Just Keep Swimming

swimIn high school, my most hated and most cherished extracurricular activity was swim practice.  I remember the first week of it as a lot of swallowed chlorinated water, early nights and sunburn.

The first day I got out of the pool, I had to use the stares and could barely stand so; therefore, I was hooked.

Throughout the rest of my high school career, I swam about 12 to 15 hours a week both with my high school team and my club team.  I knew all the secret swimming tips.  How spit can clean muggy goggles. How to put on a cap without assistance.  The best way to keep warm before an event in the winter time.

High school ended and college began.  I wasn’t the fastest swimmer or the most valuable team member but I was an important enough player that I scored points to help our team win time and time again and I wasn’t ready to let the sport go.

Which brings me to my main point: swimming is a lifetime sport.

A human being submerged in water only carries 10% of their own body weight.  This takes the stress of carrying your weight off of your bones and joints.  If you suffer from arthritis or are overweight.

Speaking of overweight, if you are a calorie counter, swimming is one of the best calorie burners in the workout world.  For every 10 minutes of freestyle (the crawling one!), the human body burns about 100 calories.  Butterfly burns about 150.

Water is 12 times denser than air which means that the muscles are working against a resistance making swimming a powerful toning exercise.  Runners only have to resist air.  Because of this low-impact resistance, swimming increases bone strength, especially in post-menopausal women.

From tot swimming class to water aerobics for retirees, swimming can engage people in exercise for the majority of their lives.

Another advantage of swimming is getting a full body workout.  When you’re twisting through the water, literally like a torpedo, you are engaging all of your muscles.  This motion is so broad that it also works to increase flexibility (although one should still stretch after a swimming workout, like all workouts).  Compared to lifting on barbell at a time at the gym, your muscles are really working together as one cohesive system.

As grueling as swimming felt in high school when all of my other friends were out getting Slurpees after school, I now know that it is a hobby and an exercise I can perform for the rest of my life without worrying about the stress it causes my knees.

Shout out to Michael Franco for his awesome tips at Discovery Health’s website!

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