Of the three sports in triathlon training, swimming creates the most anxiety
for many first-timers. Most people learned to swim as children because of
swimming’s biggest benefit — it’s just plain fun. But, for most people, swimming
endless training laps and entering the ocean in a pack of hundreds
of flailing arms and kicking legs doesn’t hold the same appeal as a game of
Marco Polo. But if you learn to relax and perfect an efficient stroke technique,
you can learn to love swimming, if you don’t already.
Swimming is a total-body exercise, pulling every part of you into the action, including
your mind. You can emerge from a great training swim feeling refreshed and
focused — an immediate benefit. Meanwhile, you’ll be gaining all kinds of benefits:
✓ Your muscles will be toned. Swimmers are known for their long, lean,
and well-toned bodies. Your muscles will benefit in the same way.
✓ You’ll improve your cardiovascular fitness. Swimming improves
your aerobic conditioning and endurance, bettering your body’s use
of oxygen and increasing lung function. All this makes you a stronger
cyclist and runner as well.
✓ You’ll be more flexible. While you’re building core strength, the movement
of a technically correct swim stroke also improves your range of motion.
✓ You’ll run a low risk of injury. As you swim, you’re virtually weightless,
supported by the water, so you don’t experience the impact and jarring
on your bones and joints that you do with other sports. In fact, swimming
is the ideal sport for healing from injuries endured from pounding
the pavement during running or other high-impact sports.
✓ You’ll participate in a sport you can enjoy for life. Because swimming
is gentle on your joints, you’ll see swimmers of all ages in the pool, and
quite possibly they’ll be lapping you into their 70s and 80s.
✓ You’ll be relaxed and rejuvenated. When you submerge yourself into
a pool at the end of a long or stressful day, the world drifts away. You
can’t hear anyone under water, so your time in the water is time all
to yourself. If you focus your mind on what your body is doing, you’ll
emerge from the pool with a sense of calm.