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Thread: Swimming Question - Laps Vs. Lengths and Workout Ideas

  1. #1

    Swimming Question - Laps Vs. Lengths and Workout Ideas

    Hello all,

    Just got back from a phenomenol vacation in the Caribbean with my DF-now-DH!!! It was an excellent honeymoon; we spent at least four hours in the water a day scuba diving, and it definitely got me back into my swimming lust. But, now we're home and the tropical waters are far away. Still, I'd kinda like to continue, as I felt really good swimming, and it's a nice change-up from the ellipse machine day in and day out. So, I have questions.

    1. My pool at our gym is an Olympic-sized pool. On the wall, it is posted that 70.4 lengths = 1 mile. Is a length one way down the lap-lane or is it there and back? I'm not sure what the difference is between a lap and a length.

    2. I'd like to build up my endurance as well as tone. Does anyone have any good starting workouts they'd recommend? Yesterday I went and swam 40 laps (where a lap = there and back) mixed stroke... mostly breast, but about 1/3 crawl. It took me a little under an hour. Is this good? How long should that take me? What's average?

    3. How many swimming workouts per week is it appropriate to do? I know that for weight training there is limitations and I put my own limits on the ellipse machine to 3x/week because its boring. But I don't know what's right for swimming...

    Looking forward to some excellent feedback!!! :-D
    Best,

    ~Sarah
    We are beautiful no matter what they say
    Yes, words won't bring us down
    We are beautiful no matter what they say
    Yes, words can't bring us down
    Don't you bring me down today
    -Christina Aguilera

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Aug 2001
    Location
    Phoenix, AZ
    Posts
    4,759
    It's my understanding that a length is once down the pool, while a lap is down and back. So 70 lengths would be equal to 35 laps. But I haven't swum competitively since the 8th grade, so others here might advise you better...

    in any case, have fun! Swimming is so good for you...now that the bubble is off the pool at my gym, I may have to get bak into it.
    -Rebecca


    Endurance comes from exhaustion. Keep running!
    --DH, aka "Coach"

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Oct 2003
    Location
    Tennessee
    Posts
    926
    Hi Sarah,

    Congratulations on your wedding!

    I used to swim in HS and knew the answer to your question off the top of my head. But I'm old now and can't remember, so I calculated it. In one mile, there are 1600 m or 1760 yd. Based on what the sign at your gym says, a length is one-way and your pool is a 25-yard pool (most pools are either 25 yd or 25 m).

    You can swim every day without a problem. You can even swim twice a day without a problem (my swim team did that). It's non-weight-bearing and non-impact so your body isn't stressed like with running.

    I get bored just swimming laps, so if the pool has a clock with a minute hand, you can do sets to break it up. Swim 10 x 1 lap with each lap taking a minute (or whatever period of time). So you start and swim 1 lap. Say it takes you 45 sec. Then rest 15 sec and do it again for 10 times. You should start with a good warm-up of 10-20 lengths before doing any sets.

    I hope this makes sense and enjoy your swimming!
    Kathy

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jun 2002
    Location
    Milwaukee, WI
    Posts
    1,146
    Just in case anyone cares - an olympic size pool is 50m long. And anyone who swam competitive knows that turn after 25m is sure missed when they get to race in a 50m pool

    I would suggest talking to a coach - do you have a masters swim team in your area. (Masters in that they deal with adults not teens) They could give you good guidelines on developing a program.

    Oh and congrats on the wedding.
    Nothings so bad it's not good for something

  5. #5
    Thanks for the replies, all! I appreciate it. I wonder, do any of you have a sense for how long a mile swim should take for a fit swimmer? The easiest way I can think of to gauge progress is based on time/distance, but the only references I can find is for triathalons and iron woman/man competitions - neither being a very good indicator for the normal exerciser.

    I like the idea of breaking the swim into sets, as ktg suggested, but is a warm-up really as much as 10 laps? That's a quarter of what I did yesterday, and yesterday took an hour. AS much as I would love to spend a couple hours a day swimming, my work schedule isn't going to accomodate that...

    Thoughts?
    We are beautiful no matter what they say
    Yes, words won't bring us down
    We are beautiful no matter what they say
    Yes, words can't bring us down
    Don't you bring me down today
    -Christina Aguilera

  6. #6
    Congratulations Sarah!

    I swim at my local "Y" where ~36/37 laps=1 mile so it would make sense that 1 lap=back and forth whereas 1 length=down the pool in one direction as already stated above. I don't have any great swimming workouts to offer you, but you may want to talk to the people at your pool, perhaps a swim coach/teacher, some "regular" swimmers, guard etc.... They may have some advice to offer you. I started swimming purely for pleasure a few years ago as I had done it in high school, and I can't do any impact sports due to bad knees. After having my kids, joining the "Y" to swim was one of the first "me" things I had done in many years . I now swim 5 days a week(I bike on the weekends so I can be home in the morning with the kids). I usually do ~1 1/2 miles each morning, all freestyle, and that takes me ~45 min. I don't think you should worry about speed. Swimming is a great workout as the water really does offer alot of resistance. I initially started ~3 times a week, doing half breast and half freestyle, for 30 min. at a time until my endurance built up. When I can I try to squeeze in some extra time, but I usually have to be home by 7 a.m. to get the kids up, fed, and ready for school. Oh yah, I swim at 5:30 A.M. every morning. . Anyway, enough of my rambling. Good luck, and enjoy splashing in the pool!

    Karen

    P.S. DH and I are also scuba divers. Where did you dive for your honeymoon?

  7. #7
    *grins* Wow! 1.5 miles in 45 minutes... *hangs head in shame* That's awesome - I think I'll use it as my short-term goal and see how I do. I've been swimming since I was 2, swam on a swim team for a year, and gave up due to esteem issues, so this is really good. Yay!

    Thanks for all the congratulations - I didn't mean to ignore them, just a little over-focused I guess. We got married on Grand Cayman, so while we were down there, before the wedding we got our open water certs on the East End with Ocean Frontiers. Then we hopped islands to little cayman and stayed at Southern Cross Club to scuba Bloody Bay Wall, Jackson's Wall, and even made it to the Keith Tibbitts near Cayman Brac. It was AMAZING... DH and I are planning on getting our advanced certs. and nitrox so that we can go deeper, longer and more safely. The only downer is that we live in CT, and I get cold easily, so I'm going to have to buy another wet suit if I'm going to do any diving here. 3mm simply isn't gonna cut it for me.

    Thanks for the tips!
    We are beautiful no matter what they say
    Yes, words won't bring us down
    We are beautiful no matter what they say
    Yes, words can't bring us down
    Don't you bring me down today
    -Christina Aguilera

  8. #8
    Thanks Sarah, but I'm really not that fast. I usually get my tail whooped by all the REALLY good swimmers in the pool!

    DH and I went to Grand Cayman for our honeymoon,too. Well, technically it was our "pre-honeymoon" since we got married the week after we got back. Hey, we were both in our medical residencies at the time, and it was the only vacation time we could take from work. We wanted to get our advance certifications, too. However, something about having 3 kids over the next 3 1/2 years kinda interfered with those intentions. I guess I did not want to be the first person to find out what happens to the human fetus at a depth of 100 feet! Anyway, good luck with the additional courses. I don't think we'd do nitrox. 100 feet is deep enough for both of us! I can really start feeling the pressure at that depth, and both DH and I often start feeling a little "sick" after our deeper dives. I also get really cold easily diving. In the Carribean we wear lightweight "skins" but usually by our 3rd or 4th dive of the day I start getting cold faster(more fatigued, I'm sure). We primarily stick to warm water diving, so this has not been much of an isue. If you ever get a chance, we really enjoyed Saba(we did this as a live-aboard dive trip) and Bonaire were great.

    Sorry to get off track, but good luck with everything...diving, swimming, and life with a new partner!

    Karen

  9. #9
    One more thing...where are you in CT?? As you can see by my profile, I'm in Brookfield(just north of Danbury).

    Karen

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Feb 2001
    Location
    Phoenix, AZ
    Posts
    12,331
    Originally posted by EsteemSamurai
    Thanks for the replies, all! I appreciate it. I wonder, do any of you have a sense for how long a mile swim should take for a fit swimmer?
    Maybe Susan (slknight) will jump in and give her perspective, since she was a world-ranked swimmer. If not, you might try PMing her with some of your questions. I used to be a competitive swimmer as well, and I still consider myself a strong swimmer although I don't swim regularly anymore. Anyway, when I do open water swims for triathlons (which are much different than swimming in a pool, at least for me), a mile takes me about 30 minutes. In the pool, it should be faster, but I always lose count of my laps in the pool.

    And to add to Kathy and engineer's posts, it sounds like your gym's sign is wrong -- if 70.4 lengths is one mile, it's actually a 25 yard pool, which is not Olympic-sized.

  11. #11
    *sighs* Went back to the gym today for my second swimming workout and was very disappointed. Did 25 laps in about 35 minutes. I told myself I'd stop at 7am since I have to be at a client site by 9am, but by the time 7am rolled around, I was tired and happy to have put down the restriction. It was *so* much harder this morning than on Tuesday afternoon...

    Did more crawl though, which I guess is something. I don't know. It's a little demoralizing swimming alongside an 85 yr-old man and seeing him show absolutely no signs of fatigue.

    Thanks for the clarification aggie... I'm not surprised that it's wrong, since it never looked as big as the Olympic pools you see on television, but I figured there was no reason for the gym to stretch the truth. If we don't hear from Susan in the next couple of days, I'll PM her and see what she suggests.

    Karen, I live in Stamford (and go to the Stamford Athletic Club here) - I know exactly where Brookfield is. I have a couple of clients out that direction (Danbury) and I lived in Danbury for a couple of years as a kid. My folks live in Ridgefield, actually, so that whole area of CT is homey.

    Do you and your hubby dive in the area, or just the Caribbean? I'm definitely up for Bonaire and I heard Tobago was excellent too. So many dive sites, so little time...
    We are beautiful no matter what they say
    Yes, words won't bring us down
    We are beautiful no matter what they say
    Yes, words can't bring us down
    Don't you bring me down today
    -Christina Aguilera

  12. #12
    Don't be discouraged- it is amazing how your "feel" for the water changes after a few weeks of swimming workouts. Keep at it and I think you will feel rewarded.

    I'd say that 200-300 yards or about 10 minutes is an adequate warmup. I don't swim often anymore, but when I do I plan for an hour total workout. I do a warmup of about 300 yards, then I do some timed sets, which I vary each time- different strokes, and sometimes I use paddles or a kickboard. And then I do a few "cooldown" laps.

    To give you a sense of time... the fastest "masters" swimmers do their longest race (1650 yards, 66 lengths of a 25-yard pool) in around 20 minutes. That's a bit less than a mile, and remember that's at race speed, freestyle, for swimmers who are training for races. I think the best, and most encouraging thing to do, is to measure your progress against your own times- ignore that 85-year-old guy!

    BTW, I often see 25-yard, 25-meter, and 50-meter pools all marked as "Olympic-sized"- even though the Olympic swimming races are always swum in the 50-meter pool. I think that what is really meant is that it is a "standard" size pool. In the U.S. there is a short-course (25-yard pool) and a long-course (50m pool) season for competition. Oh how I used to hate it when our club switched over the 50m for the summer... as Engineer said in her post, you sure do miss the extra flipturns.

  13. #13
    Sarah,
    Boy, we are practically neighbors!!!

    I agree with the others. Don't be discouraged. I have days here and there(especially around TOM ) where I feel like I'm swimming through maple syrup instead of water. But I still feel better than if I had not swum at all!

    And to answer your question, DH and I have not done any diving around here(well, unless you count my rare dives to the bottom of the pool to retrieve lost objects ). We stick to warm water only.

    Karen

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