Getting comfortable with swimming can be a journey

Swimming is a fantastic exercise but if you’re doing it for the first time as an exercise, it can feel awkward and unnatural and might take some persistence…

I tend towards typical sports and recreation activities. My go-to’s, for getting a good cardio workout are running, cycling and soccer. I had dabbled in the pool a couple of times but never really took it up as an exercise.

It wasn’t until recently when a friend asked if I wanted to join her in training for a triathlon that I have started going to the pool as a means of getting my heart rate up. I haven’t committed to the whole triathlon. Yet. But I figured I would need to figure this whole swimming thing out if I ever was to try.

I grew up living close to lakes and have always been comfortable in the water. I felt like I could casually breast stroke for a km or two but when I tried to get the hang of the front crawl it was a whole different story! The first 50m went okay and then I started to feel like a boat taking on water; suddenly I wasn’t getting my head out of the water enough and every time I opened my mouth to gasp for breath I would take in some chlorinated pool water. In addition, water was tunnelling into my ears and nose and my legs were burning from my unorganized kicking.

I made it 100m before I needed to stop and catch my breath before continuing.

I could not believe how hard it was! I have watched the rhythmical strokes of experienced swimmers and just figured that I would look like that! I quickly realized that practice would be needed in order to perfect this.

After a few sessions with an experienced friend who helped me with the stroke, and some figuring out how to get comfortable, I am starting to feel like I know what I’m doing.

Swimming is a form of exercise that as a physiotherapist I suggest to many clients: it can be a way to run or walk with lower impact on the joints; it acts as a form of external resistance for strengthening the arms and the legs; it can be a great place to practice balance; and it is a great cardiovascular workout.

So if the pool has been something you’ve wanted to try out but have been a bit unsure where to start, I say jump in! And if you’re anything like me, know that it’s normal to struggle a bit. But with the right guidance and a bit of practice it’s definitely doable.

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Posted by Ashley Fradette, MPT

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