The Pro-Files: Lauren Brandon's Guide to Swimming After Covid
Ed. Note—of all the disciplines, swimming is the one that we have struggled with the most throughout quarantines, stay-at-home orders, and Covid. Pool access has been tough, open water swims are limited, and the opportunity to explore other disciplines (i.e. gravel riding) has been far more enticing when capacity to race was diminished. But with racing back in full swing, it's time to dust off those goggles and don your swim caps. Lauren Brandon is here to ease you back into the pool with the grace of a cormorant and the speed of a fish.
Our world has definitely looked a bit different lately as we were all forced to take a break from swimming. While it’s possible that in some regions people were able to get in open water swims, most of us had no choice but to be out of the water for at least a couple of months when Covid hit. As each country continues to have different rules on swimming, especially lap swimming, it’s important to know how to best come back once you’re allowed to.
Swimming is a very technical sport and there is no better time than after a long break to hop back in the water and work on technique. Your body can adapt new and more efficient ways to swim by focusing on drills and slowly building up the mileage. It may feel like a huge challenge to get to where you were prior to Covid, but be patient, don’t force it, and focus on improving your stroke.
The best way to come back to swimming after a break is slow and steady. I would suggest getting in the water 2-3 times per week for 2-3 weeks, before adding in more swim workouts. I would also suggest starting with 1000-3000 k for each of those swims depending on your swim background and what you were doing before the Covid break. If you are a beginner, aim to swim 1000-1500 2x per week for 2-3 weeks and then add another swim and more mileage after that. If you are a more advanced swimmer, aim to swim 2-3k for 2-3 times per week for 2-3 weeks before adding more days and more mileage. For those first few weeks, it would be best to keep the swimming easy and simply just get the feel of the water again. This is also a great time to add in drills that specifically pertain to what you need to work on. If you know that you need to work on reaching more out front with your stroke, then do some catch up drill. If you need to work on catching the water and early vertical forearm, then do the underwater recovery drill. Remember, this is the perfect time to slow things down, focus on your technique, and build up the mileage back to where you were before your break. Without races, there is no rush, so be patient and enjoy the process of improving your swim stroke.