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Build your endurance: How to swim further, faster

Discover the stamina-building training tips that will enable you to swim further and faster, as former World Champion swimmer and gold medallist, Karen Pickering MBE, shares the endurance tips gleaned during twenty years representing Britain at senior level.

Invest in a swimming lesson


Improving your technique is the easiest way to swim faster and further, so consider having a professional swimming lesson.


Work on your fitness Improving your fitness levels will help enable you to swim further, so set yourself clear goals to aim for. This way, you’ll be able to track your improvement and stay motivated.


First, decide how many lengths you can do, then break this up into a short warm-up, a main set (sets of repetitions) and a short warm-down. Aim to increase either the length of the main set, the distance of your swim for each repetition, or the speed of each repetition. Alternatively, reduce the time you take for your rest interval between each set.


Build leg and arm strength To strengthen your arms and legs, add arm-only or leg-only repetitions as part of your main set.


Add a sprint set Try to mix up your pace on the main set or, even better, add in an extra sprint set after it.

How to increase your endurance and stamina


Hone your technique By refining your technique, you’ll improve your efficiency in the water (which, in turn, helps to conserve energy), so consider having a swimming lesson. An expert coach will help you fine-tune your positioning, breathing, kick and stroke techniques.


Find your breathing rhythm Rather than holding your breath for too long, find a sensible breathing pattern (ideally to alternate sides, if swimming freestyle), as this will help get you into a smooth rhythm and enable you to keep swimming for longer.


Keep yourself focused and motivated Set goals to give you something to aim for and focus on. Decide how many lengths you can do and then break this up into a short warm-up, a main set (sets of repetitions) and a short warm-down.


Reset your goals Aim to increase either the length of the main set or the distance of each repetition. Alternatively, reduce your rest interval in between.


Enlist a pullbuoy to help when you’re tired Because a pullbuoy adds buoyancy, it can help you to maintain a better swimming position, even as you get tired, making it easier to swim further and for longer.