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Solo Sports: Swimming

You're soaking wet and in a horizontal position. You kick your arms and legs to keep moving, and you keep turning your head to breathe.

Are you:

Topics on Solo Sports:
A Team of One
Martial Arts
Walking and Hiking
From the Mentors
  • Trying to get out of bed after another one of those "evil clown" nightmares?
  • Getting a bit too sweaty doing an aerobics video?
  • Napping in a hammock in the middle of a rainstorm?
Girl swimming NO! You're in the water, swimming!

Swimming is a competitive sport played around the world and on many different levels, including the Olympics. It's also an easy sport to do by yourself, for fun and for exercise. You can swim in a backyard pool, an indoor lap pool, or the waters of an ocean or lake.

Many doctors and athletes agree that swimming is one of the best workouts you can give your body, because it works almost all of your major muscle groups at the same time. Since you're floating in the water and not in contact with any hard surfaces, there's less pressure on your joints and bones. You're a lot less likely to suffer certain kinds of injuries than with other sports.

There are many ways to push yourself and get better as a swimmer. If you're into speed, you can race the clock and see how long it takes you to do a certain number of laps. If you're into endurance, you can slow down and see how many laps you can do before you have to take a rest.

Cool Swimming Facts:

  • Because cool water lowers your body temperature, you don't get as hot and sticky when you're swimming as when you do other forms of exercise or sports.

  • The workout in swimming comes because you're moving against the resistance of the water, which is equal to more than ten times the resistance of air. (Resistance is any force that makes it harder for you to move.) So you're getting a cardio workout like you'd get with running or doing aerobics, and a resistance workout like you'd get with weight training.

  • Swimming is more than a fun sport and a way to stay healthy; it's a skill that could save your life or help you save someone else's life in an emergency.

  • Swimming regularly can help build muscle mass and reduce body fat.

  • In swimming, you can choose to specialize in a certain kind of stroke (freestyle, backstroke, breaststroke, or butterfly). Each stoke requires you to move your arms, legs, and body in a different way.

  • You can challenge yourself or concentrate on one part of your body by using a kickboard, hand paddles, leg floats, or swim fins.

  • How fast or how far you swim are not as important as the amount of time you spend swimming. Doing it more often and for longer periods of time provides better exercise. Swimming slowly is the best way to remain safe and comfortable

  • Swim goggles protect your eyes from the chlorine in pools and help you to see more clearly under the water. The goggles shouldn't be too loose or too tight. You might also want to wear ear plugs and/or a nose clip to prevent water from getting in there and possibly causing infections.
What Kids Are Saying About Swimming:

"The best part about swimming is when you beat your time. It doesn't even matter if you lose the race as long as you tried your best; you can walk away with a smile on your face. When you're in the water you forget that people may be watching and all you care about is getting to the other side of the pool and touching the wall. You can just let go and fly."
--Stormie, 12

"I used to only swim in the summer when it was hot out, but now I go to the health club and swim every week, even in the winter. I'm going to try out for my school's swimming team this year."
--Bill, 12

"Swimming is more than just playing in my pool. It is good for my heart and keeps me in shape. It is definitely a great exercise for children."
--Miriam, 11

"I've been told swimming is a wimp sport but we don't get time outs and we can't stop and catch our breath. It's tough but fun."
--Amber, 13

Get Involved!

If you don't have a pool at your house or apartment to swim in, there are probably many public pool facilities near you that offer lessons or open swim times. These might include gyms, schools, or YMCA's. For help finding a pool or swim club near you (plus lots of other cool info about this sport), visit www.usaswimming.org. Log on now through the end of September for a chance to win a trip for four to the 2006 Teen Choice Awards, as part of USA Swimming¹s nationwide "We Want You on Our Team" campaign!

If you've grown up around water or pools, you might already know the basics of how to swim safely. If you've never been swimming before, it's never too late to learn.

If you're a beginner, it's a good idea to stay in shallow water and always swim with a buddy or a lifeguard watching. If you feel yourself getting tired, calmly swim to the edge of the water and take a rest. You should drink lots of fluids before swimming, but wait at least an hour after eating before you swim to avoid muscle cramps.

Next: What's all the fuss about Yoga?

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