Swimming is just about the ideal workout: it’s low-impact (meaning it’s especially great for those with joint issues or past injuries), has a low risk of injury, and exercises almost every muscle in the body. But does it build muscle? Well, the water provides a constant resistance that stretches and contracts your muscles, making them both more flexible and stronger. It’s a great combination of both cardio and strength training, working not only your heart, but your arms, torso, and legs as well.
While swimming in general uses all your muscles to a degree, each stroke targets a particular group of muscles. So in order to get the most out of swimming, switch up your strokes when you do laps. Keep a note of which strokes are your least favorite–often these are the ones that may benefit your body the most because they probably work your weakest muscles. Below is a list of which muscle groups are best worked by which swimming stroke.
This stroke involves your arms pulling and pushing underwater, while also requiring you to maintain the position of your torso in the water. The backstroke tends to be less demanding than the freestyle or breaststroke, so if you’re looking to do some recovery laps between intense workouts, or for a good way to ease back into swimming after an injury, the backstroke is a great go-to.
This stroke works your biceps, triceps, deltoids, abs, glutes, pecs, rib intercostals, and hip stabilizers. The backstroke also uses a flutter kick to help propel your body forward, which works primarily your hamstrings, but also your calves and feet muscles.
The front crawl is a fast-paced stroke that tends to work muscles harder because of the greater force it generates. It’s the stroke most often used in the freestyle event because it’s the fastest and most efficient, and tends to be the preferred stroke of experienced swimmers. Your arms must move quickly from above your head down to the sides of your body which builds your muscles and improves your speed.
This stroke mostly targets the pecs, lats, and other back muscles, but your arms, shoulders, and hips are also worked. Like the backstroke, it also employs the flutter kick, but since you’re facedown in this stroke it’s your quads that are targeted here.
This popular facedown stroke requires your upper and lower body to move in tandem. Both arms move together in sweeping movements underwater, while your legs perform a whip kick that requires them to move simultaneously, instead of separately like the flutter kick. The breaststroke is ideal for beginners because it’s not super physically demanding, so you can swim longer without getting tired. However, it does require you to lift your head out of the water to breathe, which surprisingly depends on arm and leg strength rather than the neck.
These synchronized arm movements work the pecs, biceps, deltoids, and finally triceps as you thrust your arms forward for another stroke and lift your head up for a breath. The whip kick engages your glutes, hamstrings, quads, and calves.
The butterfly stroke tends to require the most physical exertion, and engages your chest and hips just as much as your limbs. It’s great for quickening your metabolism and will have your core muscles screaming. Your torso is thrust towards the surface with every stroke, as your arms move forward synchronously back into the water and then down to your sides.
The butterfly works your abs, shoulders, back muscles, hips, and glutes, and is ideal if strength-building is what you’re after.
If you’re interested in the full-body workout that swimming provides, sign up for one of our classes today.
Narrowing down the list of the world’s most famous swimmers is a tough job, but there are a few stand-out swimmers who have undoubtedly made a huge impact on the industry. We’ve gathered a stellar list of athletes who’ve made innovations, grown the sport, blazed a path, and brought important changes to swimming over the years.
Check out our other posts for more stories of the world’s most influential and accomplished swimmers.
No matter whether you want to learn how to swim for competition, exercise, or safety, it’s best to learn several different swimming strokes as each offers different advantages in different situations.
For competition, the versatility will allow swimmers to compete in multiple events. For exercise, different muscles are used for different strokes; learning all of the strokes provides a more comprehensive workout. For safety, different strokes can be used depending on the dangers of a particular situation.
The front crawl is likely the first stroke you think of when you picture swimming. It is commonly called the freestyle stroke as most swimmers choose to use this stroke in freestyle events as it is the fastest.
To execute the front crawl, you lie on your stomach and propel yourself forward with alternating arm movements in a sort of windmill motion that starts by pushing underwater and recovers above water. Your legs should propel you with a flutter kick, which is performed with pointed feet as your legs move up and down in alternation. You take breaths in time with the strokes.
The backstroke requires similar movements to the front crawl, but it is done, as the name suggests, on your back. Doctors often recommend this stroke to individuals with back problems as it provides a great back workout.
To perform the backstroke, while floating on your back, alternate your arms with a windmill-like motion to propel yourself backwards. Like the front crawl, your arms should start the circular motion by pushing underwater and recovering above water. Your legs should engage in a flutter kick. Your face should be above the surface as you look straight up.
The breast stroke is the slowest competitive stroke, and it is the most commonly learned stroke. It’s often taught to beginner swimmers because it does not require putting your head underwater. However, in competitive swimming, swimmers do submerge their head and breathe at designated points in the stroke.
This stroke is performed with your stomach facing down. Your arms move simultaneously beneath the surface of the water in a half circular movement in front of your body. Your legs perform the whip kick at the same time. The whip kick is executed by bringing your legs from straight behind you close to your body by bending both at your knees and at your hips. Your legs then move outward and off to the side before extending and coming back together. The movement is often compared to a frog.
The butterfly is an advanced stroke that provides an excellent workout. It can be more difficult and tiring to learn, but it is also a lot of fun. It is the second fastest competitive stroke, and the favorite stroke of Olympic legend Michael Phelps.
To perform the butterfly stroke, start horizontal with your stomach facing the bottom of the pool. Bring your arms simultaneously over your head and push them into the water to propel you forward and bring them up out of the water again to repeat. As you move your arms into the water, you will push your head and shoulders above the surface of the water.
Your legs will perform a dolphin kick, which requires your legs to stay together and straight as you kick them similarly to how a dolphin’s lower body and tail moves.
Sign up for lessons at SwimJim in order to learn and master the different kinds of strokes in swimming.
Have you ever wondered why competitive swimmers wear swim caps? It’s not just to avoid doing your hair again after taking a quick dip in the pool. Swim caps offer several advantages.
Hair can create drag and slow you down when swimming through increased water resistance.
To the average swimmer, hair won’t likely make or break a casual race around the pool, but in competitive environments, victory and defeat can be decided by milliseconds. When the difference between a gold medal and a silver medal can come down to a sixth of an inch (4.7mm), every shred of competitive edge counts.
Pools are kept clean with a balanced mixture of chemicals, including chlorine. While chlorine is great for pool sanitation, it can be pretty rough on human hair. Well-fitted swim caps can offer your hair protection.
Triathletes also often use swim caps in their races even though the open waters don’t have chlorine. Swim caps can also protect your head from cold water and direct sunlight.
It’s easy to lose track of who is who during a swim meet or triathlon. Colored caps that feature a racer’s number or name or a unique design can help observers easily identify the swimmer they are watching.
Swim caps don’t have to be bland and boring. In fact, they are a great way to show off your personality while protecting your hair.
This swim cap is perfect for superfans of the most important meal of the day. Hopefully it won’t make fellow classmates too hungry.
Long live the queen! Practice your underwater curtsy and let the other swimmers know they’re in the presence of royalty with this tiara swim cap.
Floral fans will wow the other pool patrons with this retro petal swim cap. What it lacks in water resistance it makes up in style.
Swimming is a time-tested American past time, which is probably why the US of A always does so well in Olympic swimming events. This star-spangled swim cap exudes freedom, justice, and the American way.
If you’re ready to be part of our world and reveal the secret to your swimming skills, this swim cap can be a great icebreaker.
If you have a little one who fancies him or herself a terror of the deep (or maybe just the shallow end for now), this swim cap is sure to be a splash hit.
After finding the perfect swim cap for you or your kids, come join us for swim lessons at SwimJim!
Learning to swim is a vital life skill that children should practice and know early on. Swimming lessons give both parents and children a greater peace of mind at the pool, are great for health and fitness, and teach a skill that could one day save a life. There’s never a wrong time to teach your kids about water safety.
The benefits of regular exercise are well-known and often-discussed. It’s important to instill the value of an active lifestyle in children because it will benefit them for the rest of their life. Swimming is an ideal form of exercise because it uses just about every muscle in the body, it’s low-impact so it doesn’t put stress on the joints or bones, and it improves flexibility. It’s a great, fun way for kids to burn off all that extra energy.
Regular physical activity such as sports participation is key in reducing the risk of childhood obesity, and in turn, juvenile diabetes. Because swimming is an aerobic activity, it promotes heart and lung health and improves strength and coordination. It requires you to synchronize the movements of your limbs and regulate your breathing. And maybe the best thing about swimming is that it can be done by yourself or on a team, and at any time of the year.
Just like mastering any other skill, learning to swim inspires self-confidence. Being able to join in on swim games like Marco Polo or sharks and minnows will give your child a sense of independence. They’ll be able to see their improvements with their own eyes, as they learn how to swim farther, and stay afloat longer as their stamina increases. Never underestimate the power of believing in yourself.
Think how many fun experiences are opened up when your child is able to swim–birthday pool parties, beach trips, cruises, water sports, scuba diving, snorkeling, etc. Not being able to swim excludes them from a lot of fun opportunities.
Perhaps the greatest benefit of swimming lessons is that they teach your child how to be safe in and near water. There will be many situations in your child’s life where they are around water, and these situations will always be dangerous unless your child learns how to swim. Your child learns the best way to react when something happens in the water, and how to be prepared. Even if you can teach your child basic swimming, attending actual classes are better because they build endurance and strength and teach how to swim underwater, how to swim in clothes, and basic water rescue skills.
Swim Jim believes that swimming is something that every child should learn. Our classes focus on teaching water safety and life-saving habits by helping young swimmers be more cognizant of the movements in the water. Classes are available to children of all skill levels and feature small student-to-instructor ratios, because we believe it’s the best way to make the experience positive and fun and foster an environment of acceptance. And if your child needs even more one-on-one time with the instructor, we also offer private classes.
If you’re looking for swimming classes near you, we have locations in New York City, Brooklyn, and Houston. Contact us to sign up for swimming lessons today.
Even if you’re a skilled swimmer and can handle laps in the pool with ease, you can get thrown for a loop the first time you participate in an organized open-water swim. That’s because swimming in open water is a totally different experience from swimming in a pool. There’s no black line to follow, no lane dividers, you can’t see the bottom, and you can’t put your feet down.
Whether it’s a lake, ocean, or reservoir, it can cause a lot of anxiety if you don’t adequately prepare for it. Here are some open-water swimming tips and some precautions you should take.
It’s an investment, but a worthwhile one. Wetsuits make swimming easier by keeping you warm and providing a bit of buoyancy. There are generally two styles of wetsuits – sleeveless and full. Wetsuits with full sleeves are the more common choice among professional triathletes. They keep you warmer and more buoyant, but they do tend to be a bit pricier. However, if you’re an experienced swimmer, you may prefer the sleeveless option since it feels more natural to have your arms and shoulders able to move freely and you don’t really need the buoyancy boost.
If you do choose to go with a wetsuit, make sure you practice with it on to get used to the feel of it.
A swimming buddy keeps you safer and holds you accountable. Choose someone who not only knows how to do the cross-chest carry, but is also strong enough to get you out of the water if something should happen. Being in the water makes things get dangerous quickly, so practice rescue techniques together regularly so they will be second nature.
It’s also always good to check in with a lifeguard before you start your practice. Natural bodies of water are always changing and shifting. The lifeguard will know the current beach conditions and can warn you of any riptides or shark sightings.
Remember that you are in an environment where there are any number of unpredictable factors to consider: wild animals, boats, buoys, other swimmers. It’s crucial to stay alert and take your head out of the water once in awhile. Check the course straight in front of you to be sure there’s not something dangerous in your path. Check your position with the shoreline and make sure you’re heading in the right direction. Also, the water is often quite crowded during races, so be wary of fellow swimmers – watch out for kicking legs.
This will surprise no one, but consistent, frequent practice is the most beneficial thing you can do. The more real open-water swimming experience you get, the better shape you’ll be in for race day. You’ll feel more confident and at home in the open water after you take the time to get to know it a bit. If you’re lucky enough to live near an accessible open body of water, use it. If not, look for some open water swim clinics in your area. And remember – you should NEVER swim alone. Find a buddy or join a class, and get out there and practice.
If you’re looking to improve your swimming skills, look into Swim Jim’s advancing programs to see what’s available near you.
There are some things in life that only swimmers truly understand: green hair; jumping into cold water at the start of 5 AM workouts; permanent chlorine perfume; deck changing; long-lasting goggle marks, etc. While there are several comical, playful aspects of swimming that only swimmers understand, it’s not always fun and games. Plateauing at the peak of training season or struggling to shave off one or two tenths of a second for qualifiers, for example, can make the sport infuriatingly frustrating.
For tough moments, these 10 swimming quotes will help inspire you to zip up your racing suit, snap on your cap, de fog your goggles, and get back in the water.
You’re never too old to learn a new skill, and swimming is a particularly important skill for people of all ages to have. However, many adults feel intimidated or embarrassed to admit that they can’t swim or can’t swim well, and they figure it’s too late to learn. But adult swim lessons are growing in popularity and many people are starting to see the benefits. Here are a few reasons that swimming lessons for adults are not only awesome, but important as well.
The most important reason to learn to swim is because of the real risk of drowning. At some point, everybody finds themselves around a body of water, whether it’s swimming at a friend’s pool, taking a cruise, or attending a barbecue at a lakeside park. Knowing how to swim is not only a matter of personal safety but also for your children or those around you. Thousands of people drown every year, so it’s more important than ever that adults who do not know how to swim or are not confident in their swimming skills swallow their pride and enroll in adult swimming lessons
Swimming is a popular social activity for all ages. You don’t want to have to sit out at a pool party or beach vacation because you didn’t learn to swim as a child. It doesn’t take long to learn a few basic strokes that will help you feel confident joining in on the fun. Along those lines, consider the friends you could make in adult swim lessons, who are in the same situation as you. Perhaps being surrounded by like-minded adults who are taking steps to improve themselves could result in lasting friendships built on common interests.
Swimming is a fantastic form of exercise. Not only is it a great cardiovascular workout like running or jogging, but unlike those exercises, swimming works your whole body as well. From your legs, glutes, shoulders, arms, and core, you will definitely feel a burn when you swim for fitness. And the low-impact nature of swimming (because of the buoyancy of your body suspended in water) makes it an even better choice to avoid stress on the bones and joints. In fact, many professional athletes turn to swimming to stay in shape when they’re recovering from an injury.
Motivational speakers are always encouraging listeners to face their fears, get out of your comfort zone, and stretch your limits. It’s true – we grow the most when we try something new rather than stick to what we know. You will not only benefit physically but also mentally and emotionally by overcoming the voice in your mind telling you that you can’t. Challenging yourself to learn to swim will also set an example for your friends, family, or children by inspiring them to face their fears and learn new skills.
The benefits of learning to swim at any age far outweigh any doubts in your mind. Certainly, you will only look back with gratitude that you made the decision to take adult swim lessons, and you certainly don’t want to look back with regret because you didn’t and may have needed those skills. So don’t wait – sign up for swim lessons today.
It’s up there on every parent’s list of fears: what if my baby drowns? We watch them around any body of water, no matter how small, and many of us don’t even consider taking them to the pool, just in case. But what if there was a way to help even newborn infants be safer in water? As it turns out, there is.
Amazingly enough, even tiny babies can be taught things that keep them safer around and in water. It helps that they’re born with some water reflexes, but as they grow, those reflexes fade and need to be replaced with infant swim lessons, which teach them new reflexes and habits that encourage water safety. If you keep your child in swim lessons, it can also help them not fear water as they get older.
Studies have shown that babies who learn to splash and glide in water are more intelligent and self-confident. This can help lead to fewer tantrums down the road. Some babies can master floating on their backs, which can be life-saving, and socialization in group swim classes can encourage babies and children to be friendlier and less afraid of other people.
Because of the neural connections that are strengthened while babies learn to swim (not, of course, in terms of freestyle and butterfly strokes, but rather floating and splashing safely,) their brains can be strengthened and enhanced in a number of ways. These stronger brains are then better adapted for:
What’s more, just the tactile experience of feeling the water react to their cute little splashes and kicks can strengthen the brain further.
The greater confidence that children gain through early swim lessons can also help boost:
While keeping your child safe is a reward in and of itself, there are other nice things about infant swim lessons for parents to enjoy. Watching little babies learn to move and play in water is adorable and charming, and a fun way for you to enjoy time with your little ones. It also opens up pool fun with your child if they were previously afraid of water. Finally, it is a major plus in this world of dangers around every corner to know that your baby is a little safer (and can grow up safe) playing in water and having fun.
Just because your baby does well in swim lessons does not mean that they are water safe by themselves. Young children may have a reduced risk of drowning with infant and child swim lessons, but you still absolutely must keep your eyes–and often your hands–on them any time they are near water.
Remember that drowning is a leading cause of death in infants and children, especially if you have a pool at home. It’s also important to remember that small children are top-heavy, meaning that once their head is down, it’s much harder for them to swim back up.
You love your children, and you want them to be safe. One great way to help ensure that safety is to enroll them in infant swim lessons or child swim lessons. Contact SwimJim today to enroll your baby in infant swim lessons.
As the fourth hottest state in the US, Texas can boast sweltering temperatures throughout a decent portion of the year. Find reprieve from the heat at these 5 best places to swim in Texas.
As one of the quintessential swimming holes in Texas, Barton Springs Pool in Austin maintains year-round 68-degree temperatures and crystal clear waters. This family-friendly pool has both a deep diving area and a shallow end perfect for young children. Pack a picnic to enjoy on the pool’s grassy banks and make sure to arrive early in the day if you want to get a good parking spot.
Located in Balmorhea State Park in far West Texas, the San Solomon spring features vibrantly clear waters that draw scuba-fanatics from across the country. A built-in 1.75-acre swimming hole is fed by the spring’s 15-million-gallons of water a day and maintains temperatures of 72 to 76-degrees year-round. Ideal for deep-water divers and beginner swimmers alike, San Solomon is a must if you’re in the West Texas area.
Just 60 miles west of Fort Stockton lies the favored Balmorhea State Park which showcases the world’s largest spring-fed pool. This massive pool in the middle of the desert offers 72-degree water that swimmers share with fish, turtle, and various other aqua creatures. Consider spending a night or two at the nearby motor-court style cabins for a few extra days of heat escape.
This refreshing 68-degree pool flows continuously from its source, no matter how dry or hot the Texas heat may be. The private park lies just 40-minutes outside of Spicewood, making it significantly less crowded than some of the other popular swimming holes. Along with some spectacular swimming, this natural oasis also features overnight camping, boating, and other fun activities perfect for getting your mind off of the sweltering heat.
As one of the most popular natural swimming holes in Texas, this nine-acre swimming hole is located deep within the Angelina National Forest and was created by Sterling Boykin in the 1800’s after he dammed the nearby creek. With the Boykin Lake spillway making the perfect splashing pool for children, the recreation area also features a two-and-a-half-mile trail that winds around the creek to an old sawmill as well as a campground at the Boykin homestead. This favorite, local secret is found just 20 miles west of Jasper.
As one of Austin’s most sought-after places for Texas tubing, the Comal River is a must for a reprieve from the hot summer temps. Whether you rent tubes or bring your own, there are several shuttle options so you can start tubing on one end of the river and get picked up on the other end. If you’re tubing with small children, consider getting started earlier in the day to avoid swarms of rowdy college kids. If you’re not scared off the by the idea of cooling off in the known party-place, note that recent rule changes request that you avoid bringing along glass bottles.
Before you set out on adventures to Texas’ top swimming holes, make sure you, your family members, and friends have the proper swimming skills needed to stay safe. Sign up for swimming lessons in Texas at Swim Jim today and prepare yourself for a summer of fun in the hot Texas sun.