If I had to chalk up the things I hear the most at the pool, the #1 thing (aside from “hey lifeguard, the water’s too cold!”) would be an astonished and usually exhausted “wow, swimming is hard!” Every time I hear it, my response is the same: I raise my eyebrows, I grin, and I wholeheartedly agree. Swimming is hard. It involves a ton of different physical aspects, works lots of different muscles, and leaves you breathing hard and feeling successful when you’re done your laps. There are a couple of reasons I encourage swimming to lots of different types of people (no, it’s not just because I work at a pool), and I’m here today to share them with you!
Swimming is good for everyone. No word of a lie. First and foremost, swimming is a life skill. If you are around water at any point in your life, you should know at least the most basic form of dog-paddle, because it could quite possibly save your life. Swimming is good for kids because teaches them coordination and breath control, it works all of their muscles, and it gets them thinking about water safety. Swimming is good for adults because it’s a form of exercise that builds cardio, it’s a full body workout, and it’s a workout you can do without actively thinking, so it’s a good time for some mental rest. Swimming is especially good for senior citizens because it is a low-impact sport, and will work muscles without causing impact pain. The biggest message to take from that? Swimming is good for people age 2 months to 120 years.
Now, I totally get it—getting into the pool is hard. As a swim instructor who, on occasion, teaches 6 days a week, some days I really just don’t want to get into the water. But you know what? After a good swim, you feel on top of the world; as if you just conquered something intense and challenging—which you did! There’s a certain energy at the pool that you just can’t find anywhere else, which makes it easier to work out once you talk yourself into going to the pool. No matter what, once you pass the hardest obstacle of physically getting into the water, you’re already halfway home.
Now for a few tips to make swimming less hard than it actually is. The biggest thing I teach during lessons is breath control. Working out in the water is no different than working out on land; when you start panting, you lose control of your workout. Find a breathing pattern that works for you, and stick to it. Swimming should feel natural, and if you’re finding it to be difficult because you can’t breathe, or you’re breathing too much, you need to change up your breathing pattern. Breathe to the side every two strokes instead of every three when you’re doing front crawl. Do 25m of front crawl and then 25m of back crawl to catch your breath. Breathing is extremely important no matter what kind of workout you’re attempting, but when you’re swimming, it’s essential. If you have questions about different breathing patterns, or need some extra help with your swimming, talk to your local lifeguards—they’ll be more than willing to help you out!
Another important thing to consider is working within your limits. No one can jump into a pool and swim 2.5km the first time they get into the water. Take it slowly. Start with a little bit of swimming (and plenty of hot tub time) and work your way up. Swim 200m. Then 500m. Then 1km. Working your way up slowly is way better than pushing yourself too hard and wondering why you’re floundering. Like I said before, swimming takes an immense amount of cardio, and it’s not something you can work up by going jogging once. Start slowly, then work faster; eventually you’ll become one of those super speedy lane swimmers— I promise. For now, take your time, and work your way up at your pace.
What important things can you take from my slightly-lengthy spiel about swimming? Swimming is good for everyone. Getting into the pool is half the battle. Breathing is important (and not just on land). Swim at your own pace. These four tips and tricks are very important, and they will help you swim better, become more active, and be an overall healthier individual. If you ever have questions about swimming, don’t be shy—talk to the lifeguards and swim instructors at your facility! If anyone knows how to talk you into swimming, it’s them! Now, go forth, my readers! Go forth, put yourselves outside your comfort zones, and swim!
Check out the Custom Bodies Fitness and Massage Blog for even more!