I’ve been a bit lax in posting about my progress in swimming, but I did finally finish the learn to swim 500 yards program from About.com that I started a couple of months ago. Monsoon rains and pool closures gave me some delays in finishing this program, and since the semester started I’ve only been able to get in 2 swim workouts per week instead of 3 due to time constraints and the high mileage I’m doing. However, if you are a swimming skeptic as I was before I started, here are some reasons to try swimming as a cross-training exercise:
- It’s easy and cheap to get started. A basic one-piece swimsuit can be purchased for $40 or less, and I paid around $10 total for swim goggles and a swim cap. That’s it. Assuming you already have access to a pool, there really isn’t much you need in the way of gear.
- It strengthens and tones with little to no impact. Now that I’m running 20+ miles a week, this is something I really appreciate. After an 11 miler like I ran this Sunday, there’s no way I’d be able to do another 30-minute run the following day, but being in the pool is somehow soothing. I wouldn’t say I feel like I’ve gotten tremendous weight loss benefits from swimming, but it definitely works for toning. My arms, abs, and chest muscles are more defined than when I started, and that’s not something that came from running or light yoga alone. Swimming involves extension, constant movement, and attention to form. When done properly, it really pays off.
It’s fun. I guess I’m spoiled by living in a nice climate and having an outdoor pool, but I love that swimming allows me to be outside exercising even when it’s close to 100 degrees. Night swims are also fun, with cooler air, warm water, and the eerie pool lighting underneath you.
- Attention to form and breathing translate well to running. I do think more about form when running than I did before I started swimming. I don’t slouch as much, I engage my core, and I check myself occasionally when I find my form slacking. This may be why I’m finishing strong even on some of the longer runs I’ve been doing.
- Swimmers are hot. Really, what can I say? These swimming guys are easy on the eyes.
Overall, I plan to keep swimming on my off-days from running. I probably won’t try to build too much distance between now and my half-marathon on October 6, but yesterday’s 500 yards actually felt easy, so who knows? Whenever I do feel like pushing myself, About.com also has a more advanced program that I might try.