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Swimming - 15mins... Am I just that unfit?

xDayniexDaynie Posts: 8Member Member Posts: 8Member Member
Hi there!

I found something I use to love, swimming (ha, when I was a young, non smoking, active pre-teen!)

Recently I was able push myself out of my comfort zone to get in a pool without hiding in the shadows, as I am the only one who gets to see my skin!

I went for it, freestyle until my HR was up, then breast/backstroke until it came down a bit, then freestyle ect. Now, I could only last 15mins... Inclusive of some 1min long breath catching breaks.

I wasn't trying to break records, I was pacing myself, but I was exhausted after that, my legs were aching and I just wanted to go and nap! I go for a 1.5hr walk every week but this wrecked me. Is this just a sign I am just that unfit and muscleless? I am going to stick with it, but should I be trying for longer? 15mins swimming doesnt seem like it should have any benefits... Or was that a decent amount of time for someone starting at the bottom?

Thanks!

oh, also and kind of mainly... Concidering I have very little muscle and very much fat, would benefits of swimming be the same doing weights ect in a gym muscle wise, because of the full body and resistance? Or is it more just like going for a walk? (164cm, 83kgs, 25yr old F)
edited September 10
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Replies

  • lorrpblorrpb Posts: 10,543Member Member Posts: 10,543Member Member
    Swimming is hard! 15 min is a great start and you will only improve from here. Don’t be afraid to slow down. A lot of people start off trying to go too fast and it is exhausting! 🏊🏻‍♀️🏊🏻‍♀️🏊🏻‍♀️

    Weight training will help your swimming because it gives you more resistance. I alternate swimming & weights. Swimming is a lot harder than walking.
    edited September 10
  • MikePTYMikePTY Posts: 2,955Member, Premium Member Posts: 2,955Member, Premium Member
    Swimming is hard. It's why it's by far the shortest distance in a triathlon, only about 15% the distance of the run. It's a lot harder than walking.

    As far as muscle gain, the resistance provided during swimming can stimulate some muscle repair and growth. It will not be at close to the same level as weight lifting, but more effective than walking in that regard.
  • xDayniexDaynie Posts: 8Member Member Posts: 8Member Member
    MikePTY wrote: »
    As far as muscle gain, the resistance provided during swimming can stimulate some muscle repair and growth. It will not be at close to the same level as weight lifting, but more effective than walking in that regard.

    What about for toning? Sorry if that sounds dumb, but I am pretty clueless...
  • corinasue1143corinasue1143 Posts: 1,967Member Member Posts: 1,967Member Member
    I swam when I was a kid. When I started at about 65, I swam half the length of the pool, rested, the other half, rested, turned around, etc. for a total of 10-15 minutes swimming, 45-50 minutes doing other water exercises. After about a month, I might swim 2 laps, rest, 2 more, for a total of 20-30 minutes swimming, 30 minutes of water exercise.
    Definitely stick with it. Have fun!
    edited September 10
  • AzdakAzdak Posts: 8,048Member Member Posts: 8,048Member Member
    I swam and did some sorta competitive swimming in my teens. I have taken it up occasionally since then. When I am starting off, I do like 6-8 laps total the first time and call it a day. Don’t underestimate how hard it is if you haven’t done it for awhile.

    As far as it being “strength training”. At first you will realize some increase in strength and muscle. However, that is only because the body has to adapt to the specific demands of swimming. Once that happens, swimming won’t be enough of a stimulus (in general) to see further gains. So it is not really a substitute for lifting weights.

    If you want to just focus on one thing at a time, swimming will be enough for the first few weeks, but probably not after that.

  • CahgetsfitCahgetsfit Posts: 1,826Member Member Posts: 1,826Member Member
    xDaynie wrote: »
    MikePTY wrote: »
    As far as muscle gain, the resistance provided during swimming can stimulate some muscle repair and growth. It will not be at close to the same level as weight lifting, but more effective than walking in that regard.

    What about for toning? Sorry if that sounds dumb, but I am pretty clueless...

    You will only "tone" by losing weight.

    I swim every saturday and weight train mon-fri.

    It's HARD! the swimming that is! when I started I could hardly do 10 mins - actually - I lie - I would have to stop after every single lap and catch my breath!

    But slowly, with time, I can now swim pretty much the whole 25 mins I have (while my daughter is having her 30 min class) without stopping, but I do 1 lap crawl, 1 lap breastroke (to rest). I now also sometimes push myself harder and do a fast crawl lap - then I may need to actually stop and catch my breath at the end before I breastroke back.

    But yeah, it's taken me AGES to get to this point, and I see other people at the pool just going non-stop for longer than my 25 mins and all in crawl and faster than me and I always think WOW and it makes me feel like the granny swimmer in the slow lane.

    I think, if you can, and if you want to, do both swimming AND strength training.

    EDIT: re the "toning" thing - sorry if I came across a bit snippy. Just so you know "toning" is simply exposing muscle that you have under the fat. There's actually no such thing as "toning" and it won't happen with pink dumbbells.

    Strength training will help you with muscle development, and you lose the fat around the muscle and it makes you look "toned"
    edited September 10
  • beerfoamybeerfoamy Posts: 1,497Member Member Posts: 1,497Member Member
    15 mins is a darn good time for first time back in the pool after a while!
    you use completely different muscle in swimming than you do for most other stuff. If I have a few days off swimming, I feel like a dying spider flailing around for the first 20mins when I return to it.
    Stick with it, build up slowly, work on form as well as distance :)

    agree that strength training massively helps with swimming and swimming is a great cool down after a weights session :D

  • tlpina82tlpina82 Posts: 208Member Member Posts: 208Member Member
    Swimming has been my thing since i was 6 years old. Competed in high school and college and then dropped it as it became inconvenient without at least a 25 meter pool near me.

    Went back after a while and found that it wasn't so much that I was tired, but the headspace i was in.

    I noticed that at the first sign of discomfort, I was giving up on the workout.

    So I started by doing a quick warm-up and stretch. 100m only, nothing fancy.

    Then I started doing shots of 100m + a minute of breathing.
    Increased 50 meters every other day.

    And now i am back to 3-5km with no breaks. When I get tired, I just do some breast stroke for 50 meters breathing at every stroke until i catch back up.

    Hope this helps.
  • neugebauer52neugebauer52 Posts: 837Member Member Posts: 837Member Member
    Swimming and water aerobics are some of the best and healthiest exercise we can choose. Water takes most of our body weight away and it feels good to know how "normal" will feel one day. Time is not important but continuous effort counts.
  • mom23mangosmom23mangos Posts: 2,762Member Member Posts: 2,762Member Member
    I just started swimming a few months ago and love it. I usually do 15min after my weight training to loosen everything up. I always feel so good after. I have to stop and catch my breath after every 2 laps or so. And I'll mix it up so that I get some rest. I'll usually do 2 laps freestyle, 2 laps backstroke and 2 laps sidestroke. On my active rest days I'll swim for 30-45min, basically just doing sets of the above.
  • DjproulxDjproulx Posts: 1,374Member Member Posts: 1,374Member Member
    I'll echo other responses that swimming can be hard at the beginning, so starting slowly is a great way to go.

    I'd also add that if you haven't been a consistent swimmer as a youth, its likely that as an adult who has just resumed swimming, your freestyle form will break down fairly quickly. That makes it increasingly difficult to continue swimming as you fatigue, since you become less streamlined and "fight the water" to move forward. Speaking from experience, that's a losing battle. :)

    My two cents: At the beginning, focus not on distance, but rather on achieving perfect form. Swimming is all about form and efficiency to propel yourself in the water, so you're doing yourself a disservice if you continue to try to swim after your form breaks down. Once you are tired, simply leave the pool and come back tomorrow. As your form improves, the endurance will follow. Lots of great videos to give you tips on proper form, or better yet, find a knowledeable swimmer to watch you swim and make suggestions for stroke improvements. Good luck!
  • DjproulxDjproulx Posts: 1,374Member Member Posts: 1,374Member Member
    jjpptt2 wrote: »
    I disagree with some of the people saying swimming can be hard when starting out.

    Swimming is ALWAYS effing hard.

    Ha! There's always duathlon, my friend! ;)
  • cwolfman13cwolfman13 Posts: 36,679Member Member Posts: 36,679Member Member
    xDaynie wrote: »
    Hi there!

    I found something I use to love, swimming (ha, when I was a young, non smoking, active pre-teen!)

    Recently I was able push myself out of my comfort zone to get in a pool without hiding in the shadows, as I am the only one who gets to see my skin!

    I went for it, freestyle until my HR was up, then breast/backstroke until it came down a bit, then freestyle ect. Now, I could only last 15mins... Inclusive of some 1min long breath catching breaks.

    I wasn't trying to break records, I was pacing myself, but I was exhausted after that, my legs were aching and I just wanted to go and nap! I go for a 1.5hr walk every week but this wrecked me. Is this just a sign I am just that unfit and muscleless? I am going to stick with it, but should I be trying for longer? 15mins swimming doesnt seem like it should have any benefits... Or was that a decent amount of time for someone starting at the bottom?

    Thanks!

    oh, also and kind of mainly... Concidering I have very little muscle and very much fat, would benefits of swimming be the same doing weights ect in a gym muscle wise, because of the full body and resistance? Or is it more just like going for a walk? (164cm, 83kgs, 25yr old F)

    Fitness is something that is built up over time...so part of this is being out of shape and the other part is that swimming is pretty hard. I was a competitive athlete for much of my youth and through high school. I was a track and field sprinter, did gymnastics, wrestled, football, and swim team...I was also a lifeguard and played water polo one summer.

    Of everything I ever competed in, wrestling, swimming, and water polo were by far the hardest.
  • jafinneartyjafinnearty Posts: 43Member Member Posts: 43Member Member
    Swimming is hard! It's my favorite way to get exercise, and I miss it greatly! I'm looking into ways I can get back in it, but the small town I live in and my work schedule kinda' conflict. ;)

    I took water aerobics when I was pregnant (on the recommendation of my doctor), and ended up *losing* weight while pregnant. Swimming was an excellent means of exercise for me for many different reasons. The main one being that when in the water I was way more graceful than on dry land. ;) That made me enjoy it more!
  • BrianSharpeBrianSharpe Posts: 8,732Member Member Posts: 8,732Member Member
    Ask most triathletes and they'll tell you that swimming is the hardest part of the race. When I decided to get serious about my swimming I was able to run half-marathons and ride 100km but a few hundred metres in the pool almost killed me. If you managed 15 minutes you're first time out give yourself a pat on the back.

    Take your time building distances and focus on technique. One of the best things I did was getting some coaching, small improvements to technique amount to huge improvements in swim fitness over time.
  • girlwithcurls2girlwithcurls2 Posts: 1,724Member Member Posts: 1,724Member Member
    15 minutes, overweight and having not swum for years?? You're doing AWESOME. I learned late (age 47) and could do one length. That means I "swam" down to the deep end and tried to figure out if I was going to catch my breath and swim back, or just give it up and climb up via the ladder. It has taken me literally years to learn to pace myself so that I can consistently swim laps. It's easy to regulate your breathing and slow down when you're running or walking. Swimming, not as easy.

    Keep it up. You're doing GREAT. I do second the weight room though-it's made my swims stronger. And water aerobics can be super challenging and fun too. That's where I get my interval training that I don't do during laps.

    Congratulations on "taking the plunge" (literally!) and getting in the pool!! :smile:
  • cheryldumaischeryldumais Posts: 1,699Member Member Posts: 1,699Member Member
    Thanks for asking this! I keep threatening to rejoin the gym and start swimming. I walk about 5 or 6 miles several times a week and a couple weeks ago I decided to get on my bike. Well I experienced exactly what you have with swimming. I lasted about 10 minutes. I think it has to do with different muscles being used and just plain different motion. At least now if I try swimming I won't be quite so shocked when it's harder than I thought, lol.
  • ChieflrgChieflrg Posts: 7,873Member Member Posts: 7,873Member Member
    xDaynie wrote: »
    Is this just a sign I am just that unfit and muscleless

    would benefits of swimming be the same doing weights ect in a gym muscle wise.

    Nope. Just means your not fit at swimming yet. Just like anything the more we do something the better we get. I went through the same thing in my mid 40s. At the time I was 220lbs and about 12% body fat. So considered probably in the top percent composition of my age/weight. I just never swam much or ran a program that would condition me. I was trying to run before I could walk.

    Benefits of swimming and resistance training are indeed different long term. Programmed together intelligently with adequate recovery is a good combo if you can adhere.

  • LeiLauraLeiLaura Posts: 164Member Member Posts: 164Member Member
    I started swimming again about 6 weeks ago after a gap of a few years. At first, I could manage 20 lengths / 15 mins tops (and was exhausted). I kept at it, and after a fortnight (three or four swims per week), I was up to 30 / 20 mins. Another 3 weeks and I managed 40 (1km) in 20 mins, then 50 in 30 (was tired hence slowed down, but not worn out). Today, I only had time for 30 lengths and I took them at a leisurely pace as I'd just done an hour in the gym and was tired, but even then I found them easy and enjoyable (I love the feeling of stretching out all my muscles when I swim). When I look back at how I was in the pool a month and a half ago, I realise how far I've come. It's individual for everyone, we won't all be the same, but I can promise that it gets easier with practice, but you can't miss a week or you'll be jumping back a few steps. I like to listen to my waterproof MP3 player I got on Amazon while I swim, it takes my mind off tiredness and how many lengths I've still to go, and makes the time pass faster! I count my lengths with a little waterproof ring finger lap counter I got online for less than a fiver, and it means I don't have to hold the number in my head, I can just listen to the music, or "disappear" into the swim. I do like the numbers, though, as they show how I'm improving, and give me something to aim for. I think endurance is something to build gradually, it can't be forced. I'm taking my time to get up to my next target of 1.5km (60 lengths). Not really tried it yet, and I expect it'll be slightly beyond my current level of fitness just now, so I'll keep practising 50 lengths first until that no longer tires me out :)

    Sorry for the essay, I really just wanted to say that it gets easier, and you're doing really well. Keep at it, you'll be glad you did!
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