Growing up I had a friend whose father went polar bear swimming. In fact, the entire family belonged to a club that called themselves the Polar bears and the Polar bears went swimming in the ocean mid-winter in freezing temperatures. As a kid observing this and enjoying my scarf, hat, mittens, and down coat, I thought this was a crazy idea, but it turns out it could be beneficial. Afterall swimming is good for the body any time and at any temperature. It doesn’t matter when you get started, just jump in!
If you’re a beginner swimmer or an expert competitor, everybody starts at the same place. Build up your swimming technique and stamina with each session. Each time, you should start to feel a bit stronger in the pool and be able to build up to the next level.
You should actually start out of the water– before your training sessions you should activate muscles, and afterward, you should stretch to remobilize.
To beat the boredom, mix it up with different strokes. Swimming is a such a great workout for the entire body because it targets muscles in a way that you can’t replicate in your everyday lifestyle.
Also try to use different bits of equipment. Fins are a great way to work on leg strength and paddles for your hands are great for your upper body. By trying out different equipment, you can work on specific parts of the body and then target any weaknesses. Toughen up your lower body by working on kicking exercises. You can do this at the edge of the pool and depending on your ability to float and your core strength you can do this with or without holding on to the pool’s edge.
Spike your heart rate by mixing up the speeds which in turn will help you achieve better fitness gains. Try to have between 5 and 10 seconds of rest between your repetitions. This will enhance endurance levels.
Have a plan before you begin so you don’t get bored or worse– give up. If you have access to a heart-rate monitor, use it in the session and you can work in different training zones, it will also give you an idea on how different strokes/speeds can spike your heart rate.
Here are some favorite gym exercises that strengthen your swimming and also keep you in shape when the pool is closed or the weather doesn’t permit swimming: Pull-ups, Press-ups, Leg press, and Lunge/weighted lunge.
Now that you’ve got your motivation and your plan, get going! If you can’t swim in your own pool because of the weather, try a pool club. If that isn’t possible try those land exercises. Why wait until warm weather to get your body moving and healthy…in or out of the water.