Bellingham Athletic Club

Five Swimming Drills to Build Muscle, Drop Weight, and Give Your Joints a Break

by Lindsay Williams, Aquatics Director

1. Kick Drills

Hold a kickboard in front of your body at arm’s length. Tighten your core muscles while you kick across the length of a pool. Try these alternate kicks to target different muscle groups:

  • Flutter Kick: Legs are extended straight back, in line with your body, as you kick them up and down.
  • Frog Kick: Bend your knees and bring your feet together, drawing your legs up toward your body (like a frog’s). Next, straighten your legs as far as you can, and then quickly bring them back up again.
  • Butterfly Kick: Bring your legs together completely from your thighs to your feet. Point your toes. Use your hips to kick your legs, keeping them together, acting as a fin to push through the water.

Swimmers should complete 150 meters of kicking.

2. Breaststroke and Butterfly Drill

Full body strokes like the butterfly and breaststroke engage your core muscles and improve endurance and speed.

Swimmers should complete 10 25-meter swims with 15-second rest intervals between each.

3. Water Running

This exercise provides the high-intensity cardio aspect of running without the punishing impact of striking on a hard surface. Essentially, you run through the water just as you would outdoors. The water should be just below your neck, your back should be straight, your arms should be bent at the elbow, and your hands balled into fists as you pump them through the water. Run as hard as you can.

Do 3 rounds of 5-minute running intervals.

4. Leg and Core Toners

Stand with your back against the side of the pool, and your arms extended backward holding the edge of the pool on each side. Then, pull your legs up toward the surface, keeping them together until they’re extended straight out in front of you. Next, move your legs outward to a V-position and then back together. Keep them together, and move back down to the starting position. Keep your movements controlled, engaging your abs and glutes to complete each motion.

Continue pulling them up, out, in and down for 3 sets of 20 reps.

5. Water Crunches

Float in the water on your back perpendicular to the side of the pool. Put your legs, from the knees up, on the deck of the pool, while the remainder of your body is flat in the water. Use your abdominal muscles to pull your upper body up out of the water as far as you can. Use your muscles again to lower your body back into the water.

Do 3 sets of 20 reps.