Health and Fitness

Exercise Guide: Swimming

Swimming is a great form of cardio. It’s virtually no impact, it’s cheap and you don’t need any fancy equipment to do it. All indoor pools are heated and all outdoor pools that are open during winter are heated also, most of the time in excess of 25 degrees Celsius, so don’t be afraid of cold water.



If you’re working hard in the water you’ll be getting your heart rate up, you’ll be burning calories and working up a sweat, so some nice refreshing cool water will be great.

Swimming, like all types of cardio is skill dependent, so the better your technique is you’ll find that you’ll actually be able to push yourself that little bit harder and get more out of your workout. On the other hand, if you’re maxing out just getting to the other end of the pool, this is also good as you’ll be working hard and burning a stack of calories. What’s more your arms will get exceptionally toned if you do a lot of swimming which is a great added benefit.


Here are a few sample swimming programs:

Note: 50m = one lap of an Olympic or full sized swimming pool.

Beginner Swimmer:

If you’re a beginner swimmer you might find it a challenge to get to the end of the 50m pool without stopping and after 10 laps you’re pooped.

Try starting out with 20 half laps with a rest in between and then do as many full laps as you can after this. Each session and each week, reduce the amount of half laps you do and build the amount of full laps.

By the end of 12 weeks you should be aiming to do some 100m swims without stopping.

Intermediate Swimmer:

Making a lap is no issue for you, you can probably swim all strokes pretty well and you can tumble turn in freestyle. You can usually do 1-2 kilometres in a session.

  • 300m easy swim to warm up
  • 4 x 50m hard the first 25m then swim through easy
  • 6x50m flat out sprints with 1 min rest in between each
  • 200m kick with a kick board
  • 5x100m pull with a pull buoy with 10 seconds rest between each
  • 300m easy swim to finish

Distance: 1.8km

Advanced Swimmer:

You find 1-2km pretty easy. You’re very competent at all strokes and skills in the water such as starts, turns and drills. You can do intervals on pretty quick cycles and you probably swim with a squad. You usually do 3-5km+ per session. If you’re not with a squad, try this program.

  • 500m moderate
  • 5 x 100m individual medley on 1.45 2.00min cycle (changing strokes each 25m)
  • 200m easy
  • 3 x 100m 1.30 1.45 descend 1-3
  • 200m max effort 3.20
  • 8x50m moderate – 50 cycle
  • 10 x 100m Freestyle on 1.20 – 1.40 cycle
  • 200m easy

Distance: 4.7km