7 Ways to Build up Your Swim Endurance

Swimming is one of the best exercises with which to treat our bodies. It pushes us to the limit and is often described as an overall workout for the body. But what if you couldn’t swim for any extended period of time before getting exhausted?

That would certainly dampen your workout regime, now wouldn’t it? For swimmers speed is vital, but stamina or endurance is even more important.  It’s true that building up your endurance requires time and guidance, but with the proper training you could swim for hours before tiring out.

Here, then, are 7 key ways you can improve your swimming stamina:

Good technique

You can’t start swimming without a proper technique. If you happen to have a good coach, he/she might tell you that swimming is about feeling your body gliding easily through the water rather than pushing through it. The smoother you are in the water, the more energy you can save and thus boost your
endurance levels. One of the most widely used swim strokes is Freestyle. This particular stroke style involves pulling your limbs close to your body, with your arms and legs spreading out as far as you can.

Your posture in the water can also affect the drag you experience while swimming. Without perfect timing and rhythm, your strokes won’t be as efficient and this will make it harder to swim for longer periods. This is why it is always a good idea to attend a stroke class and ensure you are using the right technique.

Upper body strength

Your upper body pulls and catches water to get you forward while swimming. It does most of the work in your body and hence needs to be strong. Swimming is about stroking efficiently. The fewer strokes you pull covering more distance, the less drag and fatigue you’ll experience. An efficient stroke in the water will build higher force per stroke and therefore you would be able to go for greater distances. A great technique needs powerful arms to support them while swimming. So, build your upper body muscles, along with triceps and try using an apparatus like paddles to maintain your swimming posture. Your endurance and speed will greatly improve with stronger arms.

Body type

Your body composition or type can influence swimming more than you might think. A swimmer’s body should naturally be lean and tall. Having a tall body gives you the advantage of pulling more water with your longer limbs, but since we cannot control how tall we get to be in the end, it is not a variable.

However, our body flexibility and leanness can be tweaked to get the best out of our bodies. Flexibility improves the stretching of your arms or the forming of pointy legs while kicking. A few flexibility exercises like Yoga or Pilates can be useful here. On the other hand, the average body fat for a swimmer should be around 25%. Proper body fat levels will help you maintain a flow through the water. Too much fat, however, will increase your body mass and therefore produce drag.

Drag training

Swimmers train continuously to reduce the drag experienced by the body while swimming. Performing stress exercises such as dead lifts, triceps cable push downs, planks, dips and many more should increase your muscle size and strength and generate higher amounts of force while swimming.

Many professional swimmers prefer land-based exercises as part of their strength training. Devote twice the amount of days to your upper body strength training compared to the lower body. Perform wide grip chin-ups, triceps dips and other exercises that tone your upper body. For the lower body, squats and lunges are the probably the best way to go.


Nutrition is an important part of a swimmer’s regime. Your body will only grow strong and fit if you keep consistently to a healthy diet. Keep track of the amount of carbs and protein content needed for your body after strength workouts and supply them with a rich diet. Having snacks rich in carbs or glucose will give you a necessary burst of energy before swimming for a long session.

And a protein and carbs rich meal after a heavy swim workout will fulfill your hunger needs and also provide the nutrition needed for your body. Another key aspect of your diet should be water intake. Not only does this provide energy before a long pool workout but it also helps to avoid dehydration.

Breathing while swimming

An important part of your swimming technique is your breathing. Swimming is a highly technical activity and therefore breathing becomes critical, especially when you want your body to push limits. While
performing the front crawl, your head mostly stays under water and you don’t get more than a very short window for breathing during this stroke.

While many swimmers prefer breathing at every even stroke from same side, it is not the most effective
method. The optimum method to do it is to breathe on every third stroke from different sides every time. This method is called bilateral breathing. It might be difficult to adjust to a different breathing technique but once you do, it prepares your body for a breath every time. You will feel more relaxed with this technique and you'll be able to swim smooth and longer.

Swimming equipment

You can’t get results faster if you don’t use all the right tools. Using different swimming equipment will increase your ability to work out and enable you to train for longer. Get a Pull buoy for added buoyancy
to help you maintain your position in water when your legs are tired. It lets you focus on your upper body rather than lower body by improving your catch in the water. Paddles are also great for resistance training. They help you improve your stroke while swimming. For legs, use kickboards while swimming for abettor kicking technique and increase lower body strength.

Another good example of this kind of equipment for leg training is swim fins. They help you make your legs stronger with increased ankle flexibility. Swimmers who mostly want to focus on drills rather than staying afloat use swim fins. It also lets you experiment with your stroking without the anxiety of sinking. If you just want to concentrate on your stroking rather than breathing, get a swim snorkel. You could focus only on your stroking without having to turn sideways every stroke to breathe.

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