How to Get Started with Swimming

If you're an adult and never really took up swimming, it's not too late to try it.


By Beth Shaw


Whether you are interested in finishing a triathlon or just looking for a way to add to your workout routine, swimming can be a daunting activity if you aren’t prepared for it. Most professional and elite swimmers have been swimming since they were very young. But how, as an adult, can you get started with swimming? Hint: It’s easier than you may think.

Get Your Gear

For lap swimming, all you need is a swimsuit, swim cap and goggles. There are countless brands of gear out there, but start with the basics and shop around for the best prices. You can incorporate swimming aids such as a pool buoy, kickboard and hand paddles after you’ve gotten more comfortable in the water. Fins can also be purchased but are better to use as an aid after you have become more proficient with your kicking.

Find a Pool

The best way to find swim help is to start by finding a local pool. Many cities have city owned pools that are open to the public for a small fee. In addition to city pools, many of the larger fitness facilities and gyms also have lap pools. These will probably be more costly as they come with the full gym membership, but if you are serious about swimming, this is another good way to go.

If you are fortunate enough to have a pool in your neighborhood, this may be a route you can follow, so long as there is a swim program offered with a knowledgeable staff and lifeguards.

Find a Program

Once you have found your pool, inquire about swimming programs and what level would be best for someone who is brand new to the sport. Many pools will offer a learn to swim program for those who don’t know how to swim at all, and many also offer masters swimming programs for adult swimmers. In the swimming world, “masters” simply means anyone over 18.

If you were taught rudimentary freestyle, or “front crawl,” then a master’s swimming program would be the way to go. Don’t feel intimidated as everyone is there to get better – no matter what level they are!

Find a Private Coach

If you do find yourself too intimidated to hop into a group swim, ask your pool if they offer any private lessons. There are numerous master’s swim coaches across the country. There are a couple of different coaching certifications that they can achieve, so be sure to ask what their credentials are before you begin working with them.

This route may be more costly, but you may find that you only need one or two lessons before you can begin to practice on your own or with a group.

Teach Yourself or Swim with a Friend

YouTube offers many videos on how to swim freestyle and you can find lots of articles online that offer basic help on swimming form. If you have a friend who is a swimmer, more than likely they can offer help as well. Keep in mind that this method is best for someone who feels comfortable in the water but wants to learn specific swimming techniques. If you can’t swim at all, definitely seek out a coach or learn to swim program to be safe while in the water.

Get Swimming

After your initial lesson, be sure to practice on your own. Swimming can be difficult to learn as an adult, but stick with it. It can be discouraging at first as you see others zoom by seemingly effortlessly in a lane nearby, but they probably began swimming as a child when we learn more quickly.

If you practice and remind yourself that Rome wasn’t built in a day, you’ll see results. Swimming is one of the best workouts for the body and is less impactful on your bones and joints. Plus, with indoor pools, you can swim all year round!

Beth is a running and triathlon coach from Florida who began her journey through health and fitness as a high school swimmer. After leading an unhealthy lifestyle while in college she made changes to get back in shape. Since then, she's completed numerous marathons and triathlons and finished her first full Ironman in 2014. She's also a freelance fitness writer and blogger. Her passion is fitness in all forms, though she enjoys running and swimming the most, and she believes in doing what makes you happy and healthy.

Main Photo Credit: Nopparat Nakhamhom/; Second Photo Credit: crystal51/; Third Photo Credit: Lenar Nigmatullin/; Fourth Photo Credit: Jacob Lund/