beginning swimming learning to swim a mile easy swimming

ZERO TO 700 an Easy Preamble to the 0-1650 Plan

It has been brought to my attention that my plan for swimming Zero to One Mile in six weeks is in fact not quite zero, but 700 yards or meters. It begins with 100 yard repetitions plus shorter distances to equal 700. If you already run or bicycle or do other aerobic exercise, swimming 100 yards several times is no sweat. But if you’re coming straight from the couch to the pool, some preparation that begins at true zero would be useful.

Consider the purpose. Simply enough, it is just to increase the amount of oxygen you can absorb, thereby enabling you to continue exercise without stopping. It is the definition of fitness. Specifically, you want to increase the surface area of your lungs’ alveoli and multiply your mitochondria. Imagine the surface of the interior of your lungs as bubble wrap. You want the same area divided into more bubbles. The mitochondria multiply because you respond to their demand for more oxygen rich blood with a refusal, infuriating the hungry little organelles which then enlarge and multiply to meet your needs. That is the purpose of the 0 to 1650 plan. But for some of you a couple weeks of preparation will make it more doable.

First day: Start walking in the pool. Then try running. If the pool supplies belts for water running, use one. If not, it doesn’t matter. After 5 or 10 minutes of water walking/running, put on a cap so that goggles will not pull at your hair. Adjust the goggles. Sit at the bottom of the pool to reassure yourself they will not leak. Swim any stroke at all, disregarding technique. As soon as you feel like stopping, flop over and do any kind of backstroke. When you tire, if possible still without stopping, switch to another stroke, such as sidestroke. If you do stop, keep the rest short until you are breathing somewhat more easily, but are not fully recovered. You must experience some discomfort because that is how you tell that bubble wrap to increase its surface area and those annoyed little organelles to multiply. The effect takes place quickly, but easy days in between are necessary for the growth to occur.

Second and third day: Whatever you found most enjoyable may be continued, always increasing the distance using any stroke that makes it possible. A kickboard is sufficiently unpleasant to be useful, but stay away from pull-buoys. Your quads are big, demanding muscles and if you don’t use them because of the pull-buoy flotation, you defeat the whole purpose.

Second week: Increase the amount of freestyle, but still change strokes rather than stop. When you can swim two laps, resting for a maximum of 12 breaths and repeating 3 times for a total of 400 yards, go on to:
100 any stroke warm-up
3 x 100 ( 12 breaths between)
3 x 75 ( 10 breaths)
3 x 25 ( 6 breaths)
You are ready for the Zero to One Mile program. If a second week like the first doesn’t do the trick, a third week should make it all possible.

Now, about this breathing and discomfort business. No gasping and no 100% efforts at this stage. This should be constructive exercise, NOT do or die. Will there come a day when you are completely relaxed and breathing gently and easily throughout the swim? Not really. The wish to be a bit better, which in aerobic sports like swimming and running means faster, remains with us. As we improve, most of us strive harder and continue to raise our heart rates, so there is always a bit of panting. It feels good. Yes, it is actually a pleasure to work out hard, to feel used up at the end of the swim. Oddly enough, most of find that we are more productive during the rest of the day as a result of working out.



Swimming home page
Very basic swimming
Swim a mile in 6 weeks
The adult learner

There are many more links on the Swimming home page

(New - A Facebook discussion group has been put up
by a swimmer doing the swim-one-mile plan. If you would
like to join or begin a discussion please go to FB 0-1650 talk