Swimming has long been viewed as a fantastic way to get healthy and into better shape. It’s a cardiovascular exercise that is also partially strength training. Because it is performed in water, with our bodies buoyant, we can stress and work our muscles and lungs without the jarring impact of running on concrete or the risk of having heavy weights fall on us like in the gym.
But, to be honest, swimming lap after lap after lap can become tedious. Perhaps even boring. As someone who has swum more kilometers in the water that I can ever possibly hope to remember, I know firsthand the drudgery that comes with swimming for tedious amounts of time.
However, like anything else, swimming can be as fun as you want to make it, and there are a variety of tools and toys that you can add to your swim practices to make it even more enjoyable.
Here are two ways that you can make lap swimming more fun.
Add some music to your length swimming. Back in my age group swimming days there was no music on deck or in the pool, unless we were lucky enough to have a lifeguard on deck who liked to crank the tunes, and no other patrons sharing the facility (a rare occurrence). As a result, our workouts were done almost completely in silence, the only sound the huffing and puffing at the walls, and the trickle of bubbles blowing past our faces as we swam our little chlorinated brains out. Nowadays, however, I rarely go to the pool without tunes now that underwater mp3 players have become so cheap, and mostly effective. Load up your player with some high intensity, high BPM tunes to help you get into your rhythm, and let the inspirational lyrics push you towards a better workout in the water. If you are looking for the best underwater MP3/iPod players, stick to the FINIS Duo. It plays music straight into your cheekbone, bypassing the need for headphones which get dislodged or get water between between the buds and your inner ear.
Count your strokes. One of the sneakiest ways to become a faster swimmer in the pool isn’t to swim your laps with more effort or power. In fact, power, to a point, becomes a game of diminishing returns, as the added effort required, and the excess drag you create, ends up causing you to crash and burn quickly. Unlike air-born fitness activities and sports, like running, we perform our exercise against the resistance of water, which is almost 800 times denser than air. Becoming efficient, and being able to propel yourself further with each stroke, will help you swim faster more quickly than throwing all of your energy into a harder pull. Counting the number of strokes it takes you to get to the other end of the pool is a super easy, low frills way to give you the self-awareness to know how efficient you are being. If you are taking 35 strokes to cross the pool today, next week aim for 34, and the following week, 33. The “stroke count game” as I like to tell my developing swimmers, is an easy way to stay engaged and also have some fun while doing your workout. If you don’t want to manually count your strokes, you can always pick up a waterproof fitness tracker, like a Garmin or the Speedo MisFit watch, which will count up your strokes over the span of your session in the pool and then provide you with an average for the day. With this number in hand, you can return to the pool the next day and try to one-up on it. And if there is anything that is extremely fun, it’s seeing ourselves improving in the water!