimming performance.

Using your most comfortable swimming stroke: back stroke, free style, breast stroke, butterfly or sidestroke, attempt to swim the whole length of the pool without stopping or touching the floor.

Don’t be afraid to switch strokes in the middle of your length, if you get tired, roll onto your back and try backstroke, if water keeps going over your face, roll onto your side and attempt side stroke. Only stop if you really have to.

If you managed to swim the entire length, good for you! You can move onto the next swimming workout. If you switched between multiple swimming strokes to complete your length I highly suggest you try and swim another length without stopping using the same swimming stroke without changing.

Swapping swimming strokes is extremely inefficient, promotes bad habits and, wastes a lot of energy.

If you need to stop and touch the floor remember roughly where you made it to. Walk all the way back to where you started, have a few breathes and try again. Focus on your breathing and focus on keeping your whole body floating. Don’t forget to kick your legs!

If you are super brand new to fitness and are no where near ready to swim the length with any swimming strokes you can walk the length of the pool using the drag of the water to give yourself a workout.

Once you’ve done this you can attempt to jog your next length, then you can try and go faster and faster. You need to get out of breathe so your body can adapt for next time. Every time you get out of a breathe, the next time you work out it will take longer for you to tire.

Repeat this swimming workout every other day, for example Monday, Wednesday, Friday, Sunday, etc until you can swim a whole length without stopping. It’s important to give yourself a rest day in between your swimming workouts so your body can recover and heal. When you nail that first length, move onto Swimming Workout 2

Swimming Workout 2

Congratulations! You managed to swim your first length and you finished your first swimming workout. The hardest and most challenging part of your swimming journey is learning how to actually swim and conquer your fear of swimming.

Now that you’ve accomplished that, all that’s left to do is increase your cardiovascular fitness so you can swim more lengths, and improve your technique so you don’t waste as much energy actually swimming your lengths.

The end goal for this workout is to swim a whole length with all of the different swimming strokes, minus butterfly. That’s 4 lengths. It’s a quite a big jump from last time, but I know you can do it. It’s important that you learn all the main swimming strokes. Butterfly is an exception because it’s the most difficult one, but we’ll get you doing it eventually.

Start with the swimming stroke you find the most difficult and complete a whole length. When you finish the length, take 12 breathes and start your next length with your second weakest swimming stroke.

When you finish your second length, take 10 breathes and start your next length with your second most comfortable swimming stroke. When you finish your third length, take 6 breathes and with your most comfortable swimming stroke finish the length.

It will look something like this:

  • Backstroke – 1 Length (25 Meters)
  • 12 Rest Breathes
  • Sidestroke – 1 Length (25 Meters)
  • 10 Rest Breathes
  • Breaststroke – 1 Length (25 Meters)
  • 6 Rest Breathes
  • Freestyle – 1 Length (25 Meters)

If you managed to complete this swimming workout, excellent job! If you didn’t manage to complete it this time, keep trying. You can increase the amount of rest breathes you take after each length to make it easier.

Then when you manage to do all 4 lengths, reduce your breathes until you get back to the original rest breathes. You can now move on to Swimming Workout 3!

Swimming Workout 3

Well done for completing your second swimming workout! Now that you are beginning to get used to swimming lengths, you can start to transition into prioritizing freestyle / front crawl. If you would like to carry on practicing your other swimming strokes, feel free to incorporate them into the swimming workout yourself.

From now on though you’re going to be focusing solely on free style / front crawl.

The end goal of this swimming workout is to continue to build your swimming endurance, increase the efficiency of your front crawl / freestyle, and get you used to warming up at the start of your workout, as well as cooling down at the end of your workout.

Warming up and cooling down is extremely important. If you fail to warm up properly you’ll more than likely get a stitch half way through, even worse you could get a cramp! Cramps in water make you look like a fish on land and they hurt like hell.

You’ll also find that if you try and continue your workout a few minutes later, the same cramp will attack you again. If you do get a cramp, stretch the muscle as best as you can for a few minutes until it goes.

You will need to warm up all over again and start slowly so the cramp doesn’t come back. Make sure you stay hydrated and try to keep your salts up.

Cooling down is just as important as warming up. Whilst you’re swimming, all your muscles are being used which fills them full of lactic acid. If you complete your workout and just stop, all that lactic acid will stay in your muscles and make you ache the day after.

If you do a cool down, your aches will be much easier to deal with. That achy feeling in all your muscles the day after a workout is called DOMS which stands for Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness. You’ll find that after a few more workouts you wont even get achiness the day after your workout anymore.

Start with a warm up of 2 lengths using front crawl / freestyle, take your time – don’t power through this as fast as you can, it’s a warm up for a reason. Once you’ve recovered, you can start the main portion of the workout.

Swim 4 lengths without stopping and take 12 rest breathes when you finish. Remember, try your best to stick to just front crawl / freestyle. After the 12 rest breathes, swim 3 lengths without stopping and take 10 rest breathes.

After the 10 rest breathes, swim 2 lengths without stopping and take 6 rest breathes. After the 6 rest breathes, swim 1 length as fast as you can whilst maintaining a proper swimming technique. When you’ve caught your breathe, start your cool down by swimming 4 lengths. Make sure you really take your time with the cool down, try to swim slowly and relax.

It will look something like this:

  • Warm up – 2 lengths (50 meters) – Freestyle
  • Freestyle – 4 lengths (100 meters)
  • 12 Rest Breathes
  • Freestyle – 3 lengths (75 meters)
  • 10 Rest Breathes
  • Freestyle 2 lengths (50 meters)
  • 6 Rest Breathes
  • Freestyle – 1 length (25 meters) – Fast
  • Recover
  • Cool down – 4 lengths (100 meters) – Slow

This is quite a large jump from the second swimming workout. If you find yourself really struggling to complete this swimming workout, increase the amount of rest breathes you take between lengths and slowly ween yourself to the original amount of rest breathes. If you managed to complete the swimming workout, make your way over to Swimming Workout 4!

Swimming Workout 4

Congratulations on finishing your third swimming workout! The previous 3 swimming workouts have covered everything you will need to know in order to finish the remainder of this course. The layout we used for swimming workout 3 is the layout we’re going to be using from now on, with slight variations.

We’ll start with a warm up, do the main workout, and then end with a cool down.

The end goal of this swimming workout is to: carry on building your endurance, improve your swimming technique, and increase the number of lengths you can swim. The swimming workouts from now are really going to start picking up and testing you. If you can’t complete a swimming workout, just keep trying until you can complete the workout.

Start with a warm up of 4 lengths; you can use any swimming stroke for this. When you’ve recovered from the warm up, swim 4 lengths freestyle / front crawl and take 12 rest breathes. After the 12 rest breathes do the exact same again, 4 lengths freestyle / front crawl and 12 rest breathes.

After the 12 rest breathes, do 3 lengths freestyle / front crawl and take 10 rest breathes. After the 10 rest breathes do the same again, so 3 lengths freestyle / front crawl with 10 rest breathes. After the 10 rest breathes, swim 1 length freestyle / front crawl as fast as you can, but maintain a good and efficient technique.

Take 12 rest breathes and do 1 more length freestyle / front crawl as fast as you can.

It will look something like this:

  • Warm up – 4 lengths (100 meters) – Any stroke
  • Freestyle – 4 lengths (100 meters)
  • 12 Rest Breathes
  • Freestyle – 4 lengths (100 meters)
  • 12 Rest Breathes
  • Freestyle – 3 lengths (75 meters)
  • 10 Rest Breathes
  • Freestyle – 3 lengths (75 meters)
  • 10 Rest Breathes
  • Freestyle – 1 length (25 meters) – Fast
  • 12 Rest Breathes
  • Freestyle – 1 length (25 meters) – Fast
  • 12 Rest Breathes
  • Cool down – 4 lengths (100 meters) – Any stroke

You’ve jumped from 400 meters to 600 meters so this is a difficult swimming workout to complete. If you managed to complete this workout you are only a few weeks away from swimming your very first mile, so make your way onto Swimming Workout 5!

Swimming Workout 5

Congratulations on finishing your fourth swimming workout!

The aim of this workout is to continue building your endurance and raise your total distance to 700 meters. Since you’ve completed 4 swimming workouts already, I can get straight to the point without explaining all the basics. The posts from now on will be much more compact – all that will be included is a short introduction, the aims of the workout and the actual swimming workouts.

Start with a warm up of 4 lengths using any stroke. When you’ve recovered, swim 4 lengths free style / front crawl and take 12 rest breathes. Repeat this 2 more times so you swim a total of 12 length. After the 12 rest breathes, swim 3 lengths freestyle / front crawl with 10 rest breathes.

Repeat this 2 more times for a total of 9 lengths. After the 10 rest breathes, swim 1 length free style / front crawl as fast as possible whilst maintaining proper technique. Take 12 rest breathes. Do this another 2 times until you’ve swam 3 lengths. After you’ve recovered, start your cool down by swimming 4 lengths any stroke.

It will look something like this:

  • Warm up – 4 lengths (100 meters) – Any stroke
  • Freestyle – 4 lengths (100 meters)
  • 12 Rest Breathes
  • Freestyle – 4 lengths (100 meters)
  • 12 Rest Breathes
  • Freestyle – 4 lengths (100 meters)
  • 12 Rest Breathes
  • Freestyle – 3 lengths (75 meters)
  • 10 Rest Breathes
  • Freestyle – 3 lengths (75 meters)
  • 10 Rest Breathes
  • Freestyle – 3 lengths (75 meters)
  • 10 Rest Breathes
  • Freestyle – 1 length (25 meters) – Fast
  • 12 Rest Breathes
  • Freestyle – 1 length (25 meters) – Fast
  • 12 Rest Breathes
  • Freestyle – 1 length (25 meters) – Fast
  • 12 Rest Breathes
  • Cool down – 4 lengths (100 meters) – Any stroke

This swimming workout brings you up to 800 meters total swimming in one session. You’re practically half way there to swimming your first mile! From now on, some of the workouts will be repeated and you’re going to start swimming more than 4 lengths without stopping. If you completed this workout, make your way over to Swimming Workout 6!

Swimming Workout 6

Congratulations for completing swimming workout 5 and well done for swimming your first half mile! This swimming workout will be similar to the last workout you just completed, only the amount of rest breathes will be reduced.

This just gives your body time to catch up with the distance you’ve been swimming. If we added even more distance onto this workout it would be very difficult to complete.

The end goal of this workout is to continue building your endurance and reduce your rest breathes between lengths.

Begin with a warm up of 4 lengths using any swimming stroke. When you’ve fully recovered from the warm up, swim 4 lengths freestyle / front crawl and take 10 rest breathes. Do this 2 more times so you swim a total of 12 lengths.

When you’ve finished with the 10 rest breathes, swim 3 lengths freestyle / front crawl and take 6 rest breathes. Do this another 2 times until you swim 9 lengths. When you’ve finished your 6 rest breathes, swim 1 length fast whilst maintaining proper swimming technique.

Do this another 2 times with 8 rest breathes in between. Finally, cool down by swimming 4 lengths using a swimming stroke of your choice.

It will look something like this:

  • Warm up – 4 lengths (100 meters) – Any stroke
  • Freestyle – 4 lengths (100 meters)
  • 10 Rest Breathes
  • Freestyle – 4 lengths (100 meters)
  • 10 Rest Breathes
  • Freestyle – 4 lengths (100 meters)
  • 10 Rest Breathes
  • Freestyle – 3 lengths (75 meters)
  • 6 Rest Breathes
  • Freestyle – 3 lengths (75 meters)
  • 6 Rest Breathes
  • Freestyle – 3 lengths (75 meters)
  • 6 Rest Breathes
  • Freestyle – 1 length (25 meters) – Fast
  • 8 Rest Breathes
  • Freestyle – 1 length (25 meters) – Fast
  • 8 Rest Breathes
  • Freestyle – 1 length (25 meters) – Fast
  • 8 Rest Breathes
  • Cool down – 4 lengths (100 meters) – Any stroke

The decrease in rest breathes is really taxing, but it is necessary for getting used to swimming more lengths. In the next swimming workout you’ll be swimming more than 4 lengths at a time, so make sure you don’t move onto the next workout until you can complete this swimming workout with the listed amount of rest breathes.

If you managed to complete this workout, make your way over to Swimming Workout 7!

Swimming Workout 7

Congratulations on finishing your sixth swimming workout! This will be your first workout where you swim more than 4 lengths without taking a rest breathe! Lets get started, shall we?
The end goal of this workout is to familiarize yourself with swimming more than 4 lengths without stopping for a rest breathe and increasing your endurance.

Start by swimming 4 lengths using any stroke for your warm up. When you’ve recovered from the warm up, start by swimming 8 lengths without stopping and take 12 rest breathes. After 12 rest breathes, swim 4 lengths and take 8 rest breathes.

Repeat this 3 more times until you’ve swam 16 lengths. When you’ve finished your 8 rest breathes, swim 2 lengths and take 4 rest breathes. Repeat this 3 more times until you’ve swam 8 lengths. Finish with a cool down of 4 lengths using any swimming stroke.

It will look something like this:

  • Warm up – 4 lengths (100 meters) – Any stroke
  • Freestyle – 8 lengths (200 meters)
  • 12 Rest Breathes
  • Freestyle – 4 lengths (100 meters)
  • 8 Rest Breathes
  • Freestyle – 4 lengths (100 meters)
  • 8 Rest Breathes
  • Freestyle – 4 lengths (100 meters)
  • 8 Rest Breathes
  • Freestyle – 4 lengths (100 meters)
  • 8 Rest Breathes
  • Freestyle – 2 lengths (50 meters)
  • 4 Rest Breathes
  • Freestyle – 2 lengths (50 meters)
  • 4 Rest Breathes
  • Freestyle – 2 lengths (50 meters)
  • 4 Rest Breathes
  • Freestyle – 2 lengths (50 meters)
  • 4 Rest Breathes
  • Cool down – 4 lengths (100 meters) – Any stroke

This swimming workout brings you up to 1000 meters total in one swimming session! That’s 40 lengths! To put that into perspective; a swimming mile is 64 lengths. You’re only 24 lengths away from swimming a mile!

You’ll have noticed that we dropped the 1 length swim sets as well. If you still wish to practice swimming fast lengths you’ll have to incorporate that into the workout yourself. For example, you could turn the 4×2 lengths into 8×1 lengths so you can practice speed.

If you managed to complete this workout, head on over to Swimming Workout 8!

Swimming Workout 8

Congratulations on completing your seventh swimming workout! This workout will be similar to the previous workout you just did, only this time you’ll have fewer rest breathes.

The end goal of this workout is to continue building your swimming endurance and reduce your rest breathes between lengths.

Start as usual with 4 lengths for a warm up using any stroke. After you’ve recovered from the warm up, swim 8 lengths free style and take 10 rest breathes. After the 10 rest breathes, swim 4 lengths free style and take 6 rest breathes.

Repeat this another 3 times until you’ve swam 16 lengths. When you’ve finished with your 6 rest breathes, swim 2 lengths free style and take 2 rest breathes. Repeat this another 3 times until you’ve swam 8 lengths. When you’ve recovered, do your usual cool down of 4 lengths with a swimming stroke of your choice.

It will look something like this:

  • Warm up – 4 lengths (100 meters) – Any stroke
  • Freestyle – 8 lengths (200 meters)
  • 10 Rest Breathes
  • Freestyle – 4 lengths (100 meters)
  • 6 Rest Breathes
  • Freestyle – 4 lengths (100 meters)
  • 6 Rest Breathes
  • Freestyle – 4 lengths (100 meters)
  • 6 Rest Breathes
  • Freestyle – 4 lengths (100 meters)
  • 6 Rest Breathes
  • Freestyle – 2 lengths (50 meters)
  • 2 Rest Breathes
  • Freestyle – 2 lengths (50 meters)
  • 2 Rest Breathes
  • Freestyle – 2 lengths (50 meters)
  • 2 Rest Breathes
  • Freestyle – 2 lengths (50 meters)
  • 2 Rest Breathes
  • Cool down – 4 lengths (100 meters) – Any stroke

The reduced amount of rest breathes on this swimming workout makes it difficult. It’s important that you complete this workout with the set amount of rest breathes, so you’ll be able to swim more than 8 lengths without stopping.

If you managed to complete this workout, make your way over to Swimming Workout 9!

If you need something to help you on your swimming journey, don’t hesitate to treat yourself! Goggles, swimwear, waterproof music devices, floating devices, you name it!

Swimming Workout 9

Congratulations on completing your eighth swimming workout! This workout will be a big jump compared to your last workout. It will be the first workout you’ve done where you’ve swam over 10 lengths without stopping!

The end goal of this workout is to transition you into swimming more lengths without rest breathes in between. You’ll also perfect breathing properly whilst your swimming and get better at pacing yourself.

Start with your usual workout of 4 lengths with any swimming stroke you want to practice. When you;’ve recovered from your warm up, start by swimming 16 lengths without stopping, then take 12 rest breathes. After the 12 rest breathes, swim 8 lengths and take 8 rest breathes.

After the 8 rest breathes, swim 4 lengths and take 2 rest breathes. Repeat these 4 lengths 4 times until you’ve swam 16 lengths. When you’ve recovered, begin your cool down of 4 lengths using any swimming stroke you wish to practice.

It will look something like this:

  • Warm up – 4 lengths (100 meters) – Any stroke
  • Freestyle – 16 lengths (400 meters)
  • 12 Rest Breathes
  • Freestyle – 8 lengths (200 meters)
  • 8 Rest Breathes
  • Freestyle – 4 lengths (100 meters)
  • 4 Rest Breathes
  • Freestyle – 4 lengths (100 meters)
  • 4 Rest Breathes
  • Freestyle – 4 lengths (100 meters)
  • 4 Rest Breathes
  • Freestyle – 4 lengths (100 meters)
  • 4 Rest Breathes
  • Cool down – 4 lengths (100 meters) – Any stroke

This swimming workout brings you up to 1200 meters in 1 swimming session! You’ll notice that rest breathes are becoming much less common, this is so you can get used to swimming while breathing properly.

Doing this for a few more workouts will allow you to swim a mile without stopping in no time. If you managed to complete this workout, head on over to Swimming Workout 10!

Swimming Workout 10

Congratulations on completing your ninth swimming workout! This next workout will be similar to your last workout, only your rest breathes are going to be reduced. Noticing a pattern yet?
The end goal of this workout is to reduce your rest breathes and increase your endurance.

Start with a warm up of 4 lengths using any stroke you’d like. After your warm up is finished and you’ve recovered, swim 16 lengths free style and take 10 rest breathes. After the 10 rest breathes, swim 8 lengths free style and take 6 rest breathes.

After the 6 rest breathes, swim 4 lengths free style and take 2 rest breathes. Repeat these 4 lengths another 3 times until you’ve swam 16 lengths. Once you’ve finished, start your cool down of 4 lengths using any swimming stroke.

It will look something like this:

  • Warm up – 4 lengths (100 meters) – Any stroke
  • Freestyle – 16 lengths (400 meters)
  • 10 Rest Breathes
  • Freestyle – 8 lengths (200 meters)
  • 6 Rest Breathes
  • Freestyle – 4 lengths (100 meters)
  • 2 Rest Breathes
  • Freestyle – 4 lengths (100 meters)
  • 2 Rest Breathes
  • Freestyle – 4 lengths (100 meters)
  • 2 Rest Breathes
  • Freestyle – 4 lengths (100 meters)
  • 2 Rest Breathes
  • Cool down – 4 lengths (100 meters) – Any stroke

It’s important you complete this workout with the assigned rest breathes before advancing onto the next swimming workout. If you didn’t manage to complete this workout, keep attempting it until you complete it – raise the rest breathes if you have to. Just make sure you ween yourself off them before advancing. If you managed to complete this workout, head on over to Swimming Workout 11!

Swimming Workout 11

Congratulations on finishing your tenth swimming workout! In just 10 workouts over a few weeks, you’ve gone from swimming a few lengths, to swimming 1200 meters! This next workout will be challenging and we’ll be heavily focusing on swimming without stopping every few lengths.

The end goal of this workout is to continue building your endurance and increase the number of lengths you can do without stopping.

Start with a warm up of 4 lengths using any stroke. When you’ve recovered from the warm up, start off by swimming 24 lengths freestyle / front crawl and take 12 rest breathes. After the 12 rest breathes, swim 16 lengths and take 6 rest breathes. After the 6 rest breathes, swim 4 lengths and take 4 rest breathes. Repeat these 4 lengths 3 more times until you’ve swam 16 lengths. When you’ve recovered, start your usual cool down of 4 lengths using any swimming stroke.

It will look something like this:

  • Warm up – 4 lengths (100 meters) – Any stroke
  • Freestyle – 24 lengths (600 meters)
  • 12 Rest Breathes
  • Freestyle – 16 lengths (400 meters)
  • 6 Rest Breathes
  • Freestyle – 4 lengths (100 meters)
  • 4 Rest Breathes
  • Freestyle – 4 lengths (100 meters)
  • 4 Rest Breathes
  • Freestyle – 4 lengths (100 meters)
  • 4 Rest Breathes
  • Freestyle – 4 lengths (100 meters)
  • 4 Rest Breathes
  • Cool down – 4 lengths (100 meters) – Any stroke

This swimming workout brings you up to 1600 meters in total! You’re only 50 meters away from completing a swimming mile! Now that you’re getting close to the required distance to complete a swimming mile, you’re going to be swimming increasingly larger distances without stopping for a rest breathe.

You are only a few workouts away from completing a mile without stopping once for a rest breathe! If you completed this workout, head on over to Swimming Workout 12!

Swimming Workout 12

Congratulations on finishing your 11th swimming workout! Following the same pattern as the other workouts, this workout will be similar to the last one. The only difference is going to be the reduced rest breathes.

The end goal of this workout is to continue building your swimming endurance and reduce your rest breathes so you can transition into swimming a mile without stopping.
Start with a warm up of 4 lengths using any stroke you’d like to practice.

After you’ve recovered from the warm up, start by swimming 24 lengths freestyle and take 8 rest breathes. After the 8 rest breathes, swim 16 lengths and take 4 rest breathes. After the 4 rest breathes, swim 4 lengths and take 2 rest breathes.

Repeat these 4 lengths 3 more times until you’ve swam 16 lengths. Finish with your usual cool down of 4 lengths using any swimming stroke you’d like.

It will look something like this:

  • Warm up – 4 lengths (100 meters) – Any stroke
  • Freestyle – 24 lengths (600 meters)
  • 8 Rest Breathes
  • Freestyle – 16 lengths (400 meters)
  • 4 Rest Breathes
  • Freestyle – 4 lengths (100 meters)
  • 24 Rest Breathes
  • Freestyle – 4 lengths (100 meters)
  • 2 Rest Breathes
  • Freestyle – 4 lengths (100 meters)
  • 2 Rest Breathes
  • Freestyle – 4 lengths (100 meters)
  • 2 Rest Breathes
  • Cool down – 4 lengths (100 meters) – Any stroke

It is essential that you complete this swimming workout with the designated amount of rest breathes. Don’t move onto the next workout until you can complete this workout without altering the rest breathes. If you managed to complete this workout, you can head on over to Swimming Workout 13!

Swimming Workout 13

Congratulations on completing your 12th swimming workout! This workout will be similar to your last workout, however this time you’ll swim 1000 meters without stopping, that’s 40 lengths!
The end goal of this workout is to continue building your endurance and get you used to swimming without rest breathes

Start by doing your usual warm up of 4 lengths using any swimming stroke. When you’ve recovered from your warm up, swim 40 lengths freestyle / front crawl and take 12 rest breathes. After the 12 rest breathes, swim 24 lengths without stopping. After you’ve recovered from the 24 lengths, start your cool down of 4 lengths using any swimming stroke you like.

It will look something like this:

  • Warm up – 4 lengths (100 meters) – Any stroke
  • Freestyle – 40 lengths (1000 meters)
  • 12 Rest Breathes
  • Freestyle – 24 lengths (600 meters)
  • Rest Breathes
  • Cool down – 4 lengths (100 meters) – Any stroke

This swimming workout brings you up to 1800 meters in 1 session. You’ve now swam over 1 swimming mile! All you need to do now is a few more workouts, so you can swim the whole mile without stopping.

Remember, if at any point these swimming workouts are far too difficult, just repeat a previous swimming workout and keep trying to finish the next one. There’s no shame in repeating a workout, if anything it will make you a stronger swimmer. If you completed this workout, make your way over to Swimming Workout 14!

Swimming Workout 14

Congratulations on finishing your 13th swimming workout and swimming more than 1 mile in a swimming session! This workout will be similar to the workout you’ve just done, only the rest breathes are going to be reduced.

The end goal of this workout is to continue building your endurance and get you used to swimming with a lower amount of rest breathes.

Start by doing your usual warm up of 4 lengths using any swimming stroke. When you’ve recovered from your warm up, swim 40 lengths freestyle / front crawl and take 8 rest breathes. After the 8 rest breathes, swim 24 lengths without stopping. After you’ve recovered from the 24 lengths, start your cool down of 4 lengths using any swimming stroke you like.

It will look something like this:

  • Warm up – 4 lengths (100 meters) – Any stroke
  • Freestyle – 40 lengths (1000 meters)
  • 8 Rest Breathes
  • Freestyle – 24 lengths (600 meters)
  • Rest Breathes
  • Cool down – 4 lengths (100 meters) – Any stroke

This swimming workout will feel challenging, but it is essential that you stick to the set amount of rest breathes. If you can finish this workout with the assigned number of rest breathes you are very close to swimming a whole mile without stopping!

In fact, if you really pushed yourself you could probably swim a mile without stopping the next time you’re in the pool. I highly recommend you play it safe and stick to the next few workouts though. If you managed to complete this workout, head on over to Swimming Workout 15!

Swimming Workout 15

Congratulations on completing your 14th swimming workout! This workout will bring you incredibly close to your goal of swimming a mile without stopping. After this workout there will be 1 more swimming workout left before you attempt to swim your very first mile without stopping!

The end goal of this workout is to continue building your endurance and increase your distance swam without stopping for rest breathes.

Start with a warm up of 4 lengths using any swimming stroke you’d like. After you’ve recovered from the warm up, start by swimming 48 lengths freestyle and take 8 rest breathes. After the 8 rest breathes, swim 4 lengths and take 2 rest breathes. Repeat these 4 lengths 3 more times until you’ve swam 16 lengths. After you’ve recovered, begin your cool down of 4 lengths using any swimming stroke.

It will look something like this:

  • Warm up – 4 lengths (100 meters) – Any stroke
  • Freestyle – 48 lengths (1200 meters)
  • 8 Rest Breathes
  • Freestyle – 4 lengths (100 meters)
  • 2 Rest Breathes
  • Freestyle – 4 lengths (100 meters)
  • 2 Rest Breathes
  • Freestyle – 4 lengths (100 meters)
  • 2 Rest Breathes
  • Freestyle – 4 lengths (100 meters)
  • 2 Rest Breathes
  • Cool down – 4 lengths (100 meters) – Any stroke

You’ve still swam the same distance as your previous swimming workouts, however with this workout you don’t get many rest breathes at all. You’re probably urging to go to swim your first mile, but hold off for just 1 more workout!

The workout after this will be your very last swimming workout before you attempt the mile swim! It’s important that you don’t get carried away and attempt the mile early, finish one more swimming workout to give yourself a really strong foundation to work from. If you completed this workout, head on over to Swimming Workout 16!

Swimming Workout 16

Congratulations on finishing your 15th swimming workout and say hello to your very last swimming workout! Once you’ve finished this workout, all that will be left to do is for you to attempt to swim your first mile without stopping.

The end goal of this workout is to continue building your endurance and prepare you for swimming your first mile without rest breathes.
Start with a 4 length warm up using any swimming stroke.

Swim 48 lengths freestyle and take 4 rest breathes. After the 4 rest breathes, swim 16 lengths and let yourself recover. When you’ve recovered, start your cool down of 4 lengths using a swimming stroke of your choice

It will look something like this:

  • Warm up – 4 lengths (100 meters) – Any stroke
  • Freestyle – 48 lengths (1200 meters)
  • 4 Rest Breathes
  • Freestyle – 16 lengths (400 meters)
  • Rest Breathes
  • Cool down – 4 lengths (100 meters) – Any stroke

This is your final swimming workout, if you complete this workout you can swim a mile without stopping when you next jump into a pool! You’ve come a long way since your first swimming workout, even if you haven’t followed the workouts to the dot, to make it this far is really impressive and you should be proud of yourself.

If you finished this workout, head on over to the final workout: The Mile Swim!

The Mile Swim

Congratulations on completing all 16 of the swimming workouts! You’ve gone from struggling with a length, to swimming over a mile with a few rest breathes here and there. Now it’s time to attempt what you’ve been training for; swimming a whole mile without stopping.

Making it this far is hard work, especially if you’re a relatively new swimmer. You should be extremely proud with everything you’ve accomplished!

Swimming a mile without stopping is tiring work and will seriously test your endurance and will power. Completing this challenge may take a few attempts, but if you carry on trying and refuse to get discouraged, you’ll finish the mile in a few attempts.

The end goal of this swimming workout is to swim a whole mile without stopping and to complete the beginners guide to swimming! Once you complete this challenge of swimming your first mile, you can move onto the advanced workouts and learn about advanced techniques, such as: diving, tumble turns, incorporating different strokes, and making use of swimming equipment.

Start with an easy warm up of 4 lengths to get your blood flowing, but make sure you don’t tire yourself out or waste too much energy. Take your time and use any swimming stroke you like. The only purpose of the warm up is to prevent a stitch or cramp half way through the mile swim.

After you’ve recovered from the warm up, set of by swimming 66 lengths. This will result in 1650 meters, which is a swimming mile. It’s important you take your time with the swim. Focus on your breathing, and keep a good eye on your technique.

You don’t want to be wasting energy unnecessarily by splashing a lot and not streamlining your body. If you begin to tire half way through the swim, relaxing your legs and letting them drop will give you a bit of a kick. However, your legs will now be dragging through the water making it harder on your arms and shoulders.

If it starts to get really tough, change your breathing pattern to breathe to your dominant side every 2 arm strokes. When you complete all 66 lengths, take a well deserved break and finish with a 4 length cool down using any swimming stroke. It’s important that you do a cool down, otherwise you’ll be aching tomorrow!

It will look something like this:

  • Warm up – 4 lengths (100 meters) – Any stroke
  • 66 lengths (1650 meters) – Free style
  • Cool down – 4 lengths (100 meters) – Any stroke

Once you complete this mile swim, you can proudly say you’re no longer a beginner swimmer! If you made it this far and you completed the mile swim, congratulations! Swimming is a very demanding full body exercise and to swim a whole mile without stopping is seriously difficult.

Not only has your fitness increased massively, you’ve learnt a valuable life skill that could possibly save your life in the future. Now you can relax and treat yourself! There is still so much you can do with swimming, so keep figuring out what you enjoy!

If you need something to help you on your swimming journey, don’t hesitate to treat yourself! Goggles, swimwear, waterproof music devices, floating devices, you name it!

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One thought on “Swimming For Beginners: How To Swim A Mile

  • March 20, 2017 at 11:33 pm
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    If you have any questions, feels free to ask. We’re here to help and we will try to answer as soon as we can!

    What makes you want to start swimming?

    Reply

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