Make a Splash! Part 1: Swim Fit

Fitness // Anna Warwick // 23 October 2013

Make a Splash 610x350 12WBT For a summer training session, nothing beats hitting the water. Whether you jump in the pool, the lake, river, dam, creek, billabong… or hit the beach for an ocean swim, every part of you will benefit from this low impact workout.

Part One: Swim Fit Swimming Training in the Pool with Susie

12WBT Support Crew trainer Susie began her swimming career on her primary school swim squad. In high school Susie’s swimming relay team won State Championships, and she also swam at the Australian University Games as part of the UNSW Swim Team. After such a long career Susie wanted to try other sports, but a reconstructed knee brought her back to the pool a few years ago.

Susie Purcell

For The Love Of It

“Now I love it again!” says Susie; “I love the calmness of the pool, the feeling of being in the water, and I love the zone and rhythm you get into while training. Swimming provides some uninterrupted thinking time, which is sometimes hard to find in our busy lives.”
Susie is also a fan of the discipline that swimming training can bring to your life. “As a young person it taught me a lot and shaped the way I approach various aspects of my life, although I didn’t realise it at the time!” she says.

A Low Impact Workout

Swimming training has many health benefits, says Susie, both physical and mental. As swimming is non weight baring, it’s also the perfect low impact workout to get you back in the swim after a lower body injury. “After my knee operation, I swam with a pull buoy to keep my legs afloat while I worked on cardio and upper body,” she says.

Mix It Up

So, what’s a typical training session for Susie? “If you want to improve your fitness, it’s important to not just plod away doing the same speed and distance every time” she explains.

“When I hit the pool I aim for approximately three kilometers per session, but I vary my distances, sets, speed, drills and so on. One session might focus on sprints and short distances, the next might be a long, slow swim.”

Different Strokes

Sets of laps in different strokes – such as freestyle, breaststroke, backstroke, side stroke, and butterfly – will work your muscle groups differently and add variety to your workout, says Susie.

“I personally stick more to freestyle and backstroke, as breaststroke is no longer good for my reconstructed knee,” says Susie. “Butterfly would be considered by many as the most intense stroke, however if you watch a great butterfly swimmer you will notice they have fantastic rhythm, and move through the water without much resistance using their power at the right moments for an effective stroke.”

Perfect The Plunge

As with all training styles, getting your technique right is the first step. “Definitely head to some adult swimming lessons if you need some stroke correction,” Susie says; “you need to feel safe and confident in the water to relax and enjoy your swimming experience.”

If you’re injured or just need to gain fitness, Susie suggests hitting an aqua aerobics class first. “From there you can start swimming in some shallow water,” she says.

And if you’re an absolute beginner, don’t be shy. “There is nothing to stop you learning at any age,” says Susie, “I know someone who started lessons and learnt to swim at 70!”

Susie Set to Race Again

“I think now that I’ve found my love of swimming again I will always swim” Susie says. In fact, in typical 12WBT trainer style, she’s thinking of competing; “I’ve been considering hitting the Masters Swimming competitions and ocean swims for some new goals over the next 12 months, plus some triathlons,” she says. “I recently participated in the Triathlon Pink fundraising event for breast cancer charities and loved it!”

Swimming strength runs in the family, it seems – “My mum is also an inspiration when it comes to swimming” says Susie, ‘at 69 years of age she still trains almost every day, and swims competitively in both the pool and ocean swims and continues to win medals! She is amazing.”

Susie’s 2.5km Summer Swim Workout

Feeling inspired? Hit the pool and mix it up with this medium to advanced workout from Susie: “With the following example, give yourself ten seconds of rest within the sets. Choose your speed and times based on your level” she recommends.

• 300m warm up: easy freestyle (300m)
• 8 x 25m: any stroke, getting faster (200m)
• 6 x 50m: any stroke, fairly fast (300m)
• 3 x 100m: freestyle, fast (300m)
• 100m easy: any style (100m)
• 4 x 100m medley (25m each stroke) (400m)
• 200m easy: any style (200m)
• 4 x 50m kicking (200m)
• 4 x 50m pulling (paddles & pull buoy) (200m)
• 300m swim down: any style, slower (300m)
• Total = 2.5kms

Ocean Swimming

Are you feeling swim fit and hankering to head for the open sea? Hit the waves this summer with our tips from Ocean Fit’s Andre Slade: Make A Splash! PART 2: OCEAN SWIM.

One Comment

Meet the Author, Anna Warwick

Anna Warwick is a Sydney-based health and travel writer with more than 10 years experience across print and digital mediums. As a freelance lifestyle journalist she has contributed to more than 50 Australasian publications. Read author's full story here

1 Comment

  1. Sharoninkat Reply

    Feeling sad that this is the last week of round 3. My aim is to start swimming and these last three months have been inspirational. I have made it to my goal weight. I have achieved some of my other goals……maybe not the strength and toning I would have like to reach but I know my switch to swimming will help with this. All the best to everyone taking on round 4. It is all achievable, no matter how small! Thank you Michelle Bridges. XX

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