Swimming is an aerobic activity that works almost every muscle in the body and provides cardiovascular exercise. Learning to swim laps can help improve body strength and endurance. It is an activity that nearly every age group and level of ability can participate in, and swimming laps can be done indoors year-round. Keep in shape by jumping in the pool!
1Observe pool rules. Each pool has a different set of rules. Most pools don’t allow diving or running, and many sports pools ask you to shower before entering. If you swim at a pool with signs over the lanes saying “slow,” “medium,” or “fast,” make sure you choose the correct lane for your workout. If you’re a beginner, choose the slow lane. The slow lane is for swimmers who take more than sixty seconds to swim a lap.
- In general, the medium lane is for swimmers who can swim a lap in 45-60 seconds. The fast lane is for swimmers who can swim a lap in under 40 seconds.
- To complete a lap, swim from one side of the lane to the other side and back again.
2Observe lap swimming etiquette. If the pool is crowded, you may not get your own lane. There are two ways that swimmers can share lanes: circle swimming and split swimming. When circle swimming, stay to the right when traveling up and down the lane so that you and your lane partners swim in a large circle together. When splitting the lane, you and your lane partner stay on opposite sides of the lane. If the lane line is on your right on your way out, it will be on your left when you head back.
- If you need to stop while circle swimming, use the section of the wall closest to a lane line. The other swimmers will need to use the center section of the wall to turn around.
- If you need to pass another swimmer, pass on the left hand side. Make sure you pass the other swimmer before you reach the wall.
3Gather your equipment. Most serious swimmers use a swimming cap to protect their hair and goggles to protect their eyes. Buy a high-quality sports swimsuit to use while practicing. These swimsuits will reduce water drag and help you swim faster. If you want to train specific parts of your body, purchase specialized swimming equipment from your local sports store.
4Begin swimming using the front crawl stroke. The front crawl stroke is a swimming form most beginners start with. Place yourself face down in the water. Reach your left arm out in front, pulling it down into the water. Repeat this movement with your right arm and rotate the body from side to side, kicking your legs continuously. Turn your face to the left out of the water to breathe on every left stroke, or vice versa. 
- Bilateral breathing allows you to turn to breathe every three strokes. This lets you turn left and right to breathe. This technique is more complicated but lets you keep your stroke symmetrical.
- Swim back to your starting point to complete a lap.
5Turn at the end of the lane using an open turn. When doing an open turn, grab the edge with your left arm and brace your feet against the wall. Straighten your right arm and extend it behind you. Simultaneously push off the wall while throwing your left arm behind your head in a slicing motion. Once you’ve pushed off the wall, twist your body so that you’re facing the bottom of the pool.
- This turn is commonly used when circle swimming. It allows you to move away from the wall in a timely manner and stay out of the way of other swimmers.
- Practice this technique using smooth, controlled motions. You don’t want to run into any other swimmers in the pool.
6Turn at the end of the lane using a flip turn. This technique is best when swimming alone or sharing lanes. When you’re about three feet from the pool’s edge, flip forward in the water with your legs curled towards you. Cup your hands and pull the water towards you to help flip completely. Next, extend your legs and push off the wall, rotating your body so that your stomach is facing the bottom of the pool.
- If you have trouble doing this turn, practice by doing somersaults in the shallow end of the pool. Stand with your cupped palms facing forward and flip over using your cupped hands to pull water towards you.
- Breathe out through your nose while flipping. Otherwise, you’ll get a nose full of water.
Improving Your Workout
1Set realistic expectations for yourself. Swimming is different from other forms of exercise; just because you’re good at running or climbing doesn’t mean that you’ll be instantly good at swimming. If you exhaust yourself you’ll be less likely to swim with proper form and won’t see improvement. Therefore, set realistic expectations for yourself when exercising.
- For example, if you’re a beginner, try to do one or two laps in the pool without stopping. If this is too easy, add on a few more laps.
- If you can’t do a lap without stopping, don’t give up! Do as much as you can using the proper form.
2Do an HIIT workout. HIIT workouts, or High Intensity Interval Training workouts, are an excellent way to burn a lot of calories fast. First, swim a lap or two at a moderate pace. Next, swim one lap as quickly as you can. The goal is to raise your heartrate as much as you can. After you finish the lap, do another lap or two at a moderate pace, allowing your body to relax but keeping your heartrate up.
- Repeat this process four or five times at first. As you improve, increase the number of repetitions you do.
- Most pools have a large clock on the wall for interval training. If you want to time yourself, use this clock.
3Join a group of swimmers. It’s easier to stay motivated when you’re surrounded by other motivated people. Many recreational centers and health clubs have group classes for swimming. This is an excellent option for beginners because it removes the unknown factor. The swimming instructor will help you perfect your form and make sure you’re improving at a good pace.
- Many classes can be found online. Do a quick search to see if there’s anything offered in your area.
- If you can’t find anything online, visit your local recreational center and ask a pool employee for help.
4Focus on your technique. It’s better to swim slowly but correctly than to swim quickly and badly. By using the correct technique when you swim you’re building the muscles that allow you to swim quickly. As a beginner your focus should be improvement, not speed.
- Feel free to take a break if you need to. However, if you’re sharing a lane with other people, try to stop at the edge of the pool instead of the middle of the lane.
- Keep track of how many laps you swim each time you work out. If your technique is correct you will see improvement over a few weeks.
Finding Somewhere to Swim
1Join a health club or recreational center. These places normally have competitive sports pools with roped off lanes to swim in. These pools are ideal for swimming laps as they’re only used by serious swimmers. You don’t have to worry about running into casual swimmers or splashing onlookers.
- These clubs usually have a monthly fee to join. These fees can be expensive sometimes but they also include use of the other facilities.
- Visit the recreational center before you join to make sure they have the kind of pool you want to use.
2Ask a friend. If you don’t want to pay a monthly fee to swim and you don’t have a swimming pool at home, ask one of your friends if you can use theirs. Offer them something in exchange; for example, you could mow their lawn every week in exchange for pool time. If you make it worth their while they won’t resent seeing you splash around every morning in their back yard.
- If your friend asks for monetary compensation, it may be worth it to get a gym membership instead. If you’re going to spend money you might as well go to a health club.
- Don’t skimp on your end of the bargain! Pools are expensive to maintain. Show your friend that you appreciate their generosity.
3Find a natural water source. Depending on where you live there may be natural water sources that you could use for swimming. These “water holes” don’t have lanes or convenient pool edges on which to place towels and stopwatches. However, if you enjoy being outside and you don’t have spare funds for a gym membership, this could be a relaxing and beautiful way to start your day.
- Purchase a pair of water shoes to wear when swimming in a water hole. Otherwise, you risk cutting yourself on a sharp piece of rock or glass.
- Make sure you’re swimming in clean fresh water. Don’t swim in drainage areas or unclean water sources.
How do you control your breath while you swim?User ContributorFirst, relax. If you panic while you swim you'll have trouble breathing. Slowly practice doing a front crawl stroke, focusing on your technique and your breathing. The movement will begin to feel more natural to you as you improve.
When I swim just a few laps, I huff and puff. I never used to! What can I do?User ContributorIt may be that you are a little out of shape, and if you start slower and keep practicing, you will get back to your old level of fitness. If that doesn't seem to be the case, talk to your doctor, you may have asthma or another respiratory condition.
How do you swim faster and longer?User ContributorFirst, focus on your technique. If you swim improperly you won't see improvement. Second, practice often. The more you swim the faster you'll improve. Time yourself to record your improvement from week to week.
How long does it take to get used to swimming laps?User ContributorIt will take a few weeks for the motion to become second-nature. However, all of this work will pay off. Your health will improve as well as your general coordination when swimming.
- Wear a bathing suit that is comfortable and fits well.
- Remember to keep a steady pace. Speed is not important while swimming laps.
- Use a swimming cap to keep hair out of your eyes while swimming. Use goggles if your eyes are sensitive to the water.
- Do not swim alone. Even strong swimmers can have trouble in the pool that lead to accidents or drowning.
Things You'll Need
- Swimming cap
- Bathing suit
- Stopwatch (to time your laps)
- Journal (to record your time)
Sources and Citations
- ↑ http://healthyliving.azcentral.com/split-swimming-vs-circle-swimming-5753.html
- ↑ http://web.jhu.edu/recreation/aquatics/Lap%20Swimming%20and%20Circle%20Swim%20Etiquette
- ↑ http://www.enjoy-swimming.com/swimming-equipment-1.html
- ↑ http://www.livestrong.com/article/556734-how-to-swim-laps-with-a-snorkel-mask/
- ↑ http://www.swimming.org/masters/improving-front-crawl-technique/
- ↑ http://www.swimsmooth.com/bilateral.html
- ↑ https://www.swimoutlet.com/guides/how-to-do-an-open-turn-for-swimming
- ↑ http://triathlon.competitor.com/2012/08/training/video-how-to-do-a-flip-turn_17781
- ↑ http://dailyburn.com/life/fitness/swimming-workouts-tips/
- ↑ http://www.bodybuilding.com/fun/6-hiit-workouts-you-have-to-try.html
- ↑ http://www.onlyinyourstate.com/usa/swimming-holes-in-the-us/