To improve your swim speed, turn on music.
When it comes to achieving a personal record in the pool, adding a little music might be all you need. According to a study published in the July issue of 'Psychology of Sport and Exercise,' researchers gave 26 college-age swimmers a waterproof MP3 player and pitted them against the clock for 200-meter freestyles. When swimmers had the aid of music – the researchers chose "Sexy and I Know It" by LMFAO – they swam 2 percent faster (a gap that is about the difference between first and fourth in the Olympics). "Exercise makes you feel good after you work out; music occupies your attention when you're doing it," says Jasmin Hutchinson, a professor at Springfield College in Massachusetts, who contributed to this study. While other studies show that music with 130 to 150 beats per minute is ideal for running, the researchers here suggest picking motivational music for swimming. "The music choice is highly individualized," says Hutchinson.