In the late 1950s, a man by the name of Robert Byers developed a small recreation park on the banks of the privately-owned Lake Dolores in the middle of the hot Mojave Desert. What started as a personal retreat for his family was soon opened to the public in 1962, after which water slides and other exciting water attractions were slowly added in an effort to provide the growing number of visitors an enticing reprieve from the scorching desert heat.
Though he doubtfully understood it at the time, Byers’ miniature water attraction was the first of what would quickly become a growing sensation across both the US and the globe: water parks. In 1977, Orlando’s notorious Wet n’ Wild water park cued its inaugural season and set the mold for other modern-caliber water parks to follow. Today, with thousands of water parks worldwide that attract nearly a billion visitors per year, the standards of amusement and excitement have far superseded Byer’s old-school blueprint.
For thrill-seekers and adrenaline-junkies looking to ride the tide of excitement, check out these 7 top water parks in the world.
Where: Sicily, Italy
Features: With 18 water slides, three amusement parks, and even a technically advanced laser show, this jungle-and-dinosaur theme park is the pinnacle of European inventiveness.
Where: Dubai, United Arab Emirates
Features: Aquaventure Waterpark is often considered one of the Middle East’s greatest amusement attractions. Home to the world’s widest water slide, the Middle East’s longest zip line, and a river ride that floats for nearly 1.5 miles, this park also offers a 2,296-foot-long private beach, several water coasters, and even a Shark Lagoon where visitors can hand-feed stingrays.
Where: Beijing, China
Features: Beijing’s National Aquatics Center, aka the Water Cube, allows visitors to swim, splash, and play in the same place athletes of the 2008 Olympics once competed. With a wave pool, lazy river, spa area, and 13 water slides and rides the 12,000-square-meter Water Cube is the largest water park in Asia.
Where: Orlando, Florida, USA
Features: Two massive wave pools, a white-knuckle water slides, and a dolphin-filled aquarium make Aquatica one of the coolest water parks in the U.S. Furthermore, a soft, white, spanning beach and a South Seas-inspired garden with over 60,000 different plant species transport visitors to a relaxing, tropical oasis.
Where: Bali, Indonesia
Features: Voted the #1 waterpark in Asia by TripAdvisor, Waterbom features world-class water slides, breathtakingly beautiful landscaped gardens and water systems, and an eco-reserve that’s home to a number of endangered native species. With award-winning dining options, G-force waterslides, and tranquil relaxation areas, Waterbom offers a memorable experience for the whole family.
Where: Porto da Dunas, Brazil
Features: As the largest water park in South America, Beach Park is also home to the tallest and fastest waterslide in the world. Aptly named the Insano, this notorious waterpark sends riders jetting down 135-feet of slide at a breathtaking 65-miles-per-hour.
Where: Spreewald, Germany
Features: As Europe’s largest tropical holiday resort, Tropical Islands features swimming pools, sports facilities, a thrilling Whitewater River, a 10,000-square-meter Sauna & Spa complex, and the world’s largest indoor rainforest. The Tropical Islands is the go-to attraction for both those who seek thrilling water adventures and those eager for rest and relaxation.
From simple lake slides in the middle of the desert to modern marvels the world over, water parks continue to offer thrills and shrills for adventure seekers across the world. For information on more fun water parks, helpful pool tips and tricks, and much more, check out the Swim Jim blog, today!
Do you know how to swim? If so, welcome to the elite group of just 56 percent of Americans who can perform the five core swimming skills needed to qualify you as a capable swimmer by the American Red Cross. Often referred to as one of the most difficult sports to master, swimming is a sport that can be traced back thousands of years. This article will explore the history of swimming as a sport—from its days as a men-only sport to one of the most popular activities in the nation.
The history of swimming begins in 36 B.C. when the Japanese held what would today be considered the first type of swimming races. However, it wasn’t until the early 1800s that swimming was turned into a competitive sport when swimmers would face the monumental challenge of successfully navigating the English Channel. During the early days when swimmers gauged their ability on simply making it across the English Channel, one’s speed, technique, and style didn’t particularly matter.
The origin of swimming all changed when a group of American Indians was invited to attend a swimming competition in London in 1844. Unlike the steady breaststroke that was the norm in competitions early days, the North American Indian swimmers propelled themselves through the water using windmill-like arm movements—a technique that was soon deemed far superior to that of the breaststroke. After the Australian swimmer Richard Cavill mimicked this over-arm recovery in the early 1900s, the stroke was soon dubbed the “Australian crawl.” In 1912, swimmer Johnny Weissmuller broke the one-minute barrier for the 100-meter freestyle using the “Australian crawl.” It wasn’t soon after Weissmuller’s accomplishments that this form of swimming was officially named freestyle.
The same year Weissmuller introduced freestyle to the swimming world, women also made their debut in Olympic swimming competitions. Though they weren’t initially allowed to compete in all Olympic swimming events, women were first welcomed formally into the sport by being able to compete in the 100-meter individual freestyle race and the 4×100 Freestyle relay race during the 1912 Olympics.
Just 14 years after the inclusion of women in the Olympics, 19-year-old Gertrude Ederle conquered the English Channel, deeming her the first ever woman to complete the arduous stretch of water. Along with outswimming the contemporary men’s record by more than two hours, Ederle also made history as the first woman in a major sport to beat a record previously set by a man.
As many sports do, swimming quickly progressed in both its efficiency and its technique. While breaststroke and freestyle were dominating the scene, both swimmers and coaches began experimenting with the various ways in which swimmers could swim the length of the pool at the quickest times possible. Unlike the freestyle stroke which involved an arm-over-arm movement, Americans David Armbruster and Jack Sieg developed the double-over-arm recovery in the 1930s. When paired with a dolphin kick, this tactical stroke proved to be a challenging, yet remarkable way to navigate the water. Soon deemed the “butterfly” stroke, this innovative technique was declared a separate, valid stroke by the Olympic committee in the 1950s.
Prior to butterfly being added to the swimming stroke roster, backstroke was also included as one of the valid forms of Olympic swimming. Similar to the freestyle stroke, swimmers did the backstroke by repeating an arm-over-arm recovery while remaining on their backs, facing up, for the entirety of the race.
Now, thousands of years later, swimming continues to be a sport enjoyed by both trained competitors and leisure participants alike. For more interesting swimming history facts and to learn more about the popular sport of swimming, visit the Swim Jim blog, today.
Are you one of the millions of Americans who swims on a regular basis? Whether you swim for exercise and competition, or you just love lounging at the pool with friends and family, you probably know just how hard chlorine can be on your body. Along with drying out your skin and slowly dissolving your swimsuit, chlorine also causes severe damage to your hair. Used as a disinfectant in most swimming pools, this powerful class of disinfectants (of which there are several different chemicals) quickly eats away at the hair’s keratin, proteins, and amino acids, causing it to become dry and brittle.
Fortunately, you don’t have to give up your favorite sport or pastime just preserve the health and appearance of your hair. With these three swimming hair care tips, you can take the necessary measures to protect and repair your hair from harmful chlorine exposure.
Wearing a swim cap or bathing cap is a must if you wish to keep your hair in good shape. While a cap won’t always keep your hair completely dry or sealed off from water, it does protect it from the direct exposure chlorine. Thanks to advances in swimwear fashion and functionally, today’s swim caps come in all different materials, styles, and colors, allowing you to choose the best design for your needs.
Consider the following materials for your swimming purposes to reduce your chances of having serious chlorine hair:
By preventing your hair from making direct contact with the water, you can significantly slow the damaging effects of chlorine.
Make an effort to rinse off your hair and get it wet before you go into the pool. Unlike dry hair that’s thirsty for hydration, wet hair stalls the chlorine from soaking into your strands. Think of your hair as a sponge: If you get into chlorinated water with dry hair, your strands will quickly absorb this chemical-laden moisture. If your hair is already saturated with clean, chlorine-free water, however, it won’t have the capacity to soak up much pool water.
Having a hair-forward routine post-pool time will make a big difference in the health of your hair. At the very minimum, make a point to thoroughly rinse your hair after getting out of chlorinated water. If possible, immediately wash your hair with chlorine-removal shampoo and follow with a protein-rich conditioner to replenish any of your hair’s vital defenses that may have been destroyed by the chlorine. You can also use a leave-in spray or conditioner with added protein to ensure optimal protection.
By following these three helpful tips, you can prevent your hair from the harmful risks of chlorine exposure while still being able to enjoy your favorite pool-time activities. For swimming secrets, pool tips, and more, visit Swim Jim, today.
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 swimming 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 swimming 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. This swimming technique is often compared to a frog’s movement
The butterfly is an advanced swimming 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.
This is an older swimming style that is not typically used in swim competitions, but is still an important stroke to learn for safety reasons. It is most commonly used by lifeguards when they rescue someone, as this stroke most easily allows you to pull something along with you. It involves swimming on your side, as the name implies, propelling yourself forward with a scissor kick and alternating arm movements. It’s one of the easier strokes to learn, and can be a nice break from the more popular swim strokes if you’re looking to add more variety into your routine.
This is a variation from the typical backstroke you see. It uses a reversed breaststroke kick while your arms move in sync beneath the water. It’s called “elementary” because of its simple technique that’s easy to pick up, and is often one of the first swim strokes taught to new swimmers for this reason.
This is a form of the sidestroke that all US Navy SEALs have to learn. Efficient and energy-saving, the combat side stroke is a kind of a combination of breaststroke, freestyle, and, obviously, sidestroke. It reduces the swimmer’s profile in the water, making them less visible while allowing them to swim with maximum efficiency–two critical criteria for combat operations that require swimming on the surface. This is a relatively complicated stroke to learn, so click here for the full official description and steps.
This stroke evolved from the sidestroke and is named after the English swimmer John Trudgen. You swim mostly on your side, alternating lifting each arm out of the water and over your head. It uses a scissor kick that only comes in every other stroke. When your left arm is over your head, you spread your legs apart to prepare to kick, and then as the arm comes down you straighten your legs and snap them together for the scissor kick.
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.
Check out our Advanced Swimming Programs here!