A Swimming Guide for Adult Beginners (Get yourself wet and gain a friend for a lifetime)

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Apr 29, 2011

A Swimming Guide for Adult Beginners (Get yourself wet and gain a friend for a lifetime)

Learning to swim can be sometimes a terrifying thought for a lot of people. Having the right tools, resources and people around you to help with learning this life saving skill is necessary for success. In my opinion, patience, constant encouragement and positive reinforcement are the keys for anybody to enjoy this wonderful sport.
Water is fun

This is a guest post by Matthew White from waterpolouk.com. Matthew wanted to share with you his experiences with learning to swim and some advice on what you can do to help you get started.

Enter Matthew White:
I have been a swimmer since I was 4 years old, never really been dedicated enough to swim at a high standard, but somehow, managing to stay in the pool - which is just as important. This article aims to inspire adult non-swimmers to take up the sport and define a clear path of progression for people to follow and improve.

Firstly, let’s look at why swimming is such a great form of exercise to learn and continue doing potentially your whole life. Swimming is a very low impact sport, which means it does not wear down your joints as much as other fitness techniques, such as running for example – think of the number of footballers that have real problems with their joints in later life. Swimming provides a weightless environment which means you can swim at your own pace, and for a period of time of your choice. I worked at a swimming pool for 7 years and I can say that many people in their 60s and 70s still used swimming as a form of exercise, whereas I would say the fitness classes attracted those from their 20s to 40s predominantly.

How do I start to learn though?

It’s a fact that in the UK (and probably not much different anywhere else) a significant number of adults cannot swim, as Amateur Swimming Association is focusing on teaching every child to swim, it is important that adults do not miss out too. If you want to start learning to swim there are a number of adult courses available out there. Private lessons are a great way to take it slow on your own time at your own pace as the swim instructor should tune the instruction to your individual needs and abilities. If you are already familiar with water and are not afraid, my advice would be to learn the basics with a qualified teacher, then start using your public swimming pool to practice. I would first start setting small goals, so you keep yourself motivated, for example, try and work your way up to doing 5 lengths (5 times from wall to wall) in a row, then 10 and so on. When you are comfortable with that (it could take a long time) what I do, is task myself with completing a certain numbers of lengths in a certain amount of time and then repeating the swim. This is called a set.

Example set = 3 Lengths in 3 minutes x 6 repetitions This means that I have 3 minutes in which to complete 3 Lengths. If I complete my lengths in 2 minutes 30 seconds, I will have 30 seconds rest before doing 3 lengths again – I repeat the 3 length swim 6 times.

When you become able to complete your set easily you can decrease the amount of time you give yourself to complete the swims and increase the number of reps. For example: Swim a set of 3 Lengths in 2 minutes x 8 repetitions

One final piece of advice is simple, do not overdo it! What I mean by this is, don’t try and push yourself too hard too early on, treat swimming as exercise, not training, as training takes a lot of mental strength as well. Using your new skills as part of a healthy lifestyle will avoid you resenting exercise and hopefully keep you in the water longer and happier.

Improving your swimming technique

If you want to actually improve your swimming technique there are a number of avenues and resources open to you. My old swimming pool alone offered a range of courses with professional swimming teachers to help you. However, I suggest either joining a local swimming masters club or attending adult coaching sessions and then just asking more experienced people to have a look at where you can improve. In my opinion, if you can convince a friend or partner to bring a camcorder or water proof digital camera down to film your technique, you will be able to see for yourself where you are going wrong. In fact, I have often surprised myself when analysing my stroke from videos. (Note from Swimator Blog: Swim video analysis is the best way to improve your swimming stroke, however, word of advice here. Be careful not to rely on bad advice when it comes to swim video analysis. It is always better to let your swimming video being analyzed by a professional coach as your friend might not necessarily know what you should correct. If you are interested in having your swim video analyzed here on the Swimator Blog, just send me a note.)

Even if you have never been swimming in your life I challenge you to give it a go, you might just find a beautiful sport and a loyal friend for life.

More about Matthew White: He is a water polo enthusiast who has enjoyed the benefits of swimming for the last 20 years. If he is not playing water polo or swimming, you may see him at swimming pool all around UK covering Water Polo games with his new Sony camcorder.
Be seen, keep your stuff dry and take a break when needed.


dewi arianti said...

I have experienced how difficult to swim without a perfect swimsuit. I must find a perfect swimsuit so i can swim well without worry.

libor said...

to dewi arianti: thanks for your comment. Actually, there is no perfect swim suit, but it is much easier to swim in a regular smaller swimming suit or jammers than board shorts. I'll try to write something up about this.

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