In The Swim Of Things … For A Lifetime!

December 22nd, 2014 | By Gary No Comments

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As we reflect back on fond memories of our youth, most of us can remember fun-filled days in a pool, lake, or ocean. Some may also remember the hours of practice we put in for swim team and the excitement of community or high school swim meets.  Then we grow up and take on new sports or activities that seem better suited to our ‘young adult’ lifestyle.

For some reason, many people have traditionally associated swimming as a kids’ sport but, thankfully, that trend is quickly changing.  Swimming is a perfect fit for every age … literally from infancy through our golden years.

An advantage we have here in Athens is that our weather allows us to swim outside for as many as nine months out of each year, plus we have indoor pools at the YMCA, YWCO, Summer Hill Recreation Club and Georgia Aquatic Center.

Asked about the benefits of swimming at any age, staff at Summer Hill Recreation Club are quick to comment that “Swimming is great exercise, of course, and we know that adults and kids alike benefit with extracurricular activity. Swimming, specifically, helps us train for other sports, especially with endurance.”

Competitive swimming is one of the most physically demanding sports. It burns a lot of calories and offers a workout that benefits also very safe and boasts a low injury level in comparison to many other sports.

In fact, swimming is one activity that athletes from virtually every other sport can utilize in the course of their training.  That’s because swimming allows every person – young and old, accomplished athlete or novice exerciser – to work at his or her own pace.  Being in the water offers low-impact activity, which is critical for those recuperating from injuries, as well as for those with mobility issues and pain-related diseases such as arthritis.  And competitive athletes from other sports benefit from the increased flexibility, stretching, and overall strength training that is inherent in swimming.

At this point, perhaps we should identify exactly what we mean by ‘swimming.’  If you’re visualizing Mark Spitz or Missy Franklin or Michael Phelps, then you may be a bit intimidated by the idea of ‘swimming.’  But when we talk about it, we simply mean the act of propelling oneself through water using arms and/or legs.  So, swimming doesn’t necessarily have to mean racing, or doing laps, or going underwater.  It may mean walking through water (natural resistance for muscle-building), floating (to practice meditation and breathing), or a variety of other movements that provide physical and mental health benefits.

Many of us know people – young and not-so-young – who have never learned to swim, let alone learned how to swim competitively.  If you, your friend, or a family member is one of them, don’t worry!  Most of the indoor swim facilities in Athens offer swimming programs, including masters programs which are designed for people older than 18.

The Athens YMCA shared with us that many adults take masters classes as they train for sports like triathlons, so the YMCA classes concentrate on drills to gain strength and improve their strokes.  The Bulldog Swim Club even has a masters swim team for those who want to get a great workout and continue to enjoy the thrill of competing.

Swimming can also be adapted to different age groups’ needs and abilities, as well as the different abilities that people might have due to a physical or intellectual disability.  Indoor swimming facilities in the Athens area offer a wide variety of classes for every age and skill level.  One can find swim classes for parents and children together from infancy through two years.  Of course, there are several levels of swim classes for children and youth, and there are also beginning adult classes for grownups who have never learned to swim.  Hydrobics classes – aerobics in the water – are available in deep and shallow water, and offer a fun yet challenging workout that is especially good for those with arthritis or orthopedic injuries.

If you are looking for a great winter activity for your entire family, a trip to ‘open swim’ times can be great fun.  Babies, toddler, teens, parents, and grandparents can enjoy the water together!

Whoever you are, whatever your age or circumstance, swimming might be a perfect activity for you.  To find a program and to learn more about open swim times, visit the following websites for information, and get in the swim of things … for a lifetime!

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