Try This 30-Minute Swim Workout on Your Next Active Recovery Day

Getty Images / Thomas Barwick / Thomas M. Barwick

Fact: not every workout has to kick your butt, or leave you sore, drenched in sweat, and panting on the gym floor. Active recovery days are an important part of any fitness program because they allow your body the time to – yes, recover – from the stress and the strain of vigorous exercise and help prevent injuries.

While yoga and stretching are both popular active rest-day activities, swimming can also prove refreshing and beneficial for your body.

“The purpose of active recovery days is to limit some of the physiological and structural workout stress while providing an aerobic link between workouts,” Earl Walton, global director of Training and Coaching at IRONMAN, says.

“Swimming is an excellent way to keep your aerobic system primed while limiting the structural stress on your knees.”

The buoyancy associated with a dip in the pool is a big reason getting in the water is worth it.

“The ‘weightless’ environment relieves the structural stress on the athlete’s body, while the long, full motions of swimming provide a great stretch that deepens breathing, lengthens the spine, and overall, should leave you fresh for tomorrow,” Walton explains.

Related: Get Into the Swim of Things With This Cardio Workout!

If you’re new to swimming on active recovery days, make sure to maintain a smooth, easy pace, focusing on technique and skill rather than speed. Walton recommends setting goals for each session.

“Are there specific drills you want to focus on, a technique issue you think you can spend some time working on?” Walton suggests.

So, on your next active recovery day, try this beginner swim workout curated by Walton. Be sure to give yourself at least 30 minutes, and pack along swim accessories like a cap and goggles, a kick board, and a pull buoy.


  • 100 yards swim slow and easy, freestyle.
  • 25 yards kick with a kick board.
  • Rest for five seconds.
  • Repeat four times.
  • 100 yards pull with pull buoy at a slow and easy pace, freestyle.

Main Set:
Walton suggests using a kick board for the kick sets, as well as using a watch as a timer – the beep will signal the end of your interval.

  • 25 yards kick fast.
  • Rest for 10 seconds.
  • Repeat 4 times.
  • Swim continuously at a slow and easy pace for eight minutes.

Note: Set your watch to beep at the end, so you are not watching the clock.
Focus on your breathing, keeping one goggle in the water on every breath. Concentrate on the exhale and not the inhale.

  • 25 yards kick fast
  • Rest for 10 seconds.
  • Repeat three times.
  • Swim continuously at a slow and easy pace for five minutes.

Once again, set your watch.
Focus on your body position when breathing: time your breath with the entry of your arm. As your bicep passes your ear, rotate your hips and head to breathe. This will help you extend into the breath.

  • 25 yards kick fast.
  • Rest of 10 seconds
  • Repeat two times.
  • Swim continuously at a slow and easy pace for three minutes.

Reminder: set your watch so you’re not glancing at the clock.
Focus on length: stretch forward into each stroke, getting a final stretch of the shoulders and back.


  • 100 yards swim at an easy pace, freestyle.

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