Welcome to Sports Spotlight. Every week, as InQuire’s Website Sports Editor, I will be taking on a new sporting activity for the benefit of those interested in diving into something to get fit. Or those just wanting some ideas. These articles will be posted every weekend, with the lowdown on how to make the most out of the weekly chosen sport and many top tips on how to be a pro.
THIS WEEK IS… SWIMMING.
Although not being a strong swimmer myself, I grabbed a pair of goggles and armbands (kidding) and dragged myself down to the nearest leisure centre pool. But at least I got to buy a brand-new range of swimwear. Plus, swimming is great for cardio AND muscular endurance as you fight that current.
Now, I’m definitely no pro swimmer and I can tell you now that I never will be, so this really is a crash course for beginners in swimming.
So read on, for more fitness fun.
Different Swimming Types
Doggy Paddle – the old favourite from swimming lessons. For those who you not blessed with the experience of doggy paddle, where were you living for the duration of primary school?! Involves cupping the water with your hands in front of you, kicking your legs backwards. Looking back now, it is not the most graceful position but does allow one to move through the water. Although, quite slowly…
Breast Stroke – one of the most go to positions in swimming. Hands placed forward in a shark-like pose, cutting through the water as you pull your hands apart, legs shaped in a frog-like position. After that terrible explanation, I’d suggest googling it.
Back Strokes – Some people are generally quicker on their back in the water, I know I was. Start with your head in the water, then push off from the side and kick your legs to move (obviously). Move your arms in a windmill like motion, extending straight out of the water against the water and then back down the other way, hence like a windmill, one after the other. Helped upper leg strength, although I developed a slight foot cramp when done for too long.
Butterfly – This one is for those who want something slightly more advanced. Head under the water in between each stroke, your arms come forward together into the water as you scoop backwards against the waves, the then repeat. For those who don’t want chlorine in their eyes, I suggest trying something else.
Top Tips to Become a Swimming Pro
Do not eat beforehand – you’ll get the worst stomach ache and be, therefore, useless. If you must eat, it’s best to make sure you wait an hour until your food has disguised before hitting the waves.
Use the length of the pool – whether it’s backstrokes or doggy paddle, swimming all the way from one end of the pool to the other will set an attainable goal. Rather than setting a time goal of ‘I’ll swim for half an hour’, it’s better to use distance as you can push yourself further if need me. Who knows, you might end up doing ten laps of the pool.
Go with friends – pool party anyone? The best part about swimming is that it can be as social as you want it to be. Whether you’re having a party, racing your mates or climbing onto inflatables, you’ll be engaging in cardio and working those muscles.
(Not a lot of tips because I am no way a pro. It’s harder then you’d think.)
Biggest Pro… very sociable.
Biggest Con… you can’t blast your iPod.
Overall Ratings of the Sport
Comment: The nice things about swimming is it can be intense as you like. You could be fighting against the water like an Aussie, or simply bobbing along.
Comment: Although water is very easy to find, it can come at a price. A lot of swimming pools ask for a fee. But, if you’re on holiday, the likelihood is that they’ll be a pool somewhere nearby. Or take to the sea, if you’re feeling risky.
Practical yet costly.
Comment: Might be easier for those with short hair, but most will agree that drying off after a swimming session can take longer than the actual session itself.
Comment: With friends, time flies and you forget that you’re even having to work hard to get fit.