Swimming as an alternative to cycling

I’m currently rehabbing a knee injury and cannot run, ski or cycle. I’m looking for some endurance alternative and thought swimming would be perfect. As a non-swimmer, what are some tips for getting started? Kick my legs seems like a good first tip.

Seriously though, anything else?

Swimming is a tough one if you’re a non-swimmer if you’re looking to use it to maintain physical conditioning.

Great for learning something new and having an alternative form of exercise available.

I’d say get a pull bouy/pool bouy as you likely have lean legs and without technique you’ll be dragging.

Wear Speedos/not baggy shorts.


I actually found that when I had a knee injury I couldn’t swim either because I couldn’t straighten my leg enough to maintain a good position in the water - YMMV.

You need good technique, look at programs like Total Immersion or SwimSmooth for starting points. When I relearnt to swim as an adult, I actually got a coach.

Pull buoy is probably the best alternative so you don’t use your knee. It will also help you keep your legs up and swim with better form.

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Thanks all, I’m really just looking to move 3-4 days per week. Not looking to become competitive, but want to find some benefits from it that can at least maintain a level of fitness while I’m unable to cycle. Walking isn’t cutting it.

Swimming is a lot more technique based than running or cycling. I’d suggest finding a coach or a coercing a friend who is a good swimmer to watch you for a bit.

Just to offer something general that is likely applicable; body position is something that takes getting used to. Learning to keep your body horizontal in the water vs letting your legs and torso drop. The latter position is fairly common to see; looking too far forward (instead of straight down at the bottom of the pool). Having your hips and legs sagging behind you creates a ton of drag.

(this is the issue that pull buoys address; if you’re not concerned with technique long term than just using one continuously is probably an ok interim solution)

Can you use a flotation belt and “run” in the deep end? The Injured Runner's Guide to Pool Running

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As a swimmer I would suggest two things

  1. @Scheherazade tip on deep water running is by far my 1st option
  2. I would just move/swim/walk/kick (if you can) back and forth for a set amount of time
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Another vote for Swim Smooth. You’ll need to create an account, but there are loads of great technique videos on there.

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What do you mean by non-swimmer?

Big vote here for Total Immersion. I’ve done a lot of swimming, and it is still helping me shave seconds off my 100’s, but the drills are incredibly simple and can be done by really anybody. Swimming is all about the drills to develop technique. When your technique gets acceptable, then you can actually get some exercise in the pool (other than walking/running underwater). Otherwise you’re just fighting it and struggling to not drown.

Another option would be to get a Ski Erg, and then use it with a stool so it is just upper body workout. Their website mentions this as an option for dealing with lower extremity injuries.