Swimming a mile can feel like a daunting prospect, particularly if you plan to swim in open water or are concerned about your endurance. If you're a decent swimmer in reasonably good shape, though, you can build up to swimming a mile within a matter of months. Remember to never swim alone, particularly in the early stages of training.
Find Your Stroke
Before you begin training for endurance, you need to ensure your swimming skills are sufficient to allow you to travel a mile. Unless you're planning for a specific competition, there's no right way to swim a mile. Instead you simply need to find the most comfortable stroke for your body. Strokes such as freestyle are faster because are more physically taxing. The butterfly stroke is slightly slower, but is still among the faster strokes. The breast and back strokes are generally slower but less taxing, so could be a good option if you're a novice swimmer who doesn't want to grow exhausted.
Endurance is built upon small bursts of activity. To work up to a mile, start by swimming four sets of 50 yards. If this routine is fairly easy, then use it as a warm-up and progress to swimming two sets of 100 yards, with one minute of rest in between each session. If swimming 50 yards is challenging, continue doing so until it becomes less difficult. Perform this preliminary workout at least three times per week until it becomes less difficult. Then double the number of reps you do.
Cross-Train for Fitness
Cross-training can help you build better athletic endurance and stronger muscles, so don't focus solely on swimming. Instead, take a break from swimming at least one or two days each week. During these "off" days, focus on other endurance-based activities such as running or cycling. You'll also need to do strength-based activities such as weightlifting or calisthenics at least two days per week. You can perform these activities either on your off days or on days when you swim. The key is to find what works for your schedule and body.
Build to a Mile
As it becomes easier to swim 50 and then 100 yards, you'll need to work up to a more challenging routine. Warm up with four sets of 50 yards, followed by two sets of 100 yards. Then do one set of 200 yards, followed by a cool-down of four sets of 25 yards. Continue with this routine two or three times a week until it becomes exhausting. Then slightly increase the distance you swim until you're doubling the number of yards you do in a set. Finally, build to two sessions of several sets of yards each week, paired with one session during which you swim as far as you can until you finally reach a mile.
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