Swimming: Not just for fish.

Okay. This guy's just showing off now. You do not have to be able to jump out of the water and do a twisty turn in the air in order to be a strong swimmer. (Image courtesy of vectorolie / FreeDigitalPhotos.net)
Okay. This guy’s just showing off now. You do not have to be able to jump out of the water and do a twisty turn in the air in order to be a strong swimmer. (Image courtesy of vectorolie / FreeDigitalPhotos.net)

It’s been almost a month since I’ve been in a pool (I had this little race to run in, ahem, New England). But today’s New York Times features a great article by Jane Brody on the importance of learning how to swim. Even if you can’t, even if you flunked summer camp, even if you’re a bona fide Grownup. Especially then. Because adults drown when they don’t know how to swim. And learning, even as an adult, is really simple.

Learning how to swim is not that hard. Really.

I do my swimming at a local sports club that offers a ton of classes for all levels of swimmers (adults, teens, and children). There’s a triathlon team, a private lesson offering, a video-analysis-of-your-swimming product, four different levels of adult swim classes (including one for people who are afraid of the water), stroke clinics, and a whole bunch of other things. You could swim full-time at this facility and never touch the Zumba classes or the free weights. It’s a full-service kind of place.

When I get into the pool regularly – I’ve taken a one-month-long swim class twice in the last year – I feel stronger. My entire body feels like it’s clicking on all cylinders. Swimming is the ultimate full-body endurance sport – you work everything. And it’s completely non-impact, which means it’s really, really hard to get seriously injured unless you do what I did and dislocate your shoulder when you’re 12 because you decide to try doing backstroke like Michael Phelps but you’ve never really been taught the correct technique. Don’t do that.

So, try swimming for fun or fitness, or both. And for your own safety, do make sure you know how to swim 25 yards in any circumstance – something that the CDC, US Master’s Swimming, and Jane Brody all report that 37% of adults cannot do. Let’s get that percentage down to, say, zero. You know how I like to write about the benefits of exercise? The benefits of knowing how to swim are bulletproof: you could save your own life someday – or somebody else’s life.

Add to my bucket list (the shallow bucket – the one I want to do this year): I’d like to get a lifeguarding certification. To do that – as in, to start the course  – you have to be able to tread water without using your arms for two minutes. Whoa! I sense a new challenge ahead…

Here are some resources for learning how to swim – or improving your swimming if you’re already able to stay afloat:

  • Your local YMCA.
  • US Masters Swimming. April is Learn-To-Swim month – step on up! There are some great resources on this page for finding an adult learn-to-swim program in your area.
  • If you live in New York City, here’s your learn-to-swim site.

Fish beware. The humans are coming.

Yesterday’s #every48 workout: Nuttin’. Nada. First day back in the saddle. Thought about yoga, but didn’t do it. I’ll get a workout in today for sure.

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