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Swimming for weight loss

We all know by now that the numbers on the scale don't tell us the full story about our health, but sometimes we just want to lose a few kilos. In the month of October this year, we have a weight loss challenge between a group of Swimfitters. This challenge has made me think about some tips and tricks to lose that little access weight. In this blog, I'll be covering training, nutrition and mindset tips to lose weight with swimming.

Let's first realise that losing weight successfully comes from effective training combined with the right nutrition. Training the right way plays a big part, but I believe nutrition is up to 70-80% of the formula.

Another important thing, especially with a weight loss challenge we've got going in this month, is that this is not a short-term, quick fix. This is the start of a healthier lifestyle, long-term and sustainable. Yo-yo dieting is a real thing, and unfortunately, the stats show that short term quick fixes, leave us heavier in the long-term.

Calorie Burning Swim Training

The right combination of training is the key to success when swimming for weight loss. I see so many people taking on swimming as exercise, but don't get any further than just swimming a number of laps up and down the pool at a steady pace. Sure any movement is good movement, especially in the water, but there is so much more effective training you could do in the same time.

Short sharp sprints raise your heart rate quickly, especially when doing it with kicks only. Combine this with easy recovery swims, or even static rest, to get your heart rate back down. Interval training is a highly effective way to burn calories, not only while you swim but for hours after!

Example sprint main set:

4 x (25 Freestyle Kick Sprint / 75 Freestyle Easy) - 30sec rest

4 x (50 Freestyle Sprint / 50 Freestyle Easy) - 30sec rest

4 x (25 Choice Stroke Sprint / 75 Freestyle Easy) - 30sec rest

Slower long-distance swim sets play an important part in swimming for weight loss as well. The aim of these sets is to keep your heart rate slightly elevated for a long time. You will burn the calories at a steady pace and for a while after your swim as well.

Example distance main set:

100 Freestyle @ 75% - 15sec rest

200 Freestyle Pull @ 75% - 20sec rest

300 Freestyle @ 75% - 25secrest

400 Freestyle Pull @ 75% - 30sec rest

500 Freestyle @ 75% - 35sec rest

400 Freestyle Pull @ 75% - 30sec rest

300 Freestyle @ 75% - 25sec rest

200 Freestyle Pull @ 75% - 20sec rest

100 Freestyle @ 75% - 15sec rest

As Iain Thorpe said, Medley is the CrossFit of swimming. In Medley we swim all 4 different strokes; Butterfly, Backstroke, Breaststroke and Freestyle. By mixing the different strokes your body gets a shock every time, which makes your body work extra hard and burn more calories as a result!

Example medley main set:

4 x (different stroke each set)

50 Kick Fast / 50 Freestyle Easy / 50 Stroke Fast - 30sec rest

3 x

[200 IM Fast - 30sec rest

200 Freestyle Easy - 30sec rest]

As mentioned at the start of this heading, a combination of these 3 sets each week will see the best results. This is why I post 3 new swim sets, one of each type, every week in the Swimfit Online Sessions. Sign up now for a 30-Day Free Trial!

Or if you are new to swimming as a sport or exercise, join this FREE Online Program; Beginner Guide to Swimming. You'll receive practical tips on how to become a swimmer.

Commit to your training, get at least 3 swims in every week and move your body every day. Add some walks, rides and/or strength sessions for the best results.

Food is Nutrition

A healthy and nutritious diet counts for 70-80% of your weight loss journey. Pick foods that give you the nutrition to live a happy and active life. There is no point in starving yourself for a few weeks, it's not sustainable and you will gain the weight plus some more the weeks after. You will also find yourself lacking the energy to do your planned training.

Instead, focus on a nutrition plan that will give you all the nutrition you need. Carbs, healthy fats, protein plus the right vitamins and minerals. The easy way to do this is by sticking to whole foods as much as possible. Nature gives us everything we need. Processed foods might sometimes seem like to easy and cheaper option, but when it comes to your health, they're definitely not.

The good old fruits, vegetables and grains give you everything you need. Pasta, bread and white rice are just fillers and have hardly any nutritional value. I'm not telling you to ditch the gluten as this is a very personal choice, but I think we can all agree we can easily cut these fillers out a bit.

There is a lot of different opinions about when to eat and when not to eat. Intermittent fasting can be a great way for some to cut out calories, especially by cutting out late-night snacks. Stop eating after a nutritious dinner and say no to the urge to have sugary dessert or snack, will make a massive difference to your calorie intake and the quality of your sleep.

I prefer having a little bite to eat before a big swim set. If I don't, I'm ok at the start, but towards the end of a hard set, I lack the energy to finish strong. By having some fruit or a homemade energy ball, I have the energy to do a complete high-quality training session. Straight after training, I will have a delicious and nutritious breakfast to help my recovery for the next training session.

Get in the right mindset

Taking care of your mental health is just as important when trying to shed some kilos as training and nutrition. Getting your mindset right starts with setting goals. What do you want to achieve and when by? Make your goal slightly scary but not too out of reach. This way your goal will inspire you to make the right choices instead of making you feel disheartened about the long road ahead. If you do have a long way to go, break your long-term goal up into shorter-term goals.

Act like the person you want to become.

What would your future self do in this situation? What choice would your future self make for lunch today? Have a clear picture of your future self in your mind and act like that person. If you want to lose 10kg you won't make that happen by making choices as your current self, that's how you got to this point! Instead, take a moment every morning when you wake up and every night just before falling asleep to picture yourself in 3 months, 6 months or a year time in the shape you would like to be. Will you get up in the morning for a swim? What would your super healthy future self have for dinner? Would you have ice cream and chocolate for dessert? Probably not!

You have to believe in the fact that you will be able to change your habits and grow into the person you would like to be. This might be a bit of a process, but by focusing on this twice a day, every day you will find it easier and easier to see yourself in a positive light.

You can do this! And only you can do this. People around can help and support you, but becoming a healthier version of yourself is 100% up to you. Which is a wonderful thing because this is the only thing you have control over. You can't control everything and everyone around you, focus on yourself and get a bit better every day.

I hope this blog has given you some helpful tips for your journey. If there are any tips you would like to share with the world, please let us know by commenting below.




1 Comment

Oct 03, 2021

Brilliant article Irene, thank you. I LOVE the "future self" idea, so simple but so powerful. Thank you. 💜


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