When it comes to a low impact, highly impactful workout, look no farther than the pool in your backyard or your community. That’s right, swimming is back in style and full of so many benefits, you may never venture to another workout again.

WHAT YOU WILL NEED TO GET STARTED:

  • Bathing suit (more snug than usual)
  • Goggles
  • Kick board
  • Pool access
  • Towel

BENEFITS OF SWIMMING:

  • High cardio, aerobic workout
  • Lean muscle building
  • Low impact on joints
  • Linked to helping heart trouble and blood pressure
  • Comfortable workout for those who find discomfort in being too hot when exercising outside
  • Can strengthen your breathing and lungs by breathing every 3 to 5 arm strokes
  • Swimming burns a lot of calories! For example, a one hour swimming workout for a person of 155 pounds can burn 704 calories swimming fast and 493 calories swimming slower according to Active.com.

So, with all these benefits, why would anyone want to miss out on this supersized exercise?

COMMON MISCONCEPTIONS:

1. “A swimming workout is way too easy.”

Fact: It is actually very difficult! Moving through the water has more resistance on the muscles than air. Also, the pressure is evenly distributed, so your whole body gets worked.

2. “A swimming workout is too hard.”

Fact: Anyone can swim; it all comes down to your form. Many people breathe too much (trying to breathe every arm stroke), whereas you should shoot for breathing every 3 to 5 arm strokes. Your head should stay in-line with your body with your ear in the water (which can be uncomfortable for some to master) and it should only rotate from left to right as you breathe. Picking your head up out of the water will only tire you out more quickly, and make you dizzy.

3. “Running and biking are better forms of full-body cardio.”

Fact: While running and biking are great forms of cardio, they are mostly lower-body workouts. These kinds of cardio will make you trim, but swimming allows both upper and lower body muscles to form those gorgeous lean muscles you’re striving for.

4. “I can do a long swimming workout right away because I am a strong swimmer.”

Fact: This might be true for the select few, but most people go too hard on their first swim workout and never go back. Swimming is a weird sensation (to be submerged for so long and not having your usual amount of oxygen that you have with running or biking). You need to start out slow to become accustomed to your breathing and proper form, so you don’t pull a muscle or cough up a lung from inhaling water (happens even to the pros).

SWIM WORKOUT FOR THE BEGINNER:

Before jumping in the pool, stretch out those shoulders, arms and hamstrings.

KNOW BEFORE YOU GO: One lap down a regular pool is 25 meters (25m), and a “long course” pool is 50m. Ask the lifeguard if you aren’t sure the distance. For example, a 200m set is 8 laps.

WARM UP: (MODERATE/EASY PACE)

  • 200M SWIM (arms and legs)
  • 200M KICK (only legs, cross your arms into streamline or use a kick board)
  • 200M PULL (only arms, cross your legs or use a buoy)
  • MAIN SET: (FAST/HARD PACE)
  • 3x 100M (25m freestyle, 25m backstroke, 25m breaststroke, 25m freestyle) with 30 seconds rest in between
  • 10x 25M SPRINTS (alternate between 25m sprint freestyle and 25m sprint your choice stroke) with 15 seconds rest in between
  • 3x 100M KICK (1st 100m flutter on stomach, 2nd 100m breaststroke kick, 3rd 100m flutter kick on back) with 20 seconds rest in between

COOL DOWN: (SLOW/EASY PACE)

  • 200M FREESTYLE

LEARN THE STROKES:

Before you jump in the water, you need to know the strokes. We recommend getting on YouTube and watching a video to see the strokes performed in the water before you try them. Here a few tips for the novice swimmer.

Freestyle:

The most common stroke. It is performed on your stomach, with head, neck and body in-line and horizontal to the water line.

To work on your form, have your legs kick twice as fast as your arms to ensure you are adequately pulling the water and breathing correctly. Kick, Forrest! Kick!

Backstroke:

This stroke is similar to freestyle but you are on your back and breathing the whole time.

Rotate Rotate Rotate! Many people find this stroke difficult because they don’t twist their hips enough so that they get stuck in what I call the “cockroach on its back”. Rotating will help your arms glide and pull the water.

Breaststroke:

This is a popular stroke because you can breathe with every stroke and is performed on your stomach with a frog kick.

Many people keep their neck crunched back and head extremely vertical to “get as much air as they can”. In reality, you’ll be able to breathe better if you keep your head and neck in-line with your spine, looking down at the water. This way the air won’t be cut off from your crunched airway.

Butterfly:

This is a tricky stroke to master for beginners and can be extremely difficult without the proper form. If you want to learn it, watch YouTube videos to perfect the timing of your kick and breathing.

Butterfly kick is not just in the legs. A large part of the kick works the abs, where the up and down motion follows through the lower abdomen, just like a mermaid would swim.

GAINESVILLE POOLS:

Dwight H. Hunter (Northeast) Pool

1100 NE 14th St. Gainesville, FL 32601

Cityofgainesville.org

 

H. Spurgeon Cherry (Westside) Pool

1001 NW 31st Drive Gainesville, FL 32605

Cityofgainesville.org

 

Andrew R. Mickle, Sr. Pool

1717 SE 15th St. Gainesville, FL 32641

Cityofgainesville.org

 

Haile Country Club

9905 SW 44th Ave. Gainesville, FL 32608

Clubcorp.com/Clubs/Haile-Plantation-Golf-Country-Club

 

Gainesville Country Club

7300 SW 35th Way Gainesville, FL 32608

Gainesvillecc.com

 

db Racquet Club

5100 NW 53rd Ave. Gainesville, FL 32653

Dbtennis.com

 

Martin Luther King JR.

Multipurpose Center 1028 NE 14th St. Gainesville, FL

Cityofgainesville.org

 

SunCountry Sports Center

333 SW 140th Terrace Jonesville, FL 32669

Suncountrysports.com

 

North Central Florida YMCA

5201 NW 34th Blvd. Gainesville, FL 32605

Ncfymca.org/aquatics

 

by Grace Downey and Nicole Irving