I`m training in order to take the American Red Cross Lifeguard pre-test/screening. In order to pass, I need to:

  1. Swim 20 yards, head-dive, retreive a 10 lb brick, swim on my back the 20 yards with the brick out of water, and get out of the pool without a ladder. (In under 1 min 40 sec)

  2. Tread water with only my legs for 120 seconds (2 minutes)

  3. Swim 150 yards freestyle/front crawl and 150 yards breaststroke

I know that I can do the first two. I also know that I can swim about 75 yards of each stroke. I haven't been swimming in ages, and my pool just re-opened.

My question is this: What out-of-water exercises can I complete that will strengthen the muscles I use for these two strokes? I don't have a lot of time in the water, so I need something that I can do for 30 mins before bed or during free time.

2 Answers 2


As an American Red Cross Lifeguard Instructor I can say with absolute certainty that for the 300 yard swim it does not matter how much of it is front crawl or how much of it is breaststroke, but you can only swim those two strokes and can only switch strokes at a wall (not in the middle of a the pool).

Also it is likely that your instructor will have you do the 300 yard swim, then the timed brick retrieval swim, then the 2 minute tread with out hands.

I know this isn't what you want to hear, but the best (and really only) way to get better at swimming is to swim.

If absolutely cannot carve out much time to swim then I would work on the following:

  • Cardio (Running/Biking/Running Up and Down Stairs, Etc.)
  • Core (Push Ups, Sit Ups, Plank, Etc.)
  • Shoulders (Push Ups, Plank, Etc.)

You can also work on your breaststroke technique by laying on your bed with your upper chest, neck, and head hanging off of the bed. Laying this way will prevent you from pulling your arms too far down, and you can practice your arms and legs this way.

  • Thanks. I`m already trying to do more Push Ups, so that will be good. Also, I meant that I could do 75y breast and freestyle in a row, not other stuff (backstroke, elementary, butterfly. . .) I went to the pool today and I was able to do 150y breast 75y free
    – XaNaX
    Jul 12, 2016 at 21:53

A device often used by swimmers for strengthening the swim-specific muscles of the arms and torso while out of the water is a rubber hose. There are several types commercially available, although I have also used a simple rubber hose with knotted handles at the ends to do the same thing.

All you do is attach the middle of the tube/hose to something sturdy, bend at the waist so that you mimic your position in the water, and go at it. It is of course possible to vary the way you pull the handles to mimic different strokes, but in your case, I don't think you need to be all that specific. Breaststroke and freestyle use the same muscles in slightly different positions.

Oh, just as in the water, keep your elbows high, both to avoid practicing something you don't do in the water, and to avoid injury.

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