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  • Writer's pictureBrian

Dive Fitness – Pool Work

Fitness in general is important for everyday activities and sometimes in SCUBA and Freediving we underestimate the physical requirements for diving. So, in this new series I’ll be sharing general fitness tips and ideas to improve our physical fitness for different types of diving.


As many of us know diving from the beach is different from diving from the boat, but both can be equally taxing on the body. So, today’s skill work is going to focus on general fitness using the pool to improve our overall stamina and endurance and of course a little breath hold practice. 😉


If these skills look familiar it’s because they are from your swim eval during your open water pool exam. But like anything skills are perishable and even though you did it once, you should probably keep up with it. So! Let’s get started -



1st Exercise: Tread Water 10 minutes

-       Move your hands back and forth, side to side, with your palms facing towards the direction of your movements. This is called sculling, or you can imagine spreading jam on toast if that’s a better visual for you.

-       Use your legs with smooth controlled kicks to assist your upper body in keeping your head up. Flutter kicks are effective for this and improve your overall finning technique.


ADVANCED Treads: Increased Difficulty

-       Use only your hands or only your feet to keep yourself afloat.

-       Add some weight to your ankles and wrists for an extra level of burn.


Remember the goal here is to keep yourself upright using your body to keep yourself afloat. Treading water will help to build coordination with your upper and lower body, improve your finning technique, and increase your overall endurance.



2nd Exercise: Swim 200 metres, No Time Limit

-       Preferred Swim Stroke – Freestyle, taking a breath every 8-10m or 3-4 strokes

-       Keep your eyes down towards the bottom of the pool, following lane lines on the bottom help

-       Extend your hand forward, fingertips first into the water slicing in. Once your arm is under pull keeping your elbow high or tight to the body, using your forearm as a paddle to move you forward.

-       Complete the pull, raising your arm out of the water and repeat the stroke. Your body should rotate slightly with each stroke, similar to when you kick with fins.

-       When you need to breathe rotate the head to the same side as the arm pulling back for the next stroke. Bubble out as you complete the swim stroke so you can take a fresh breath as soon as your head is clear. Try not to overextend on the rotation.


ADVANCED SWIM: Increased Difficulty

-       Complete the swim in 5 minutes

-       Swim 400m in 10 minutes

-       Swim 800m with mask, snorkel, & fins in 15 minutes


You don’t need to be an athlete or a college swimmer for this exercise, but you should have enough stamina to swim continuously without rest for 200 metres. Remember, the stronger your swim skills are in the water, the more comfortable and confident you will be.



3rd Exercise: 20x Deck Ups

-       Using your upper body, push yourself out of the water raising your body above the swim deck or side of the pool.

-       Start with your both hands on the side of the pool facing towards the wall.

-       Submerge pushing yourself under.

-       Kick with your legs as you begin to pull yourself up and out of the water.

-       As you get higher, pull your elbows in towards your body and press down, extending yourself up and out of the water.

-       Hold and then ease yourself back down, repeating the exercise.


ADVANCED Deck Ups: Increased Difficulty

-       Add a weight belt or weights to your ankles

-       Strap on your BC, Tank, and Reg instead of weights. Put some fins to compensate for the added mass and muscle yourself up out of the water


Deck ups will increase your upper body strength improving your strength and endurance for climbing back into boats, up swim ladders, in general picking up all that heavy scuba gear.



4th Exercise: Underwater Swims

-       No pool training would be complete without a little breath holding

-       Swim 10m underwater

-       Swim 10m underwater on half a breath

-       Swim 20m underwater

-       Swim 20m underwater on half a breath


ADVANCED Underwater Swims: Increased Difficulty

-       Don’t Swim, Crawl

-       Go slow and focus on relaxing


Underwater swims in general will help to improve your underwater confidence and coordination. This skill can be done with fins or without depending on how challenging you wish to make it.



 As always, this Brian (owner of Bamboo Reef) your fearless leader. I’m always lost, but happy to share the journey with you.

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