So you don’t know how to swim? No big deal, because we are here to help you.
Swimming is a great form of exercise. The water cradles your body and takes the strain off your joints, making it enjoyable for anyone who suffers from pain, and also great for anyone who does not. It gives you fantastic cardio, it tones your muscles, it helps with weight-loss, and it may just save your life.
Yes, learning to swim can save your life.
Most people live within driving distance of a body of water. This does not need to be the ocean or a sea; it can be a lake or a pond. If you ever find yourself in the water, and you cannot swim, then your life could be in danger. If you find someone else struggling in the water, then being able to swim can save someone else’s life. Swimming is a basic survival skill which everyone should know and practice.
The skill of swimming also helps you to enjoy life more, especially if you are interested in water sports. If you want to go scuba diving or snorkeling, then you had better know how to swim. If you fancy yourself as a surfer or paddle boarder, then swimming is essential. Even a day at the beach is more pleasurable with an afternoon dip in the cool water.
Swimming can only make your life better.
Yet, there are many who cannot. The exciting news is that learning to swim is easy and achievable for anyone. With a little time and a little practice, you can be confidently gliding through the water in no time.
Learn how to breathe
Your muscles need oxygen. Your muscles while swimming need A LOT of oxygen. This is pure biology and you have to accept it and adapt to it if you want to see any success in long-distance swimming.
There are three basic rules that combined will help you breathe while swimming in a way that gives your body oxygen while it is not producing drag or distraction.
1. Keep your face in the water. We know it might be uncomfortable at the beginning but it is a must as you swimming with your head up your hips and legs will go deeper underwater and you will lose the body position we talked in the previous section.
2. Exhale under water. This is the most common mistake among beginner swimmers – they exhale and inhale quickly when they turn to breathe. This gives you little oxygen and holding your breath underwater doesn’t help you either. The proper way is to breathe in while turning and breath out with your head already in the water using your nose and mouth. That is another thing might seem uncomfortable and at the beginning, it will be, but that’s the way of getting as much oxygen while minimizing the time your face is out of the water and your head is up.
3. Three-stroke breathing. For long distance and any hard swimming session, the way to go is one-sided breathing pattern that gives you good rhythm and good flow of the oxygen. The thing to watch out for is a slight body imbalance you need to correct when breathing on one side only.
The sum of all these rules implemented means more oxygen and better rhythm while swimming and that means more power and efficiency in the water.
A few tips to help overcome a fear of swimming
- Start by getting your feet wet and try to gradually get deeper into the water
- When you can stand in water deep enough splash water on your face as if you are washing it. At the same time think of positive images while you are splashing your face.
- Next try to learn to hold your breath under the water and breathe out into the water. Basically, blow bubbles!
- Hold the side and practice kicking with your body stretched out
- Don’t feel rushed to make progress.
- And finally, remember you are not alone. Comedian Frank Skinner was 55 when he decided to face his ultimate fear and learn to swim for the Big Splash Mile for Sport Relief. He said: “I really threw myself in at the deep end and faced one of my biggest phobias, swimming, by completing a 25 metre width. It felt great to challenge myself.”
Now, that you can tread water, we are going to try floating on your back. Everyone has a natural buoyancy, and if you spread out your arms and legs, you will find a calming experience floating on your back.
To do this, first practice in a shallow part of the pool, where you can place your feet down on the bottom if needed. Start by placing one hand on the wall or having a friend hold under your back. You want to slowly lift up your legs and open them, while spreading your arms so that your body is in the star-position. Once you feel yourself floating, let go of the wall or have your friend let go of you.
Enjoy the calm feeling as you stare up at the interesting pool roof (or amazing blue sky, if you are outside). There is not much to practice with this skill, just know that you can do it, should you find yourself in a position that you need to.
Awesome work! Shall we start swimming?
How to improve your technique
There are many things which you can do to improve your swimming technique once you have mastered the basics of the strokes.
The better your cardio, the more you will be able to swim. Swimming is good cardio, so the more you swim, the better you will get. Jogging and biking will also help.
Swimming uses a lot of muscles, especially your core. Try to find other workouts which focus on your core, to give you better strength when you are swimming.
Control your breathing while you are swimming. If you get out of breath, then you will have to stop swimming. If you do not take in enough oxygen, then you will not have enough energy in your body to complete your strokes. Find a good balance between your head being in the water, and it being out to take a breath. If you can keep the same breathing rhythm, your swimming will improve.
Take small steps. Swimming in a pool is a lot different to swimming in the ocean or a lake. Make sure to perfect your stroke in a pool before you go out to swim in a natural body of water. Make sure to ease yourself into the water, as it will be colder than what you are used to. Start in the shallows and practice swimming there before you move onto deeper (and probably colder) water.
If you have only recently learned to swim, then always take a friend (who can swim) with you when you are swimming outdoors for the first few times. The combination of the cold, unknown, weedy, or different waters, can cause anyone to lose focus. For advanced swimmers you can check our article for swim fins and active swimsuits.
The most important thing, though, is to have fun. And lots of it.
Globo Surf Overview
You can see from our guide, that it is not very hard to learn to swim. It does not matter how old you are; if you follow our instructions, and try hard while you do, you can learn a basic swim stroke in under an hour. All that is left to do after that is practice.
Swimming is a fun activity which opens up a whole new world to you. From exercising in a pool to diving down deep under the water, swimming can open your world to new experiences and water sports. It is great for your body, your lungs, and your hearts.
Swimming is a life skill and a survival skill. If you are near a body of water, there is always a chance of danger. If you were to fall in, or someone else was to fall in, swimming gives you the ability to save your own life or save someone else’s.
Swimming is also a peaceful and relaxing activity. There is nothing better than swimming in a mountain lake, enjoying the beauty of nature or taking a dip in the ocean on a hot summer’s day. Take the time to learn to swim, and you will never regret it. I can promise you that.
- Swimming Muscles, myactivesg.com
- Treading Water, military.com
Give them room to breathe. The pool should be a place where they can’t to see their friends and have fun. So, don’t hover. Give them the freedom to become the best they can be on their own!
How do you encourage your swimmers?
Elizabeth Wickham volunteered for 14 years on her kids’ club team as board member, fundraiser, newsletter editor and “Mrs. meet manager.” She’s a writer with a bachelor of arts degree in editorial journalism from the University of Washington with a long career in public relations, marketing and advertising. Her stories have appeared in newspapers and magazines including the Los Angeles Times, Orange County Parenting and Ladybug. You can read more parenting tips on her blog.