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Swimming, Try It For The Side Effects

September 29, 2016 , , , ,

reflection in my pool

reflection in my pool

Swimming is introduced to many of us when we are children.  I was enrolled in the Red Cross swimming program, which I looked forward to attending each summer until I passed all the badge levels.  I lived in Pittsburgh, so we had very little winter time swimming.  We did occasionally go to a YMCA with an indoor pool that was open at night somewhere in the ‘burbs of the ‘Burgh.  I remember my hair freezing after those sessions, but it did not bother me at all.  My friends and I were big fans of the water, and our parents used going to the pool as the supreme bribe/reward.

When I was 30 I trained at the YMCA in Tucson to teach parent/infant swimming classes. After I was certified my friends with lots of kids asked me to teach at their private pools at home.  I did this for many years, teaching groups organized around the convenience of the families.  This very good deal for both the parents and for me finally ended against the wishes of some, but I was truly fried by the sun and ready to leave the pool deck.  My skin and hair were begging me for a break.

I still taught aquatics and swimming at spas, but to adults.  The adult swimming lesson becomes a greater challenge than the children’s class.  If a person has not learned to swim by a certain age, it becomes a greater obstacle with every passing year.  Some people were directly frightened by a water incident at some time they remember.  Most don’t recall a specific reason, but have been afraid of water since they were young.

It is appropriate to fear water if one does not have the skills needed to survive in it.  Of particular danger are natural bodies of water with currents, undertow, or strong surf.  Even strong swimmers are subject to injury or death in torrential flash flood conditions.  Caution is always a good idea in or around water.  Being a good lifeguard for yourself and others is all about prevention.  It is not a good idea to swim alone.  Get out of the water during a lightning storm. Use common sense to keep everyone from falling or slipping around the edge of the pool.

Learning to swim well enough to swim laps for exercise has multiple benefits:

  • Breathing is an essential focus, bringing about improved awareness
  • Flexibility is enhanced by speeding time moving in the water
  • Swimming symmetrically, breathing on both sides increases coordination
  • Lap swimming is a meditation, a place and time during which you cannot be disturbed

I believe the last one is the best.  Nobody can interrupt you, call you, ask you for anything during your lap swim.  Especially if you learn to flip turn, your obvious determination to move across the water will be respected.  Nobody will mess with you until you are finished.  When your goggles and your fins fit just right, and you groove into the sound of your own exhalation under the water, all is bliss.  Once a good level of competence is achieved it is easy to increase stamina in the pool without risking injury.  In fact, I can think of no negative side effects associated with learning to swim.  Are you a strong swimmer, gentle reader?  How did you learn?

What do you think?

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Great post, Pam! I know that particularly in Calif, it’s important to know how to swim.. not only in pools but the ocean. It does take a commitment too.. in order to learn!


Stevie Wilson (@LAStory)

October 2, 2016

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