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You may have noticed that lots of swimmers get up in the wee hours of the morning to get their workouts in, others slip away from work for a midday swim and still others prefer to train in the evenings. 

Which is the best option? Does the time you choose to swim impact your results? We’re here to help you find out! 

The Science

While you’ll find various studies that say morning workouts are better, there are just as many that report afternoon workouts are the best option. As much as we’d like to give you a firm answer on when you should swim, it ultimately comes down to your biological clock.

Your biological clock dictates many of your bodily functions, including body temperature, heart rate and metabolism. Stress, work, eating habits and sleep influence your biological clock, as does your mental state. 

As a result, your life circumstances and personal preferences will determine what time of day is best for you. Swimming at a time that works for you is better than not swimming at all!

How Often Should You Swim? 

When you’re thinking about how to fit swim training into your routine, ask yourself 3 questions:

  • What are my goals? Are you training for a triathlon, want to lose weight or do you want to compete in a swim meet? Write down a measurable goal!
  • What is my training history? Do you come from a more elite background, or have you never trained before? Your current fitness level will dictate how much you’ll be able to train.
  • How much time do I have? Does your pool limit lane reservations to 30 minutes? Does your busy schedule only allow for 20 minute workouts each day? Figure out what is realistic for you and your goals.

Related: Caeleb Dressel Shares His Weekly Training Schedule

Regardless of your goals, consistency is key! Create a plan that you can stick to and you’ll see the best results.

How Fares Schedule His Swims

Fares is a former collegiate swimmer with a very deep competitive background. He used to train 20+ hours per week, and is able to maintain a relatively high level of training each week now. He commonly swims during his lunch break!

When training for a Masters competition, he’ll swim 2,000-3,000 yards 4-6 times per week, along with 3-4, 30-45-minute weights sessions each week.

His training shifts a bit if he’s working toward a long open water race, such as the Bosphorus Cross-Continental Swim. He incorporated more open water swims and distance workouts, hitting the pool or lake 5-6 times per week and shooting for between 3,000 and 6,000 yards each session.

Sleep & Nutrition

Regardless of when you swim, sleep plays an important role in your swimming performance. If you aren’t getting enough quality sleep, you’ll likely feel sluggish during your workouts. Aim for 7-9 hours per night, and try to stick to a consistent sleep schedule. 

How you fuel your body also has a huge effect on your workouts. Be sure to fuel your body appropriately both before and after your workouts to ensure you have adequate energy to get through your workout and to recover afterward. If you choose to swim in the morning, be mindful that you’ll likely be doing so while in a large caloric deficit — you haven’t eaten all night!

For an extra boost of energy, we’ve been loving RISE Brewing’s organic, nitro cold brew coffee to fuel our workouts and everything in between. It’s made with simple ingredients, no harmful chemicals and low sugar content.

And if you don’t drink coffee, they’ve got a really good Earl Grey tea latte, and even a few flavors of oat milk. Get 10% off your order of RISE Brewing with code MYSWIMPRO >

Now that you’ve set your goals and gotten your nutrition in check, let’s take a look at the pros and cons of swimming in the morning, at lunchtime, and in the afternoon or evening. 

Swimming in the Morning

Pros:

  • Get Energized: Swimming in the morning starts your day with a rush of post-workout endorphins, leaving you energized for the rest of the day. 
  • Pool Space: Some pools are practically empty early in the morning, so you won’t have to wait to deal with crowded lanes.
  • High Testosterone Levels: Studies have shown that your testosterone level is at its highest in the morning. This can be really helpful if you are doing high-intensity workouts.

Related: 10 Tips to Become a Morning Swimmer

Cons:

  • Stiff Muscles: You’ll need an extensive warm up to get your body ready to exercise.
  • Lack of Energy: It’ll take a little while to get your metabolism and cardiovascular system revved up.
  • Early Bedtime: If you are a night owl, going to bed early and waking up early to jump in a cold pool can be pretty difficult! 

Swimming at Lunchtime

Pros:

  • Mental Reset: Going for a swim during your lunch break can be a nice way to take your mind off of work for a bit and give you renewed energy for the rest of the day.
  • Pool Availability: While some pools are empty in the morning, others have lots of lanes available during lunch. 

Cons:

  • Time Crunch: If your lunch break is short, you might not be able to swim for as long as you’d prefer. 
  • Sweating: You may find that you continue sweating the rest of the day. That could be uncomfortable if you have to change back into business attire after your swim!
  • Anxiety: If you’ve got lots to do at work, you may find that you’re mentally preoccupied during a lunchtime swim.

Swimming in the Afternoon or Evening

Afternoon and evening swims could be broken out into their own separate categories. For the sake of this explanation, let’s assume that afternoon swims could be considered 2-6pm, and evening swims would be any time after 7pm.

Pros:

  • Muscle Temperature: Your muscle temperature reaches its peak later in the day, and your body is more prepared to perform than it is early in the morning. 
  • Dedicated Recovery Time: Swimming later in the day allows you to dedicate more time to recovery. For most people who work traditional 9-5 jobs, you’ll be able to eat and head to bed within a few hours of finishing your workout. 
  • Relieve Stress: A swim can feel great after a long, stressful day. It can help you clear your mind and mentally transition to a relaxing evening.

Cons:

  • Lack of Energy: People often lack motivation and energy after a busy day. It’s easy to tell yourself you’ll just try again tomorrow!
  • Sleep Disruption: Intense workouts shortly before bed can make it hard to fall asleep. Try to finish your workout at least 1-2 hours before bed.

Ultimately, you need to choose a time to swim that works with your schedule, and stick to it! For help structuring your swim training, download the MySwimPro app! Get your free 30-day trial of ELITE COACH to unlock unlimited access to the app, plus 1-on-1 phone coaching sessions!

When do you prefer to swim? We’d love to hear about your experiences in the comments. Get 10% off your order of RISE Brewing cold brew coffee with code MYSWIMPRO >

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