I’ve pretty much been able to swim since I could walk…ok, maybe a slight exaggeration…but I cannot remember a time in my life where I haven’t been able to swim. I was taken to regular swimming lessons as a child, and in addition to dancing, kept it up until I was a teenager. I even got my Life Saver award. I stopped for a while when dancing took over, but went back to my local pool for general lane swimming when I was 17. Once I moved to London, I didn’t swim for the longest time, as there wasn’t a decent pool close enough to me, and my uni budget didn’t stretch to an expensive gym chain.
When I moved to my current flat nearly 7 years ago, I started swimming again, partly for injury recovery, but also for a way to improve my cardio vascular strength. Although my swimming has been intermittent recently, it’s always the first thing I turn to post-injury, or for some non-impact cardio. Just recently I was offered a trail membership at Everyone Active, one of the UK’s leading Sport and Leisure Management company, and thought it a perfect chance to get back to swimming regularly again. I chose Marshall Street Leisure Centre off Carnaby Street as, in addition to a 30m pool, it has a fully equipped gym and son facilities as well, but more about those in another post.
So why is swimming so good for you?
- It’s low impact – with your body weight supported by the water, it’s great for people who cannot do high impact work, be it for a chronic condition or a short term injury.
- It’s great for cardio-vascular health – swimming raises the heart rate, improving the condition of the heart muscle and function of the lungs. Take it to a steady front crawl with little or no rest between lengths and you’re working on improving your endurance capabilities.
- It works the whole body – even the most gentle of front crawls works your leg, arm, abdominal and back muscles.
What I hear most from people who can swim, but don’t add it to their fitness regime, is that it’s boring..and you’re right, it can be! I make my swims more interesting by changing up my strokes, and even having little competitions with myself.
What I’ll do in a typical 45 minute swim is:
- 200 – 240m gentle front crawl warm up
- 200 – 240m alternating front crawl & breast stroke
- 100 – 120m legs only (using hand float)
- 100 – 120m arms only (using a pull buoy)
- Speed intervals trying to beat own time up to 250m
- 250m – 300m alternating front crawl & breast stroke cool down
So in total it’s around 1,000m (1st distance in a 25m pool, 2nd distance in a 30m pool) and keeps things interesting!
I’ve really enjoyed swimming at Marshall Street Leisure Centre, it’s a 30m pool, as although there’s just 5m extra per length than what I’m used to, it makes a difference when counting laps. Mind you, on top of thinking about my strokes and technique, I then have to workout my 30 times table, and maths is not my strong point.
Leisure Centres used to get a bad name in terms of facilities and cleanliness, but it’s definitely not the case with Everyone Active. The pool and changing rooms are clean, with a separate wet changing room for the pool, and a dry changing room for the gym users. There are plenty of lockers, individual showers and changing spaces, plus GHD hairdryers for those of us who cannot let our post-swimming hair go au natural.
So get swimming and reap the benefits! With Everyone Active you can choose a swim only membership option which is a more affordable option on top of their already competitive prices. For more information, head to their website.