8 Tips for Learning to Swim
I often talk on my blog about how learning to swim was one of the best things I’ve done for my fitness and health. When I started adult swim lessons back in 2013, I never realised how many opportunities would open up to me once I’d mastered the technique and become confident in the water.
I’m passionate about encouraging others into swimming, particularly those who never learned due to a lack of confidence. Whilst it is possible to self-teach, I would highly recommend lessons or even 1-to-1 with a coach. A good instructor can make a world of difference to someone who is nervous around the water.
How amazing would it be to have lessons with an Olympic medallist? Yakult have teamed up with Jazz Carlin to offer four non-swimmers the chance to receive a personalised training programme, expert advice and a master class in nutrition. After four weeks, a grand finale will take place showcasing everything the swimmers have learnt. Entries close at midnight on 24th January- enter here.
Jazz represents Wales and Great Britain in freestyle swimming. She is working towards her ambitious goal of becoming the first Britain and Female Olympian ever to win a medal in both Open Water and the pool events during the Olympics Games in Tokyo 2020.
I asked Jazz to share some tips for anyone who is learning to swim…
Dress for success
Swimming can be daunting if you’re not 100% confident in the water. A good way of banishing those feelings is with a swimming costume that fits properly, and that you are comfortable swimming in. Having a good pair of goggles is also key, so you are able to see ahead of you and feel in control of your strokes.
Before diving headfirst into the water, make sure that you understand the depth of the pool and choose a lane you are comfortable with.
Power half an hour
Even if you have a spare 30 minutes, swimming is a great whole body workout and works on muscles you wouldn’t normally use in everyday life.
Mix it up
Always try and use a variety of muscles in your sessions, working on different strokes and different parts of the stroke. Kicking is a great way to focus on your lower body and a pull buoy is a great way to isolate your upper body. If you mix it up, you will benefit from a full body workout.
Eat yourself healthy
It’s important to make sure you eat before you swim and but remember to give yourself time to digest food before taking part in any physical activity.
All the gear
If there is a particular stroke you are weaker on, there is some great equipment out there to help you improve. My favourite piece of equipment is finger paddles, they keep your stroke nice and long, and give you feedback if part of your stroke is slipping through the water. Fins are a great way to strengthen your legs and to work on certain stroke patterns, they allow you to have more propulsion through the leg part of your stroke too.
This is something that many people struggle with but there are some exercises you can practice to build your confidence, here are some useful tips:
- Standing in the water with your head on the surface and turn your head to the side and breathe in, then to put your head in the water and breathe out, repeat that a few times to get a feel of the breathing pattern.
- Begin to use this in your stroke, slightly moving your head to breathe and getting used to breathing in and out of your mouth.
- If you have access to a pool with shallower water, you can use your legs to walk on the bottom of the pool and then use your arms like you are swimming and get a feel of the breathing pattern while walking in the pool. This would let you focus solely on breathing and then you can gradually bring the legs into it.
Eat, swim, repeat
I always get really hungry when I’m training, so it’s important to make sure you take enough snacks with you when you are planning a swim- energy levels and perseverance is crucial to improving your swimming technique. Week by week you should notice a difference in your fitness- try and test yourself, go faster on each repetition or have less rest. This is great to improve your stamina and I use a lot of short interval training in my week.
Are you learning to swim or have you ever had lessons? If not, what is stopping you?