Swimming is a fun exercise with a myriad of health benefits. It is vaunted for burning calories, enhancing cardiovascular fitness, boosting mood, and reducing anxiety. Many people also swim to refresh and cool off during summer. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, 2.5 hours of swimming weekly reduce the risk of chronic illness significantly.
If you want to know more about swimming and its benefits, you have come to the right place. This article will teach you the basics, types of swimming, swimming gear, and much more.
How to get started with swimming
The best way to get started is by enrolling in a swimming lesson. While group lessons will do just fine, consider private lessons if you need special attention. Ensure the instructor holds a certification from a relevant body. Below are some rules of swimming you must know before you start enjoying the sport.
• Ensure you take a shower and soak your feet in a foot bath to get rid of bacteria and germs.
• Avoid running at the edge of the pool
• Do not swim while under the influence of alcohol
• Ensure children are under supervision all the time
• Know your Limits
Things you should know before you start swimming
• Swimming is intensive- The sport uses all body muscles
• Requires hydration – Like any other sport, you must hydrate when swimming. However, because you do not feel the sweat, you are less likely to know when you need a drink.
• Needs a great deal of technique- Unlike aquatic animals, humans are not adapted to swim. It is, therefore, requires a great deal of technique to balance the body and ensure the spine is in line with the hips.
5 Basic Swimming Skills You Should Know
You need full-body coordination to swim smoothly. This involves breathing control, swimming strokes, and arms and legs movement. Below are the top swimming skills you should know. Let’s delve right in.
Breathing is one of the most vital but usually overlooked skill. You need to breathe comfortably to enjoy swimming and learn new things. Basically, you should take a full breath when you lift your head out of water and breath out with your mouth and nose when the head is underwater.
Coordinating Body Movement
All body parts should coordinate well when swimming. The hips, abdomen, and lower back muscles must move in a synchronized way to keep moving forward. Start by cut the water using the hands, then move the elbow followed by the body.
Kicking thrusts the body in a forward movement. The swimming instructor usually uses kickboards to support the swimmer’s body. You must master kicking if you want to be an expert swimmer.
Floating is a vital skill when learning how to swim. It helps you move through the water properly. In fact, you should learn how to float before you know how to stroke and kick. When our body is immersed in water, it experiences a buoyant vertical force. Floating helps maintain a horizontal position. In case of an accident, you can float on water until help arrives.
Swimming strokes are arm movements that pull the body through water. Some common strokes include butterfly, backstroke, sidestroke, and crawl.
Popular Swimming Strokes
As mentioned above, backstroke, butterfly, breaststroke, and crawl (freestyle) are common swim strokes. Butterfly and breaststroke will, however, prove to be quite difficult than crawl and backstroke.
It involves a simple flutter kick and windmill like arm movement. Crawl (Freestyle) is the most popular and easiest for a beginner. The swimmer bends the knees, relaxes ankles and feet, and the kick legs in an alternating way. The only difficulty you may experience is coordinating your breathing since the face is mostly immersed in water. Ensure you catch a breath when the shoulder rises as you begin a stroke. Lifting your head will slow you down. Exhale through the mouth and nose when the head returns inside the water.
Like the crawl stroke, backstroke involves alternating windmills arm stroke with a flutter kick. It is pretty much easier than butterfly and breaststroke. Proper backstroke involves two key things. The arms should move with equal strength to prevent swimming off to one side. The body rolls to enable the arms to catch enough water to push you forward. During backstroke, the eyes face the ceiling. Therefore, breathing is less coordinated, allowing you to adapt your own breathing pattern.
Breaststroke is a relatively difficult stroke and not ideal for rookie swimmers. It requires perfect timing. In fact, you can be disqualified from competitions if you miss a single stroke. Basically, it involves pulling your arms, taking a breath, kick, and then glide.
Butterfly, just like breaststroke, is a tricky stroke hence not suitable for beginners. It requires a lot of strength and good timing. The arms move together with cupped hands to move the water backward and downwards. Similarly, the legs move together with the torso undulates like an earthworm. When swimming, every arm stroke should be accompanied by two kicks. Take a breath at the end of the arm stroke.
5 Health Benefits of Swimming
Enhances Cardiovascular Health
According to the American Heart Association, an individual requires two and a half hours weekly of moderate-intensity physical activity to attain optimal health. Swimming is as good as cycling, dancing, and other land-based activities.
Here is an important point. Fluids exert force on objects known as hydrostatic pressure. The pressure increases as the object submerge deeper. This water pressure boosts blood circulation and pushes blood to the heart.
Alleviates Stress and Boost Mood
Swimming improves mood and reduces psychological stress. It improves mood, especially to people with dementia. Correct swimming strokes techniques involve rhythmic breathing, which triggers the parasympathetic nervous system, which, in turn, helps the body relax and rest. Swimming in warm water is incredibly soothing.
Helps to Burn Calories
Moving muscles during swimming involve using a lot of energy and help to burn calories. For instance, a person weighing 160 pounds burns 420 calories every hour when swimming leisurely. Butterfly stroke and other vigorous strokes can burn as much as 4000 calories every half an hour. The amount of calories you can burn depend on the swimmer’s skills. A rookie swimmer tends to burn more calories than a good swimmer.
Ideal Activity for Asthma Patients
Outdoor activities, such as hiking and biking, can induce asthma. On the other hand, swimming promotes a moderate and steady assertion, unlike long distance running, which requires heavy and repetitive breathing. The humid environment of indoor swimming pools is ideal for people with asthma. The sport also involves breathing exercises such as holding your breath, which helps to expand the lungs. Swimming is less likely to induce asthma attacks and hence suitable for asthmatic people.
Excellent Full Body Workout
Swimming involves using both the proper and lower body. Different strokes are ideal for different muscle groups. A combination of freestyle, backstroke, breaststroke gives you a well-rounded workout. For instance, while the breaststroke emphasizes triceps and biceps, crawl exercises the chest muscles and shoulders. Ultimately you gain muscle strength throughout the body. The stretching, twisting, and pulling your body through the waters helps swimmers stay flexible.
Before you start the sport, you should invest in ideal swimming gear. Each piece of equipment is designed to enhance the strength and technical aspects of your swimming. Below are the main swimming equipment you need.
Goggles help you swim with your eyes open. Additionally, they protect your eyes from chlorine and other substances that can affect your eyes. There are goggles designed for people who wear glasses.
Kickboards are made of floating materials such as foam to helps swimmers o stay afloat. It allows you to coordinate your kicking and rest your arms. Ultimately they help you build a bigger overall motor. Kickboards help you develop better leg fitness, improve body position, and boost finishing ability.
Every swimmer requires a swimsuit unless you prefer going in undraped. The most important consideration when buying a swimsuit is comfort. Here is the good news. Thanks to technology advancement, swimsuits are now designed with little resistance and long-lasting fabrics.
Fins help enhance swimming efficiency and develop efficient kick. It is an excellent tool for improving cardiovascular fitness. Fins help you swim faster by adding propulsion to your kicks. There are long fins to help learners swim faster and improve their stroke. Short fins, on the other hand, help you go faster. Ideal fins should not be very tight.
A snorkel is a handy tool for improving a myriad of swimmer’s needs, including more balanced stroke, proper sculling, and better kick work. Using a snorkel helps you develop full stroke and balance. Muscle imbalance leads to a swimmer’s shoulder. The best part is that they are cheap and versatile equipment that enables you to become a better swimmer.
Swimming is Fun and Healthy
If you are thinking about learning a new sport, then swimming will prove to be an ideal choice. Besides being a fun exercise, it has many health benefits, including enhancing muscle tone, building strength, and endurance. It is a low impact, meaning you can exercises even when you are a senior citizen. If you are not a swimming enthusiast already, you should give it a try.