Teen Breathe

How to be a super swimmer

Swimming is a full body exercise and one of the best ways of keeping your body – and mind – happy and healthy. It’s also a great way to get some vital ‘me’ time when you can escape the pressures of school, family, friends and social media. But, truth be told, it can get get boring swimming up and down for what seems like hours on end. If you’d like to get more out of your time in the pool, take a look at Teen Breathe’s four swim programmes (Download Super Swimming Worksheet), created by Penelope Marshall, who brought home Silver and Bronze medals for New Zealand in the Delhi Commonwealth Games 2010. Go on, dive in…

Top tips for your swim workouts


This should be a mixed workout and could include a range of swimming activities, from changing your strokes every 5 minutes to using pool floats to focusing on a breathing activity.


Focus on developing your ability to swim long distances with minimal rest. Swim for as long as you can continuously followed by a short rest. This will help your body to recover at a quicker rate and you should feel your stamina improving!


Swimming is not a movement that your body can naturally perform, so it is really helpful to work on your swimming technique. This will make all of the other workouts feel better as your swimming will feel more efficient.

» Kicking – most swimming pools will have kickboards available to use. If not, they are a great tool to buy. Make sure you hold on to these with both hands and just work on your legs kicking

» Swimming drills – these involve breaking down your swimming stroke to more specific parts to work on these areas. Why don’t you give the following a go:

» One arm drill – swim with just one arm, the other should remain by your side. Great for front crawl and backstroke

» Finger tip drag – as your hand recovers out of the water, try to drag your fingers along the surface. This helps to raise your elbow and also extending your length at which your hand enters

» Fist closed drill – try to swim with your fists closed. This forces your kicking and your forearms to work hard. Great for front crawl and backstroke technique


This is a chance to work on your swimming speed. Try to swim faster than your usual pace for a short distance, rest, then repeat. It is fun to see what time you take to do each repeat and try to improve this each week.

More tips for starters

» Before climbing into the water to begin the warm up, do some arm circles to get your shoulders active

» Most swimming pools will have a clock that you can use to monitor the time

» Always have a water bottle on poolside. In the water, you will not feel like you are sweating but your body will be. Stay hydrated!

» Always have a healthy snack in your kit bag. Swimming workouts can make you feel hungry so it is helpful to refuel with something healthy as soon as you can

» Invest in good goggles that will not leak. This will help you to enjoy your swimming workouts a lot more

If your body and legs are feeling quite low in the water, it is always great to go back to the basic floating position and practise this. Start slow, take breaks if you need them. Don’t overdo it, but don’t give up too easily either. Within a few weeks you’ll realise you’re improving.