There are going to be moments when you simply need a break. When you feel like you can’t stand the sight of water or when you can’t stand the smell of chlorine. If you need the time off, take it. But, try not to stay away from the pool for more than two weeks.
Subtle Changes After a Two-Week Holiday
After a two-week hiatus from the pool, you will (hopefully) feel a renewed desire to get back in the water. But, you might notice a few subtle changes. Fortunately, recovery from the two-week break will not take long. The longer you stay away from the pool, the longer it will take to get back to the level of fitness you are accustomed to having.
First, after two weeks, you might find that you get a tired a little faster than usual the first few times you get in the pool. This might make you discouraged. You cannot let that happen. As a swimmer, you know that swimming is a mental and physical exercise. The only way to improve is to just keep swimming.
Time Off Can Help
Even if this sounds discouraging, it can be important to take time off. There are moments when the body really does need to rest, this is why sports have off-seasons. If you are swimming four or more times per week, every week, without a break – you are due for one. The mind also needs a break from all of that work. If you have been swimming that often, your body will not fall apart or get flabby after a two-week break. In fact, you might find that you swim better after the short holiday.
Endurance Weakens Slightly
Some swimmers notice that their aerobic endurance weakens slightly when they return to the pool. If this is the case, just keep swimming because your endurance will pick back up after a few workouts. Some swimmers notice a reduction of endurance up to 20% after two weeks of rest. You might have to start slowly when you get back into the pool, but it won’t take long to get back to where you want to be.
Negligible Strength Differences
On a positive note, your strength will not decrease to a noticeable difference. Younger swimmers will not notice much of a difference in muscle tone, but older swimmers might. Since swimming is an endurance exercise, muscle tone should not change much since most swimmers have lean muscles rather than bulky ones. It should take more than eight weeks away from swimming before any change in muscle tone becomes visibly noticeable. Again, if you feel weak when you first get back into the pool, it’s ok. Your body and mind need to get reacquainted when it comes to swimming and coordination, but the whole process of getting back to your regular strength won’t take very long.
Swimming Will Feel Good Again
If you have been training in the pool for a long time, your will most likely notice that you have taken some time off – but it might not be very evident. If you are not a regular swimmer, you might not notice right away. The big difference will show up in the pool after the hiatus. The fit swimmer will get back to normal quickly, whereas the occasional swimmer will need to swim more to get back to normal. Those losses will plateau and then even out, so the recovery will not take long.
In order to get back to normal, it is helpful to do some high-intensity interval workouts in the pool. With quick bursts and minimal rests, your aerobic endurance will improve dramatically. After two weeks off, it will feel good to get the heart rate going and the water moving. Use paddles, kickboards, and pull-buoys to get the muscles working hard.