Thursday, January 14, 2016

Swim Social: New Year, New You? Let's Get Swimming in 2016

Happy New Year from all of us here at Scottish Swimming’s “Swim Social”.   In 2016 getting into the pool more often could be just the tonic to a festive season of mince pies and wine.  Or if you’ve made a resolution to get fitter, there are so many great reasons why swimming should be a big part of your life. This year we’ve spoken to many people who know that if you just add water, you’re opening up a whole world of fitness and friendship. 

Swimming is a balanced exercise. As your back reaches and rotates, the stomach tightens to power the legs and stabilise the core, making swimming one of the best aerobic exercises to give you a total body workout. It also elevates your heartbeat in the same way jogging does, which means it’s good for your overall heart health.

It’s low impact. It gives all of your major muscle groups a work out, but will also give you a break from all the usual strenuous workouts and is especially good if you need to heal an area of your body, but still want to stay in shape. It can even help increase muscle strength.

Swimming can also help you lose weight. Not many people realise it can be just as effective at burning calories as pounding the treadmill. For example: 10 minutes of swimming breaststroke can help you burn 60 calories , 80 calories with the backstroke, 100 calories with front crawl, and an impressive 150 with the butterfly stroke. It can also give your metabolism a boost, which can keep calories burning well after you have got out of the pool.

Swimming leaves you feeling good. Instead of sweat dripping in your eyes, swimming keeps your body cool and comfortable while you work out. It can also help boost your endorphins and leave you feeling on a high. Swimming is also calming and meditative. Focusing on the sound of your breathing helps drown out all other distractions, which could lower stress and even help the effects of depression naturally.

If that’s left you feeling motivated to go swimming, why not sign up to some of the many activities available locally through Scottish Swimming. 

Skills and Drills classes can really help you improve your swimming skills – and the better you are at something, the more fun it becomes and the more you want to do it.  If you learned to swim as a kid, you probably haven’t been back for a lesson in decades.  But at swimming pools all over the country, swimming teachers know that they can improve the techniques of EVERYBODY in just one lesson.  A skills and drills class will have you swimming faster and better in no time.  A skills and drills block of classes will have you wondering why you didn’t do it years ago.

All the best sports and hobbies have clubs and with swimming they’re known as Masters Clubs.  Like-minded people of all ages come together to improve their swimming, to learn from each other and have a good time both in and out of the pool.  Masters offers an opportunity to take your swimming from a fitness activity to a competitive activity – if that’s what you want to do.  Eddie Riach is our Masters Swimming Convenor and he spoke to Swim Social recently about the many clubs around Scotland. 

And then there’s outdoor swimming.  We’re lucky enough to be surrounded by some of the best stretches of water in the world here in Scotland and with a wetsuit and one of the many organised events throughout the year, you could be swimming in Loch Lomond or across the Tay estuary.  At Scottish Swimming, we organise regular come and try events as blogger Chris Kane found out at the Helix in Falkirk earlier this year

You could be preparing for a triathlon or setting yourself a personal challenge.  In our Swim Social blogs this year we’ve heard from Karen Weir who has swum next to a glacier;  we’ve heard from Coleen Blair, a 37 year old and the first Scottish Swimmer to complete the Triple Crown of Open Water Swimming by completing the English Channel, the Catalina Channel in California and swimming around Manhattan Island in New York.   We’ve heard from Linda Jordanson who is training to swim the Channel less than a year after first taking to the water.  We’ve heard from Gary McGrow who took part in the Great Scottish Swim at Loch Lomond We’ve heard lots of inspirational swimming stories and yours could be next!  So what are you waiting for – stick on a pair of goggles and go for it.  Actually, stick on a pair of trunks or a swimming suit as well.

One of the important things to realise about any resolution or any goals you have is that there will be good days and bad days on your journey towards them.  Here at Swim Social we’ll have lots of inspirational stories and top tips throughout the year on our website to help keep you motivated –you can sign up for our newsletter here.