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Swimming tips for top fitness

Linda Melone, CSCS, is an NSCA Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist and certified personal trainer based in Orange County, CA. Visit her website at www.LindaMelone.com.

Get in the pool and get fit

Let's be honest: The only sure-fire way to stick with a fitness program is to find something you enjoy. Like going on a grapefruit diet when you can't stand citrus, you won't last long enough to see results otherwise. Moms have an even greater challenge: finding activities they enjoy that they can also share with their kids. We talked with medal-winning Olympic swimmer Janet Evans how she stays healthy and fit with her kids. Here are her swimming tips for top fitness.

Mom and daughter swimming

Jump in the pool

Ask Janet Evans about time management – fitting in fitness, time with her kids and being a spokesperson. As the mother of a 4 1/2-year-old daughter and 2-year old son, and the official "spokesmom" of LYFE Kitchen (Love Your Food Everyday, a restaurant featuring healthy, good-for-you food that's affordable and convenient, slated to open later this summer in Palo Alto, California), Evans needs to make every minute count. Her exercise of choice involves water, and lots of it. With five Olympic medals as evidence of her passion for the wet stuff, she's helped her children enjoy swimming as well.

Call it fun but be safe in the water

"Swimming is such a good workout," says Evans, who plays games with her kids in the pool to keep it fun. "We race, do laps, have contests." Don't call it exercise, and it becomes something kids will want to do. Evans feels it's most important for children to learn how to swim for safety reasons. "Water should be fun, but kids should also learn to respect the water."

5 Olympic swimming tips

She recommends three to four days of swimming a week for children, with one day of swimming lessons from a qualified instructor. That means you get three to four days of water workouts, too. To get the most out of your swimming, here are Evans' top five swimming tips.

1Watch your form

As if you were standing outside the pool looking straight ahead, keep your spine and neck aligned (so you should be looking at the bottom of the pool). Fully extend your stroke to glide through the water.

2 Get your children involved

Kick along the wall together or do squats and lunges in the water as you help them float.

3Set goals with your pace and distance

Keep a ledger of your progress by setting small goals to achieve every swim workout. Add another lap or incorporate a new stroke to each 20-minute swim session so you can be proud of your improvements.

4Don't quit!

If you become fatigued, grab a kickboard or floating noodle and focus on kicking from your hips for a few laps. Be sure to relax your knees and point your toes.

5Incorporate aerobic intervals

Try jumping jacks or high knees in the water to keep your heart rate up, and allow yourself to catch your breath.

Safety first and always

Evans' final words for swimming with your kids: "Never, ever take your eyes off of them for a second." And if you yourself don't know how to swim, learn. "How can you save them if something goes wrong and you can't swim?" says Evans. Safety first, always.

More on water workouts

How many calories does swimming burn?
Aqua fitness: Swim into shape
The ultimate water workout

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