Swimming is a really fun activity that can also help you get in a good workout in your day. If you’re just starting out as a swimmer or could use some tips on being a better swimmer, you’ll benefit from the following tips:
Warm-up and stretch off correctly
What you do before and after you start swimming is extremely important. Warming up a few minutes before your swimming session with some gliding will help to increase blood flow in the body and elevate your heart rate, getting you ready for the actual swimming session.
Similarly, it’s equally important to cool off in the right way after a swimming session. You can cool off by taking some gentle laps in the pool as this helps in flushing lactic acid from your muscles which will initiate the process of recovery.
You should also stretch out tight muscle groups like the chest, shoulders, and hip flexors when you get out of the water through dynamic, movement-based stretching.
Master your breathing
Perfecting your breathing is necessary for you to get better at swimming. A common mistake people make while swimming is holding their breath or taking their head out of the water to breathe. Practice by taking deep breaths in through the mouth and gently exhaling through the nose at a steady pace. You can practice this on land before getting into the water.
Your head must remain down in the water while swimming. Your chin should be tucked into your neck. When it’s time to take a breath, do so by rotating your head to the same side of the arm that’s out of water. Make sure your head is still in the water. Only your mouth needs to be clear for air.
Practice breathing in this way as many times as you can to perfect it. Your muscles need to be supplied with oxygen for you to swim properly, and breathing properly will make this possible.
Practice swimming technique
A strong will and drive may allow you to get through a few laps in the swimming pool, but if you want to see long terms change and get better at swimming, you need to focus on swimming technique; otherwise, you will be capping your potential as a swimmer. Learning and practicing the right swimming technique will allow you to swim with intent and focus.
Don’t overwhelm yourself trying to learn all the techniques or swimming strokes at one shot. You’ll only end up burdening yourself with too much to do, and it’s unlikely that you’ll make significant progress in any of the techniques.
Instead, focus on mastering one technique before moving on to the next. If you’re working on learning many strokes, move on to the next stroke only after you’ve mastered the previous. Even within strokes, break it up to learn different movements. For example, when focusing on your technique for freestyle, you can break it up into focusing on:
- Proper arm length
- Maintaining a still head
- Proper action of the legs
- Breathing on each side without raising the head above the water
- Keeping your body in the right position in the water
Watch videos to learn from pros
You can gain a lot of insight into swimming by watching videos of professional swimmers and seeing what they do right. While watching several videos may not directly result in you being a pro when you get into the water, it will put you in a better position to understand what it looks like to swim correctly. There’s a lot of knowledge to be gained by viewing videos of professional swimmers, and with the rise of the internet, such knowledge is made widely available; so, take advantage of the opportunity.
Record yourself swimming
It’s a good idea to set up your camera strategically so that you can record yourself as you swim. You can also get a friend or family member to record it for you. It’s difficult to keep track of every mistake you make while you’re involved in the activity of swimming. Having a recorded video of yourself while you’re swimming will allow you to play it back once your swimming session is over. Through such a video, you’ll be able to identify the mistakes you make and correct them. You could even get the help of your swimming instructor to draw insights from the video and tell you where you’re going wrong so that you can change it.
Get used to your goggles
You want to make sure you’re wearing goggles and swimming so that you don’t compromise the health of your eyes by exposing it to chlorinated water. Goggles, however, can take some getting used to. You don’t want the discomfort of wearing goggles to interfere with your swimming. Practice keeping your goggles on and get used to wearing them when you’re in the water. This way, they won’t seem like a burden to you as you try to make your way through the water. You can also use de-misting fluid on your goggles before going for a swim or use shaded lens goggles so that your eyes get protection from the sun.
Set up measurable goals for yourself when you’re swimming so that you can track your progress. Goals will give you something to work towards and meeting the goals you set for yourself will provide you with a sense of accomplishment and reinforce your practice. Track progress to see if you’ve improved. This could be in terms of the number of laps completed in a specific amount of time, increasing stroke count, or maintaining a stroke count over greater distances.
Relax a little
Although swimming requires you to exert yourself, it’s different when compared to running or cycling. While the latter activities require you to be tense while performing them, swimming requires you to be relaxed and maintain balance in the water. If your body is too tense in the water, you’ll only end up wasting your energy thrashing around and become tired.
Make sure you refuel your body by eating healthy
You need to refuel the glycogen stores of your body after a session of swimming. You can do this through the consumption of high-quality slow-release carbohydrates such as wholegrain rice. You should also ensure you’ve got good protein sources on your plate so that you can boost muscle recovery.
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