By: Mary Marren “People who think that an IRONMAN is unattainable – I tell them that it is possible. I can take anyone – a person that does not have an athletic bone in their body and make them into a triathlete if they’re willing …
Just keep swimming, swimming, swimming! The cute song that Dori sings in “Finding Nemo” sounds delightful, but swimming continuously is not always so pleasant. Much like running, swimming can seem redundant and can make working out seem like a chore, and let’s be honest…most of us don’t do chores willingly.
I never took swimming lessons, or was part of a swim team. My mom had a better approach of teaching me to swim; throw her in and she’ll figure it out! It sounds awful, but it worked for me. I did not mind splashing around in the water, but it wasn’t until I started lifeguarding that I started taking swimming more seriously. For the last seven years it has been a standard for my employment, but I never really understood the health benefits or enjoyment that could be had with swimming.
My mom had a healthier approach to teaching me the fundamentals of running than when she taught me to swim. She started training me when I was in the fourth grade, and I quickly fell in love with the sport. I was a competitive runner all the way up to Fall 2011, when I finished an amazing season of Cross Country here at UW-Whitewater. After my running career ended I soon realized I had to change things up to stay active (I needed a break from running). As a lifeguard at the Williams Center I was required to swim 3,000 meters every month, so I decided it would beneficial to take a swimming class—that way I could do something active, but also get my swimming requirement done.
I have to admit, I was not completely thrilled about the class. Like I mentioned before, sometimes swimming lap after lap is not the most attractive way to workout. However, I very quickly learned that swimming is not only a killer workout, but also is more fun than I gave it credit for.
Ever since taking this class my legs, back, arms, and core have gotten stronger. I have the class just twice a week for 50 minutes and it has already made a world of a difference. To make things even better, I was sincerely enjoying swimming laps and found myself looking forward to my Monday and Wednesday afternoons.
Let me share with you the secrets I discovered that have made swimming laps my new favorite workout: VARIETY! Continuous swimming when you are just doing the conventional front crawl can make the idea of doing laps daunting, and un-inspiring. So, I highly encourage you to change it up and incorporate varies strokes while swimming. Here is a link to give you a better insight of some basic strokes: http://www.enjoy-swimming.com/swimming-strokes.html.
I try to change the stroke I’m doing quite often. For example, if I’m doing 100 meter intervals I will either do a different stroke for every interval, or every 50 meters. Using a kickboard is also a helpful method. Not only will it help you focus on toning your legs, but it adds in more of that variety I’ve been talking about. Feel free to use fins as well! You can get them from equipment check-out in the Williams Center with your student I.D. Fins can be very helpful when you are a beginner to swimming.
Now, I’m not saying that you should take a swim class, though I recommend it, but I’m encouraging you to give swimming a try. The pool in the Williams Center has different open swim hours throughout the day, so it is easy to find an hour or two that fits in with your schedule. Just one hour of swimming can burn almost 500 calories; more depending on the type of workout http://www.health.com/health/article/0,,20411721_last,00.html. If you use my variation method, and stick with a consistent schedule (even two days a week was effective for me) you will see the benefit and enjoyment that can come out of swimming for fitness.
Warhawk Fitness PR Team