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Getting Started

Here’s a likely scenario: Excited by the prospect of all these benefits, man goes to the pool.

Swimming, it needs to be said, is not a sport that comes effortlessly. Witness recreational pools, which are typically filled with folks who look like they’re more interested in self-preservation than exercise. We’re going to show you how to make that transition from thrashing wheezer to graceful swimmer and how to improve even if you’re already at home in the water.

 

  • Get Qualified Instruction – Learning to swim may seem like something for preschoolers in water wings. But even if you can successfully navigate from one end of the pool to the other, proper technique is not something that you can learn on your own.
  • Be Patient – We expect to pick things up quickly. Swimming won’t be one of them. Learning proper stroke techniques takes time, and that takes patience. People want results right away, but swimming is extremely technical, which is really frustrating for a lot of people. Learning swimming’s four strokes – freestyle, backstroke, breaststroke, and butterfly is not difficult, but it is essential that you learn how to do them properly if you want to get the most out of swimming.
  • Relax In The Water – When you’re learning to swim, relaxing is the most important thing that you can do – and the most difficult. When people are learning to swim, they get nervous and they tense up. And when they do that, they find themselves sinking, and it’s just that much harder. You need to relax and stay loose. If you happen to be one of those people whose muscles lock into a state resembling rigor mortis whenever you go near the pool, you may want to pick up a pair of swim fins. They make your kick more powerful, which means that they will keep you up and planing across the surface, even when you’re tense and tight.
  • Get The Right Equipment – There’s not a lot that you have to buy, just a suit and swimming goggles. The choice of suit is yours. Racing suits are light and comfortable. More important, they offer virtually no drag in the water. Swimming goggles are a must. Keeping the pool from becoming a virus reunion requires liberal use of chemicals and many of these chemicals are hard on the eyes. Occasionally, you’ll see swimmers wearing nose plugs or earplugs. Save your money. Unless you’re particularly prone to swommer’s ear, the human body is designed to withstand moisture in these particular orifices. In any event, earplugs tend to fall out while you’re swimming, and nose plugs make it hard to breathe – and when you’re swimming hard, you want to be sucking in all the oxygen you can.

Swimming For Fitness

 

Swimming  looks easy, especially when you watch experienced swimmers glide through the water. But swimming is an extremely demanding sport; for beginners it can be a fight just to get to the other end of the pool.

To achieve solid basic fitness, try swimming three to four times a week, logging between 2,000 and 3,000 yards (roughly 1.5 to 2 miles) each workout. Most swimmers can get that kind of distance in about an hour.

If you’re fairly fit but new to swimming, experts recommend swimming between 500 and 1,000 yards each workout. Then build slowly from there. Swimming is a vigorous activity. You’ll be using new muscles, and it’s easy to stress them. Shoulder injuries are especially common among overzealous newcomers.

 

  • Start With A Warm Up – Swimming may be a forgiving sport, but you still want to loosen up before plunging into a high-bore workout. Experts advise swimmers to warm up with a 400 yard swim – 200 yards freestyle, 100 yards of backstroke, and 100 yards of breaststroke – mixing up the strokes to bring all the muscles into play.
  • Work Up To Intervals – Although you can get an excellent workout by swimming straight time, doing the same stroke at the same pace for half an hour or so, you’ll burn substantially more calories by doing an interval workout. This is nothing more than a series of swims separated by a specific amount of rest (the interval). For example, you might do ten 50-yard freestyle swims, leaving the wall every minute. Or you might do five 100-yard freestyle swims leaving the wall every 2 minutes. A typical swimming workout consists of several sets, with roughly 10 to 30 second intervals between each swim of the set, then several minutes rest between each set. The important point is not to allow too much rest during the set, you don’t want to fully recover between swims.
  • Mix Your Speeds – A lot of people just condition themselves to swim at one speed because they do the same kind of workout all the time. If you want to improve, you need to learn to swim fast. It’s not that every swim needs to be a sprint. The idea is to mix things up. Rather than swimming the same half-mile pedestrian plod every day, for example, do intervals instead. And make at least one of those interval sets involve fast swimming. Swimming fast brings more muscle fibers into play, taxes the heart and lungs more, and burns as much as twice the calories.
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