Surviving Quarantine When Not Swimming

Life away from the pool is hard on most swimmers. During this time of quarantine and social distancing, many swimmers haven’t had a chance to get in the water for weeks. If not months.

And while I think we all enjoyed the extended break the first few weeks, it started becoming less enjoyable the longer it stretched on. We missed the pool, our teammates, and our coaches. 

For some, swimming helps provide an outlet away from school or work. And is a way to release pent up energy from the day. It also gives a structure to the day that most other individuals usually have.

As quarantine from COVID continues and social distancing becomes more of the norm, some swimmers (and others) might struggle with the new ‘normal’. If you find yourself struggling with the current environment, try these 6 suggestions to help you survive quarantine when not swimming.

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surviving quarantine when not swimming

1. Make Routines

And stick with them!

Most swimmers have a structured schedule and daily routine that they follow. Taking that structure away or the thing that keeps the structure in place can leave some feeling lost.

While not everyone minds the disruption of schedules, others have a harder time navigating their way through the day without it.

To help with this, take previous routines that you once had and stick with them. If you can’t replicate a similar schedule, make a new one for yourself.

You can keep this as simple as you want. One example is doing some type of dryland workout during the hours that you would usually practice. If you trained in the afternoon from 4-6, keep that time dedicated to your workout.

Doing this makes it easier for you when it does come time to return to the pool. And any new schedules that you made for yourself won’t have as much interruption.

2. Dryland Workouts

Speaking of dryland workouts!

Swimmers in quarantine have developed some pretty creative dryland workouts! We’ve turned living rooms, garages, and whatever spare space we can find into temporary dryland rooms. 

Whether you join an online dryland workout, look up workouts online, or make your own, you should keep with your dryland. 

dryland at home w/ body weight
If you don’t have weights at home for dryland, body weight works just as well!

It’s so incredibly tempting to sit around and do nothing. And taking a day off is okay! So long as it’s here and there, and not weeks at a time 😉 

Instead, set a determined time to complete your dryland workout(s). And then do it! 

It helps to write out the workout ahead of time. This way you’re not spending time trying to decide what to do later during the workout. 

Find yourself a workout buddy if you need some motivation! Pick a teammate or even a family member. I’ve personally roped in both, haha. 

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3. Eat Right

Eating right while training is important. Just as eating right while away from the pool or on break, is also important. 

Much like skipping dryland, it’s tempting to throw your nutrition plan out the window when in quarantine. 

Try to ignore that tempting voice! 

Getting back into the water will already be difficult for most swimmers. It’s hard to come back from a 2-3 week break between each season. Coming back from a 2-3 month break isn’t much easier.

Basket filled with with fruits, a spoon of peanut butter, and a hard boiled egg
Eating healthy, balanced meals can improve your swimming performance

I took a 3-year retirement after my college career. And while I swam on occasion, I could tell I was out of swimming shape. Starting to swim again full time was no laughing matter. It took several months to build myself back up again.

Sticking to a healthy nutrition plan and eating right is one way to make it easier on yourself when you swim again. And means you won’t need to correct any bad habits you developed during quarantine 😉 

4. Catch up on Sleep

I feel that some will probably disagree with me on this. But I know for me, this has helped my mental health more often than not.

Without morning practice and a commute to worry about, try to catch up on sleep now. Once practices start back up again, it’s back to those early morning workouts and rush-hour commutes. 

While you still shouldn’t spend the whole day in bed, you can enjoy a few more hours of sleep. You should also avoid staying up all night and sleeping in until noon, too. Keeping to a mostly familiar routine helps to keep your body rhythms in check.

And I don’t mean those dancing rhythms! 

Some might feel concerned that by taking that extra 1-2 hours of sleep might make it more difficult when morning practices start again. And I’m right there with you!

If you’re worried about this, then stick with your normal weekday schedule prior to COVID. Use the extra time in the morning to get in another workout if you want. Or just relax with a good book or movie.

Personally, I think that as my team gets closer to scheduling morning workouts, I’ll start waking up earlier. Hopefully, this will help my body adjust to the early hour.

I’ll hate myself, but every time my alarm goes off I hate myself just a bit, haha.

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5. Mental Health

Watching your physical health is important. But so too is watching your mental health. For most, I feel that the mental piece is the hardest and most overlooked part. 

During this time of quarantine and not swimming, it’s easy to find yourself facing anxiety, depression or even frustration. And I get it. Times are uncertain, we’re cut off physically from friends and loved ones, and the news is both frustrating and nerve-wracking.

With all of this around us, it’s easy to get into a bad mindset. Especially without teammates and the sport to help keep you grounded. To give you an escape.

That said, please take some time to take care of yourself. 

  • Unplug from social media and the news for an hour or so
  • Go outside and get some fresh air
  • Reach out to friends and family
  • Talk to a licensed counselor, if you can

There’s nothing wrong with admitting you need assistance with something. If you find that you’re not feeling like yourself, try talking to someone you trust. It’s more common than you realize, especially now with everyone isolating and dealing with all that COVID brought.

For me, even taking a quick 30-minute walk around my neighborhood helps get my mental state a bit better. If not that, cuddling with my pet always does the trick! 

swimmers in quarantine can face physical and mental challenges

6. Gratitude

I think the biggest challenge for most people is frustration. As swimmers, we saw our season vanish before us. National level meets canceled and we don’t know when/how we’ll have them again.

Related article: Swimming After COVID-19 (And What to Expect)

College swimmers lost NCAA chances and seniors missed many milestones in their life. Olympic hopefuls have to wait and see what next year brings.

Yet in the midst of the anger that comes from missing these chances, we should reflect on what we do have. Easier said than done for some, I know.

But is your family healthy and COVID free? That’s something to be grateful for. 

Does your family still have income from a job? Count yourself lucky. 

Do you have food, water, and toilet paper? It’s more than what others have.

Take a moment to step back and see what you do have. Yes, it’s awful that we can’t train. That we can’t compete. But with all the suffering and loss going on now, is that really what matters? 

What we as athletes have is a privilege to escape the day-to-day life through our sport. And it’s amazing. Not having that chance makes me grateful for what I had with swimming. It’ll make me appreciate it more once I can train again. 

In Closing

Not swimming for an extended period of time is hard on swimmers. Whether you’re out due to an injury or to quarantine. How we handle ourselves during that time is what will determine future outcomes.

It’s a challenging time all around. And it’s hard to stay positive and look at what we have compared to what we lost. It’s difficult to keep the motivation going.

But we can do it. If we as swimmers can last for hours in the pool each day, then surely we can last a bit longer. 

It won’t be easy, but we have the dedication. And I think that our swimmer dedication will help us all survive quarantine while not swimming. 

As always, to happy swimming!

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Bonus Content:

Best Gear for Swimmers Returning to the Pool: For swimmers returning to the pool after a long break, the months away from the pool might not have been kind to your gear.

How to Return to the Pool After a Long Break: Returning to the pool after a long break can be a challenge for swimmers. Mentally preparing yourself can help ease your transition back into the water.


Want to Improve at the Pool?

Join swimmers and swim parents to receive my free newsletter and receive a free Swimming Glossary e-book as a thanks!

Every month you’ll receive tips and coaching to help you find success at the pool.

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