7 ways to get in the swim of things

From sea to sea to lake to pool, water surrounds and defines Canada. Ready to get your feet wet? Here are some tips from Swimming Canada to help you enjoy the water.

SAFETY FIRST

Swim with a partner who is comfortable and confident in the water. Ideally, the area should be supervised by a certified lifeguard.

SUIT UP

Select the right swimming attire – something that fits close to the body and is comfortable to wear. In the pool, goggles will protect your eyes from chlorine. Other optional pieces of equipment are a swim cap, ear plugs and nose plugs. You’ll also want a towel to dry off afterwards. Young or inexperienced swimmers should wear a lifejacket or personal flotation device.

STRETCH IT OUT

To avoid cramps, ensure that you are well hydrated, properly nourished, and warmed up before diving in to a water workout. Do some warm-up exercises and stretches before taking the plunge.

READY TO EXHALE

New swimmers tend to rush their breathing, or forget to breathe altogether! This causes fatigue and doesn’t get enough oxygenated blood to the muscles. Begin by swimming at a relatively slow pace and focus on timing your breaths properly. Aim for consistency over intensity.

WHATEVER FLOATS YOUR BOAT

Spend some time getting comfortable in the water and experiencing the sensation of floating. It’s normal to be nervous, but remember to stay calm and take slow, steady breaths.

DON’T GET “BOARD”

To work on your technique, you can try using the following pieces of training equipment:

  • Kickboard – also called a “flutter board,” it isolates the legs to practice the proper kicking motion.
  • Pull-buoys – a floating device placed between the thighs or calves that allows the swimmer to focus on the upper body, shoulders and arms.
  • Fins – shorter in length than the ones worn by scuba divers, these are intended to add resistance to your kick and build up your leg muscles. 
  • Hand paddles – experienced swimmers strap these on their hands to refine their arm action as well as build power and strength.

STROKE OF GENIUS

Swimming is activity number 4 on the ParticipACTION 150 Play List, and there are four main swimming strokes: freestyle, backstroke, breaststroke, and butterfly. Each stroke has distinctive elements and can be learned once you master the fundamentals. To find a swim club near you, visit swimming.ca.