Open-Water Swimming Workouts That Provide a Challenge

By Sher Warkentin in Healthy Feeling

Doing laps in a pool always makes for a great, low-impact workout, but why not change things upand move your workout to the open water? The ocean’s current can provide an extra challenge. Turn a day at the beach into more than fun in the sun. With these open-water swimming workouts, you can get some exercise while you play.

Warm Up

Like with any other land or water workout, a warm-up is a good way to get your body ready to exercise. Swim slowly, and focus on technique over speed while covering short distances. Use this time to get your bearings and practice sighting—in other words, checking for landmarks that will ensure you’re traveling in the right direction. This is critical to staying safe when you’re in open water.

Treading Water

Waves and currents make staying afloat in one spot much more strenuous in open water than in the pool. You should practice treading water for one minute and then build up to a few minutes at a time.

Buoy Laps

Bring some of the structure of the pool into open-water swimming workouts by creating makeshift lanes. Rather than simply swimming in one direction, mark the distance between two buoys and complete a series of laps between them. To make it harder, have a partner time you and try to better your time, or race against one another.

Buoy Turns

ocean buoy

Practice your swim turns with a buoy in the open water. To vary the exercise, try different approaches to the turn, like cutting a tight corner or swimming out wide. Be sure to alternate the side you turn on for an even workout.


If you’re swimming with a partner or a group, try swimming in a line following the swimmer in front. The idea is to follow their draft as much as possible, and the leader should try to swim in a pattern rather than a straight line to make it more challenging. Switch off who gets to take the lead.

Staying Safe

lifeguard station

This type of swimming is very different than hopping into the pool, and it’s important to take extra precautions to stay safe. First, make sure you know the area well—learn about the currents and conditions before you dive in. When in doubt, check with the lifeguard first before heading out. If there’s no lifeguard on duty where you’re swimming, make sure to swim with a buddy. You want to practice sighting before you dive in. It’s also important to have the proper gear. Choose a brightly colored swim cap, instead of black, so you can easily be spotted from the shore, and wear goggles to help you navigate better. If the temperatures are low, you should consider wearing a wet suit.

Remember that open-water swimming is much more challenging than swimming in a pool, so it’s important you have plenty of experience and take appropriate precautions before getting started.

How do you prefer to exercise in the ocean? Share your tips for open-water swimming on Twitter.

Image sources: Flickr | Pixabay | Pixabay

This article was brought to you by Tom’s of Maine. The views and opinions expressed by the author do not reflect the position of Tom’s of Maine.

Why It’s Good

Warm weather means it's time to head outdoors. You don't have to trade in your exercise routine for a day at the beach, however. Enjoy the day getting in touch with nature while you exercise with open-water swimming workouts.