The next few posts are going to be on the general subject of swimming and training. Most of it is my own reflections from being a life long swimmer and lover of the water. It has to do with my theories on what produces good technique, and all that I am going to say is aimed at beginners and intermediate swimmers or triathletes.
Swimming is a great form of meditation and exercise, but it rarely helps people in accomplishing specific weight loss or conditioning goals that are not water related. Those seeking weight loss will be immensely frustrated in the water. Those attempting to build general core strength can do so with less overall time in other activities. That being said, swimming is low impact and has a low injury rate while consuming a lot of calories realtive to the amount of time spent in the activity. Add some cold water and you’ll burn even more calories and develop metabolically active fat cells.
While swimming can cause overuse injuries, as in other sports, these come from technique problems and failure to build up proper complimentary muscles. Most of the time these can be avoided if you the swimmer is willing to train IM or to add a shoulder/knee strengthening regimen outside the pool. Learning proper technique of course helps more than anything.
If you are coming into swimming later in life it is likely that your shoulders, ankles, and hips do not have the flexibility required to immediately jump in and be maximally efficient. If you go backwards while you are kicking, you know exactly what I am talking about. If streamline feels like some sort of medieval torture, you can guess what I am talking about.
I’ll address those and give you stretches and exercises that will help with those over time in the next few days. Give yourself a lot of time to help over come these monumental frustrations and realize that most swimmers have forgotten what it’s like to acquire these simple motions as they infuriatingly swim by with what now seems like effortless grace.
The biggest challenge you will face is actually getting in the water day after day. Cyclists cum triathletes are continually saying daft things about never being able to get the hang of swimming while spending an hour and a half a week in the pool and 15 hours cycling. I know that cycling is the biggest and most time intensive part of a triathlon from sprint to iron to ultra, but please realize that if you want to drop time in your swimming leg, spending the time 1.5 hours a day per week for a few months will equate to massive drops in time for your event and far far less fatigue when you rise out of the water and mount your bike.
Spend the time in the water and you will be surprised that after you get it down it’s very easy after two months to drop down to 2 or 3 maintenance swims a week to hold a pace that will blow away what you were holding with far less work.