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Swimming Fitness and Skills

Learning to swim is a skill that could potentially save your life, making it one of the most important skills you will ever gain.

In this section you find swim training tips for strength and endurance. The physical fitness of lifeguards has a direct impact on the ability to perform rescues, whether working poolside or patrolling beaches and open water.

Lifeguards often choose workouts that help develop specific skills, such as swimming speed, so they can optimally perform their jobs. According to the American Red Cross, professional lifeguards should participate in regular swimming and water exercises that build endurance and strength.

Typical lifeguard fitness training includes a warm-up followed by skills training, where lifeguards focus on stroke length, breathing techniques and specific rescue methods.

You might spend some time swimming at race-pace, like when approaching a casualty. More often you spend a larger percentage of time swimming at a steady, endurance-level pace, like when escorting a weak swimmer or towing a casualty.

Create “Grab and Go” Workouts

Have lifeguards write their favorite drills or 10 to 15 minute aerobic swim workouts on index cards, laminate the cards and keep them in the lifeguard office. Team members can randomly draw a card to get their workout. Establish a reward system of personal bests.

Lifeguard effectiveness is intimately related to the individual proficiency of many of skills. Most lifesaving skills are complex psycho-motor skills requiring continual practice, so this training programme can be very beneficial to any aquatic lifeguards. Combine this with a good sports nutrition programme for best results.

Compound Exercises

When lifeguards do sprint training on the beach or run a fair distance, they can also include a strength training session. Upper body strength is of utmost importance to lifeguards, who have to be able to carry the weight of unconscious victims. A strong upper body needs to be balanced by a strong core and lower body.

Compound exercises, also known as multi-joint exercises, train more than one group of muscles at a time. Push-ups and planks target the back, chest, shoulders, abdominal muscles, glutes and quadriceps. Other compound exercises include dips, pull-ups and dead-lifts. Most of these exercises use body weight for resistance and can also be done in the pool.

Anorak for swim training
Smart beach lifeguards combine swim and run workouts, going in and out of the water often.

100m run, 100m swim, push-ups, sit-ups, repeat.

Ongoing Swim Training

Ongoing training after completed lessons lets swimmers enjoy advanced swimming to increase and broaden their skills.

Especially young children should maintain their practice. Growing children who do not maintain their proficiency, risk impairing the skills acquired in the water or even lose them. Clearly therefore the safety of the child is no longer assured.

You don’t need to be a seasoned swimmer to start off, but you need to start off to become a seasoned swimmer. Depending on your swimming experience so far, you can choose a training level that is appropriate for you. Then get into the pool, have a go and think about how the session felt.

Clothes for swim training
Clothes for swim training

Reader Comment

Fitness Swim Training

by Andy, currently in Brisbane, Australia

Last spring the local pool ran fitness swimming sessions with strength training. This caught my attention as I wanted to shape up. They asked to bring T-shirt, long pants, and a hoodie that can get wet.

The training was very intense. We had to swim fully clothed the whole time, alternating endurance lengths with heavy push-ups. Over the summer I build up good muscles and fitness level. Now I always do this kind of ongoing swim training to avoid lane swimming boredom and stay fit.

hoodie in the pool
hoodie in the pool

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