5 Outside-the-Pool Activities For Faster Swimming

Olivia Smoliga (photo: Mike Lewis)

5 Outside-the-Pool Activities For Faster Swimming

When thinking about ways to become a faster swimmer, it makes plenty of sense to consider certain things you can do differently and better IN the water. However, more swimming does not always translate to better results. As a matter of fact, there are all sorts of activities one can do outside of the pool to help boost performance. 

1. Running

Arguably the best sport a swimmer can do in terms of developing stellar fitness is running. It isn’t uncommon for runners to be good swimmers because they have great overall conditioning, which allows them to train long and hard in the pool. In addition, as any runner can tell you, running can be very mentally draining, which can help with the mental component of swimming as well. In addition to conditioning, running can develop highly efficient muscles that are needed for swimming. 

2. Flexibility Work


Photo Courtesy: G. John Mullen

Doing five minutes of flexibility work a couple of times every day is another habit that can go a long way for swimmers. Using a foam roller is a great way to ease any soreness you have. Static stretching can also be helpful for the improvement of your range of motion. The cool thing about flexibility work is that it isn’t time consuming. Doing it at night before you go to bed and when you wake up is a great habit to get into, but even if you just start doing it a little bit, your body will thank you. Swim training can be a lot for your body to handle, and increasing flexibility and mobility provide a huge boost to your swimming abilities.

3. Weightlifting

In order to be faster in the pool, it certainly helps to get stronger. What better way to gain strength than a good lifting program? Resistance training is an effective way to gain strength that will go hand-in-hand with swimming faster. Compound movements like squats and pullups are a fantastic way to engage the entire body and support everything you do in the water. It’s not necessary to gain a ton of mass to see the impact on your swimming. Being well-conditioned in the weight room can dramatically increase performance and lessen your chances for injury in the pool. One of the most important aspects of this, however, is to first consult with somebody who has a background in strength and conditioning.

4. Core Work

Core work helps swimmers to maintain optimal posture and balance in the water. If you increase your core’s stability, it will keep your body’s resistance at a minimum while keeping a higher body position. A solid bodyline will keep you positioned high in the water as you start to fatigue, and yield a large gain in overall swimming performance.

5. Recovery


Photo Courtesy: Jonas Gutzat

Among the most essential components of an optimal swim season is giving your body the rest it needs. Whether it’s cooling down after a brutal practice, or just getting that extra hour of sleep, recovery will allow your body to perform at its best day in and day out. The best part? It requires very little work! Although it’s perhaps difficult to make recovery a habit if it isn’t already, your body will thank you and you’ll feel the difference over time. After all, it’s no fun to deal with injuries and soreness, so why not combat it? At the end of the day, the work you put into your training is only going to be as good as your recovery.

With the vast amount of ways a swimmer can improve in the water, there are also plenty of ways to improve outside of the water. Although many of these activities are things that are encouraged for athletes in many sports, it’s because they really are effective and versatile. If you can incorporate even one of these activities into your lifestyle, it can really enhance your swimming performance.

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Anthony Adams
1 year ago


Jim Griffin
1 year ago

Runners do not always make good swimmers. I coached the sport of Modern Pentathlon in the late 70s and worked with both pentathletes and triathletes, the sport just gaining popularity at that time.
Swimming differs from running in that it is not just grinding it out, but requires proper stroke technique and developing a feel for the water. Some runners never get this, and treat swimming like running. When in doubt , hammer it out.
Good runners also tend to have “chicken “ upper bodies, and generally need remedial strength training to succeed.
Not to say there are not exceptions. At Pentathlon we had a kid who made D-1 cuts in the 400 IM and was third in the NCAA indoor 3000. Did not make it in Pentathlon, could not do the other sports. There were also guys who were HS All Americans in swimming and developed into fair Pentathlon runners.
Triathletes tended to keep the hammer philosophy, sadly. It almost hurt to watch some of these guys swim, even after months of training.
My experience, don’t know if it generalizes.

1 year ago
Reply to  Jim Griffin

Have you ever seen a triathlon?

1 year ago

Those aren’t sports… those are workouts.

1 year ago

It would be great to know what the sign says in terms of average swimmers improving their speed to above average. Although it would differ for different swimmers based on their natural talents and experiences, there’s probably a trend.

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