For the Beginner’s Guide to Running/Walking, click here.
Summer is here in full force. If you’re a newbie looking to pick up swimming, read on.
Swimsuit: If you head down to your local Sports Authority thinking to pick up a cheap suit, you’re in for a surprise. Women’s Speedo and TYR suite (the big names) are EXPENSIVE. If you’re patient, though, you can score a deal: I found a Speedo regularly $78 marked down to $48, plus I had a 15% off coupon. You don’t have to start off that fancy; just make sure it’s a one-piece. Trust me, having to hold your suit bottoms as you push off the wall is just not practical.
Guys, you don’t need to get a an archetypal little tight Speedo right away but I will tell you, they’re a heck of a lot easier to swim laps in than board shorts. Your call.
Cap: Ladies and gents with short hair may not need a cap. If your hair is longer, pulling it back in a ponytail will work in the short term, but eventually you’ll want a cap. I recommend one made of nylon/spandex (not an affiliated link) as opposed to ones made of silicone or latex, as they can be hard to put on/pull off.
Goggles: Lest you think these are just so you can see underwater, they’re also to keep your eyes from getting red from chlorine.
You’ll also need: a towel, flip flops, something to put your keys and phone in to keep them from getting wet (can be as simple as a plastic bag), and if your pool doesn’t provide one, possibly a kickboard.
How do I keep my goggles from fogging up? Spit in them. No, I’m serious. You can also buy anti-fogging spray, but what fun is that?
What do I do if each lane already has a swimmer in it? Pick a lane (look for someone who looks friendly), sit on the edge of the pool (don’t just hop in), wait for them to notice you, and politely ask if you can share the lane. They may ask if you want to do ‘down and back’ or ‘circles’ (or something similarly worded): they’re asking if you want to stick to one side of the lane or fully share it and go down on the right and come back on the right. If you’re new, stick to a side. Otherwise, you can feel like the other person is coming up on you too fast and you’ll have to deal with passing, which can be scary at first.
I’m in the water. Now what? Now you swim. You can either track your laps, your lengths, the time you’re in the water, or research a workout online. Thanks, Google, for making that part so easy…
What’s the difference between a lap and a length? A lap is down and back; a length is half, just down or just back. Most swimmers measure their workouts in laps, meters or yards.
What are the types of strokes? There are 4 official strokes: butterfly (the most difficult), back, breast and freestyle (if you ever watch a swimming competition and someone swims a Medley, that’s also the order that they’ll swim the strokes). There’s also the sidestroke and the ever-popular dog paddle, but they aren’t “official.”
How can I improve my strokes/form? Watch videos online. Watch other swimmers (either casually, so you don’t creep them out, or even better, perhaps ask them for advice). Mix it up and take note of what seems to propel you through the water more smoothly. Join a swim club or hire a short-term coach.
Chlorine is added to all pools to help combat the growth of bacteria, which is a good thing. It also breaks down everything in its path, which is a bad thing. To prolong the life of your gear, make sure you thoroughly rinse your suit, goggles and cap after each and every use. To avoid your skin getting dry, be sure to shower as soon as possible, and apply lotion shortly after. If you’re worried about your hair turning green (usually more of an issue for folks with lighter hair), you may want to invest in a special shampoo, but unless you’re a truly avid swimmer, you should be ok.
Chlorine isn’t infallible. There could be other dangers lurking in the water. But if you’re swimming properly, you should only be expelling breath underwater, not holding it in your mouth. Avoid swallowing water if you can at all help it. It’s the best way to avoid getting sick.
Before you plunk down money for a monthly or annual pass, visit your local pool as a guest. Get a feel for how attentive the lifeguards are, if the pool and locker rooms are clean, and how friendly your fellow swimmers appear. If anything makes you uncomfortable, either address your concerns with management or move on.
You don’t have to, but I always thank the lifeguard and give him/her a little wave as I leave.
Any questions? Happy swimming!
posted by RandomHangers
Tags: beginner's guide, lifeguard, live better, pool, swimming, try new things
Filed under: Allow Me to Introduce You To