by Doug Walton, PhD ~ August 16th, 2008
Since Geri and I recently joined a gym with a lap pool, I decided to give swimming fitness a try. I had learned to swim a little as a kid and have swum a little here and there through the years, but, I’ve never did any swimming for distance, exercise, or competition. So, I consider myself a neophyte. Here are some highlights and tips for beginners, as well as quick reviews for some basic equipment that you might find useful.
- Swimming laps is exhausting, and I’ve heard it doesn’t necessarily burn a lot of calories for beginners, compared with something like jogging. That’s because of the inefficiency of the novice swimmer’s stroke. There seems to be a lot of debate on that though. It looks like the general range is around 11 kilocalories per 50-yard lap (that’s down and back on the common 25 yard pool) or about 300 kilocalories per half hour at a moderate pace. Of course, it actually depends on your weight and height. Here is a calculator.
- The water in the lap pool, at least at our gym, is warm, so you don’t really experience a shock getting into the water.
- The lap pools have a lot of markings to let you know where you are at as you swim.
- Those little swim goggles help a lot. I thought I wouldn’t need them until I was a more accomplished swimmer, but I got them anyway and found out they are very handy. First, they enable you to see all the markings, the wall, and pool floor; second, if the pool is crowded, they help you see the other people; third, if the pool is outdoors, the goggles serve as sunglasses, which is essential. Anyway, I got these Nike H2000 Goggles for $5 on sale at Big 5 Sporting Goods. They are great. Generally, swimming goggles range from about $5 to $16 for a reasonable pair.
- Although I thought it was cheating at first, using short fins is a good way to get started. Fins help you position your legs and learn the kick while you are building up your stamina. I got these Aqua Sphere Zip Fitness Swim Fins
and I think they are great. I compared with Zoomers and the Speedo version, and these are far better. They have an adjustable, padded strap for heel comfort and open toes to drain the water.
- There’s a whole set of etiquette rules about when you can join a lane and how. I have already seen two clashes happen over this at our relatively low use gym pool, so its a good idea to know the rules.
- Sometimes its hard to remember what lap you are on. I got one of these nifty little SportCount Combination Lap Counter Timer and it works great.
- I found a simple routine to get you started. Per-sonally, I can’t do it yet, but its a goal to reach. If you want a more complex routine, here is another one.
- Here’s some tips to help you become a better swimmer.