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How to Increase Fitness and Lose Weight by Swimming?


Hi there, This is Shashank this side and I have a question – is it better to swim at a moderate speed continuously, or take short breaks, mix up the strokes and swim faster lengths (as a result of breaking in between)?

I have been swimming for over 7 years now, 4-5 times a week. I usually do 50 lengths of front crawl continuously (moderate speed) in a 25m pool, followed by another 20 lengths which are a mix of breast stroke, back and most importantly, the butterfly. So overall, 70 lengths in a 25m pool in around 45 to 50 minutes.

While I initially lost some weight, I have hit a plateau from the last couple of years. Is it because my workout seems excessively skewed towards the front crawl? I am increasingly seeing people recommending that it is best to mix up strokes all the time and also throw in interval training. Do you think I should reduce the number of front crawl lengths and increase the number of butterflys? My end objective is to increase overall fitness and lose some weight in the process. Please help!

Regards, Shashank


Hi Shashank,

The distance you are swimming and the number of times you are swimming each week is great for your general health.

Swimming is great for improving fitness and muscle tone however it is not necessarily the best choice to lose weight.

Once you lose a bit of excess weight it will become more difficult to keep taking weight off.  Land based exercise like walking and running are probably better activities to do if you wish to lose more weight.

If you are looking to burn off more kilojoules in the pool you can:

  • introduce some kick sets into your swim where you are using the larger muscles in your legs intensely;
  • introduce a mixture of fast laps and medium laps eg swim two laps fast, 1 lap easy, 10 sec rest and do this 10 times
  • if you can do butterfly introduce sets like 25m butterfly fast, 25 freestyle easy, 20 sec rest and do it 10 times
  • rather than swimming continuously, do 5 x 200m swims a bit faster than you normally swim and have a 30 sec rest between each one

By mixing up your strokes and the intensity in each work out, your fitness will continue to improve.

To assist with weight loss it would be worth trying some land based aerobic activities to compliment the swimming you already do or instead of one or two swims a week.



The Swimming Expert


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