How to get back into swimming after a break

Getting back into any sport or exercise routine after a break can be challenging and swimming is no exception. 

We’ve all been there, taken a break from our usual swimming routine because life gets in the way, work gets busy, we have family commitments… or maybe a global pandemic hit, shutting down the world. 

The hard part is just getting started, but although it can be challenging and at times disheartening, it can also be exhilarating. 

It’s very rare that you’ll regret getting back into it as you rediscover the joy you have for the sport and of course the improved fitness. 

Here are some of our top tips to help you get back into swimming after a break.

1. Start Small 

It can be easy to dive back into the water after a break and burst your boiler by swimming your usual pre-break distance. 

But this can cause injury, especially to your shoulders since they’re not used to the workload and of course be disheartening to your ego. 

Starting with a small distance of perhaps 50% of your usual distance and gradually increasing over a number of weeks will help increase your fitness, keep your ego in check and ward off injury. 

Unsure on how to start back after a break? Try OceanFit’s free 1km or 2km training plans for some guidance.

2. Find a swim buddy 

Swimming by yourself can be boring but swimming by yourself after a long break out of the water can be very unmotivating. 

That’s why we recommend finding a swim buddy or swim group to join you on your journey back into swimming. 

Swimming with a buddy or group can help you enjoy swimming more and motivate you to swim on those days it is too cold or you’re too tired to hit the pool (think of them as an accountability buddy).

A bonus to having a swim buddy means you swim more regularly which will help improve your fitness and speed. 

Search through our ‘Swim Buddy’ or ‘Swim Group’ directory to find a swim buddy near you. 

Liz with her ‘Swim Buddy’ Marilyn

3. Set a routine and be consistent 

Frequency, frequency, frequency. That is all you need to get back into prime swim fitness. 

This is easier said than done as we all know life can get busy and it can be difficult to make time to commit to our weekly swims. 

But committing to your weekly swims and finding a consistent routine is all you need to get back on track. 

We recommend swimming at least twice a week to see significant improvements in your fitness, speed and skill.

4. Start slow 

It can be easy to jump back in the pool or ocean and sprint your way through your first swim to prove you still have your pace. But speed is not the way, slow and steady is. 

Starting slow will help you gain fitness and speed while preventing injuries and illnesses that come with pushing yourself too early after a break. 

Gradually increasing your pace while adding short bursts of speed (with a focus on technique) is proven to improve your overall swimming speed and fitness while keeping you healthy enough to continue swimming regularly. 

5. Celebrate the small wins 

The ultimate goal will come, but it will take time.

That’s why it’s important to celebrate the small victories when getting back into the groove of swimming. 

You can do this by recording your swim sessions including distances, pace and how many times you swim a week in a journal or on your phone. 

By doing this you can measure how you’re improving in your journey back to prime swim fitness and celebrate the ‘small wins’ to keep you motivated. 

Don’t forget swimming further than you have since your break or swimming two more times than the week prior are all ‘small wins’ and deserve to be celebrated. 

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