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Swimming 101

Thinking of trying out a new sport in 2018?  We continue our series of intro articles to give you the know-how to get started.  In this issue – swimming.

Most of us are familiar with the Michael Phelpses and Abbey Weitzeils of the world, whose physique and agility may seem unattainable, but few of us have “everyday” swimmer athletes in our social circles.   As a result, the pool can be an intimidating place.

Well, fear not, you land-based athletes! We’ve got some great tips for getting you off the pavement and into the pool!

  • Where to Start – Start by gauging your comfort level in the water. How long can you tread water? Hold your breath? Can you float on your back? Most gyms with a pool have someone on staff to help you assess your base swimming skills. Knowing your starting point will help you develop a safe training plan.
  • The Essentials – Make sure you’ve got the equipment you need to get started. Goggles, earplugs, waterproof watch, and competitive style swimwear. No cargo or board shorts, which slow you down and get in the way. For women, a one-piece suit is ideal as you’ll be moving and stretching a good deal as you cut through the water. The less you worry about your clothes, the better.
  • Get in the Water! – I know, this sounds simple. Part of that intimidation of the sport is often a tinge of fear about the water. The more you swim, the more comfortable you will become. Get acquainted with the water and learn the rules of the pool (lane sharing, pool sharing, etc.)
  • Start FreestyleFreestyle is an all-purpose stroke and is a great place to begin. If you’ve been swimming recreationally, you’ve probably used a basic or rough version of the freestyle. This stroke is relatively easy to keep straight and is easiest to do correctly while frequently checking to make sure you are maintaining your space in the lane.
  • Community –Being a great runner, cyclist, or weightlifter doesn’t make you a great swimmer. It does, however, give you some tools to start with. You have strength, dexterity, and drive that many seek as they progress into a swimmer. Find a swim group or team who can guide you with their expertise. You’ll discover ways to help them in your areas of strength, as well.
  • Benefits-a-plenty – Swimming offers a great zero-impact reprieve for runners while still providing an excellent workout. It also more fully engages upper body muscles sometimes neglected by runners and will work your core muscles in different ways than running alone. For weight trainers, swimming provides excellent cardio and ensures you are engaging muscles through a full range of motion. For cyclists, swimming can help lengthen important hip flexors, increase your range of motion and breathing capacity. Not too shabby!

Have you incorporated swimming as a cross-training regimen as a runner, cyclist, or other type of athlete? What benefits did you see? What were the biggest obstacles or challenges you faced? We’re always here to listen on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

And while swimming may be zero-impact, it is absolutely a fully engaged workout. If you suffer from cramps on land, they may follow you below the surface. Stop here to pick up your supply of HOTSHOT now—the only product scientifically proven to treat and prevent muscle cramps.

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