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What not to do when getting back in the pool (and what we should definitely do instead)

In the first blog of this series we listed the top 4 things we're all looking forward to when getting back in the pool (click the linked text if you haven't read the first blog yet). Besides all this excitement I know that there is also some feelings of fear creeping in for most. Can I still swim? Will I be able to make it to the other end of the pool? If any of these questions sound familiar keep on reading to find out how to enjoy your comeback to the fullest by not doing these thing.

It doesn't matter what level of swimmer you are, after a multiple month break away from the pool everyone has a few fears or doubts about getting back into their swim fitness. Some might've been lucky and had a small pool or ocean to swim in while we were waiting for the Covid-19 pandemic to ease, but getting back into a 25m or 50m pool requires a bit of preparation to ensure this will be enjoyable.

So what should we definitely NOT be doing? And what should we do instead?

1. Expect to much

You might've felt on top of your swimming game a few months ago just before your pool had to close. Please do not expect to still feel the same and hit the same times when getting back in the pool now. Even if you have done everything possible to stay fit with home workouts and outdoor runs where possible, your swim fitness has taken a big hit.

Expectations are the main source of disappointment.

Instead have low or no expectations. Just make your way to the pool (always to check your pools rules about hygiene and maximum swimmers allowed, you might have to book a lane) and make a splash. Feel the water around your body and simply take in the moment.

2. Make your first swim a long one

For some swimmers this might be 300m, for others a long distance swim might be a few kilometers. I can tell you now that this will be struggle town and you will definitely not enjoy your first swim back after all this time.

The main thing you lose when being out of the pool for a period of time is your feel of the water. That feeling when pulling through and it almost feels likes your pushing off concrete, strong and confident... It will take a few swims to get this back! Imagine trying to swim a kilometer with your hands feeling like toothpicks going through the water. Not enjoyable.

Instead do some short intervals, technique drills, sculling and some short sprints. All these will help you to get your feel of the water back and for you to come out of the water with a big smile on your face.

3. Overdo it

You might have a race in a few months and feel the pressure to get your swim fitness and strength back ASAP. This pressure might make you overdo it in the first few weeks back in the pool and we all know what that leads to... injury.

In swimming we use a lot of muscles that we don't use all the time. Your shoulders might've weakened a bit over the last few months and by pushing it too hard in the first few weeks you can do some serious damage.

Instead take it easy. Do some easy or shorts sets and feel good about your training. If you do feel pressure for a quick comeback ask help from a swim coach. A combination of good technique and a well thought out training plan will see the best and quickest results.

4. Time your intervals

Triathletes are the biggest offenders of looking too much into the stats. Always armed with a big watch tracking every single training session. 'If it's not on Strava, did you even train?' Or even if you don't wear a watch the big clock in the pool might be your usual training buddy, coaching you through every set.

While I usually encourage using a clock to keep you on track, I can guarantee you that timing your first few swim sessions will leave you feeling disappointed and disheartened about your current swim fitness.

Instead I would like to challenge you to not wear your watch or look at the clock for at least the first week back in the pool (It'll be tough I know!). Simply jump in for a splash, enjoy the feeling of the water and focus your technique. Let's set our benchmarks in week 2 and leave week 1 for just pure enjoyment of being back in the place we all love so much, the pool.


This is number 2 of a series of blogs to get you ready to get back into swimming, please also read:

The following blogs will follow over the next few days:

  • Let's get back to the basics

  • What can you do now to get yourself ready?

  • Get the swim bag ready!

  • How to safely enjoy your swims back in the pool

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PS. To coach you through the first weeks back in the pool, I have prepared a 4-Week back to Swimfit Program with drills and training sessions to make you feel good. For more information and to sign up click here.


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