After a sketchy spring, summer is here and – as usual – we’ve forgotten all the whining we did about our cold spring and are all wishing it weren’t so freaking hot.

We’ve been surviving, hitting Toronto’s various splash pads and wading pools at every opportunity. But I have a confession: I am actually not a great swimmer. OK, if we’re being honest, my name and “swimmer” do not belong in the same sentence. I can get by, I can tread water, I can swim a bit to save my life…but it’s definitely not my strong suit. Drinking margaritas next to the water? Now, that I can do. I think once I’ve got a bit more time on my hands for hobbies and the like, I’ll take some adult swimming lessons and brush up on my skills.

Because there is no better exercise when it’s 45 freaking degrees than swimming:

  • You can’t feel the heat.
  • You burn tons of calories.
  • You tone your whole body.

What more can you ask? So if you are a decent swimmer with a local pool (or your own pool if you’re lucky enough), consider adding swimming to your summer routine. And, in case you hadn’t noticed, swimmers are officially the hottest athletes. Ever.


Olympic swimmer Dara Torres is in her 40s. 40s, people.


In an hour of moderately intense swimming, a 150-lb person burns about 400 calories. And that ain’t bad. Plus, the cold exposure of swimming in a chilly pool or lake also helps the body convert pudgy white fat to metabolically active (calorie-burning) brown fat, making your metabolism higher over time. Finally, swimming is one of the most complete full-body workouts; the resistance of the water against your limbs makes swimming one of the most effective ways to shape and tone your upper body without picking up a single dumbbell.

So who’s up for a swim? Take your dip in the pool up to workout level with this routine:

Note: The average lap pool is 25 metres (Olympic pools are 50 metres, so you’ll need half the lengths).

Warm up:

Free swim x 2 lengths


Work out:

Breast stroke x 2 lengths

Rest 20 seconds

Back stroke x 2 lengths

Rest 20 seconds

Free swim x 1 length

Kick/flutter x 1 length (on back or with board)

Rest 30 seconds



Cool down:

Free swim x 2 lengths


You’ll swim a total of 22 lengths. Need a shorter workout? Do the workout portion just once for a quick early morning kick-in-the-butt! Tone your hips, glutes, core, back, shoulders, arms and chest. No sweat. No gear. No kidding.

Now I’m off to the wading pool again! And I’m looking into those swimming lessons for the kids AND myself.