As Wisconsinites we are very fortunate to have so many aquatic facilities at our disposal. Whether it’s one of the beautiful saltwater pools at one of the Elite Clubs, a private or recreational pool, or one of our many local lakes and beaches, the options are nearly endless. Swimming and other aquatic sports offer a wide range of health benefits and are extremely beneficial for those who are aging or recovering from injury. It truly is a lifelong source for health and wellness. However, many adults are not able to utilize the water because they simply don’t know how to swim.
Often times when people don’t learn how to swim at an early age, they become uncomfortable and even afraid of the water and avoid it at all costs. As an aquatic professional, this is heartbreaking, but can be overcome. Here are a few swim tips and things to keep in mind if you are looking to get wet!
First, you must work on your comfort level in the water. Start by walking around and going deeper and shallower in the water because your balance is different in the water than it is on land.
Get your hair wet
Next, try going under the water, you can use a noodle, kickboard or the side of the pool for stability. Get used to water filling your ears and practice exhaling into the water. It’s best to try to breathe normally by inhaling above the water and exhaling below. Avoid taking such deep breaths that can lead to hyperventilating. After you’ve mastered this your next step is to work on floating.
The best way for a beginner to try floating is to put a noodle under your arms and lift your feet off of the pool. You can ask a friend or a lifeguard to help you if you feel uncomfortable and even put an additional noodle under your hips. Practice putting your eyes in the water and exhaling. Eventually, you can try it by holding on to the side of the pool and then without the use of an aid.
To float on your back grab a kickboard or noodle and hold it close to your chest, slowly lean back and lift your legs off the floor. Sometimes it’s helpful to have someone steady you and support your shoulders. Try to keep your hip bones pointed up by arching your back and putting your head back so that your ears are submerged in the water. The biggest thing is to relax. After you feel comfortable you can try it without the noodle or kickboard.
Kickin’ it at the pool
After you’ve mastered floating a whole aquatic world opens up. Practice kicking on your front and back with kickboards and noodles. Make sure your kick is small, fast and straight, meaning that your knees are not bending. A strong kick comes from the glutes, not the lower leg. And then once mastered you can move on to arm movement.
Don’t let your legs have all the fun
You can practice arm movements on kickboards or noodles by reaching your arms out straight in front of you holding on to the noodle. Then with one arm, let go of the noodle and pull down in the water. Then bring it out of the water and reach for the noodle making a large circle. Next, repeat with the other arm. Slowly, as you gain more confidence in your comfort level and skill in the water, you can begin to practice without the use of an aid. And then you’ll be swimming laps before you know it!
If you’d like to get a few more tips, or get extra help Elite Sports Club – Mequon is having a FREE beginner swim workshop on January 31st at 7pm. Sign up today!
Written by Rachel Tripi, Assistant Aquatics Director at Elite Sports Club-Mequon
Rachel Tripi has spent nearly a decade working and teaching in the aquatic field. She had been with Elite for 5 years and lives in Milwaukee with her husband and two cats.
Certifications: Lifeguard/CPR/First Aid (since 2006), Water Safety Instructor (since 2011), Aquatic Exercise Association Aquatic Fitness Professional (since 20014), Certified Pool Operator (since 2015), Lifeguard/CPR/First Aid Instructor (since 2016)
Education: -B.S. in Comparative Literature (UW-Milwaukee, 2015)
This information is not intended to treat, diagnose, cure, or prevent any disease. All material in this article is provided for educational purposes only. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health care provider with any questions you have regarding a medical condition, and before undertaking any diet, exercise, or other health program.