If you are new to swimming, first off, welcome! Swimming is a sport that can’t be beat when it comes to fitness and well-being. There’s not much that feels better than a good workout at the pool.
But like any sport, beginner swimmers might find some frustration in getting used to a new type of workout. Don’t give up, though! Here are some tips to get you through the common swimming mistakes that many beginners face.
Get the right stuff
Swimming doesn’t require much gear, but there are still a few things that will make your workout better. For starters, you need a swimsuit with an athletic cut that gives you comfort and support while you are swimming. For great value, try chlorine resistant swimwear. Chlorine resistant styles are designed to last longer than regular swimsuits, even with repeated exposure to chlorine. Next, find a snug-fitting pair of fog-resistant goggles, as well as a swim cap to hold back your hair. Now, you’re ready to swim!
Work on head position and breathing
If you’re learning freestyle, you probably already know that breathing correctly is one of the most challenging parts of swimming. Here are some things to remember:
- Turn just your head to the side to breathe—do not turn your body, and do not lift up your head
- With your head turned, take a quick breath in as your elbow is moving up
- Think streamlining—keep your body as straight as you can while taking a breath
- Do not hold your breath; exhale completely when your head is underwater
If you are having trouble getting it, find a quiet place in the pool, and practice your breathing motion while standing. Simply lean over in a pike position and practice the stroke/breathing action without the pressure of actually swimming.
Lengthen your strokes
One common mistake is to take short strokes, especially if you are trying to go faster. The reverse is actually better. Try elongating your strokes, keeping your hand flat, and allowing your fingers to enter the water first.
- Focus on stretching out your arms
- Keep a steady, even pace
- Finish out your stroke fully before bending your elbow for the next stroke
- Keep your body in a straight line as your arms rotate
This is also something you can practice while standing in the pool. Focus on how your hand enters the water with each stroke, allowing it to enter at about the width of your shoulders.
Keep your legs straight
Making a big splash when you are kicking is not necessarily helpful. Kicking hard can actually slow you down and work against being streamlined. Here are some kicking tips:
- Kick from your hips, not your knees
- Keep your legs straight when kicking; your knees should not bend much
- Kick with quick, small motions, not big splashy ones
Kickboards are a great way to practice your kick, as they allow you to take a break from freestyle and focus solely on what you are doing with your legs.
When you’re swimming, it’s hard to evaluate yourself. Ask a friend to come along and videotape, so that you can evaluate the parts that are giving you trouble. Or see if a lifeguard or coach at your pool would be willing to give you advice on improving your stroke. Some pools even offer adult swimming lessons for beginners.
Make time for yourself!
Reward yourself after your workout with a massage or time in the hot tub. Swimming should be an escape from your daily grind, and something you look forward to. By rewarding yourself after your swim, you will be more inspired to come back the next day and try again.
Learning to swim is something you will never regret. The more efficient you become as a swimmer, the more you will enjoy your workouts. If you are persistent and work past your obstacles, you will be amazed at the results!