Being able to swim long distance requires you to be in top-notch shape. At high school states, I came in second place in the 500 yard freestyle. This event is considered a long race (it is 20 lengths of the pool).
Yes, long distance swimming is painful and may seem boring. There were practices where I thought my goggles had a leak in them because they were full of water. But I later found out that my goggles were filled with my tears! (Yes swimming can be brutal). But in fact, it is extremely beneficial to your overall health and there are many life concepts long distance swimming can teach you.
Here are some pointers to get started on your path to swimming great lengths as well as a few of the benefits:
1. Gradually increase your yardage: Long distance races can be categorized as anything above 400 yards/meter races. If you are new to the swimming realm, up your practices by 300-500 yards a day. Once you are up to 5,000 yard practices you should be well on your way towards excellence.
2. Cross train: Want to build your endurance in a short amount of time? Hop on your bicycle and get wherever you need to go. This year for Christmas training, I rode my bicycle from my house to the pool for swim practice twice a day. I noticed a substantial increase in my leg strength in about 3 weeks.
3. Get plenty of Rest: In order for your body to make the changes you demand, it must get the proper rest. Aim for at least 8 hours of sleep every night (During season I would sleep about 10), you're going to need it!
Benefits: the benefits of pushing yourself to swim long distance are countless. You will gain a determination to succeed that can be carried with you for life. You will learn that your body can be pushed much farther than you ever thought possible. You will also be able to eat whatever, whenever and have zero repercussions.
Good luck, pound out those yards!