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The Olympics are over, and many of us may be inspired to get in the pool after some amazing performances. We may not all have flipper like feet, or be a torpedo in the water, but nonetheless, swimming CAN be excellent exercise.if we swim properly.

The advantages of swimming
  • Everyone can LEARN to swim, young and old, fit and disabled. It is an exercise that we can continue to do long after we may retire from more strenuous sports
  • Swimming is non weight-bearing, exercising the joints and muscles without high impact, making it an excellent exercise for many people with arthritis and other injuries
  • Swimming is an excellent aerobic exercise and encourages a steady rather than rapid increase in cardiovascular activity, and therefore is recommended for people with heart problems
  • Swimming can give the best overall balance of the conventional fitness requirements: STRENGTH, STAMINA and SUPPLENESS
  • It requires an integrated use of the whole body, so that it exercises many muscles, giving excellent body tone
  • Water has relaxing and therapeutic properties that can make it calming and de-stressing.
The danger of swimming

Unfortunately many of us do not swim properly, and this can turn swimming from excellent into being quite harmful.

Once we move through the water, most of us stop thinking about how we are swimming, and do not continue to learn and swim in a healthy way.

The greatest danger comes from trying to keep the head out of the water, putting considerable stress on the neck and shoulders, and this puts increased stress on the lower back.

Raising the head out of the water encourages the lower body to sink, dragging in the water.

Good swimming

Healthy swimming needs to be learnt and requires relaxation and calmness.

  • Head and neck relaxed
  • A lengthened streamlined body can glide through the water.
Correct breathing

Breathing is vital to healthy swimming. A poor breathing rhythm is the reason many of us get out of breath, and exhausted quickly. It requires good movement of the diaphragm.

Breathing is possibly is the hardest part of learning to swim and comes naturally when the body is positioned well with good technique.

  • Poor positioning restricts the airways and compresses the diaphragm
  • Good positioning keeps the airways open, and helps the diaphragm to expand.
Breathing tips

Don’t hold the breath. Keep steadily breathing. Always keep breathing out slowly whilst the head is under the water. Try not gasp for air as you breathe in or blow out too hard under water.

Tips to enjoy you’re swimming
Putting your face in the water

It is necessary to be able to put your face in the water. If you are simply not able to do this then it may be better to find other exercise that you can enjoy safely, or swim gently for only short periods of time.

Use goggles

Goggle technology has improved and there are many different types, so persevere to find some that fit. Prescription goggles are readily available, and need not be expensive. Contact your optometrist.

Other aids

Water tight ear plugs are helpful for swimmers prone to ear infections, or who have earache when the head is under the water.

Nose clips whilst not generally recommended can be used for sinus problems.

Chlorine can be a problem for some people, and there is a wide variety of anti-chlorine hair care products. Some newer swimming pools have reduced chlorine by treating the water with ozone.

Final tips

Learn to swim, if necessary get some lessons. Prevent injury and swim healthily for many years.