Swimming equipment - where to begin??? I guess a costume for the gals and a pair of shorts for the guys - please not trunks! At my local pool there are quite strict rules about what you can and cannot wear - ie not allowed over the knee shorts and that sort of thing.
I run a parent and child swim class and am often asked what is the best equipment to use for the babies/toddlers to give them some independance in the water..also to give mum's arms a rest from clinging on to small child for duration of class. There are so many things available and all have pros and cons so I'll just run through a couple here:-
BABY SEAT - A baby seat is usually an inflatable circular or square with the centre designed for baby's legs to go through. These are great for early use. They give the baby independance in the water, allow their legs to splash about and move freely, also gives mum's arms aching arms a rest! Just be careful as sometimes baby can lean too far forward, but with parental supervision you'd notice if your child was tipping over.
ARM BANDS - Again these are an inflatable device. They are worn on the arm. One of the advantages of these are that you can slighty deflate them as your child's ability improves and usually they are inaware there is less air in them until you can finally remove all the air. A disadvantage is the limiting effect they can have on arm mobility.
DISCS - These are similar to armbands but are usually made of polysterine and are not inflatable. You would normally start off with about 3 or 4 discs on each arm and decrease the number as the child's ability/strength improves.
BOUYANCY SWIMSUIT/JACKET - These are worn by the child and are either inflatable or contain polysterine blocks worn inthe jacket/suit. they are great for mobility and giving your child confidence in the water. The downside of these is that as your child grows you'll need to buy new ones as they'll grow out of them, but like with the armbands/discs you can reduce the bouyancy offered by the suit.
WOGGLES/NOODLES - These are pieces of polysterine about a foot long and are bendable and great for swimming. You can use them to swim on your front or back, tie them in a knot to use as a kickboard, put them between your legs - they are very versatile..apparently there are hundreds of uses for them!
THE FIN - This is a relativley new piece of equipment. There is piece of polysterine in the shape of a fin, this attaches on to the child's back by velcro straps. Its a fun piece of equipment and can offer good support, some children found it difficult to lie on their back though using this.
There are more products available, but I have just provided a few examples of the more common ones.
Swimming is an excellent sport to keep fit as you are using your whole body to keep afloat and move through the water. The only thing that limits the ability to swim is a venue to swim at such as the local swimming pool or the sea. In the UK, it's difficult to swim in the sea most the year as it is too cold for your body and only gets warm enough in the height of a hot summer. However, there are many local swimming pools that make up for this including those at fitness centres such as David Lloyd. If you have holiday homes in France or Spain, many houses have their own pools, which is a superb bonus as swimming is such a fantastic sport.
Not only is swimming a sport, but it is a skill and many jobs revolve around this such as lifeguards and other marine activities. If you would like to take up diving as a hobby, it is necessary that you are a strong swimmer too, despite the equipment you dive with. The best way to learn swimming is from an early age, so if you have children, then it is best to get them swimming at a young age. If not, they may be scared to swim in the future or find it hard to start swimming - it's like riding a bike but even worse.
There are many different strokes in swimming (styles) but everyone usually starts with the most basic and the fastest - front crawl. Different strokes may have different names, for example front crawl is also more simply called front stroke. Front crawl involves alternation with each arm, bringing them round in circles and down into the water before pushing back to move forward. You kick your legs up and down rather like how a fish moves it's tail to help keep your body afloat and go faster too. There are more challenging strokes such as butterfly, which involves bringing both arms round at the same time, which requires a lot of strength.
Swimming is great to keep you fit as you use every muscle in your body to keep yourself afloat. It is good to help lose body fat and improve your cardio output too. Swimming in the sea is enjoyable and you can float easily due to the higher salt content as opposed to swimming pools. You can also go snorkeling, which is great fun as you can see tropical fish and dive under if you are confident with holding your breath and clearing your snorkel after. Diving is the most magnificent sport that involves swimming, where you can actually go under the sea and swim amongst fish - it's a whole new world down there. I have a PADI diving license myself, which was well-worth getting but I haven't made much use of it yet, however there are many diving centres around the world at all tourist destinations to go diving.
Although swimming in the sea is great, I prefer in pools as the salt water in the sea can go up your nose and really agitate you. If it gets in your eyes, it makes them sore and is a pain to rinse out when on a beach. It is still great fun on a wavy day being able to jump over the waves and swim around, which is excellent exercise. Swimming pools are advantageous in the way they are enclosed so you can't drift off. They are great when you can dive into the deep end and are ideal for practicing swimming and getting exercise. They can bring great fun when in water parks too.
Overall, swimming is an excellent sport in many ways. It will keep you fit and is the doorway to a whole new world beneath the sea. It's free to do at a beach in the sea and is great exercise too. I would recommend learning to swim from an early age. It's a pretty safe sport too but if you put yourself in danger in a rough sea, it can be dangerous and lead to drowning.
Thanks for reading,
I started swimming at primary school when we funded a pool to be built within the grounds of the school through fetes and generous donations. I was lucky thoughout my school years to go to schools that had their own pools so managed to become quite a stong swimmer.
I managed to work my way up though the badges and obtained to get my 1,500m badge when I was at about the age of thirteen, I was knackered but so pleased I had achieved my goal!
Ever since school I have always been a bit of a water baby but as the years go by I find it harder to brave putting on a swimsuit and offending the eyes of my fellow swimmers :-/
I decided to bite the bullet and start swimming again a couple of months ago. It was pretty much a last resort to get some form of exercise as I aggrevated an old knee problem earlier this year doing kickboxing. This means that I cannot do any impact sports so swimming is great as the water bears your weight.
Swimming is a great form of exercise as it uses all the main muscle groups. I tend to alternate between stokes to get a full body workout.
The main strokes in swimming are:
I have mastered them all apart from the butterfly. Trust me, there is nothing graceful and butterfly like about me when I attempt this stroke, more like a moth who has landed in a puddle and is fighting for her life!!!
I have spent much time in gyms over the years and one thing I hated was getting hot and sweaty! I know you may read this and think, well that's kind of the idea, but I hated it! With swimming the water cools your body as you exercise. The problem with this is that you can get dehydrated if you swim for more than thirty minutes and not realise it. it is still exercise at the end of the day and just because you can't feel you are sweating it doesn't mean you are not losing fluids.
I think it is important that every child is taught to swim. My father is sixty and still cannot swim and has no intention of doing so. My father used to spend a lot of time on his parents barge as a child and he fell in the canal once. He was flapping around and panicking and my nan shouted out "just stand up"..............the water was only waist height! We al laugh at this now but it could have been a totally different story had the water been deeper!
In my opinion swimming is one of the best forms of exercise. Not only does it tone most of your muscles it is also good for the cardiovascular system. I also find it quite relaxing and I certainly sleep well after a good swim!
Swiming is also a fairly cheap exercise. The only equipment you need to buy is a swimming costume ( I have not come across any naturist swimming sessions thank goodness!!) and a pair of goggles. I signed up to my local councils scheme and currently pay £160 for a years unlimited swim. At three times a week this works out at just over £1 per swim!
Many pools also run water aerobics classes for those that like to exercise in a group and need a little more motivation. I am yet to try one of these classes but I do plan to as it is more social and it can get quite lonely swimming up and down the pool doing endless lengths!
At present I go swimming three times a week. Two of those swims are at a gentle pace but I do try and push myself once a week and swim on average 1000m a time. I hope to improve my fitness further over the next couple of months and as swimming is an enjoyable sport I can see myself sticking to my routine.
What are you wating for.....................dive in!!
Swimming has to be my favourite activity to do either by myself or with friends and children. I learnt to swim at quite a young age through swimming lessons at my school and then when we moved the middle school I went to had its own swimming pool so we went swimming twice a week there as well. I wouldn't say I am a brilliant swimmer but I am fairly strong and would feel confident swimming for a while as I am able to tread water for a while and get my breath back.
My favourite stroke is front crawl, although I don't like to put my face in the water when I swim so I am not as stream lined as I should be while doing this stroke, but it does feel exhilerating while you power up and down the pool like this.
The best stroke to relax to is back stroke. I tend to do it when the pool is very quite so I can just use my feet and paddle along while relaxing on my back. That is really heaven as your ears are under water and it muffles all teh shouting and noise and I could lay like that for ages.
Both my older step sons are very good swimmers and my younger children are taking lessons at the local swimming pool each week. My daughter is progressing along very well but my son is still a bit like a rock. Still he will get there with perserverence and determination. I think it is really important to teach your children how to swim - it could really save their lives one day and the younger to introduce them to the concept of swimming and lessons the better in my opinion.
It is great exercise and it leaves you feeling clean and healthy, rather than hot and sweaty after a gym work out. I would rather swim any day than spend an hour in the gym. It is fun, healthy and could save your life one day.
History and information -
Images of swimmers have been found in 'the cave of swimmers' near Sura that date back to around 2000 BC and there is evidence it was popular in Greece and Rome in the original Olympic games. 1800 was around the time competitive swimming began mostly using breaststroke which I will explain later. The front crawl, also known as the Trudgen back then was introduced in 1873 by John Arthur Trudgen who copied it from the natives.
Swimming was part of the first modern Summer Olympics held in Athens in 1896; in 1900 the backstroke was considered an Olympic Event and shortly after in 1908 the world swimming association Federation International de Natation was formed.
The Butterfly was originally a variant of breaststroke, until it was accepted as a separate style in the 1952 Olympics. At present, there are the four recognized strokes of the butterfly, backstroke, breaststroke and front crawl (or freestyle). The individual medley is a combination of all four of these strokes in a designated order. Butterfly is done first, followed by backstroke, breaststroke, and then finishing with the freestyle.
The idea is to complete a set distance in the shortest amount of time, and more importantly beat those you are directly racing. Races can be held over distances of 50m, 100m, 200m, 400m and some endurances can go up to 1600m. With the improvement of techniques and the easy availability of fitness equipment the finishing times have significantly reduced and new records are often set. It isn't just however an individual sport, there are relays where up to 4 members take it in turns to complete a section of the race.
At the start of the race each swimmer will stand on the box designated to their lane, there are usually 8 lanes set up in a pool (an Olympic pool is 50m long). The swimmers will then be asked to take their mark; at this point they will stand on the very edge of their box and form a triangle with their bodies by touching their toes. The referee will fire a gun and they will dive into the pool, they are allowed to swim under water for a set length, usually around 10m at which point they must surface. Being underwater for longer is classed as an advantage because there is less water friction. In order to finish a race the individual must touch the end wall with both of their hands.
Swimming suits are specific to the user, for males swimming trunks and shorts are usually the best choice, however professional swimmers tend to have full body suits which reduces water friction on their skin, female swimmers also wear these for events, however recreational female swimmers are likely to wear a bikini or one piece swim suit.
Swimming can be enjoyed both recreationally and as a job, divers will use their swimming skills to search for pearls for example, where as a recreational swimmer will simply go to their local pool for the fun. There are pools all over the country so the sport is highly accessible; it is also very good for fitness which makes it a popular choice for those who wish to get healthy. Swimming is the best form of exercise because it uses every muscle in your body, it also helps you to breath and is enjoyable at the same time.
There are however risks to swimming which should not be overlooked, the following are all very realistic dangers.
Drowning, adverse effects of immersion, exposure to chemicals (chlorine for example), infection, swimmers own actions (over stretching), adverse water and weather conditions, objects in the water and of course marine life in the sea. Some of these are more serious than others, and some you will not find in your local pool, but you should always be aware and take the necessary precautions.
Common Strokes -
This is the style of swimming often used by novices to swimming; it is very easy in practise and tends to come naturally to those who are learning to swim. The stroke is a very good choice to start off with; it introduces you to using both your arms and legs at the same time, as well as keeping your head above water.
The stroke is so named because it is the same action a dog would use to swim (mainly because their bone structure does not allow them to do the more difficult strokes), most dogs naturally adapt to swimming in water without any training so it is no surprise we instinctively use this too.
In order to perform this stroke lay on your stomach in the water and kick your legs up and down keeping your toes pointed. At the same time hold your hands in front of you slightly submerged in the water and move them up and down, your hands should keep you up and your legs push you along. To practise children or adults are often given a kick board to hold out in front of them as they practise kicking their legs.
Breast Stroke is probably the next most difficult to do, many however claim to be doing the stroke correctly when in fact they aren't, to do it is easy enough, but to technically perfect it is very difficult. The motion is very similar to that of a frog, and if done correctly should give you some good speed through the water.
To perform the stroke once again lay on your stomach, instead of kicking your legs you bring them up in a crunch motion, at the same time bring your arms in close to your chest. Push out to the sides with your legs as though you are moving your feet in a circle away from you, midway through hold your hands together with your palms facing outwards (back of hands touching) with your hands flat, and push them forward so your arms are straight. You should then push back and slightly down with them to get lift and propulsion. Just as you hands are finishing begin to pull your feet back in for another push, and continue.
Beginners should aim to do this with their heads above the water but more comfortable swimmers can duck their heads under the water just as they are pushing their hands out, this reduces water resistance and should increase speed. You should also try and keep your body as flat as possible during the stroke to streamline your body.
Front Crawl is technically the same level of difficulty as the breast stroke, but many people can't do it because it requires you to control your breathing if you want to do it properly, it is also a much faster method but you have less control over direction.
You should again be laying belly down in the water; you can start by kicking your legs which you will continue to do throughout, however, this time your arms will come out of the water one at a time. Start by bringing your right hand up past your right ear with your hand pointed so it is flat, and your arm bent. Then thrust it forward as far as you can reach and push it into the water, direct your hand so the palm faces back and pull back, you want your hand to be flat and fingers together to make it act like a paddle. Just as the right hand is pushing bring the left up past your left ear and thrust it forward, this should hit the water just as you right hand is coming back up from your side.
Try to maximise each push to save energy, you can perform the stroke with your head out of the water looking forward, or some swing their head from side to side in time with their strokes, but the best way is with your head flat in the water. After every third stroke bring your head up out of the water on the side of whichever arm will be out of the water, there should be a gap between your arm and the water where you can get some air, this should maximise air intake and stop you getting out of breath.
The Backstroke was for me always the most difficult to learn, when I was thrown into the pool by my mother (not literally) at a young age of around 4 I was always scared to swim on my back, I just didn't like the thought of it. However after some gentle coaxing from my teacher I was soon doing it without any worry.
To do the backstroke you should be lying on your back at the surface of the water so you are facing up. Kick your feet like in the front crawl, this will give you your constant movement, then swing your arms in turn, hold them straight by your side, then bring them all the way up above your head where they will enter the water, and push as hard as you can with the aim of returning them to your side. Continue this and you will get a smooth motion, your body may sway a little but try to move your hands slightly, not your arms, under the water to combat this tilting. Again, keep your hands in a flat palm shape to increase the push from each hand passing through the water.
These are the more common strokes, there are others for more advanced swimmers such as the butterfly where you move your body like a dolphin and pull both arms in a circle at the same time like a windmill at your sides, this is a very difficult stroke to perform. There is also the skull but this is not seen in any competition and very rarely used, you lie on your back floating with your hands straight at your side and latterly just move your hands to make you move, this stroke is focused on balance and floating.
There is also treading water which all swimmers should be able to do, although it isn't really classed as a stroke. You stay still in the water with your head in the air and us your arms and legs to keep afloat. This is usually taught in case you fall off a boat, or need to stay a float in water for long periods of time, often children will be asked to do this in clothing like in a real life situation so they are used to the extra weight.
I love swimming and have done so since a very young age, I consider myself someone who is better at swimming than the average person (not being big headed), but that is because I have had good access to a pool all my life and have an athletic physique. I try to swim whenever I can; I simply enjoy it, although outdoor pools are far better because you don't get so much chlorine in your eyes that you are blind for 3 hours after you get out of the pool.
I would suggest swimming to anyone who wants to learn so they feel safer in the fact that if they fell off a boat they could at least float, or anyone who wishes to get fit. If you are overweight the water will take a lot of your body weight for you so you are not carrying as much like you might do on a treadmill or cross trainer.
Fitness - 10/10
Fun Factor - 9/10
Safety - 8/10
Availability - 8/10
Although this review is meant to be about "swimming sports equipment" I do not think there is much equipment that really needs to be involved with swimming. All you need is a swimming suit or trunks, and you are ready to go!
Alternatively, you can swim naked, and help save the planet, by being eco neutral and not leaving any CO2 footprint in the water!
Jokes apart, swimming sis surely one the most complete activities or sports and has got very few negative sides.
On the positive side, it helps strengthen the spine and the whole body, arms and legs and chest in particular.
It is said that everybody can learn to swim, but I know some friends of mine who really never got round to swimming and to date, they do Not swim.
If you have kids, take them to the sea or to a lake when it is hot and play with them in the water and gently show them how to swim.
Swimming requires no equipment. The swimmer only needs a pool of water or river to swim.
Swimming is easy to learn. Think about it we are designed to swim. New born babies swim naturally we lose it once we are born. 70% of human body is made up of water. Our bodies have same density as water and therefore the effort required in staying afloat is not that much.
Swimming is good for human mind and soul. Swimming helps me relax. Water cleans us, it is good for our skin. Swimming in water helps us relax body, build stamina, excercise muscles and all of this requires no excessive cost.
I admire people who swim. Some of the swimmers I have seen are over 70. Good for these people and we should all learn from their examples.
I suggest that although swimming is not difficult anyone doing it for the first time should be under supervision and have proper lessons.
Swimming is a great way to keep in shape. It doesn't cost a lot either. I mean you don't need very much to go and swim. Entrance fees in swimming pools are not that much and in some places you can become a member for a fixed fee and swim as much as you like for no cost.
Swimming is a very effective excercise. Most of your body muscles go to work. I suggest to vary the strokes and speed to make the body work harder.
I learnt to swim in my teen years. It was difficult because little children could swim and I was a grown up talking lessons. Once I overcame this personal issue rest was history. I've taken to swimming like duck does to water. Actually I am not that great swimmer. But I am good enough to pay a visit to my swimming pool every sunday. Couple of hours in the pool does wonders for me.
Swimming is a great form of exercise and there are so many public baths in prewtty much every town that you do not have to join a gym to be able to take part meaning you can pay as you go rather than paying a monthly fee. At my local swimmimg pool it is £3.60 a time and there is no time limit set on your visit however you do have to check the times as the pool is often booked out to various clubs.
One of the benefits of swimming is that your body is supported by the water so there is little impact on joints so it is ideal for those with any bone, back or joint ailments. Pluse when you are swimming you are working lots of muscle groups in your arms and legs as well as your lungs and stomach muscles.
It is important to vary the stroke that you do and also change the pace of your swimming to get the most benefit, it is not just about trying to swim further and further each time as your body will adapt to this.
It is also quite low cost as apart from a pair of goggles and a costume no equipemnt is really needed so it can be cheap and also being able to swim is excellent for when you go on holiday and can swim in the sea.
Swimming is the best way to keep fit as it works all of your body to the max! In England, it is harder to go swimming than America for example because not many people have their own pool and even community pools are limited. However, there are fitness clubs and swimming pools around and there is sure to be one within good distance of you.
Places to swim include community swimming pools, fitness centres, lakes or rivers and even your very own back garden! At a swimming centre, there will most probably be changing rooms so you can get changed there. It isn't really recommended or as popular to get into your swimming gear and jump in the nearest lake or river, but it can be done! Some lakes are allowed to be swum in, and people do this in the warmest weather in summer. If you are on holiday, this is the ideal time to go swimming because most warm destinations will have a pool.
Swimming itself is great fun. There are many different ways of swimming as you need to keep yourself above the water! If you re beginning swimming then don't worry because it is pretty safe and the human body naturally floats on water anyway because of the buoyancy and the lungs. If you are female, your breasts will provide extra buoyancy and you may realise this next time you go swimming when they seem to float on the top!
Front stroke has to be the most common way of swimming. It involves bringing your arms over your shoulders and into the water to push back in large circles alternatively with each arm. You also kick a bit with your back legs to help you move. Doggy Paddle is basically the same as how a dog swims. You move your arms in small circles like a dog does to gain distance. Back stroke is the same as front stroke but on your back. It is harder to master as you can't see where you are going and it's harder to bring your arms back over your head.
There are many other strokes such as butterfly, where you bring both arms forward and kick with your back legs, which has to be the hardest. Breast Stroke is loved by women (and men too) because it is easy and calm compared to other strokes. It has a more unique method, which involves bringing your hands and arms towards your chest and then pushing out, hence the name 'breast stroke'. You also move your back legs in a rather unusual way in and out like a frog. It can move you quite fast and is a calm way to swim keeping your head above the water.
As well as swimming ON water, I like to swim UNDER water. You can either do this by snorkelling or diving. Snorkelling requires a snorkel, mask and flippers. Diving requires much more equipment including a tank as you will dive under the water even down to the sea bed and be under for a while. Snorkelling doesn't really involve going right under the water, but you keep your head under so you can look through the mask and see the underwater world. You can dive under when snorkelling by taking a deep breath and diving. You must always leave enough breath to blow the water out your snorkel when you get up to the surface, as it will enter the top of your snorkel tube. Diving can be dangerous and a course and theory tests are taken before you get a license from any diving company. If you are interested in starting, I would suggest Padi as a diving centre.
Overall, swimming is great. It keeps you fit and is fun to do! Waterparks and water complexes add fun to swimming as you can shoot down slides before landing in a pool. Snorkelling and diving are two ways to explore the underwater world and see tropical fish, coral reefs and exotic creatures. There are loads of community swimming centres around the UK as well as clubs and places to take lessons. Most fitness centres such as David Lloyd will have a swimming pool there somewhere.
Thanks for reading,
- Recon -
Swimming dates back to the time when men lived in caves. They drew paintings of themselves swimming.
When I was in middle school I learnt how to swim. Our school had a swimming pool and I joined the club after school to swim.
Swimming is not expensive. All it requires is bit of cloth to cover yourself and goggles or a swimming cap.
Swimming is a good way to keep the fat off your body. I swim once a week at local sports centre and twice during the week through work, they have a big gym and a swimming pool. When I swim I forget about everything else.
Swimming keeps me healthy and active. I recommend it to everyone. It is better than running because I hate to run. There is a swimming pool in all big towns. It doesn't cost a lot to swim. Swimming is like fishing. You don't have to be a professional. Swim a length of the pool or more. For the last ten years I have never missed a week of swimming.
I have seen whole families swimming and enjoying themselves.
I have always been a water babe ever since I was young and I love to swim, in fact I have just returned from a swim at my local gym. Personally I prefer to swim in fresh water lakes and I love the sensation of diving down below the warm surface area in the summer to hit the colder layers of water, some of the best lakes I have swam in were in America and also in Austria where the water was crystal clear. I enjoy the sea as well and love tobody surf in the waves on my body board.
Swimming is excellent exercise and when was at school I swam for both my club and the county and even went to the Nationals one year however I failed to make the final. Swimming is great exercise as it involves you working a large group of muscles in your body, also there is no impact on your joints as you body is supported in the water, running in a pool if it is shallow enough is also good exercise as impact on joints is negated and also you have the resistence of the water to push through, thoe recovering from sporting injurys and even horses often have it as part of their physiotherapy.
When I used to swim competitively we often made use of equipment to assist our training and my kit back consisted more that just a towel and swim costume. In addition to goggles to help with vision I also used to use hand paddles and also small fins on my feet for certain drills as well as a kick board for leg exercises.
So if you are looking for a low impact form of exercise then swimming or water aerobics could be for you and these days if you join a good gym the pool will always be quite shallow to allow classes to take place so you do not need to be able to swim to still use the pool to exercise.
Swimming rules at sunset!!!!!!
*****My History of Water*****
My lasting memory of early reading experiences is that I would read the pictures rather than the words. I would be quite happy creating my own little stories from the illustrations, instead of depending on what the author had actually written on the page. I can remember very vividly, sitting next to my mum on our brown faux leather sofa some time during the winter of 1980-81, with my stomach tied in knots because I couldnt read the word enormous. We were reading The Enormous Turnip at the time and that blasted word was on every single page!
Now you may be wondering, and rightly so, what on earth all this has to do with the subject of swimming. Well let me tell you in a single word. Confidence.
I love to read. As a grown up I devour books. I love to write. I love to talk. Words are my toys, my playmates, my friends. But as you can see from my turnip experience above, this wasnt always the case. My mum has often said that when I learnt to swim, my confidence in everything else just blossomed. And so it did.
When I mastered the art of staying afloat in what appeared then to be a huge swimming pool, my fear of other, smaller things just disappeared. I became confident in myself, as though somehow I had proven to myself that if I had the mental strength to not be afraid that my feet were not on the floor of the pool, then I certainly had the mental strength to overcome my fear of failure in the reading department. Of course, at the time, I didnt dissect it in such a grown up, psychological way. But I felt it, and I knew, somewhere in me that something had changed. I became a bookworm. I flourished in art and creative subjects. I came out of my shell.
And now, I love to swim too. I love the freedom and the serenity of it. Gliding through the water and feeling the pull on my limbs. Feeling that sense of powerfulness as I push myself through the rippling blue. There is a weightlessness, a calmness to being immersed in water, especially underwater swimming, a silent minnowing below the surface like a sleek and swift mermaid. I feel free and serene and calm when I swim. Light. Soft. Peaceful.
There are so many health benefits of swimming, not just from a physical point of view, but mental as well. The obvious health benefit is weight loss, or, if you dont need to loose weight, swimming helps to tone your muscles so that they work to burn calories more effectively.
Swimming has far less negative effects on your body as an exercise like, for example, running, and is far more accessible to people (like me) who are overweight. If I went out running I would probably do myself a serious injury (or knock myself out..!!) But swimming is different your body is supported by the water, and the water also acts as a resistance so that your muscles have to work that bit harder to move you through it. There is therefore less stress and strain on joints, which could, with a different activity, like running for example, cause pain.
Its much easier to maintain a pace of swimming that keeps your heart rate above the level it needs to be in order for you to loose weight, and this is a key factor in why its recommended by doctors all the time as a gentle way to loose weight or change your body shape and get rid of that spare tyre youve had since last Christmas!
I have recently been quite unwell during a period of depression, and have found that swimming has really helped me to go some way to combating the immense tiredness Ive been feeling as a result of this. It also makes me feel wonderful, so from a mental health point of view, I can thoroughly recommend this as a way of helping you to deal with some of the symptoms linked to depression, as well as the side-effects of some of the drugs used to treat this condition.
I also find that swimming is a little bit like meditation because you are so focused on moving through the water, and how it feels and how peaceful it is, it kinds of takes you away somewhere and your mind is still and calm. I also benefit because I have very poor eyesight, and when Im in the pool (without my glasses) I cant really see more than pale pink blobs (people) and the round white blob on the wall at the end of the pool which I know is the clock. So I dont get quite so distracted by other people, and just focus on what Im doing. So in this way, I find it very relaxing for my mind, very peaceful and indeed, exactly like a good session of meditation.
Swimming has been proven to help people who suffer from asthma, because it helps to strengthen lung capability, so it is an ideal activity for anyone, particularly children, who suffer from this condition.
Swimming is also used to help people recover from injuries, and though I have had no experience of this, I can see why it would be very beneficial as a form of encouraging physical healing.
*****Where to Swim?*****
Most towns and cities have swimming pools, as well as private gyms. I have been a member of a private gym (Greens, Newcastle) and loved the facilities there, but now just go to my local pool, which whilst not being quite so posh, has everything I need, namely lockers, showers and a great big lovely pool! Newcastle is lucky enough to have loads of swimming pools, I know of about 5, and I know there are more that I havent been to. Making time for some exercise can be quite hard if you have a family or are very busy, so pick a swimming pool that is close to you, and that doesnt take ages to get too, that way you have more time in the pool, and dont need to feel guilty or frustrated over how long it takes you to get to each time.
I take my swimming costume, a couple of towels (one or my hair and one for me!), and myself to my swimming sessions. Its an evening session so I get straight in the shower when I get home, but if youre going earlier in the day, take toiletries with you there are usually hairdryers and whatnot there to use.
When youre choosing a swim suit or swim shorts, my advise is the simpler the better. And ALWAYS try them on before you take them home or get into a pool. If they feel loose and baggy when theyre dry theyll most certainly fall off once they get weighted down with water!!! Ive had a couple of embarrassing experiences in swimming pools when Ive bought swim costumes without trying them on first, one of which I had to put knots in the shoulders of after loosing the top half of my costume in the middle of the deep end. I almost drowned!! But I didnt let it scar me, and can laugh about it all now!!! (Really!!!) But take my advise, better to buy a snugly fitting costume, than one which feels a little loose!!!
Other things that people use in the swimming pool are goggles. If your eyes are sensitive to the chlorinated water, or you wear contact lenses, this is a great way of protecting your eyes from becoming puffy, red and sore. They are also great if you like swimming underwater a lot. They are relatively cheap Ive seen them in sports shops for under a tenner, though I imagine as with anything, the more you spend, the better quality you can expect.
Some people find it useful to wear earplugs, as the feeling of having water in your ears is often very uncomfortable. I keep meaning to invest in some, as I find the pressure of water when Im swimming underwater sometimes knocks my balance out of kilter, but I keep forgetting! I also keep forgetting to buy a new swim cap these are generally made of thin rubber and designed to keep your hair dry and out of the way. They are perfect if like me you have longish hair, and mean you dont have to remember to bring a bobble with you when you swim. Last week on our weekly swim session with my sisters and my mum, my bobble decided to commit suicide and snapped just prior to me getting in the pool. I had to swim with my hair out, and though it felt very romantic and mermaid-like to swim that way, Im not sure its really the best thing for my hair! It was very tangled when I got out and quite painful to brush!!!
If you are just learning to swim, you can borrow a float from the pool, which will help you stay afloat and is a great confidence booster. I used to love using these, even after I had learned to swim, to practise my leg work. Ask at your local pool for details.
*****Learning to Swim*****
Many pools now offer swimming lessons for adults as well as children, and I can thoroughly recommend them. Our local pool can do one to one swimming lessons even for people who can already swim but are not very confident in the water. Quite often just a couple of lessons can boost the confidence of a less experienced swimmer such that they improve very quickly. Sometimes people are not confident because of a bad experience theyve had and this can be worked through too with a one to one coach.
Teaching your children to swim is something I feel is very important as many schools now dont offer this as part of the curriculum. Having the skill of swimming is a survival technique that I feel everyone should have, and the confidence and pride that you feel as a child in being able to master swimming is something that never leaves you!
*****My Local Swimming Pool*****
My local pool has a very colourful history its where every single member of my immediate family learned to swim, including my mum and my uncle, and it has been in operation since 1938. Since 1997 it was under threat of being closed by the local council who ran it, and sadly this did happen in July 2003. However, the people of Fenham decided to stand up to the council, and its cost cutting measures, and after much campaigning and a lot of fund raising, it reopened, 2 years later, in July 2005. As a registered charity, it now runs as full a programme as ever before, but relies upon people using it to keep it open. So if you live in the Newcastle area, get yourself down to Fenham Pool, details below!
There are some great facilities, all very basic, but still worthy of a mention including a sauna, a steam room(which I love!) disabled changing facilities, lockers, showers and hairdryers. There is also a small baby-changing area. Price wise, I think its definitely value for money, with a sauna/steam and swim costing only £4.00 for adults. Under fives go free at all times and there are loads of different offers for monthly swim passes and classes like aqua fit.
I love our local pool, and I feel quite proud to be supporting it, as it is a piece of our family history, and its the place where I learnt to have confidence. Its really a very special place.
For more details: http://www.fenhampool.talktalk.net
or call 0191 2747210
I love to swim, and I feel so glad that I learnt to. I think there is nothing better in the world than swimming, and I have even swum in Lake Derwent Water in the Lake District, an experience I will never forget. I think being able to swim can give you great feelings of peace and tranquillity that leak out into other parts of your life, and its definitely the best way I know of maintaining a good level of physical fitness and mental health. I can thoroughly recommend swimming to anyone, whatever your age, current level of fitness or mental health state. Its brilliant, and I hope one day everyone finds out how beneficial it can be!
Thank you so much for reading, and I hope you enjoy your next swimming session! Kate x