Swimming is a great aerobic workout to cross train for running. It can help build your lung capacity and aerobic endurance. Swimming will also work your upper body and core as you propel yourself through the water. Swimming is easy on the body and joints because, as opposed to running, there is no impact. Swimming is relatively cheap in terms of gear. You can get a suit and goggles and be ready to go. The major costs may come from finding a pool. If your gym doesn’t have a pool, you will either have to switch gyms, join a swimming club that has access to a pool (which will likely have its own monthly fees similar to a gym), or find a lap pool to swim in. Depending on the availability of a pool, you could easily start swimming for little to no money at all.
Most lap pools will either be 25y or 50m. Swimming in pools shorter than 25y can be irritating because you will be making a lot of turns. Lap pools will have lanes roped off for you to swim in. The bottom of the pool generally has a line for you to follow to keep you from swimming into a wall or another lane. Lap pools are great for swimming intervals because the set distance makes it easy to swim repeats of 50, 100, 200, or 400 yards/meters. You can also put in longer swims in the pool; just know that it can get repetitive very quickly if you begin counting laps. Swimming for a set time may be a better idea because you can check a watch every so often and not have to keep a count of your laps. Waterproof mp3 players can help take away some of the monotony, but be prepared to spend around $100. As with running and biking, a proper warm up and cool down should be done before and after your workout.
Open water swimming
Swimming in an open body of water, such as a lake, can be a great way to get in longer swims without having to make the turns in a lap pool. However, there are several things to consider. Without a line to keep you on track, you will have to look up and check where you are swimming to occasionally to make sure you are not off course. You will want some one in a kayak or boat to spot you in the event that you run into trouble. Boat and jet-ski traffic can also be a problem depending on where you are swimming. If you are confident in your swimming ability and don’t need a spotter, they make buoys that float behind you in the water to signal your location to other boaters. If possible, you should wear a brightly colored cap so that anyone on land can easily spot you in the water from a distance. Darker colored or reflective goggles are recommended, as they will help keep the sun’s glare to a minimum. Also, this is Louisiana, so watch out for the wildlife.
Having good form is extremely important in swimming if you want to have speed and not waste as much energy. Water is creating drag on every part of your body, so poor form will have you working much harder than necessary. Finding someone knowledgeable who can help you with your form can help make swimming easier and more enjoyable. There are members of the Run Louisiana community who participate in triathlons or who have a background in swimming. They would probably be more than happy to point you in the direction of a good swim group or swim coach.
By Adam Rabo