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Swimming WorkoutsSummer is finally here! Taking workouts outdoors and mixing up your routine can add new motivation and challenges that benefit your body and mind. Swimming workouts are a great way to stay cool in the warmer temps, while enjoying fresh air and sunshine.

Not a swimmer? That doesn’t mean you can’t be! Swimming lessons for adults let you enjoy the water safely. And if you already know how to swim, why not incorporate swimming workouts into regimen for variety? All you need is a swimsuit, cap and some goggles.

Benefits of Swimming

  1. Suitable for any fitness level – Whether you are a beginner or an athlete, swimming offers customizable challenges.
  2. No impact – The water supports as much as 90 percent of your body weight, so you feel much lighter. Plus, there’s no pounding on your body, which is a welcome break if you typically do lots HIIT sessions or are recovering from an injury.
  3. Total-body workout – Use all the major muscles in your body in one session for the ultimate efficiency.
  4. Cardio and strength – Doing continuous laps while maintaining a breathing rhythm works the heart and lungs and improves your efficiency at taking in and using oxygen for greater stamina. Plus, working against the constant resistance of the water serves as strength training.
  5. Burns calories — Swimming is an efficient way to burn calories. Estimates show that a 160-pound person who swims laps at a low or moderate pace burns approximately 423 calories an hour. At a more vigorous pace, that may increase to 715 calories per hour.
  6. Helps de-stress – When you’re swimming, you escape from constant texts or emails, work responsibilities or demands of others. It’s a unique way to literally unplug. The water provides a great meditative escape where you can focus on the rhythm of your strokes and breathing. In fact, a study published in Pain Research & Management noted that being submerged in water dulls the amount of sensory information that bombards your body, thereby encouraging feelings of calm.
  7. No sweat – Not exactly true, as you CAN work up a sweat when swimming vigorously. But the beauty of swimming workouts is that you won’t feel all hot and sweaty due to the cool water. So instead of being overheated and fatigued, you’ll be invigorated and energetic.
  8. Is back-friendly – Because you swim in a horizontal position, unlike most other exercise options, swimming helps counteract all the stress put on the back from sitting at a desk or in a car, or standing for long periods of time.
  9. Slows aging – According to research from Indiana University, regular swimmers are biologically 20 years younger than their true age. Swimming improves blood pressure, cholesterol levels, central nervous system health, cognitive functioning and blood chemistry to keep your body functioning like that of someone younger.
  10. Can improve longevity – Researchers at the University of South Carolina found that swimmers had lower death rates than runners, walkers or men who didn’t exercise.

Swimming Workouts

There are many options for routines in the pool, and you can simply swim laps and vary your strokes. Or can see if your local health club or rec center has a Master’s Swim program, which provides coached, group swim workouts for all levels.

Here are some basic swimming workouts, designed for beginners, to get you started. Certainly, you can modify them according to your ability level and available time. These are based on a standard, 25-yard pool. Jump in!

Short Distance Intervals (

  • Start by swimming 50 yards, then rest for 15 to 30 seconds. Repeat this pattern for 15 minutes. If swimming 50 yards at one time is too difficult, swim 25 yards and then rest.
  • Once you can comfortably complete this workout, increase the distance to 75 or 100 yards before resting. Then try swimming continuously for 20 to 30 minutes.

Beginner Training Plan (Nuffield Health)

NOTE: this is for 25-meter pool, but you can follow in 25-yard pool as well


  • 2 x 50m swim freestyle (front crawl) – 30 seconds rest (after each round)
  • 2 x 50m kick freestyle (hold a kickboard and use only your legs) – 30 seconds rest
  • 2 x 50m pull freestyle (place a pullbuoy between your legs and use only your arms) – 30 seconds rest.
  • Rest 1-2 minutes

Main workout

  • 1 x 50m swim freestyle steady pace – 30 seconds rest
  • 1 x 25m swim freestyle fast pace – 45 seconds rest
  • (Repeat this set 3 times)

Rest 1-2 minutes

  • 1 x 75m freestyle – 20 seconds rest
  • 1 x 25m freestyle kick – 20 seconds rest
  • 1 x 75m backstroke – 20 seconds rest
  • 1 x 25m backstroke kick –20 seconds rest
  • 1 x 75m breaststroke – 20 seconds rest
  • 1 x 25m breaststroke kick – 20 seconds rest


  • 1 x 100m slow swimming

Beginner swim workout: 500 yards (Prevention)

  • 4 x 25 yards, 40 seconds rest in between
  • 2 x 25 yards butterfly with 2 strokes right and 2 strokes left arm
  • 2 x 25 yards backstroke with 2 strokes right and 2 strokes left arm
  • 2 x 25 yards breaststroke with 1 stroke and 2 kicks
  • 2 x 25 yards freestyle stroke catchup (keep one arm outstretched while the other strokes and touches the hand on the opposite arm)

Do two rounds of the following, making a faster interval for the second round (or taking less rest):

  • 1 x 50 yards
  • 2 x 25 yards

Beginner Workout 2 (Women’s Running)

  • Warm-up (200-yard easy swim, 100-yard kick using kickboard)
  • Ladder: 50, 100, 150, 100, 50 yards. All at easy to moderate effort. Rest 10 to 30 seconds between each.
  • Cool-down (200 to 300-yard easy swim)

Swim Workout #1 (

Total Distance: 600 yards

  • 2 x 50 yards crawl warm-up
    (rest between laps if needed)
  • 4 x 25 yards crawl, counting strokes per length
    (try to keep an even number of strokes)
  • 4 x 50 crawl, resting 30 seconds between each lap
    (try to hit the same time on each lap)
  • 4 x 25 yards crawl, counting strokes per length
    (try to keep an even number of strokes)
  • 2 x 50 crawl cooldown (slow)

Swim Workout #3 (

Total Distance: 800 yards

  • 150 yards crawl warmup
    (rest between laps if needed)
  • 4 x 50 yards, alternating strokes resting 30 seconds between each lap
    (each lap is 25 yards crawl, then 25 yards either backstroke, breaststroke or butterfly)
  • 4 x 25 yards crawl, counting strokes per length
    (try to keep an even number of strokes)
  • 4 x 50 yards, your choice of strokes resting 30 seconds between each lap
    (try to hit the same time for each lap)
  • 150 yards crawl cooldown (slow)

30-minute pool workout (

Interval targets are set by rate of perceived exertion (RPE) scale of 1 to 10; 1 is the easiest, and 10 is the hardest.


  • 100-yard swim at RPE of 4 to 5
  • 50-yard swim with kickboard at RPE of 5 to 6


  • 25-yard swim at RPE of 4; 25-yard swim at RPE of 6
  • 25-yard swim at RPE of 6; 25-yard swim at RPE of 4
  • 50-yard swim at RPE of 4
  • 50-yard swim at RPE of 6

Repeat these four intervals

  • 100-yard swim at RPE of 4 (cooldown)