I have swum for years when I was a kid. I want to start swimming again after more than 6 years of not getting into a pool. Any suggestions of what my first exercises and distance should be not to get sore and demotivated? Any recommended books? thanks
Here are a couple ideas that worked for me when I first started swimming for routine exercise.
I swam a set duration, and did not worry about speed or distance. I swam 30-min the first week, then went to 40-min for the next couple months, and I have been doing 60-min sessions since, which is perfect for me. It definitely frees my mind when I don't have count laps. You will need to set your initial duration based on your level of fitness. Hell, if you are totally out of shape, set your duration for 15-min. But the point is to set a goal before you get in the water and stick with it. If you swim regularly, your duration will naturally increase with your fitness level.
I log my swim sessions on a spreadsheet. The first column is date, then swim duration, and then (as time went by) number of laps, and a bunch of distance and velocity calcs. Having that visual log emphasizes my long-term progress and adds an element of permanence to my routine. It takes less than a minute to update the log...well worth it. I have since switched to 60-lap sessions (which I still track by the clock) and I gauge my day-to-day performance based on time per lap.
I swim a crawl stroke with no variations. It keeps everything simple, and damn, my crawl has gotten efficient over time. I see people do X laps of crawl, then Y laps of backstroke, then Z laps of breaststoke. Too complicated. Part of the attraction of my workout is the opportunity to stop thinking, get a runners buzz, and just swim until time is up.
I swim every weekday and I don't have a need to do warm up exercises. Swimming is a warmup exercise, is it not? Just start out with slow, exaggerated strokes if you are stiff. You will be loose after a couple lengths for sure.
It definitely helps to swim with other lap swimmers. Just being in the water with them gives great motivation. Lap swimming with aquajoggers has the opposite effect. Aquajoggers are placed on earth by Satan in order to draw the Righteous over to the Dark Side via fits of homicidal rage. Did I just say that?
Don?t skimp on the proper gear. If your goggles are at all leaky or uncomfortable, throw them out. I wear the most comfortable, expensive, waterproof goggles I can lay my hands on. Use ear plugs to avoid swimmers ear. Go to a sports store and get a nice suit too.
This board doesn?t get much traffic, but I check in once in a while. Let us know your progress.
If you are just getting back into swimming, there is no better time to start off making sure your are swimming with good economical, efficient form. Once you start swimming laps with poor stroke technique, you start re-enforcing bad muscle movements that you will eventually have to un-learn. Get the total Immersion book and the DVD, and then work on the drills for a few weeks until you have trained your body to swim with good form. Then start full stroke swimming. Don't think that you need to get in shape by swimming laps before you start refining your stroke. That just makes it harder. Swimming is 70% technical, 30% conditioning according to Terry Laughlin, the author of Total Immersion.
I agree with the last posted note that attention to your swimming technique is important. It's nice to swim efficiently- you get more bang for your buck. But I am of the opinion that a "warm up," on dry land in important before entering the water. Simple shoulder and arm rotations, neck rotations, core muscle stretching, etc.
Also, if you have access to a Masters (adult swim team) program, look into joining. A good coach will tailor your workout to your fitness level, plus you will get important stroke instruction. The swimmers, many of them triathletes, are good company, too. Don't be intimidated by the high level of some of the swimmers- just do your thing and have FUN!!
I agree with most of what's in all these posts. Dry land stretching, etc., as part of the warm up is good, and of course should precede swimming a few easy laps before really getting into it, whether you're going to swim laps for distance or do a thoroughly invigorating interval workout.
Definitely join a Masters swim group if possible. You'll progress much faster with organized workouts and coaching. You didn't mention anything about wanting to compete, but as you get back in shape you might just want that thrill for your next level. On the other hand swimming with others in a Masters program may give you that same kind of satisfaction.
However, I really have to agree most with the concept of swimming being highly technical. I have read the Total Immersion book (Total Immersion, the Revolutionary Way to Swim Better, Faster, and Easier) and used the DVD to great advantage. I already had a very good stroke technique, but now I'm swimming much faster with less effort.