Swimming delivers enormous fitness benefits. Swimming for about 2.5 hours per week decreases your risk for acquiring chronic diseases, studies say. It also has the capability to improve mood and decrease anxiety. To add, swimming would also make be a great choice for those who have arthritis, among other pain conditions.
In this post, we will be discussing five of the essential swim skills that you need to be aware of. The sport would take a bit of coordination, from your arms and legs to your swimming strokes and breathing. Even if you do not join swimming competitions anytime soon, you should be able to perform these basic swimming skills. Keep reading if you want to know more.
Breathing comes naturally to all of us, even when we are not swimming. In fact, it is one activity that will continue to function without any kind of conscious thought or interruption. Breathing is easy when swimming. You just need to remember the two very important aspects of breathing, in which you should be comfortable with: a rhythm to your breathing and your face in the water.
The first step is keeping your face in the water. The reason is that if you swim with your face out of the water or your head up, there is a risk that your hips and legs will drop invariably. In addition, it might create more drag if you are in a low-hip or high-head position, making it a lot more challenging to swim due to resistance.
There could be several techniques for keeping your face in the water. First, make sure that you are wearing comfortable goggles. Second, you need to focus on looking at the pool’s bottom. It could also help if you keep staring at the black line found at the center of the pool lane. Third, take rest breaks in case you are experiencing anxiety. Lastly, private lessons accompanied by practice has also been proven to be very helpful.
When you have mastered keeping your head or face in the water, you need to know how to breathe. The most important action is to start exhaling through your mouth or nose, as soon as you have finished breathing in. However, a problem among beginners is that they try to hold their breath when their face is in the water. Then, they try to exhale and inhale when they turn to breathe. It should be noted that this only results in a shallow and poor breath, as well as the quick buildup of carbon dioxide in your lungs.
Being able to exhale constantly is necessary, especially for an efficient freestyle stroke. However, many athletes, including beginners, just hold their breath under the water. To be able to master your exhalation, a sink-down exercise is highly recommended. If you find it difficult to exhale just to sink down, then this would mean that you are not exhaling enough in your stroke.
If you are struggling to sink, you might be holding your breath subconsciously. On the other hand, if you sink down but immediately pop back up, then you certainly need to exhale a lot more quickly. Once you have mastered this exercise, try doing at least three sink downs consecutively before, so you can release some tension while reminding yourself to breathe properly.
Tumble turns are also important skills for swimmers to master, especially when they start to perform repetitive sets or increase the distances. It is also vital that trainers teach this skill, as it will allow swimmers to be able to keep moving without causing interruption by touching the wall just to go again.
Doing tumble turns is a skill that will help you achieve the practice time that you need. It also can improve your speed, especially if you are working on timed sets. Once you have mastered this skill, you may need to practice it again, but this time as a relay in two or three lanes, that is if you have space. Swimmers can also race for fun while allowing them to fully understand the approach. While this may be very difficult for some, it will certainly require practice, patience, and repetition.
Drafting can effectively help you save more of your energy while allowing you to swim a lot faster, especially in open water. However, it is noteworthy that you may need a quieter pool or lane. Drafting requires you to swim as close as possible to your friend’s feet. You should also be able to notice that drafting may change your technique at your stroke’s front, thereby shortening it and reducing the glide.
Position yourself on your friend’s hip and try to tuck in. This move will help you get used to the flailing arms, especially in open water. To be able to determine how effective drafting is, swim from your friend’s hip and accelerate past them gradually until they are positioned on your hip. You just need to keep practicing this skill for you to perform well if you are thinking about joining a competition.
Sighting is also a very important skill, as it tells you where you are going. This skill requires your head to be high enough to be effective. However, lifting your head would also mean that your legs will drop. It can also be an inefficient body position, as it can strain both your shoulders and neck. Lastly, it may cause you to slow down.
When sighting, you need to keep your head still. You may also hold your front arm in line with your shoulder. To add, this skill requires you to kick a bit harder to send you into the sight. It would also be more effective if you pull deeper while keeping your legs together.
While you are practicing this skill, you should never drop your front arm when you are sighting. It is also unnecessary to drive your arm into the center line, as well as to breathe while sighting. Additionally, you should never lift your head independently, especially without the pull. Lastly, you should never sight more than what is required.
Now that we have finished discussing the essential swim skills – breathing, sink downs, tumble turn, drafting, and sighting – it is now entirely up to you to practice them on your own. Knowing how to perform these skills would be greatly beneficial or you, especially if you are likely to join an upcoming swim competition. Just remember that while these skills may be challenging, all you need to do is practice.