Years ago, one of my competitive sports was swimming. I also worked as a lifeguard. When I was a kid I had a fear of water due to many factors and like most humans, we weren’t designed for the water. Yet, after taking lessons (not from my father who threw me into deep water and said swim. I nearly drowned!), I developed a passion for it. Later, I excelled and joined a swim team while I was in jr. high and later in high school. My best stroke was the breaststroke, followed by the butterfly.
Swimming increased my upper body strength and endurance for other sports as well. When I added what I did already, I became a much better overall athlete. In the arena of natural movement, swimming is a part of it. One should be able to function on land and sea.
Most Americans are pretty bad when it comes to swimming. According to the American Swim Coaches Association, only about 2% of Americans can swim a quarter mile. Heck, I used to 1+ mile ocean swims on a regular basis. And adding to the fact that about 60% fear even getting into water, we can see that there’s a lot of swim resistance going on.
There are a lot of benefits to adding swimming to your overall fitness plan. Michael Phelps had to consume 10,000+ calories a day when he was in training mode. He burned a whole of calories! Swimming does that. If you’re looking to lose that excess body fat, then swimming is another avenue for you. Swimming builds upper body strength (as I stated earlier). That is a reason a lot of marathoners are lousy swimmers, because they lack that upper body strength and many can’t even make it halfway across an Olympic-sized pool. Swimming builds endurance. You have to use your whole body, including your core, to be an effective swimmer.
Speaking of effective swimming, a reason many struggle with it is that their body is simply not moving the right way. There’s a lot of drag going on and this uses a lot of energy. Top swimmers know how to swim in a way that cuts down on the resistance of the water.
For the standard crawl stroke, it’s important to move your body as a single unit. A strong core is needed. When taking a breath, roll your body to the side and not your head. This lessens the drag that your body has on the water. When you do this, you’ll expend less energy and will be able to travel farther. There’s more to the science of swimming and I may post it later.
My challenge to you is get into swimming this coming Summer season and have fun too.
Bob Choat, “Transformational Master Black Belt”
America’s #1 Mind-Body Transformation Expert and author of Mind Your Own Fitness