Whether you’re incorporating it as part of your fitness program or training for a race, swimming is a low-impact sport that provides an array of health benefits. Moreover, it’s a sport you can do all year long.
Like with any fitness program, however, getting started is often among the most challenging steps to becoming a strong swimmer. You don’t want to look like a beginner as you take your first strokes. Here are some tips to help you get started and to avoid looking like too much of a newbie.
1. GET THE RIGHT GEAR
Your three main pieces of equipment are a swimsuit, a pair of goggles, and a swim cap.
The best swimsuits are made of high-performance fabric that stand up to frequent wear. Also, make sure your suit is a comfortable fit when you move.
Many regard goggles as a swimmer’s most important piece of gear. Try on several pairs for fit and comfort. You’ll also want a set of lenses for indoor swimming (clear) and outdoors (tinted). Goggles with an adjustable nosepiece usually provide the best fit. The best swim goggles typically cost in the $10 to $20 range.
Latex and silicone are the most common materials used in swimming caps. Durability and fit are the most important considerations when choosing a cap that’s right for you.
1. HAVE GOOD FORM
Swimming is a specialized skill in which good form is especially essential. If your form is rusty, don’t hesitate to work with an instructor who will help you smooth out the kinks.
Starting with the freestyle stroke is usually your best bet for beginning workouts. Try swimming with the freestyle stroke for as long as you can, then rest until you’re ready to swim some more. Repeat this routine for a minimum of 20 minutes and gradually add more time as you build stamina.
Proper swimming form means keeping your head, hips, and feet in one long line, experts say. While you want to keep your body taut and in line, you also need to relax as much as you possibly can without losing alignment. You should also elongate your body with each stroke.
3. USE POOL TOOLS
As you work to refine your form and build endurance, using pool tools such as pull buoys is helpful. Pull buoys are placed between your legs (above the knees) and support your lower body as you work on your swimming stroke with your upper body.
Other helpful pool tools are kickboards and paddles, as well as a swimming snorkel. The latter is similar to a regular swim snorkel but is mounted in front of your face, rather than to the side. The device enables you to continuously breathe while keeping your body in the best possible alignment for swimming.
4. BE CONSISTENT
Consistency is the key to becoming better at any physical activity, and swimming is no exception. If you’re just starting out, try to get in 10 sessions of steady, easy swimming over three weeks as you feel your body adapt to the activity. After three weeks you should be able to tackle a regular swimming workout.
Swimming is an excellent way to lose weight and get fit. It tones muscles while working your heart and lungs. If you follow the steps above, you can hit the pool and look like a pro.