Swimming Techniques and Tips

by Pool Builders on 01-25-2012 in Articles

Swimming as a Fun-filled Activity

Swimming is thought by many to be the perfect exercise, combining a vigorous aerobic workout with muscle development and posing little risk of injury. And besides-swimming is fun. No wonder so many turn to the pool to get in shape.

1. Getting your feet wet

a. Take a shower to warm up your muscles before a swim. Also, beginning our workout slowly is easier on our heart.

b. Maintain a slower pace until your breathing is comfortable and your heart rate has risen. Vary your strokes in the first few laps to get all your muscles working.

c. After your workout, do a few easy laps or tread water to cool yourself down.

d. Some people seem to have trouble losing weight when swimming. While one theory suggests that swimming promotes fat storage as an insulation mechanism, this probably is not the culprit for those swimming in heated pools. More likely, people simply find it difficult to sustain a rigorous pace when swimming and take breaks more frequently than they realize.

e. It is important to drink water periodically when swimming. You won't notice it, but your body will lose water from the exercise.

2. Different strokes:

There is no reason to let your swim routine get boring when there are so many ways to cut through the water. Besides, using a variety of strokes will give you a better workout. Main swimming strokes are described below. For more complete swimming instruction, consider taking a swim class or hiring an instructor.

A. The crawl

a. Also refereed to as freestyle, this is often the stroke swimmers learn first.

b. Most of your propulsion will come from the arms. Once your hand enters the water, pull downward and then outward, tracing an "S" in the water.

c. One common mistake is to kick solely with the lower leg, but experienced swimmers know this kick should be done with the whole leg, from the hip to the toes. The heel of the kicking foot should just break the surface, and the other should be no more than a foot deep. Kicking two to three times per stroke is standard, but use whatever rhythm works best for you.

B. The backstroke

a. Keep your back and neck straight, but not rigid. Also try to keep your head straight. Tilting your head too far aback will raise your hips, tucking your chin in too much will cause your hips to sink.

b. The arm movements of this stroke can be difficult to master. Reach back with your arm extended. Once your arm is above your head, bend the elbow in 90-105 degrees angle and then straighten your arm again as it passes your hip.

c. The kick is similar to the kick for the crawl. Try for two to three kicks per stroke.

C. The breaststrokes

a. You may find the breaststroke to be the least complicated and least strenuous of all. But it is still a great workout, firming the chest, arms and thighs.

b. The arm movements are not tricky. Just make a large arc moving your arms in unison. Start with your arms stretched in front of you and then pull back in a large circle.

c. Your may have learned to do a frog kick with the breaststroke, but the whip-kick is more efficient. With your feet together, bring your legs upward until they almost touch your buttocks. Then snap them out in a "V" shape, before bringing them together again while you glide.

d. While the movements are simple, it takes some practice to combine the stroke and kick correctly.

3. Set swimming goals

a. Make a schedule. If this is your primary exercise, swim 20-30 minutes a day, three to five times a week.

b. Because of the cooling effects of water, you won't know if you are working up a sweat. Try to gauge how your body feels. Push yourself hard enough to get a good workout, but not so hard that you end up exhausted.

4. Finding a pool

a. Standard pools are either 25 yards, 25 meters or 50 meters long. However you can still get a good workout in a smaller pool.

b. The water temperature should be between 72-82 degrees Fahrenheit. Warm pools are more appropriate for slow swimming and practicing, stroke technique. Cooler pools are better for competitions as well as rigorous workouts at faster speeds.

c. If you swim in a busy heath club or college gymnasium, you will likely have to share your lane with other swimmers. Pool etiquette says to swim in a counterclockwise pattern, keeping as close as possible to the right side of the lane at all times.

d. All swimming workouts should be done under the supervision of a qualified lifeguard.

5. Tools of the pool

a. Swim fins: While these frog-like fins may look funny, do not laugh at people who use them. Fins let you get more from your kick, helping swimmers to achieve a full-body workout. Also, fins help beginners swim longer before they tire.

b. Pull buoys: These are canister-shaped flotation devices that attach to your legs. Use them when you want to rest your legs and concentrate on your arm movements.

c. Some pools require both men and women to wear a cap. Racing caps may cut down on drag, helping you to speed through the water. They may also help protect your hair from the chlorine in the pool.

d. Get goggles: The chlorine in pools can be irritating to your eyes, causing burning, redness and tearing. You can protect your eyes with well-fitting goggles.

6. Better breathing: For the beginning swimmer, even taking breaths can be a chore. If swimming a few laps leaves you gasping, learn these breathing tips.

a. When doing the crawl, do not hold your head too high. The water level should be at your hairline.

b. Exhale completely into the water before you turn your head to breath again.

c. To inhale, turn your head just far enough to breathe rather than lifting your whole head out of the water.

d. Breathe once every two or three strokes.

e. Learn to breathe on alternate sides. This will make you feel more in control and will reduce shoulder tension.

7. Water wear and tear

a. Chlorine is notorious for damaging hair. Before your swim, try putting a small amount of crème rinse or conditioner in your hair and then wearing a latex swim cap.

b. A post-swim shampoo with products designed to remove chlorine residue will also help keep your hair soft.

c. Thoroughly dry your ears after swimming. Shaking your head vigorously to one side may do the trick.

d. Those especially prone to ear infection should consider earplugs. Puttylike plugs that mold to the shape of the outer ear canal are the most effective.

e. For longer wear, rinse your swimsuit with tap water after each use. This will help wash out the chlorine residue.

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