Tips from a lifelong swimmer

blue water

Swimming is a form of meditation. You can only do it by yourself, and you really do get into your own world. Plus it’s also great low-impact exercise and really good at keeping you fit. it’s why I love it so much and I’d recommend it to anyone.

But people seem really put off from swimming, and that’s a huge shame. I assume it’s because of bad childhood memories in the pool or ocean, or just ineptitude.

Every once in a while I have a sort of nightmare where I’m in a really really deep pool. Not the ones used for diving, a normal pool that just goes on forever. That freaks me out.

I also sometimes have an irrational fear when I swim in the ocean that a shark will come and get me. These are reasons to not want to go swimming, but at the same time they are reasons to go swimming, so that you know how to escape if something were to go wrong.

More than once I have been caught in a rip too. Once in Australia when I was a young teenager, and once here in Japan of all places. If I didn’t know to swim 45 degrees towards the shore, and if I didn’t have the confidence, strength, and stamina to get back, I don’t know how that would have turned out.

The trick with swimming is to use as little energy as possible while maintaining forward motion. I see people pushing themselves too hard, they flail their arms about expecting that the harder you push the faster you go. That’s the exact opposite of what you should be doing.

Running and cycling are about lots of shorter little bursts one after the other. Swimming is about long slow strokes full of power. It’s also about maintaining a streamlined shape in the water.

That’s why practicing just kicking with a flutter board, or trying to get through the water without your arms for example are good exercises. Catch up where you only stroke once one hand has touched the other is another great exercise to help maintain your body shape and long strokes.

Whenever I jump in the pool I love to do the same warm up to hit the ground running so to speak. I always start with a 400m IM, individual medley where I swim 100m of butterfly, backstroke, breaststroke, and crawl in that order.

This not only means I maintain my ability in each stroke somewhat, it also means I start with a really powerful stroke that requires a lot of effort to perform well. This really wakes me up and gets me ready for a day in the pool.

It feels amazing to glide through the water, like you’re flying, and I would just love for more people to take part. Swimming is something I could do every single day, and I think you should to!



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Sakata City, Yamagata, Japan

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