Best Exercises for Endurance Swimming

endurance swimming

Training for endurance swimming is kind of a catch-22. To increase your endurance levels, you need to swim longer distances, but this leads to fatigue and a loss in technique, decreasing overall performance while in the water. The best way to build up endurance is to balance both distance and technique and only increase the distance when you’ve mastered your technique. Below, we’ll review some tips for endurance swim workouts that increase your stamina and improve your technique.

Start Slow

One of the biggest mistakes new swimmers make when endurance swimming is going full speed immediately upon entering the water. Instead, it’s crucial to start at a pace you can maintain for a longer period, as starting too fast can cause you to slow or even stop altogether. Strive to keep a slow, steady pace and gradually build up your speed.


Once you’ve determined a good pace to swim at, add a few sets into your endurance swim workouts and strive to maintain your speed throughout each set. For example, you could do 8 X 100 with a pace of 1:50 and 20 seconds of rest time in between. It’s important to take the first rep or two a little slower to avoid tiring out and slowing during the remaining sets. 

Increase the Distance

Only when you’ve mastered the above sets should you start to increase your distance within the sets. Remember, you don’t want to increase your distance all at once, but little by little. For example, rather than doing 8 X 100, move to a 4 X 200. Ultimately, you’ll swim the same distance, just with less rest in between. It’s crucial to maintain the same pace throughout, as this is what will really help you improve your endurance. 

Decrease the Rest Interval

Once you’re more comfortable with swimming longer distances, start decreasing your rest times. In the examples we mentioned above, you can continue to swim 4 X 200, but instead of taking a 20-second rest, lower it to 15 seconds. Doing so will help you maintain your speed without taking a rest. Plus, it helps you prepare for race day.

Strength Training and Cardio

To improve endurance swimming, make sure you balance your training both in and out of the water. Spend time in the gym or even at home to build up muscles in your arms, back, shoulders, legs, and core. Strengthening these muscles helps them endure more stress without fatiguing too quickly, meaning they’re better prepared for longer distances and faster speeds in the pool. Additionally, strength training can help you improve both your swim posture and technique. 

If you’re not able to spend as much time in the water as you’d like, make sure to add cardio with your strength training. Running, cycling, high-intensity interval training, or even dancing are all considered cardio workouts. Once you’ve found a cardio exercise you enjoy doing, make small goals for yourself. For example, if you prefer running, try to run just a little further every day. This will help to increase your overall fitness and boost your endurance in the pool.

Endurance swimming is something that takes time and patience to build up. If you’re struggling to maintain your pace in the pool, talk to the experts at SwimJim. We’ll help you create a realistic training schedule that will improve your fitness level and increase your endurance. Contact us today to schedule lessons.