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.


Posted by Ashley Scopick, MPT

Ashley enjoys working with clients to meet their individual goals and understands what is required of athletes in a variety of different sport and recreational activities. She takes a hands-on approach to treatment and enjoys using Manual Therapy to facilitate change. She also believes in the importance of educating clients and giving them the tools they need to be successful in their recovery. Book now →