Swimming offers opportunity for families to enjoy cooler temperatures and be together.
I got back in the pool last week and took a serious look at swimming.
I used to swim a lot way back when. When? I hate to date myself, but I took swimming at the University of Utah when accepted swimwear, no, "required swimwear" was nothing. True. Nude. At least for the men. I didn’t think much about it then because it was required. All students were in the buff. The teacher wore a suit, but students, all men, didn’t.
Why? The instructor, if I remember right, said it was for health reasons. Chemicals came with suits, like soap and bleach. Not the case for nudists. Another reason was swimsuits back then were primarily made of cotton and shed cotton threads that clogged the filter systems.
I would later learn friends were required to swim without suits at the Deseret Gym and the YMCA, too. Same reasons, I suspect.
So why revisit an old activity? I read an article recently on a study showing swimmers live longer than walkers or runners, and not by just a few days. Researchers found swimmers were 50 percent less likely to die between the ages of 20 and 90 than walkers or runners.
I decided to not give up walking, but to simply add swimming. A few laps told me, harshly, I have a long ways to go before I'm at the level I was at the U. Of course, it could be the swimsuit held me back.
Watching good swimmers in the lap lanes also tells me I should take a lesson. Swimming today looks very different from what was taught at the U. There seems to be more body roll and slower, more steady strokes. Also, I noted, breathing is done every two to three strokes instead of every stroke.
One story I read says the new technique has head, hips and feet regularly break the surface during the freestyle stroke. It also puts emphasis on the kick. A friends who was a Navy SEAL said all propulsion in the water was in the kick and using his hands and arms only slowed him down.
I’ve also noticed some swimmers are using lightweight fins and snorkel in the pool. The idea is to not labor, but enjoy the water. And, of course, get healthier. Swimming can, according to another report, develop general strength, cardiovascular fitness and endurance. And it’s a way of beating the heat.
There are different levels of pool activity. If swimming is uncomfortable, take a class in water aerobics or try pool running. This is especially good for those with knee injuries or joint pain.
The real students of swimming claim the rhythm and feeling of weightlessness lulls them into deep meditation. I don’t know I’ll ever get to that level. All I want is to enjoy the water and stay more active.
There are definitely benefits to swimming for all ages and finding a public pool in your area won’t be difficult. Click here for a list of pools in the Salt Lake City area, or check out Salt Lake magazine's story on summer swim spots.