A beginner’s guide to getting started swimming

If you haven’t swum in a while (or can’t swim), work with a learn-to-swim instructor to develop or refresh your skills. “It’s always a good first step to building confidence in what you’re capable of doing,” says Kristopher GagneUSA Certified Swim Coach and Regional Head Coach for Life Time Houston Area Facilities in Texas.

Once you’re ready to start training on your own, complete two to three (up to four) swim workouts per week. Give yourself a rest day between sessions so your body has time to recover before swimming again.

Chances are you won’t be able to swim the whole workout non-stop – and that’s okay. Gagné recommends breaking each workout into intervals. After a warm-up, swim 25 meters (the length of a standard pool) and rest until you feel ready to go again. Repeat this for four total intervals during your first workout. “Then each subsequent workout in the pool, add two to four rounds,” says Slabaugh.

To pace yourself, try to work out at an intensity that warms up your muscles and gets your heart rate up, but isn’t so hard that you can’t complete the workout. Don’t think more than a 5 on a scale of 1 to 10, Gagné says, where one equals sitting still and 10 is an all-out sprint.

As you get stronger and fitter, you can swim for longer intervals before taking a break. For the first month, however, just focus on your technique and do the workouts as best you can.

Supplement your swimming with two days of strength training per week, focusing on all major muscle groups (including abs and core, arms and upper body, glutes and other leg muscles), says Gagné. (Or if you prefer, train up to four days a week, adding 20-30 minute weight training sessions before your lap workout.)

Week 1

Day 1 Swim 25 meters, rest; repeat 4 times in total

Day 2 Strength training, 30 to 45 minutes

Day 3 Swim 25 meters, rest; repeat 6 times in total

Day 4 Strength training, 30 to 45 minutes, or rest

Day 5 Swim 25 meters, rest; repeat 8 times in total

Day 6 Strength training, 30 to 45 minutes

Day 7 Rest

Week 2

Day 1 Swim 25 meters, rest; repeat 10 times in total

Day 2 Strength training, 30 to 45 minutes

Day 3 Swim 25 meters, rest; repeat 12 times in total

Day 4 Strength training, 30 to 45 minutes, or rest

Day 5 Swim 25 meters, rest; repeat 14 times in total

Day 6 Strength training, 30 to 45 minutes

Day 7 Rest

Week 3

Day 1 Swim 25 meters, rest; repeat 16 times in total

Day 2 Strength training, 30 to 45 minutes

Day 3 Swim 25 meters, rest; repeat 18 times in total

Day 4 Strength training, 30 to 45 minutes, or rest

Day 5 Swim 25 meters, rest; repeat 20 times in total

Day 6 Strength training, 30 to 45 minutes

Day 7 Rest

Week 4

Day 1 Swim 25 meters, rest; repeat 22 times in total

Day 2 Strength training, 30 to 45 minutes

Day 3 Swim 25 meters, rest; repeat 24 times in total

Day 4 Strength training, 30 to 45 minutes, or rest

Day 5 Swim 25 meters, rest; repeat 26 times in total

Day 6 Strength training, 30 to 45 minutes

Day 7 Rest