Make a Splash!
When was the last time that you took a dip? And was it just that, perhaps on holiday, or do you use swimming as part of your exercise routine? Perhaps you haven’t ventured into a pool since school and memories of verruca socks, lifesaving in your pajamas and talcum powder to get your swimming cap on come flashing back!
Swimming has many benefits; this quick guide will help you get the most out of your swim and if you haven’t been in a pool for a while, perhaps it will temp you to give it a go!
Swimming is good for everyone! It can be particularly useful for people who have some form of injury or mobility considerations or who can’t weight-bear. It is also a great exercise if you are overweight or pregnant, and it’s great for runners and gym goers alike.
Swimming works almost every muscle in your body and gives a great emotional boost, as a mainly solo sport, allowing you time out to reflect and meditate.
Often those who are fitter feel like it is of no benefit because it doesn’t get the pulse racing and they don’t get all hot and sweaty. But your pulse won’t go as high in the pool because the pressure of the water is assisting the blood flow to your heart and therefore you have a lower starting pulse rate.
Be prepared. Ensure that your environment makes it as easy as possible to hit the water. It’s a good idea to keep a bag that’s always packed with everything you need and choose a pool that’s close to home, to work or where you study. Don’t forget to take a water bottle with you too; although you are in the water when you swim, you still need to hydrate your insides, so make sure you drink before, during and after your workout.
In the water. As with any exercise, it’s important to warm up when you swim, so always do the first few lengths at a slower pace. And add variety too, don’t just plough up and down at a steady pace doing the same stroke. You could add different strokes, speeds, rests and maybe even some equipment. Perhaps swim 4 lengths, rest for 30 seconds then swim 4 more. Or swim 2 slow lengths and 2 faster lengths; you could swap stroke every length or use a float or pull buoy to give your arms and legs more of a workout.
There are 2 key things to remember with your technique in each stroke:
1. Aim for a stretched-out position during each stroke: one or two arms stretched out in front of you and legs at full length before your resume the stroke again.
2. Try to create a strong right angle with your arms, so your arms are bent at the elbow as you pull the water under you, or to the side if you are swimming backstroke. All strokes should feature this as you pull through the water. It’s the strongest shape that you can make!
And finally, make sure you cool down too. Swim your last few lengths a bit slower, and have a good stretch at the end, using the poolside to help you.