Not all swimmers are able to swim for distance, but the longer you swim the more health benefits you can enjoy. You will see an increase in aerobic endurance and strength. To maximize these benefits, choose the correct stroke and swim it properly with a smooth, consistent effort. With practice, your 12-lap or 300-yard swim can be completed using little energy.
The freestyle or crawl stroke typically is the most efficient of the competitive strokes, providing you with an opportunity to move quickly through the water while expelling minimal energy. With practice, your freestyle will incorporate a smooth arm motion and a consistent flutter kick that creates minimal splashing and drag. Practice kicking with a kick board or in the streamlined position to strengthen your kick. Arm strokes can be practiced by doing pull-only swim sets or by swimming your stroke slowly and deliberately.
The freestyle kick is small and close to the surface of the water. The kick originates in your hips, with your knees slightly bent and toes pointed. Kicking with your hips allows you to use your core and quadricep muscles to maximize your effort. Alter the speed of your kick to adjust for longer swims. Kick-only sets will help build leg strength and stamina. You can start with kicking one length of the pool at a time and resting a specific amount of time between efforts; add more lengths to challenge yourself.
Freestyle requires that your face be in the water for periods of time, but breathing regularly and properly will help you maintain your energy and effort throughout your swim. When breathing, relaxing your shoulders, face and jaw muscles will prevent you from expending unnecessary energy. During long swims, holding your breath is inefficient; your body will starve for oxygen and your swim will become more challenging. Try breathing every two, three or four strokes and continue this pattern throughout your swim. A regular breathing pattern will supply your body with a consistent amount of oxygen which will limit fatigue and save energy.
Swimming requires regular practice for technique and fitness. Start every swim with a warm-up that includes swimming, kicking and drills. As you train to become a better swimmer, strive to create a smooth rhythmic stroke. Incorporate drills that focus on technique, do easy swims focusing on your arm stroke and always practice your kick to develop an efficient stroke. This rhythm will help conserve energy and increase fitness through consistent efforts. As you become a better swimmer, gradually adding speed and distance to your swims will help you develop your aerobic endurance and swimming strength.