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How to get into shape for swimming

Kevin Koskella provides some tips to help you get back to your swimming fitness.

Have you taken a break from swimming or do you feel out of shape and feel the need to get back in shape quickly?

Here are some tips to help you get back to feeling the best you can in the water:

  1. Do not try to do too much too soon. Start with long, slow swims. If you cannot do long swims, start with short, slow swims and little by little build up your endurance
  2. Do not jump into the "fast lane". If you are doing masters, don't be tempted to "pick up where you left off." Swallow your pride and start a lane or two slower than when you last worked out
  3. Do not use fins for speed. Fins are great for technique work and drills, but the worst thing you can do is to throw on a pair of fins to "keep up."
  4. Swim often. Even if you only have 20 to 30 minutes a day, get in the water as much as possible rather than doing fewer workouts and staying in longer. In other words, it would be better to swim four days a week, 30 minutes each time, than to swim two days at one hour per session
  5. Count strokes. This will keep you focused on extension and technique. See if you can lower your average stroke count
  6. Set goals. If you are only capable of finishing 200 meters without stopping, do not try to jump to 1000 meters.

Try a new, smaller goal each week. Three hundred meters would be reasonable, then 400, then 600, etc. Keep these tips in mind and never forget that in swimming, patience + practice = performing at your best!

Article Reference

This article first appeared in:

  • KOSKELLA, K. (2006) How to get into shape for swimming. Brian Mackenzie's Successful Coaching, (ISSN 1745-7513/ 31 /April), p. 12

Page Reference

If you quote information from this page in your work, then the reference for this page is:

  • KOSKELLA, K. (2006) How to get into shape for swimming [WWW] Available from: [Accessed

About the Author

Kevin Koskella coaches masters and triathlete swimmers in San Diego, CA. He operates the website, a resource for beginner to intermediate level triathletes looking for help with swimming.