Swimming is an important life skill, and a great exercise for people of all ages. If you are new to the sport, it’s best to start small and work up to bigger challenges. The more you get comfortable, the easier it will be to swim faster and farther. The most common swimming strokes are freestyle, breaststroke, backstroke, and the butterfly. There are also several different types of swimming competitions: sprint, distance, medley, and relay races.
When teaching yourself to swim, it’s a good idea to find a swimming coach to teach you how to train properly and get the most out of your workouts. A good coach will help you learn proper technique, such as how to breathe, and make sure that your movements are fluid and efficient. They can also provide you with the motivation to keep working at it, even when you’re not as fast or as strong as some of your fellow swimmers.
To find a swimming instructor in your area, visit the U.S. Masters Swimming database and search by zip code. You can also check with local pools to see if they offer adult lessons. Before beginning a new swimming program, be sure to consult with your doctor to determine whether it is safe for you to exercise in the water. Many medical conditions and injuries can make it unsafe to swim, but most people who are healthy enough to be in the pool can benefit from this low-impact exercise.
If you’re nervous about being in the water, start out in shallow water until you feel comfortable to move into deeper water. This can be as simple as standing in a kiddie pool or just bobbing up and down with your face in the water, until you’re able to spend about 1 minute underwater without feeling like you’re struggling for air. Once you can do this comfortably, you’re ready to try kicking a little bit. You can do this by trying a flutter kick, where you keep your legs straight and alternate them as you make small, rapid kicks.
It’s also important to develop a safety plan for yourself if you’re swimming in open water. Make sure you’re close to shore and have someone with you in case you need to head back to the surface for a breather. It’s also a good idea to wear a brightly colored swim cap and goggles to make yourself more visible in the water.
If you’re participating in a swimming competition, it will have its own unique rules and requirements. For example, most freestyle and breaststroke races begin with a head first dive, while the butterfly and medley events require you to get into a crouched position on the starting block before being given the signal (usually a long whistle) to jump in the water. It’s also important to know how to use the timing device that lets referees know when a swimmer is going out too quickly or needs a push off the block.