5 Tips to Make Swimming Alone More Fun

Photo Courtesy: Taylor Brien

By Katie Wingert, Swimming World College Intern

Swimming alone can be a struggle between staring at the black line and wanting to smash your incessantly beeping tempo trainer with your fins. Ideally, we swimmers would always have a team to practice with. Sometimes, though, life gets complicated. School commitments conflict with practice times. Vacations pull us away from our teams. Pools need to be drained and renovated.

Swimming alone doesn’t have to be a drag. It just requires a bit of extra creativity. Here are five ways to spice up your solitary practices this season:

1. Remember why you love swimming.


Photo Courtesy: SW

At the top of your practice, write down three things you love about swimming. If you remember why you love your sport, you will be more inclined to swim your practice with purpose, rather than with a sense of guilty, reluctant obligation. You might love swimming because of the thrill you get pounding your hands on the touchpad, the pasta salad your mom makes you for post-practice snacks, or the way your team high-fives each other after sets. It doesn’t matter why you love swimming; it matters that you remember.

2. Find your jam.

Michael Phelps

Photo Courtesy: Becca Wyant

Listen to something—anything—before you plunge into the water. Find a song that pumps you up and will stay in your head for the whole time you are in the water. If you swim alone regularly, a waterproof MP3 player may be worth the investment. Add songs with strong beats to your playlist to help you pace.

3. Work on yourself.

Jun 22, 2014; Santa Clara, CA, USA; Swimmer in warm up pool before the start of the preliminary heats at the George F. Haines International Aquatic Center. Mandatory Credit: Bob Stanton-USA TODAY Sports

Photo Courtesy: Bob Stanton-USA TODAY Sports

Pick three things that you want to fix about the last race you swam, and fix them right now, on your own. Adapt the practice your coach has given you to fit your unique needs, or write yourself a practice with your weaknesses in mind. No matter how incredible your coach is, you don’t always have the opportunity to experiment with technique and pacing when you are in the middle of regular practice. Do you struggle with your pullout in an I.M.? Come up with a set to practice transitioning intensely from back to breast. Are you feeling unbalanced and bulky in the water after changing up your weights regimen?  Take the extra five minutes to work on balance drills during warm-up.

4. Swim like someone is watching you.

Audience streamlines at senior nationals

Photo Courtesy: Griffin Scott

It might seem silly to imagine a race and a crowd when your most notable competitor is a 75-year-old man wearing a brief two sizes too small, and your biggest fan is the lifeguard, who wants you to finish your practice quickly so she can leave early. But you can use your own fears and goals to fuel yourself to race. Before your main set, play a walk-out song in your head and imagine your friends and family in the stands, cheering you on. Pick two rivals, in the lanes on either side of you, who are half a body length ahead of you.

5. Reward yourself.


Photo Courtesy: Sigurdas via Wikimedia Commons

Obviously, completing a 1,000-yard stretch swim on your off day doesn’t necessarily merit a pint of Ben and Jerry’s ice cream—although someone has certainly done that before. But we all deserve to give ourselves a pat on the back sometimes. Before you get in the pool, promise yourself something you will enjoy if you practice well. Some ideas: an extra five minutes in the shower, a 50 of dolphin dives, your favorite smoothie, or a new song download. At the very least, give yourself a pat on the back. You did it!


  1. Ryan Rager

    or… swim with a Masters group/team 🙂

  2. Neil Morgan

    I find the main thing is planning. Get your session written out in advance and do it like your coach is there telling you to do it. It’s no good just turning up and making it up as you go along. I have about 8 sessions written on a plastic A4 sheet, and I do whichever I feel needs work or hasn’t been done in a while for variety.

  3. Mary-Helen Hopkins

    I just write the workout down on regular paper and then secure it in a ziplock bag so it won’t get wet. I have oodles of them.

  4. Tom Blackburne

    Amen plan a workout on paper and execute. Also very helpful get a dedicated swim watch which will give you feedback durimg workouts as to times for each swim, tracks rest intervals, tracks stroke etc and also gives statistical data you can view on the laptop. Love my garmin 920xt expensive but the Garmin swim is also great.

    • Beth Bateman Marshall

      This is great, Katy Bateman Brown. What I like MOST is that I am alone. 🙂 And it is soooooo much fun to do whatever I want….drills, stroke work, dolphin dives to the bottom. 🙂 It’s wonderful to be old enough that I really don’t care how I look.

  5. Faiza Imran

    Ramsha Imran

  6. Brian Mullies

    I swim with retirees. I look very fast. They tell me so. I like it that way.

    • Edwina Ed

      Mine was and always will be chap fan after training :p

  7. Kylie Youmans

    Meg Perron coffee after except still better with friend

    • Meg Perron

      Swimming is fun with friends and external motivation in the coffee form. I need more of that in life ??