View Full Version : How to improve endurance/fitness

September 15th, 2003, 01:43 PM
I started swimming in mid-July. I took 5 lessons (which helped a great deal) and have been to the pool about 3 times per week since I started. Basically patterning my workout after the general advice my teacher gave me, I currently start by doing 4 lenghts (in a 25 yard pool) of freestyle, 2-4 lengths of kicking and then I pull for 6 laps (because its fun). Then I do 5 50s with a minute between each and then I do either 3 50s or 2 75s of backstroke then I go back to working on stroke by swimming another 10 laps or so of freestyle and/or pulling.

When I first started, my 45 minute workout would yield about 16 laps with all of the breaks I required. Now I do about 40, but I appear to be stuck there because I just can't get myself to do anything greater than 50 yards at a time - I did a 100 of pulling the other day - seems that if I'm not using my feet, its a lot easier to get back and forth. When I do my 50s, I feel like I'm going to pass out by the time I'm reaching the end. Perhaps I should just push on and turn them into 75s - but does anyone have any advice as to how I can build a little more endurance? Is it just a matter of pushing myself a bit harder to stretch out those 50s into 75s and then 100s or is there a building block approach with a different workout setup I should try? My goal is general fitness and weight control (can't run because of bad knees and I finally started swimming as an alternative) I swim 3 days per week and lift weights pretty heavily 3 days per week. Thanks.

September 16th, 2003, 04:10 PM
Well make yoruself do a 200 yard free one in a while. I would advise to do 3x 75 or 100 yard swims. If you can do all four strokes, then a 100 yard Im sometimes its easier than all freestyle or breaststroke or backstroke. I remember last June when I first workout in a 25 yard pool before I workout in a 15 yard health club. 200 yards was long.

September 16th, 2003, 04:42 PM
Hi Mike,

It sounds to me like you may not be breathing very effectively if you are "about to pass out" after a 50. Also, since you find pulling "fun" (presumably using a pull buoy) it would seem that your body position is not right when you swim, making it not so fun.

There is a swim technique called "Total Immersion" that you might find helpful. The basic book, Swimming Made Easy is a great guide for teaching yourself good technique which will enable you to improve your endurance. This is the website, although the book is also available in bookstores:


Endurance builds slowly but surely if you stay with it. Finding a coach or a Masters team would also help.

Good luck!

September 16th, 2003, 05:50 PM
We have a lot of Master swim teams in the Chicago Area. You can go to Places to swim on the usms webiste or our local website:


If you need me to help you contact someone just e-mail me:

Total immersion is a great start and there are courses in the area too, they are listed in the chicago athlete magazine or their website.


September 16th, 2003, 06:06 PM
Thanks for the input. I had considered buying the Total Immersion book and just hadn't done it yet. We have a Master's swim team at my health club (Health Track in Glen Ellyn, IL), but I do everything I can to avoid being there when they are - the intensity of their workouts is insane! I think I'm just going to force myself to do longer stretches and see if I make that third length. And if so, I'll go for 4. From my very first lesson, my teacher told me to get my hips up (even with the pull buoy) and so I'm sure I still struggle with this - and perhaps that is why I feel a heck of a lot more powerful with the buoy. When I push off now from the edge, I make it a point to float for a second or two, then start to kick for a second or two (all to get the feeling of some balance) and then I start stroking. Thanks again for the input.

September 16th, 2003, 10:32 PM
Don't be intimidated by the Masters swim team practice. There is a wide range of abilities. You have a great group of coaches to choose from in the Chicago land area, Cindy Jones is close to you. I am not familiar with your team off hand. If you want to drive a bit for a weekend workout, Naperville has an excellent team and coaches. It would help you greatly if you had someone to help you with your technique. Getting an understanding of the techniques from a book is great, but to apply what you learn is different. Everyone needs feedback. The coaches are there to help you.

September 17th, 2003, 11:59 AM
Wave's Coach Sue has a saying, "We're all adults." (This is usually before she tricks you into swimming a harder set than you wanted to. :D ) In other words, if the workout is not working out for you, then you should modify it.

(I realize that you need to balance what is right for you, with what the other people in your lane are doing. But you can only be pushed as hard as you *let* other people push you.)

September 20th, 2003, 03:16 PM
Mike - A few comments. First of all, I tell my swimmers - both advanced and novice - that there is something called "Masters Prerogative" which can be invoked anytime one feels like skipping a set or a rep [etition]. Second, I would reinforce what Kim said about your body balance. The Total Immersion book will help you with that, but you really can't beat having a coach to help you through it. Third, your endurance difficulty probably has a lot to with trying to hold your breath. I see that with a lot of novices. If you try to hold your breath you end up with CO2 dissolved in your blood. You need to practice doing simple "bobs": hold onto the gutter, take a breath and submerge and slowly exhale as you come up to the surface; repeat until it feels relaxing. Stop before it feels too good. This is the pattern you want while swimming: inhale quickly, exhale slowly. You can't swim very long if you hold your breath; just like a car can't go very far on the fumes of an empty tank.

Go visit Cindy Jones. She'll help you. She's a great swimmer and teacher.

Dick Pitman, Coach, Madison East Y. WI