Swimming is as universal as running, yet more people prefer running than swimming as a form of exercise, why is that? Well I for one, associate swimming with summer time, holidays, a refreshing drink on the beach and having fun with friends. Running, on the other hand comes hand in hand with crazy techno music, breathlessness, explosive heartbeat, zoning out and sweating like there is no tomorrow. Between the two, tying our Nikes comes more naturally than fixing our goggles. Furthermore we’d rather work hard towards a physique to show off at the beach than one that can swim miles and miles across the beach!
Still, the benefits of submerging underwater in a full body suit, spanky cap and geeky goggles, are irreplaceable. The sole idea of interacting with water contains within itself spiritual, symbolic and therapeutic dimensions. Water washes away, resists, balances and makes up around 70% of our body mass. It is a massive challenge for a land specie such as a human to operate in a non-land context naturally- for example flying is an activity that all of us execute with adequate equipment (parachutes, airplanes, etc.) otherwise you drop dead from the sky. Swimming while somewhat accommodating to the human body, can potentially turn into a hostile context, unless the individual in question is both experienced and possesses a sense of judgment for how to behave in water. Of course this is different for competitive swimming, where risks are minimal because the act occurs in a controlled setting. Still, the point that I am trying to make here is, it takes both mental and physical effort to finally arrive at a stage when one adapts to swimming!
Again I am going to quote myself as an example here… I have a 24 access to a swimming pool yet I only use it about two times a year! It is shameful, but it takes up a large amount of mental effort to change into a swimsuit, not to mention the frustration of having to dry my hair, which is by the way too long. Still, I decided to attempt it once more for the sake of varying my exercise routine; the result was not so hydrophobic once I entered the swimming pool, swam a couple of laps alternating between different styles: breaststroke, freestyle and backstroke. Backstroke is my favorite style because water doesn’t splash your face and ears as much as the other styles- I guess I am hydrophobic indeed after all.
I consider myself to be into good shape but I must admit swimming was a challenge! Couple of laps and I was completely out of breath, which if fantastic for everyone that would like to take up swimming as a form of physical exercise. Given the fact that you burn around 700 calories for an hour of swimming it is no wonder that Michael Phelps eats cereal, eggs, pancakes and four protein shakes for breakfast… a real breakfast for a real champion! So if you love a champion’s breakfast couple it with intensive swimming intervals, but do make sure that the mountains of food you consumed doesn’t drown you! Surprisingly, quite on the contrary, swimming is probably the only form of exercise that balances out a heavy stomach because water eliminates gravity. Hence if you were to run after you have just eaten a massive breakfast, gravity will pull you down causing you to feel sickness in the stomach, while swimming would have no effect whatsoever. As a result, individuals that experience fatigue while carrying out normal land-based exercises or those that suffered injuries would feel incredibly well in a swimming pool because the water cushions and buffers their muscles, joints and bones while they move.
In the case that you are a hydrophobe like me I suggest developing a routine that would encourage you to go swimming more often. Perhaps associating water in a swimming pool with positive memories from your recent summer holiday can act as a source of motivation to take up swimming, or, even better, enroll with a gym with a swimming pool and trained professionals that can guide you through some tips when swimming. Good luck!