Swim Blog: Tips & Tricks for Better Swimming | SwimJim

12
Mar

Are You a Beginning Swimmer? Start By Learning These Easiest Swimming Strokes

Swimming is an important skill that also offers a lifetime of fun and recreation. Because of the gentle environment, swimming is something you’ll be able to do well after your body is no longer equipped for high-impact activities like running. Swimming also offers the benefits of improving heart and lung health and as well as working all muscle groups in the body. And by learning to swim, you’ll enjoy days at the beach or pool that much more.

Getting Started

If you’re a beginning swimmer or looking to teach your child how to swim, you’ll want to approach it by starting with the right swim strokes. Choosing the easiest swimming strokes will give you the best chance at learning to swim quickly and being able to enjoy your time in the water to the fullest.

Proper technique is also an important element of learning to swim. While there are many ways to simply keep yourself above water, learning proper technique will allow you to swim effectively, efficiently, and safely. Learning how to swim by starting with the easiest swimming strokes will help you get there.

Crawl stroke swimmer

Photo Credit: Anatiago

Breaststroke

The breaststroke is arguably the easiest swimming stroke for any beginner. Because you keep your head out of the water, you may feel most comfortable starting with this basic stroke. Much like “doggie paddling,” this stroke allows new swimmers to breathe freely and transition slowly into putting their head underwater while swimming. You’ll also be able to see where you’re going so you can carefully navigate from one side of the pool to the other.

How to Swim Breaststroke

To swim the breaststroke, you’ll need to move your arms and legs together in a sweeping motion. Angle your head downward and hold your arms extended outward, tight against your head. Glide forward by doing a frog kick, then use your arms to continue to propel your body forward. This stroke is best performed with a strong kick and an intense pull to maximize speed and efficiency.

Sidestroke

While competitive swimmers never use sidestroke, it’s a good way for beginners to get comfortable in the water. Those with back and neck issues can also benefit from this stroke, as it doesn’t require a bending kick like the breaststroke. This is also a stroke used by lifeguards to easily pull an injured swimmer to safety.

How to Swim Sidestroke

To do sidestroke, spread out your arms and legs to full extension. Perform a scissor kick (rather than a frog-leg kick like with the breaststroke), and then pull forward with your arms. You’ll be swimming on your side and facing the wall of the pool, rather than facing the bottom of the pool.

Freestyle

While freestyle involves some more advanced breathing techniques, it’s a stroke that can be taught to beginners without worrying about the breathing right away. Beginners can simply hold their breath and take in air when they pop out of the water. Freestyle is a fast stroke that’s excellent for long-distance swimming and will be of great use throughout your life.

How to Swim Freestyle

Perform the freestyle stroke by rotating your entire body in and out of the water at once, including arms, legs, and head. Your kick will not be as important as your upper body strength in this stroke. Take a breath when your head reaches the top of the water after a full rotation.

Sign Up for Classes with SwimJim

Swimming isn’t something that can be easily explained in writing, so you’re likely to need more assistance in learning even the easiest swimming strokes. If you’re ready to get started, contact SwimJim today. We offer swimming lessons to swimmers of all ages and have an experienced team of swim teachers ready to help you feel comfortable in the pool.

Our focus on happiness, health, and safety ensures that you’ll have a positive experience throughout the learning stages of every lesson. Contact us today for more information about our swimming classes. We’ll find the right class to suit you or your child’s needs.

5
Mar

Help Your Child Overcome a Fear of Drowning With Swimming Lessons at SwimJim

Children are deeply intuitive. Their natural ability to pick up on emotions is refreshing and delightful, but it can also have unintended consequences. If your child has a fear of drowning or fear of deep water, it may be a result of your own fears about their safety in the water.

Most parents don’t consciously instill a fear of water in their children. But kids easily pick up on their parent’s nervousness when playing together in the water, and may develop an unnecessary fear that actually makes them more unsafe in the water.

Read on for ideas on how to help your child overcome fear of deep water or fear of drowning.

First time in the swimming pool

Photo Credit: DragonImages

1. Get Your Child in the Water As Early As Possible

Parents who don’t let their children play in water may inadvertently cause them to fear the unknown. If you’re looking to stop a fear of water before it starts, get your child in the water as early as possible. Even newborns benefit from spending time in water. Find age-appropriate activities for your children, whether you’re giving a baby a relaxing spongebath or allowing your toddler to splash in a kiddie pool.

2. Don’t Overreact

Children look to their parents’ reactions as a guide for how they should behave. If you gasp when your child goes under water or frantically scoop them up when their hand slips from the side of the pool, you’re sending them a message that water is something to be feared. It might be hard, but it’s best to keep your cool when you and your child are around water.

3. Educate Your Child

Children often fear the things they don’t understand. Don’t assume that they know how the world around them works, even if it seems obvious to you. Take time to educate your child about water. Read books about the ocean. Find a children’s museum that offers water play. Answer even the simplest questions your child might have about the bathtub or toilet.

4. Make Water Fun

If your child’s only exposure to water is when they’re getting clean, they may come to resent it. Find ways to make water fun for your child, even if it’s only at bathtime. Add toys to your tub and let your child play freely during their bath. Come up with other water activities like playing with the hose or filling water balloons.

5. Allow Your Child To Express Feelings

If your child does develop a fear of water, don’t dismiss their feelings. Allow them to express their emotions and let them know you’re listening. Just being able to talk about their fears may help your child navigate their emotions and overcome the fear.

6. Use Swimming Aids

When your child is very young, it may be helpful to give them swimming aids so they’re more comfortable and independent in the water. Purchase items like floaties, life vests, noodles, or rafts to help your child enjoy swimming. Find reliable swimming aids from reputable brands so you know your child is safe.

7. Enroll in Swimming Lessons

Swimming lessons are the ultimate way to help your child overcome a fear of water. When a child learns to swim, they gain confidence and feel empowered rather than fearful. Enroll in parent/child swim lessons to help your child feel more comfortable and allow you to learn how to help your child have a positive swimming experience.

Check Out SwimJim Today

SwimJim offers swimming lessons for children of any age and swimming level. Our staff is trained in the most effective swim teaching methods and is ready to help you and your child develop a love of water. We make swimming fun and enjoyable for all our students. They’ll leave our classes with important skills that keep them safe and comfortable in the pool. Sign up for classes with SwimJim or learn more about our programs today.

26
Feb

How the Virginia Graeme Baker Act Made Swimming Safer

In the summer of 2002, a 7-year-old girl named Virginia Graeme Baker stepped into a hot tub. Then tragedy struck. She was a strong swimmer, a member of the community swim and dive teams—but that didn’t help her when she became stuck in the strong suction of the hot tub’s drain. She was pulled underwater and trapped by a faulty drain cover and could not free herself. Her mother and two men struggled to free her, but by the time they got her out it was too late: Graeme had died from drowning due to suction entrapment.

After her daughter’s tragic death, Nancy Baker advocated for pool and hot tub drain safety, eventually working to get a safety regulation bill passed through Congress. Representative Debbie Wasserman Schultz of Florida sponsored the legislation, which was signed into law in 2007 by President George W. Bush. This law, the Virginia Graeme Baker Pool and Spa Safety Act—called the VGB Act for short—has improved the safety of swimming pool drains to help prevent future accidents like the one that claimed the life of little Virginia. Because of the Virginia Graeme Baker Act, accidents have been reduced—you can now jump into the swimming pool with greater peace of mind.

Swimming pool the picture took from the edge of swimming pool which provide by blue tiles and gutter drainage

Photo Credit: Ninja Artist

The Virginia Graeme Baker Act

The VGB Act is a federal law that outlines what a safe drain looks like and requires all public pools and spas, including those at schools, fitness centers, and hotels, to comply. Outdated drains are flat and can create strong circulation that can pull hair or swimming suits in, causing entrapment. The flat drains can also create a strong suction if they get blocked by a swimmer’s body part.

To prevent this suction and prevent swimmers from getting stuck, VGB compliant drain covers are curved rather than flat, making it so they can never be fully blocked. The law also requires that if a pool has a single main drain, an additional anti-entrapment device or system must be installed. For example, the single drain must be accompanied by a system such as a safety vacuum release or automatic pump shut off that turns off the suction or circulation if any blockage is detected. The VGB Act does not regulate residential pools or hot tubs, but it does encourage each state to pass laws to help avoid entrapment in residential pools, along with requirements for barriers or fencing around pools to prevent drowning.

The VGB Act provides for grants to help state and local governments to bring pools into compliance with the law, make updates to prevent drowning, and increase awareness and education about pool safety.

Swim Safer Today

Drowning is a leading cause of accident-related deaths in children under age 14. But as a result of the Virginia Graeme Baker Act accident, pools today are safer than ever. VGB compliant drains were installed in most pools across America in 2008 in response to the law and in an effort to prevent future tragedies. Swimming pools should be places for fun, recreation, and exercise, not a danger to our children. With safer drain covers and anti-entrapment backup systems, drowning and entrapment accidents can be prevented.

Because the VGB Act does not cover residential pools and spas, and because some public pools may not have VGB compliant drain covers or broken drains, it is important to take precautions around swimming pools. Follow these safety guidelines every time you or your children go swimming:

  • Ask if the swimming pool or spa is VGB compliant. If the owner or operator says no or doesn’t know, don’t swim or let your children swim.
  • Tell your children to stay away from all drains and filters.
  • Check to see for yourself if the drain is broken or looks flat. If you have concerns, inform the owner or operator and avoid swimming.
  • Tie long hair back.

Swimming can and should be fun for everyone. Thanks to the advocates who brought us the VGB Act, safer drains and back-up systems have been installed across the country to help prevent drowning. Even so, remember to exercise caution around any body of water to keep you and your children safe. Learning how to be a good swimmer is an important part of preventing drowning—and it opens a lifetime of fun and exercise. Sign up for a swimming class at SwimJim today!

19
Feb

What Do the Experts Say About How to Be Happy and What Does Swimming Have to Do with It?

Are you looking to boost your happiness or raise happier kids? Then it’s time to jump in the pool.

Research shows that exercise—including swimming—typically results in a number of physical, psychological, and emotional benefits. Beyond lowering blood pressure, losing weight, and reducing the risk for heart disease and diabetes, exercise is a boon to your mental health and happiness—and that of your children as well.

Swimming is great for your body and mind, and experts say that it can make you happier. Let’s take a look at why swimming is one of the best exercises for mental health and some of the emotional benefits of exercise.

4 children smiling and laughing

Photo Credit: monkeybusinessimages

1. Less pain

Swimming can tone and strengthen your muscles—water is denser than air, so moving through it requires more effort—and improves your flexibility in a full-body workout. All this without causing stress to your joints and bones. This low-impact workout can help you reduce and avoid pain, making it easier for beginners, people with injuries, those of advanced age, or anyone dealing with obesity to start exercising. A pain-free workout that anyone can do is enough to bring a smile to your face.

2. Endorphin release

There are a number of psychological benefits of exercise, including increased happiness and a sense of well-being. In fact, getting active is often recommended to those struggling with depression. Why does exercise make you happy? Swimming and other exercises release endorphins, a hormone in your brain that simply makes you feel good. Endorphins are what increase positivity and bring a sense of happiness. Swimming is a great way to help kids get that endorphin release—kids are often excited to go swimming and play in the water, and may be more willing to exercise in the pool than running around a track.

3. Just breathe

Swimming is, ultimately, a breathing exercise. To become an efficient swimmer, you must master precise and timed breathing. Consciously changing the way you breathe can trigger the brain to promote feelings of calm and reduce the release of stress hormones. Reducing stress is a surefire way to help you feel happier. Additionally, the moist air around the swimming pool water makes it easier to breathe and can reduce asthma symptoms and increase lung volume.

4. A boost for the brain

A small study found that being immersed in water increases blood flow to the brain. Increased blood flow supplies the brain with more oxygen and nutrients and protects it from harmful toxins. Increased brain health can lead to a better functioning—and happier—brain. Swimming can also encourage the growth of new brain cells.

5. Calming and relaxing

Swimming is one of the best exercises for mental health because it is calming and relaxing. A line of treadmills, curling heavy weights, or racing around a track can be stimulating and stressful, but immersing yourself in the pool can be calming and feel like an escape into your own world. Just looking at the bright blue water of the swimming pool can help you feel calmer and more peaceful—blue is often considered a calm, soothing color.

6. Encourages meditation

Swimming the length of the pool over and over again requires constant, repetitive motion. With your ears in the water for most of the time, the noise of the gym is muffled and you can focus solely on your inner thoughts. This effect is stronger than in other types of exercise such as running or group fitness classes, in which you might listen to music or focus on your surroundings more than your mind. The isolation and repetition of swimming creates a great environment for meditation. Research shows that meditation can promote compassion, self-awareness, and overall happiness.

7. Sleep better

Sleep is essential to good mental health. Sleeping can help you tune out the negative emotions and can improve your mood all day long. According to a poll conducted by the National Sleep Foundation, people who exercise regularly report better and deeper sleep than those who don’t exercise. Swimming is a great form of exercise to strengthen your muscles and tire yourself out so you are ready for a long, restful, and mood-enhancing sleep.

It’s easy to see why exercise makes you happy! Are you ready to reap the emotional benefits of exercise? Try out one of the best exercises for mental health—sign up for a swimming class at SwimJim today!

 
12
Feb

What You Need to Know About Youth Mental Health in 2019

The mind of a young child can seem like a total mystery to many adults. Though all adults went through the same stages of development, it’s nearly impossible to remember what it is like to feel such intense and unregulated emotions, explosive moods, and irrational fears. This can lead many parents and caregivers to worry that something is wrong with their child when they show signs of obsessive behavior or have trouble paying attention.

In reality, most children just need time for their young minds to develop neural pathways before they can better regulate their thoughts and actions. But for a handful of children, those inhibiting behaviors never go away, even as they reach an age where they should have outgrown certain behaviors.

youth mental health counseling

Photo Credit: AndreyPopov

Preventive Programs

In fact, studies show that one in five children in America has some type of emotional or behavioral condition. Luckily, there are a growing number of options to help treat these youth mental health illnesses, and new preventive programs to help kids avoid such illnesses as they get older.

For example, Arizona State University hosts a special program called New Beginnings to help walk families through crises like divorce or the death of a parent. This reduces the likelihood of mental illness in kids by up to 36 percent. Similar programs across the country have helped to lower rates of drug and alcohol abuse in kids as well.

Managing Mental Illness

Preemptive measures aren’t a catch-all to avoid mental illness in kids, but there are excellent treatment options for those children who do need help managing their condition. These treatments cover the full scope of health and can also be beneficial to older people and even those who do not have a mental health condition.

Diet and Nutrition

Experts report that proper nutrition can improve brain function as well as help the body fight off other physical illness. They recommend a diet rich in nutrient-dense vegetables and fruits, as well as nuts, unsaturated oils, and lean proteins. Foods like plant-based proteins and fish can help prevent dementia and are an important part of brain health nutrition.

Emotional Processing

Many mental illnesses spur from poorly managed emotions. Taking time for self-care and processing emotions will help prevent debilitating anxiety or depression. Some ways to process emotions include talking through problems with a trusted friend, writing in a journal, taking a walk, and meditating.

Social Interaction

Having a strong social network is vital to sound mental health. Friends and family can bolster a person in times of need and bring much-needed connection. Those wanting to manage or prevent mental illness should make an effort to strengthen and maintain many friendships. Even people who are busy should make time for social outlets like a monthly book club, weekly lunch date, or daily phone call.

Brain Stimulation

Just like physical bodies, brains need regular exercise. This can be accomplished through brain games like puzzles, trivia, memorization, or similar activities. Reading and other healthy brain exercises help to stimulate connections between nerve cells, which prevents future cell loss. Kids should limit screen time and replace it with learning activities or imaginative play.

Physical Activity

Exercise sends oxygen to the brain, and that oxygen helps to create new nerve cells and improve thought processes. Exercise is also known to boost endorphins and mood, so those who are prone to depression can look to working out as a powerful medicine. Exercise also helps to lower blood pressure, improve cholesterol levels, reduce mental stress, and much more.

Swimming to Cope with Mental Illness

As mentioned, any physical exercise is a great option for those working through or wanting to prevent mental illness, but swimming is particularly beneficial. Studies show that swimming can significantly decrease anxiety and depression. Some doctors prescribe swimming as an antidepressant and believe it can be done in lieu of taking pills. The rhythmic patterns are like a meditative experience for many people, kids and adults alike.

If you’re looking to enroll a child in swim lessons, check out SwimJim. Our friendly, fun environment has helped countless children learn to swim while feeling safe and at ease. We have a thoughtful approach to swimming and are dedicated to helping every student learn proper technique. Sign up for a trial class and discover how swimming can benefit your child’s life today.

5
Feb

Swimming Pool Exercise Equipment for Enhancing Your Workouts

When someone tells you that they work out, what do you think of first? Likely a gym membership, a pair of running shoes, or an exercise video. But exercising in a pool is just as beneficial as working out on land, and in some ways, it’s even better.

For one, it’s much easier on the joints (a fortunate fact for anyone who has arthritis or joint problems). It also tends to burn more calories due to the resistance of the water. And working out in a pool enables you to work muscles that are often otherwise missed.

swimming pool exercise equipment

Photo Credit: fotovampir

The problem is, just as you might not think of a pool first when considering where to work out, many people aren’t aware that there’s a range of exercise equipment designed for swimming that can maximize the health benefits of your water-based activities. To introduce you to some of them, here’s a list of some of the most effective swimming pool equipment.

Fins

Fins, or flippers, are swimming aids that allow you to go faster when in the water. Divers use them all the time. But before you say, “wait, don’t they make swimming easier?”, remember that for the added power they provide, they also apply added resistance, and require additional effort to use.

Flippers are big, heavy, and they move more water with each stroke. Slip them on and jump in, and your legs will be burning in no time.

Paddles

Just as fins add resistance to your legs, paddles (or webbed gloves) add resistance to your arm strokes. Worn on the hands, they function just like paddles, allowing you to move more water with each stroke. The added speed comes at the cost of added effort, and your shoulders will really be feeling it after a swim with these on.

Kickboard

If you’re looking to isolate your legs rather than increase resistance, a kickboard is an excellent swimming equipment choice. Held in the hands, it helps keep you afloat while occupying the arms so that your legs have to do all the swimming. It can be held close to the chest for comfort, or out at arm’s length to give your core a workout as well.

Pull Buoy

A pull buoy does for your arms what a kickboard does for your legs. Placing one between the legs forces your arms to do all the work, while still keeping you from sinking. It’s used between the thighs and requires you to keep your legs tightly together to hold it in place, so you’ll likely still feel a bit of a burn there, too.

Resistance Socks

If you’re just looking to make swimming harder in general, resistance socks are a good way to start. Worn on the feet, these simple devices increase your drag, making it more difficult to move quickly in the water. This forces your whole body to exert more effort to maintain your pace, and can really spice up your workout.

Parachute

If you’ve been swimming a while and want something that’s a step up from resistance socks, go with a parachute. While swimming parachutes won’t save you from falling out of a plane, they will slow you down in the water. The added resistance from dragging what’s basically a small fabric bucket will have your muscles aching in no time.

Ankle/Wrist Weights

Now let’s take a look at some swimming equipment that can also be used for activities other than swimming. First up are ankle and wrist weights. These small, wearable weights wrap around your wrists or ankles and usually fasten with velcro. While they can be used during a normal swim session to weigh you down a little, they’re also very useful while doing other stretches and exercises in the pool.

Water Fan Paddles

These devices are handheld rods that end in circular plastic fans. Similar in function to webbed gloves, they add resistance to your arm movements in the water. For a beginner exercise, try extending your arms to the sides and then attempt to clap with them, then repeat. It’s a great way to weight train without the weights.

Water Weights

Speaking of weights, water weights are a little different than normal dumbbells. Essentially a floatation device with a handle, these dumbbells are usually made of foam (or some other buoyant material), and exert force in the opposite direction of regular weights. In other words, while a gym weight might pull down, these pull up, allowing you to work different muscle groups than usual (like your triceps).

Resistance Bands

Lastly, resistance bands aren’t pool-only exercise equipment, but they tend to function just as well in the water. For a basic exercise, try standing on the band while holding the handles, and then stretching your arms out straight to the sides. It’s an excellent way to tone your muscles without adding undue stress on your joints.

For those who want to shake up their workouts, or for those who are looking for exercises that are easier on their body, water-based fitness can be an excellent option. And with the above swimming pool exercise equipment, you’ll always be able to get the level of intensity you need from each session.

29
Jan

How Swimming Lessons Improve Your Water Sport Performance

Swimming is an excellent form of exercise. At least, it is when done properly. Most of us learn the basics of how to swim in our childhood. The problem is, once we develop the ability to tread water, stay afloat, and go from one side of the pool to the other, we tend to leave it at that, neglecting further training that could increase our proficiency.

Just as children riding a bike differ in technique from Tour de France athletes, there’s a measurable difference in the way beginner swimmers and those with higher proficiency perform in the water. With the right technique, a swimmer can go farther faster and burn more calories while expending less effort. Perhaps most importantly, a more experienced swimmer has more fun in the water and swims with more confidence.

So how can you become a more proficient swimmer? The same way you probably learned how to swim in the first place: learn from someone more practiced than yourself. Swimming lessons aren’t just for those still learning the doggy paddle. At any level of proficiency, swimming training can help you sand off the edges of your technique and make you a more capable swimmer.

Still not convinced? Here are five ways swimming training can benefit you in your swimming workouts.

water sport performance

Photo Credit: Pinosub

Speed

Those who are competition-bound will be happy to know that improvements in technique can drastically increase your swimming speed. A good portion of your speed is based not on sheer strength or endurance, but on how much resistance you have to fight against in the water. Swimming techniques were designed specifically to reduce drag and maximize the productivity of each stroke.

By taking lessons and working on your technique, you can improve your ability to minimize resistance, thereby allowing the strength and endurance you have to take you farther while conserving energy.

Efficiency

There’s a significant difference in the efficiency of swim techniques between those with refined techniques and those with beginner-level proficiency. For one, untrained swimmers use twice as much oxygen than trained and elite swimmers when performing the same stroke. A better stroke also produces more propulsion per stroke than one that’s less refined.

In other words, for those who are less proficient swimmers, there’s a lot more splashing and a lot more panting, but a lot less actual swimming. This can be problematic for a number of reasons, not the least of which is the discouragement that comes with putting a great deal of effort into moving a comparatively short distance.

Safety

One of the most important reasons to learn to swim (and to learn to swim better) is for safety. If you fall out of a boat while on a lake, a river, or out in open water, it’s important to have the skills necessary to survive long enough to be rescued or to swim to shore. If swimming to shore seems a bit far-fetched, it’s important to keep in mind that people have been swimming distances as long as the English Channel (about 21 miles) since the late 1800s.

While we’re not saying that everyone should have the conditioning to swim three-fourths of a marathon, not all of that feat is accomplished by swimming conditioning alone. As mentioned above, a great deal of it has to do with the speed and efficiency of the stroke used. In other words, you can do a lot to improve your odds of survival without having to hit the pool every day.

Confidence

One of the most important reasons to swim is because of the joy of the sport. Swimming can be a great deal of fun, an incredible stress reliever, and an excellent social activity, but it’s difficult to achieve that if you’re too focused on how hard you have to work at it, or worse yet, how unskilled you think you look compared to others.

It doesn’t have to be all drudgery and dread. With a little training, your swimming workouts can be full of confident exertion, keeping pace with (or even setting the pace of) those you swim with.

Better Exercise

At this point it may go without saying, but it bears mentioning anyway. With the proper technique, your swimming will be better exercise than before. While it’s true that the proper swimming training and conditioning helps your swimming be more efficient by spending less energy to move around in the water, it also allows you to move farther without getting winded so easily, prompting you to work out for longer than you would otherwise.

By increasing your speed, your efficiency, and how much fun you’re having when you swim, you’ll become more willing to push yourself and try harder, rather than waiting for the moment you can quit and hit the showers. That results are more calories burned, and better swimming workouts overall.

Swim lessons can do so much to improve your swim and your enjoyment of it. You have much to gain from a little training, and virtually nothing to lose. So consider continuing your swimming training, and get started with swim lessons at SwimJim, where we can help you make the most of your water-based workouts.

22
Jan

Swimmers Diet: How to Eat Like a Champ

swimmers dietPhoto Credit: adanv1

It may not look like it at first glance, but swimming is an energy-intensive sport. Because of the resistance the water exerts on the body as a person tries to move through it, swimmers tend to burn far more calories than athletes who exercise on terra firma, so a good swimmer’s diet is crucial. Depending on factors such as weight, swim stroke, and level of activity, it’s entirely possible to burn almost 1,000 calories in a single hour of swimming.

When you’re dealing with that much of an energy expenditure, you need to be refueling your body properly in order to maintain performance levels. Failing to consume the proper foods at the proper times, or even in the right portions can leave you feeling weak, drowsy, bogged down, or otherwise struggling to do your best.

Cultivating a healthy swimmer’s body requires building a healthy swimmer’s diet, and both men and women will find better results by managing their diet effectively. Here are some tips for those looking to learn how to do just that.

Before the Workout

No matter what swimmer body type you are, with regards to making sure you’re fueled up for a practice or a competition, when you eat is about as important as what you eat. In essence, you should never swim on an empty stomach. This all starts with a good pre-workout meal, as failing to eat before swimming will rob you of energy, making your performance suffer dramatically.

What you eat and how much you eat depends on how intense of a workout you’re planning, and how long it will be between the meal and the workout. During training, many athletes are hitting the pool at 5:00 AM, which makes it difficult to eat a hearty breakfast two hours prior. In these situations, you’ll want something small and easily digestible, preferably paring carbohydrates with some simple protein. Here are some examples:

  • A bagel with cream cheese
  • Some yogurt and an apple
  • A small bowl of cereal and milk
  • A banana and peanut butter

These foods (in small quantities) will digest quickly while still giving your metabolism the fuel it needs to power your body.

If you have the opportunity to eat a real meal in advance, you’ll want to plan your plate accordingly. Expect to fill at least half your plate with complex carbohydrates:

  • Rice
  • Pasta
  • Potatoes
  • Cereal and other grain-based foods
  • Beans
  • Peas
  • Lentils

These carbs are what actually fuel your body’s activity, so you want to make sure you’re eating enough of them. Again, pair your carbs with lean, healthy protein sources like fish, eggs, white meat, and dairy. These will be important for muscle building and muscle recovery, so don’t be stingy with these either.

To balance your diet and ensure you’re getting the micronutrients you need, you’ll also need to include vegetables and healthy fats in your meals. Most vegetables are fair game and can be eaten in large quantities, but try to focus specifically on veggies with a strong color—dark green, or something equally vibrant. For fats, foods like nuts, seeds, avocados, and just about any oil that’s liquid at room temperature will serve you well.

During the Workout

Just as skipping food before hitting the water is a bad idea, failing to eat during a long swim will make it difficult to maintain energy levels. If you’re going to be in the pool for hours on end, you can’t expect your body to run on an empty tank, so you’ll want to bring some snacks with you. The key is to have the right snacks.

If you’re going to be moving almost constantly, you’re not going to want to bog down your digestive system with something heavy, so pick snacks that mimic what you eat before a five-in-the-morning workout: fruits (especially berries), nuts, dark chocolate, yogurt, slices of toast, vegetables, etc.

If you’ll be having decent breaks in between your bouts of physical exertion you can offer your stomach something more substantial. Try cheese sticks, sliced meat, cereal, protein or energy bars, and so forth. In either case, you’ll want something on hand to rehydrate yourself, with water, fruit juice, and sports drinks being the best choices.

Also, gauge your portions off of the time to your next dip in the pool, and don’t overeat. Trying to pack too much in before you start swimming again will only cause you digestive distress.

After the Workout

Lastly, once you’ve completed your workout in the pool, you still need to refuel. Besides what you eat before and during your practice or competition, the most important meal you eat is the one right after a workout, as failing to refuel properly will negatively impact your recovery.

In your post-workout meal, your macronutrients should be your priority. Skimping on carbs after an arduous swim session will only hamper you in returning to pre-workout energy levels. Similarly, the damage you’ve done to your muscles will be difficult to repair if you’re not filling up on protein, so go for those lean meats and dairy products again. Add in some vegetables and healthy fats, and you have yourself a solid recovery meal.

Throughout the rest of the day, you’ll want to make sure you’re getting enough vitamins and minerals (preferably from food, rather than supplements), and you’ll want to make sure your calorie intake can keep up with your output. While you’re not likely to need Michael Phelps’s 12,000 calories a day, you will start losing weight you may have intended to keep if you don’t maintain your intake, so get used to eating more than normal.

Whether your swimmer body type is male or female, it takes some effort to build a healthy swimmer’s diet, but you’ll be thanking yourself when you find you have the body of a swimmer. More importantly, you’ll see your best performance when you’re fueling your body properly, so experiment a little, and find the regiment that’s best for you.

15
Jan

How to Prevent and Treat Swimmer’s Ear

Swimmer’s ear can be mildly annoying or excruciatingly painful, and is not limited to swimmers. Any exposure to water, like hot tubs or long soaks in the bath, can result in water being trapped in the ear. If you believe you have swimmer’s ear, see your doctor as soon as possible for diagnosis and swimmer’s ear treatment. Once you feel better, you can follow these simple tips to prevent swimmer’s ear in the future.

What’s Swimmer’s Ear?

Otitis externa, or swimmer’s ear, is a bacterial infection of the outer ear canal. How do you get swimmer’s ear? It is caused by water getting trapped in the outer ear, creating the moist environment needed for bacteria to grow. Swimmer’s ear can also be caused when the lining of the outer ear gets irritated. Irritants can include cotton swabs and other foreign objects like car keys or hairpins being used to clean the ear. Hair products can also irritate the ear lining.

Certain skin conditions can exacerbate irritation of the ear lining thereby increasing the probability of swimmer’s ear. If you suffer from psoriasis, seborrhea, or very dry skin, you should take extra caution with your ears.

swimmers ear

Photo Credit: Aleksej Sarifulin

What are the Symptoms of Swimmer’s Ear?

Doctors usually diagnose swimmer’s ear as mild, moderate, or advanced, depending on the severity of the symptoms. Mild swimmer’s ear symptoms can include:

  • Mild discomfort of outer ear
  • Mild itching
  • Slight redness
  • Discharge of clear fluid

Swimmer’s ear progresses to moderate when the symptoms worsen to:

  • More intense itching
  • Increased pain in ear and down neck
  • Redness increases
  • Discharge becomes excessive and turns to pus
  • Ear feels blocked

A severe swimmer’s ear diagnosis is made if:

  • The pain becomes very intense
  • Redness increases and is accompanied by swelling
  • There is a complete blockage of the ear canal
  • Fever accompanies symptoms
  • Lymph nodes become inflamed

What is the Treatment for Swimmer’s Ear?

Even a mild case of swimmer’s ear should be taken seriously and treated by a medical professional to ensure that it does not progress in severity—which can lead to long-lasting or even permanent damage.

Antibiotic ear drops are usually the first course of swimmer’s ear treatment ordered by the doctor. Make sure your ears are clear and that you are allowing the drops to fully saturate. The best way to administer a dose is to lie on your side and have someone put the drops in for you, then remain that way for a few minutes. If ear drops alone do not clear up swimmer’s ear, then an oral antibiotic and/or steroid drops may be added.

How Can You Prevent Swimmer’s Ear?

If you are wondering how to get rid of swimmer’s ear, you may want to learn how to prevent it from happening in the first place. There are a number of things you can do to prevent swimmer’s ear including:

  • KEEP YOUR EARS DRY. This is the primary rule in the prevention of swimmer’s ear. Gently dry the outer ear with a towel as you tilt your head to drain water from the ear. You can also use a blow dryer on its coolest setting, held at least a foot away from your ear—but be cautious with this technique.
  • Do not stick any foreign objects in your ears for any reason. This will only irritate the lining. Make sure hearing aids and earbuds are clean and safe.
  • Use drops before and after swimming or prolonged exposure to water. A couple drops of rubbing alcohol after swimming can promote drying, but do this in moderation as excessive drying can lead to further irritation. Olive oil can keep the ear lubricated and repel water.
  • Use earplugs that are for swimming or that will definitely keep water out of the ear canal. Do not use foam plugs that are used for sound resistance, as they will just fill with water.
  • Pay attention to notices about bacterial conditions of the water. If bacteria is high, do not swim.
  • Maintain good ear wax hygiene. You need ear wax, it keeps water out. If necessary, ask your doctor to irrigate your ears for you.
  • Protect the inner ear from irritants like hair products by putting cotton balls or earplugs in when spraying or applying.

Swimmer’s ear treatment is not difficult, but having an advanced case of swimmer’s ear can be a miserable experience. Now that you know how you get swimmer’s ear and how to get rid of swimmer’s ear, you can do all you can to prevent it from ever happening.

8
Jan

Which Waterproof Smart Watch Should I Use for Swimming?

Swimming is one of the best forms of exercise. It is less jarring for muscles and joints, it works all muscle groups for a total body workout, it improves your core strength, and is an excellent cardiovascular workout. If you want to track your progress and improve your technique, there are a number of excellent waterproof smart watches on the market.

smart watch for swimming

Photo Credit: lucadp

Moov Now

While this waterproof smart watch is pretty bare bones when it comes to bells and whistles, it is one of the best for swimmers, particularly for its price. It’s one of the least expensive waterproof smart watches, and as such you do not get fancy displays or real-time feedback while you are in the pool. Your workout has to be started from the app on your phone, so that too is a bit of a drawback. It’s still excellent for swimmers, particularly if you work out in a pool, as the maximum depth is lower than most at 30 meters (98.4 feet).

The Moov Now tracks a lot of swim data, including your number of strokes, stroke type, turn time, and even pauses and breaks. These metrics can all be viewed in the Android app on your phone. The best feature of this waterproof smart watch is its coaching advice. Not only can you view your trends, but the Moov Now will also give you tips on how you can improve your swim workout.

The lower cost of this waterproof smart watch makes it an ideal choice as a waterproof kids smart watch.

Garmin Fenix 5

On the opposite end of the pricing scale is the Garmin Fenix 5 waterproof smart watch. This is for the serious athlete: tri-athletes, weekend warriors, Tough Mudders, and all other hardcore workout enthusiasts. The Fenix 5 is one of the larger watches/fitness trackers, so it may be more appropriate as a men’s waterproof smart watch; however, Garmin understands that women are just as tough as men when it comes to workouts. Smaller bands are available to make this an awesome women’s waterproof smart watch.

The Garmin Fenix 5 has one of the highest ratings for waterproof smart watches at 10 ATM, which is 100 meters or 328 feet, so it is good for deep sea activities like scuba diving. The display on this waterproof smart watch is phenomenal; bright vivid colors are easy to view. Not only does the Fenix 5 have a heart rate monitor, but it is also very reliable and provides great feedback. With superb analytics and customizable features, the Garmin Fenix 5 is the luxury car of the waterproof smart watch world.

Apple Watch Series 4

Don’t worry Apple fans, there’s a magnificent waterproof smart watch for you! The Apple Watch Series 4 is wonderful for multi-sport fitness tracking, and its swim tracking capabilities are excellent. The Apple Watch 4 will work in pool workouts or open water swims. Like most good waterproof smart watches, it has stroke detection along with other workout tracking as well as a heart rate monitor, GPS, and an accelerometer. The accelerometer is very important for those who are into competitive swimming, as it measures the force of your stroke and turns.

Waterproof up to 50 meters (164 feet), the Apple Watch is a reliable fitness tracker. The Series 3 is also an excellent choice–it just has a slightly larger style, but with a smaller screen. The display on the Series 4 is also much more vibrant than the Series 3.

Fitbit Versa

When one thinks of fitness trackers, many people immediately hear the name “Fitbit.” The Fitbit Versa is a moderately-priced waterproof smart watch for Android devices that will work very well for casual swimmers. The Versa has a 5 ATM (50 meters) waterproof rating. Its display is nice and bright, so you can easily get feedback during your swim, but the data accessible on the watch itself is limited. However, with the use of the app you can get a lot more data post-workout.

Samsung Galaxy Watch

One of the best features of this waterproof smart watch for Android is its long battery life, making it ideal for extended outdoor adventures. Its 4-day battery will keep you charged and tracking your swim time, along with other workouts. Samsung has partnered with Speedo to not only improve the swim tracking capabilities of this waterproof smart watch, but also created a partnering app that tracks the fastest length, swim pace, calories burned, and heart rate, along with many other swim metrics. The Samsung Gear Fit Pro 2 is also available at a slightly lower cost. It has a sleek curved look and feel, but does not track quite as much data. The Gear Fit Pro 2 is also partnered with Speedo.

Swimming is a refreshing way to achieve and maintain optimal health, as well as ground your spirit for an overall sense of well-being. A good waterproof smart watch will help you amp up your workout without creating waves.