Stroke of Genius

Get fit in record time with a vigorous pool workout.

For Southern California residents, there really is no good reason not to make swimming part of your regular exercise routine. 

Sure, jumping into a backyard pool is refreshing and relaxing, but for fitness and health, consider a swim workout with intervals of speed or varying strokes. Another option— join a swim program such as Southern California Aquatics (SCAQ), which offers workouts at public pools, for people of all ages and levels. 

The benefits of swimming are many. According to the Cooper Fitness Center in Dallas, you get the maximum calorie burn per minute because all parts of the body are working against the resistance of water. 

With a focused swim workout, rather than lap swimming at a leisurely pace, you can set goals and stay motivated to meet them. 

“You know what you did last week, or the week before, and you want to do better,” explains Clay Evans, 63, an Olympic silver medalist and head coach at SCAQ. “It can move you to get in the water and work a little harder, and do better. Plus you’ll get feedback on technique.” SCAQ coaches create timed workouts for swimmers as well as offer tips for improvement.

If you’d prefer to create a workout on your own, consider the 10-20-30 training. Originally designed for runners by a Danish physiology professor, the program is adaptable to swimming, as recently reported in The New York Times. After warming up, you swim at a slow speed for 30 seconds, a moderate speed for 20 seconds and then an all-out, high-intensity speed for 10 seconds.

Obviously any workout is easiest when done in a 50-meter pool, but according to Evans, it can be done in smaller pools too if you don’t mind doing a lot of turns.

Think you don’t have time to fit water workouts into your week? “For the average white- collar person who works at a desk all day, and has the hassles of family, the time it takes to work out in the pool three times a week for one hour will pay off. You’ll sleep more soundly, you’ll have less stress, you’ll get up faster in the morning, and you’ll be more energetic throughout the day,” Evans says. 

As for the big picture—“You’ll live longer and be healthy,” he adds. 

To find out more about SCAQ swim workouts, check out


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