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For Early Swimmers

Women emerging from water

When swimming freestyle, look at the bottom of the pool, pressing your chest down and keeping your head, hips, and feet at the surface. The smoothest swimmers practice “bilateral” breathing, or breathing alternately on the right and left sides. To do it, turn your body to either side every time you take a breath.

Instead of lifting the whole head to breathe, roll the body on one side so the chest faces the side of the pool as the arm pushes down and leaves the water. Keep your ear in the water while taking a breath and the corner of the mouth at the surface.

Swim freestyle, using the rate of perceived exertion (RPE, or how hard the workout feels on a scale of 1 to 10) where indicated. Distances are based on a 25-yard pool (one length); to do these routines, you should feel comfortable swimming at least 100 yards without stopping.

100 yds.
(4 lengths)
Warm up (RPE 3)
50 yds.
(2 lengths)
Flutter kick on side (RPE 3). Lie on one side with lower arm extended, ear resting on arm, upper arm along body; hold on to a board with top hand if necessary. Kick from hips (not knees), looking up and keeping knees and side or back of head in water.
50 yds.Flutter kick with kickboard (keep head in water and breathe to both sides;

(RPE 4)

5 x 50 yds.Swim at a moderate to hard intensity (RPE 7) for 5 laps, taking a breath every 3 strokes. Take 50 to 60 seconds to swim each lap, resting at the wall if have extra time.
2 x 50 yds.Swim easy (RPE 3) for 2 laps, taking 1 to 1:15 minutes to swim each lap.
100 yds.Swim at a moderate intensity (2 laps; RPE 6).
100 yds.Cool down, easy (RPE 3).
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