Tips and Tricks to Help Swimmers Stay In Shape Without A Pool


The COVID-19 pandemic has obviously shaken up the world this past year. The Olympics got pushed back a year, various meet cuts were changed, and certain practices became difficult to get to. However, for some swimmers, the situation was even worse.

Often times, when a high school swimmer’s school district shut down, so did their winter sports – including swimming. Even some colleges began cutting swim programs in order to save money to offset financial costs associated with COVID-19. This meant that many swimmers were left without a pool and without anywhere to practice their strokes and technique.

So, what should those swimmers do now?


Training in the water is always important for high school and college level athletes – as it should be. Swimming in a competitive pool is much different from any other type of workout that someone could do, no matter how effective that other workout might be. But, dryland workouts can be an excellent way for swimmers to stay in shape.

“If you’re serious about training when you can’t get to the pool, you should make an effort to do full dryland training sessions as often as possible, whether at the gym or at home,” Vasa Trainer writes in the online article How to Train for Swimming When You Can’t Get to the Water. 

Dryland training can be boiled down to three core components – strength training, flexibility, and fitness. Dryland trainers themselves tend to take these core components and utilize them in order to improve their swim techniques. If a swimmer is having trouble becoming motivated, then they should think of their training this way.

They’re not lifting weights simply to become stronger (though that is an added bonus!) They are instead lifting weights in order to become stronger swimmers. Every time they train, the gain a little more of an edge in the water – where their training really counts.

Gaining a strong core can also help swimmers become faster in the water. And core training can be part of a dryland workout. Doing exercises such as planks, crunches, and bird-dogs creates a stronger foundation for better swims.

Open Water Swimming

Although open water swimming might be vastly different from regular, pool swimming, it is still a way for swimmers who don’t have access to pools to get in the water.

“Athletes in most other sports can get to some sort of facility or simply go outside to get in their work. Simply put, for swimmers to swim, they need water and right now, pools, for the most part, simply aren’t available,” Mike Condon explains the swimming situation in the online article With pools closed due to coronavirus, competitive swimmers seek alternative workouts.

In order for some of these swimmers to swim, they have traveled to lakes, rivers, and other natural bodies of water.

Open water swimming can be very different from pool swimming. For instance, lakes do not have any walls for swimmers to stop at. Athletes must be able to continue swimming and adjust their pace, even when they might want a break. Taking a break is simply not possible.

Even with the potential drawbacks, open water swimming remains an option for swimmers who may be unable to swim at a pool.

Make the Most of the Season

As the winter swim season draws to a close, high school level and college level athletes are preparing for various competitions and meets. The chaos of the last few months has seemingly died down. Even so, swimmers should keep in mind that there are other ways to train in addition to swimming in a traditional pool. The worst thing to do is to do nothing. No matter what the situation – pool or no pool – staying fit and active is what is most important.

The first thing to do is look around for another club or training facility in order to stay in the water. And if those are all shut down?

Try dryland.

Try open water.

Just do not quit, no matter what. At the end of this pandemic, the swimmers who continue to stay active, even during difficult times, will be the ones who make improvements and better their times.

So stay active!

All commentaries are the opinion of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Swimming World Magazine nor its staff.