Tips for Swimming Newbies
Swimming is a total body workout and a great respite from the daily damage running and jumping can do to your body. Swimming should not be confused with an easy “phone-it-in” workout. It calls for some serious cardio conditioning and coordination.
This year, add something new to your workout and start swimming for exercise. Here are some swimming tips to get you started.
Why You Should Swim
There are a number of reasons athletes head for the pool. Some are rehabbing injuries, while others are looking to switch up their workout. And then there are those who simply want to cool off.
Whatever your reason, the benefits are just as good. Swimming is a total-body workout, engaging muscles that can be missed with other workouts.
“Many people comment, ‘I didn’t even know I had a muscle there’ after swimming for exercise,” says Derek Howorth, swim coach and aquatics director for the George Block Aquatic Center in San Antonio, Texas.
Find Your Comfort Zone
Howorth recommends easing into it to ensure you return.
“Comfort is key,” Howorth says. “If you are comfortable, you are more likely to try swimming again. So many people who try swimming for the first time start out at such a high effort level that they get tired after doing just a few laps.”
Keep Your Gear Simple
Get only the gear you need. Howorth cautions to keep it simple when selecting gear for your swim workout.
“In swimming there are tons of ‘toys’ so don’t get carried away,” he says. “To start, you will need a proper training suit and goggles. If you need a little more motivation, get some fins.”
Fins can in fact help to motivate newer swimmers as they help to make your kick a little more effective and propel you forward with less effort, giving you more pool time to work on your stroke before exhaustion.
Work On Your Swimming Technique
Technique is extremely important in swimming. If you do not have the technique, you run the risk of exhausting yourself sooner, and not getting very far in the water.
“Technique is an extremely important aspect of swimming,” Howorth says. “Starting out at a comfortable pace gives you the freedom to process what you are doing and, in turn, make stroke adjustments.”
As far as what stroke beginners should try to master, standard freestyle is best. Howorth recommends freestyle because it is generally the fastest stroke and allows for slightly less exertion than other strokes.
“Freestyle allows people to train for extended periods of time without your heart rate getting too high,” he says.
Try Pool Running
You don’t have to swim all the time. Put a kick board under each arm, flat against your body and move your legs like you’re running. This is great for runners trying to recover from injury and is a challenging workout.
While swimming is often a prescription to rehab an injury, people with a history of shoulder injuries should heed some caution. Howorth explains while injuries can result from swimming, they are easily preventable.
“The most common injuries in swimming are shoulder injuries due to repetition with poor technique,” he says. “This is why I recommend starting out at 50 percent effort and getting the help of a coach to give you some advice with technique.”
Where to Swim
Take time to research gyms or clubs in the area with pools. Some may have a drop-in rate if you only want to swim a few times per month. Your local YMCA is a great place for a pool and also offers many aquatic programs that can help you get started.
Once you feel more comfortable, research Masters and noncompetitive swim teams to keep in swimming shape.