A lot of athletes want to add swimming to their cross training, but have a difficult time developing a good workout for their level. If you've decided to get back in the pool for the first time in a while, remember one thing when designing your workout: Swim for distance, not for speed. What I mean is, if you're swimming for endurance it's best not to swim as fast as you can without stopping. This will leave you feeling out of breath, and you'll most likely get out of the pool completely exhausted very early in the workout.
Instead, you can practice swimming each lap at a consistent interval. For example, if you can comfortably swim 50 yards* in 1 minute, give yourself 15 seconds to recover after each 50 and swim 6 consecutive 50s on a 1:15 interval. With practice, you will get faster and be able to reduce your interval times. You can also play with the times and work up to 100 yards on a 2:15 interval, or 200 yards on a 4:15 interval.
If you don't know how fast you swim, you'll want to figure out the right interval for your workout. Give yourself 15 seconds to recover after each 50, and time yourself to see how long it takes you to swim 50 yards five or six times. You can simply take the average of that 50 time, add 15 or 20 seconds of recovery to it, and use that time for your interval.
Here is a sample beginner workout. Take it with you the next time you go to the pool:
Warm up: 4 x 50 (easy pace)
Main set: 4 x 50 on 1:15
2 x 100 on 2:20
4 x 50 on 1:15
Cooldown: 1 x 75, 1 x 50, 1 x 25
Total: 950 yards
*Note to Canadians: 1 yard = 0.9144 metres
Billie (above) is a blur of black/disco in our Fastlane Suit Too.