Swimming has always been considered a great form of exercise because it’s a total-body workout that’s easy on the joints. If you are an experienced swimmer, hitting the lanes can be a tough workout, or it can be a relaxing and even a soothing way to workout and bust stress. Don’t expect it to be either if you are a newcomer to the sport, even if you are an expert tennis player or a champion runner. There is not a lot of crossover from other sports because water is a whole new environment. If you don’t have a swimming background take some lessons and stick with a sensible program. Within two to three weeks you’ll see an improvement.
How to Get Started
If you are a novice swimmer, sign up for lessons and get comfortable in the water. Direction from a professional will ensure that you make the most of your time and learn the proper techniques.
Besides a comfortable swimsuit, invest in goggles and a swim cap. The goggles will improve your visibility underwater and the cap will prevent your hair from distracting you when you breathe.
Go into every workout with a goal. Instead of simply swimming for an allotted time period, decide how many laps you will swim, which strokes you will use and how intense you want the workout to be.
Loosen up with some easy arm circles and gentle stretches on the deck before you jump in. After your workout perform deeper stretches for all the major muscles to relax your body and maintain your flexibility (refer to Cool Down in this section).
Always incorporate warm-up and cool-down laps. Swim these at an easy pace. The longer you workout the longer your warm up and cool down should be.
Keep things interesting by incorporating varying speeds and an assortment of swim equipment. Kickboards, fins, paddles, webbed gloves and pull-buoys will help you get the most out of your workout.
When swimming freestyle, focus on rolling your body from side to side as you pull through the water. Resist the tendency to lie flat on the water.
- Reach out as far as you can in front of yourself so that you take long, efficient strokes rather than short, choppy ones. Pull all the way through the water, brushing your thumb against your thigh to finish the stroke. Keep your head still as your body rotates from side to side.
- Monitor the number of strokes you take per length. Beginners typically take 21 to 24 strokes to swim across a 25-yard (22 metre) pool. As you become more efficient, your stroke count may come down to 18 or 19.
- Breathe through your mouth every two or three strokes.