Ready to get back into swimming? Returning to the pool following an extended break can be exciting, but also daunting.
Whether it was “forced” time away or on your own terms, here are 5 things you should consider as you hop back in.
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Back to the Pool
First and foremost, when getting back into swimming, I highly recommend it be in a pool versus the open water if at all possible. The pool is a much more controlled environment.
Without further a do, here are 5 things you need to consider when getting back into swimming.
#1 – Keep it Short
Mentally, you may be ready to go, but your body will need some time to get back into the swing of things. You cannot rush fitness and it will likely take your body a little time to get used to swimming again even if you have maintained bike and run fitness.
Depending on the athlete’s experience and history, 20-30 minutes is a great place to start. Give yourself plenty of rest at the wall and stick to 25’s, 50’s, especially on Day 1 . You don’t want it to be a demoralizing experience on your first day back.
#2 – Take it Slow
As I mentioned above starting out with 20-30 minutes on the first few days in a good place to start. From there, assuming you’re feeling good, a 20% increase in swim volume week over week is reasonable, but I wouldn’t increase much more than that as you will likely become sloppy and sacrifice form. You also run the risk of injury.
#3 – Frequency
When it comes to swimming, frequency is key.
This especially applies to extended periods away from swimming as well as when you’re working to improve your technique. This is true because we spend 99.9% of our time on land and consequently our proprioception is much different in the water. Frequency helps create familiarity, confidence and an overall “feel” for the water.
So for example, it is more beneficial to get in the pool for 20 min 4-5 days per week than 40 min 2 times per week.
#4 – Focus on Form / Technique
When making your return to swimming, focus more on technique and less on speed. Speed will return once your technique is in line. You also need to re-build your swim durability in the major muscle groups that help propel you through the water.
Needless to say, this can be a great time to have a coach look at your form and make corrections and improvements before you potentially begin re-establishing bad habits.
#5 – Don’t “TEST” Yourself Right Away
Don’t expect your speed in the water to be where you left it. It will come back. I promise. But it will take some time.
In the first several times back in the water, focus on your breathing and try to find a rhythm. Focus on your inhale and exhales. It may be a mess in the beginning if you try to rush it and push yourself too hard.
Give yourself 2-4 weeks before you begin really pushing yourself in the water. At around this time frame, you can begin picking up your pace.
At this point, it’s appropriate and a good idea to perform a swim test in order to establish a new T-Pace and set a benchmark.
One way you can do this is to swim 500 yards continuously, as fast as you can. Take the total time of your 500 yard TT and find the the average 100 yard pace. This will represent your current “T-pace.” Now you can begin to incorporate time & pace targets in your workouts based off of your current swim fitness.
As you’re getting back into swimming, you will likely have good days and bad. You will also most likely experience sore arms and shoulders. This is 100% normal. Embrace this and swim with a smile as you get back into the swing of things.