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If you have about an hour allotted for exercise, tailor your workout to swim one mile. A one-mile workout, which is approximately 1,600 meters or 32 laps of a meter pool, where two lengths equal one lap, improves your endurance and cardiovascular fitness -- and helps to keep you slim. According to statistics from the Wisconsin Department of Health and Family Services, a 155-pound swimmer burns from approximately 420 calories per hour on a leisurely dip to nearly 775 calories per hour, depending on the stroke. So go ahead and get wet -- but talk with your healthcare provider before beginning a new exercise regimen.
The fastest way to complete a mile-swimming workout is to swim all 1,600 meters freestyle, also referred to as the crawl stroke. If you're training for a triathlon event, focus on proper technique and maintaining a continuous rhythm. You can also choose to start slower and increase your pace as you get close to the finish. If you are a competitive swimmer, work on improving your flip-turn technique. Practice timing your approach, tightening your curl, getting maximum push off the wall and prolonging your glide to close the gap with your competitors. Light to moderate freestyle burns about 560 calories hourly, rising to just above 700 for more vigorous workouts.
Freestyle, Drill Combination Workout
This workout is geared toward increasing your heart rate while you build proper technique, endurance and muscle. Begin with a slow- to moderate-paced 400-meter freestyle warm-up. Give yourself 15 seconds of rest and then swim two sets of eight 50-meter one-arm freestyle drills. Swim one set with your right arm down by your side, using your left arm to propel you through the water. Then switch arms for the other eight 50-meter drills. Focus on rotating your hips and following through with your arm before breathing. To increase water resistance for a more difficult workout, use water paddles. Finish the workout by completing a 400-meter freestyle cool-down.
Breaststroke, Freestyle, Drill Combination Workout
Warm up by swimming 250 meters of freestyle and 250 meters of one-arm freestyle with 100 meters completed with your right arm and 100 meters with your left arm. Increase the pace by completing 10 50-meter sprints of breaststroke in a minute and a half, which gives you about one minute and 15 seconds of swim time and 15 seconds of rest. If that's not enough, increase your intervals to two minutes or more. When you're finished with this set, complete 300 meters of a one-breaststroke arm pull with a two-breaststroke kick drill. Cool down with a 300-meter swim of your choice of stroke. General breaststroke burns more than 700 calories hourly.
Medley Workout for Advanced Swimmers
Individual medley competitive swimming races are completed in the following order: butterfly, backstroke, breaststroke and freestyle. Team medley relays are completed in backstroke, breaststroke, butterfly and freestyle order, but you can choose the order that works best for you. Swim eight laps of each for a total of 400 meters for each stroke, which equals one mile. For an even more intensive workout, complete each stroke in 50-meter sets of the total 400-meter chunk with only 15 seconds' rest before starting again. Like high-intensity freestyle, general backstroke burns about 700 calories hourly, outpaced only by the rigorous butterfly stroke, at nearly 770 calories per hour.