Swimming can look like a boring sport. You hop into the water, put your face down, and swim your brains out for extended periods of time, with nothing but the tiled black line for company. But it doesn’t have to be this way. Swimming, like any other activity or sport, can be made considerably more enjoyable simply by focusing on the right things.Here are three things that you can do to make your lap swimming more enjoyable:
1. Choose goals for your swimming. Seems like an obvious question, but what are you trying to accomplish when you hop into the cool, chlorinated water to bang out some laps? Is it purely for fitness and leisure purposes? Are you trying to get into a specific level of conditioning for a triathlon or swim race? Having clear, tangible targets for sessions in the water will give you something to focus on (i.e. keep you more engaged on your swim workout) and keep you motivated over the long term. Having goals in the water starts with measuring and tracking your training. Pick yourself up one a waterproof fitness tracker and you will have no shortage of things to improve on each day in the pool, from overall laps, lap average, stroke count average, and much more.
2. Get some tunes! One of the big drawbacks of being a competitive swimmer was the fact that we couldn’t rock out to our favorite music while training our chlorinated butts off in the water. Sure, once in a while the lifeguard on duty might rock out with their favorite tunes over the PA system, but generally speaking, we were always stuck with silence or some barely-turnt-up top-40 radio station. Nowadays, there is no shortage of waterproof mp3 players that allow us to crush some sweet, sweet tunes while crushing some sweet, sweet laps in the pool. The options here are endless as well, there are bone-conducting waterproof mp3 players (so no headphones—the music is pumped into your inner ear via your cheekbone), as well as the “traditional” mp3 player or iPod shuffle that has been outfitted with a waterproof casing and ear buds. Whichever you do end up going with, load it up with your favorite motivational music and show those laps who is boss.
3. Play the stroke count game. Something that was drilled into me from a very early age was that it was important to count your strokes while swimming. After all, the name of the game in swimming isn’t necessarily being the strongest or biggest swimmer, but being the most efficient athlete in the water. If you can cross the pool with less strokes than the swimmer next to you this means you are expending less energy. This efficiency becomes even more critical when you consider that water is nearly 800x denser than air. In other words, efficiency is wildly critical to how you do in the water, and even slight gains can make a huge difference in terms of speed! Get into the habit of counting your strokes each time you cross the pool. You will find a rough average for how many strokes it takes, and pay attention to decreasing that number by making each stroke a little longer, your streamline off the walls a little tighter, and engage your kick a little more so that you reach out with your fingertips just a fraction more. These little differences will quickly accumulate over the course of a length in the pool. Note: Many triathlon watches count your strokes for you!