Updated: August 26, 2011

Whether you're training for your first triathlon or burned out on cardiomachines, swimming is an excellent head-to-toe workout (and it burns700 calories an hour!). We asked Cami Stock, a masters swim coach atthe Sports Center at Chelsea Piers in New York City, how to get started.

  • Find a pool Try a community center, YMCA, health club, or even a localcommunity college. Many offer weekly times when anyone can swim.
  • Start small "Don't just jump in and try to swim for a half hour," Stocksays. Do two full laps (back and forth equals one), pause to catch yourbreath, and repeat three times. Try to practice two or three times a week
  • .
  • Perfect your form "Swimming is all about technique," says Stock. Useevery other lap to do a different drill: Hold a kickboard to concentrate onyour kicking, or swim with a buoy between your legs to work on your stroke.
  • Build it up When swimming 300 yards feels easy, increase your totaldistance by up to 10 percent per week. Join a masters team for built-inguidance and motivation (find one at usms.org).
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