53 Reasons To Start Or Return To Swimming - The Ultimate Swimming Benefits Guide
Swimming is an amazing activity that brings so many benefits to the body and mind. Yet there is evidence than only 10.5% of the population swim twice a month and a study from the STA in 2017 claimed a third of children aged 10-16 cannot swim. This article aims to provide so many reasons to go swimming that, whether you’re thinking of starting or stopping, it will be impossible to resist the pool having read it – especially those that are not sure if they want to return to the pool due to the time out from the pandemic. Keep swimming!
It’s so important everyone learns to swim so that they can benefit from that form of exercise their whole life
2 – Water safety
It’s so important everyone learns to swim because drowning is still a huge issue. In the UK alone in 2020 there were 223 deaths.
3 – Access to water sports and aquatic disciplines
Learning to swim means you can access so many amazing activities that require swimming ability. These include swimming in the sea on holiday, surfing, kite surfing, windsurfing, scuba, snorkelling, kayaking, diving, artistic swimming and of course Water Polo – there will be many more, but you get the idea
Benefits to the body
4 – You’ll live longer if you swim regularly
A 2017 report on health and wellbeing commissioned by Swim England found that regular swimming helps reduce the risk of heart disease or stroke by 41% and lowers the risk of early death by 28%
5 – Swimming works the whole body
You’ve probably heard this one before, but swimming is great for working many muscles, it’s a cardio work out and you also have to use your core to keep balanced in the water
7 – Swimming can actually increase your energy levels
I can testify that (from swimming for over 30 years) if you keep it up, you can keep your energy levels as you get older
8 – Exercise when you’re injured
The water provides support for your body so you’re still able to train in the pool (or sea or lake) even if you’re unable to train on land due to injury. It is so important to get children into swimming so that they can have the confidence to swim when they might not be able to exercise on land. Having played Water Polo for 25 years, I have had several instances where if I had not trained in the pool I would have had long periods of inactivity, which is not good for your health
9 – Good for developing muscles/strength
Swimming is an appropriate exercise for developing your body and in particular regular swimming training will develop your core, back, shoulders, hips and lower body. So, even if you’re not going to be the next Michael Phelps, you can keep in great shape through regular swimming training
Benefits to the mind
10 – Improves self-esteem
We believe that anyone can become a strong swimmer if they put in the time. According to an article from swim brand, Arena, swimming helps increase self-esteem due to clearly defined goals (for example swimming a certain distance or learning a new stroke). It is also a skill, and children can learn to identify swimming as something they are good at and can take pride in. From us, personally at Drenched, we rate it as one of the most important things we’re working on with the players. It’s a hard game to learn and they should all be proud of themselves
11 – Developing Co-ordination
Swimming requires all four limbs to be moving at the same time, with timing, various directions and not forgetting to breathe all happening at the same time… It’s a tough skill to learn and requires a lot of co-ordination. Here at Drenched Mini Water Polo, we also throw in a ball and take the co-ordination challenge to the next level
12 – Improves cognitive development
There are numerous studies on physical activity and swimming and their effect on the brain. A 2012 study of over 7000 under-fives concluded that swimming aids cognitive development with the results showing a correlation between swimming and cognitive development.
13 – Swimming can help students with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)
A recent article from 2019 concluded that “the results suggest that swimming–learning program significantly improved the mental health, cognition, and motor coordination in children with ADHD.”
14 – Swimming is shown to release endorphins and serotonin
An article from Swimming World Magazine says “along with serotonin, endorphins bring about a sense of happiness, positivity and well-being”. Whenever we exercise we release endorphins in the brain – which explains why I’m in an excellent mood after a swim.
15 – Stress relief
This is a good one, I think there’s a sense of clearness when you’re swimming. You stop thinking about any worries you have in the outside world and you just swim. I have the same feeling when I am playing Water Polo and, actually, coaching Water Polo too.
Benefits of specific strokes
For the specific stroke, swimming.org has a useful chart specific to weight loss. Here is a summary of the chart:
Breaststroke = 200 calories in 30 minutes of swimming
Backstroke = 250 calories for 30 minutes of swimming
Freestyle (Front crawl) = 300 calories for 30 minutes for swimming
Butterfly = 450 calories for 30 minutes for swimming
I would take this with a pinch of salt, it is questionable that the calorie burn increases so neatly in 50 calorie increments between the first three strokes…and I’m not sure what kind if maniac would do 30 minutes of continuous butterfly – but I think it’s a good yardstick.
Benefit for swimming breaststroke
16 – Relax with Breaststroke
Breaststroke is great for a relaxing, continuous swim. It is a good cardio work out, without completely tiring you out. It is also great for the lower limbs
17 – Great for cardio and power
On the flip side, it is equally good for getting the lungs going in a training environment. Breaststroke is amazing for building cardio fitness and power, especially if you do a set of sprints
18 – Take in the sights and surroundings
From experience when on holiday and the like, breaststroke is the best stroke for taking in the surroundings. I especially like to do some easy lengths when I’m training in an outdoor pool
19 – Navigate choppy seas
Breaststroke is also good when you’re in the sea and it’s choppy. You can look around and see where you’re going easier
Benefit for swimming front crawl
20 – Fastest stroke
The obvious one here is that front crawl is the fastest stroke, so there’s a benefit if you need to move quickly
21 – Full body, but great economy
According to The Guardian front crawl uses all major muscles groups and boosts cardio fitness and endurance. It is also more economical than breaststroke, so you can keep moving at a faster rate than the other strokes
22 – Great for your back
Front crawl is low impact and is great for developing your back muscles with low risk of injury
23 – “Arms only” is (almost) as fast
For all the guys I’ve trained with who don’t like to kick their legs (you know who you are!) if you put a pull buoy in between your legs, you can go almost as fast… without having to kick your legs
Benefits of swimming backstroke
24 – Balance your body with backstroke
Swim Better HQ has a good piece on why you should do more backstroke. The key takeaway is “variation”. Many swimmers spend a lot of time on their front, so we need to use backstroke to balance this. It also varies the training so that we do not get injuries.
25 – Work on different muscles
Backstroke helps develop different muscles. It is great for your core and hip mobility and for people who have neck problems like me, you can keep your head nice and straight
26 – Great for Water Polo
Backstroke is also great for Water Polo. We use Water Polo backstroke to look around when we’re in the game
The benefits of swimming butterfly
27 – You are able to show off to your friends (and the general public)
It’s impressive… You can impress your friends and fellow swimmers with a couple of lengths of butterfly. We’ve all done it
28 – It’s the second fastest stroke
29 – Build power in the legs and shoulders
Butterfly is great for building power, especially in the shoulders and the legs, it also requires incredible core strength to undulate
30 – It’s better to do it fast
Butterfly feels more efficient when you’re going at full pelt, nobody swims butterfly easy
Benefits of swimming for babies & toddlers
31– Get them used to the water at a young age
In the UK a 2019 article claimed that 31 percent of adults could not swim. Many children and adults that have not been exposed to the pool develop a fear of the water. Getting babies and toddlers used to the pool from an early age will make their “learn to swim” journey so much easier once they are put into the pool without mum or dad with them
32 – Bonding with your baby
There is plenty written about the benefits of swimming and bonding with your baby. Holding baby, lots of smiling and close contact in the water gives plenty of opportunity to build trust and bond.
33 – Meeting other parents
A bonus, and perhaps not for baby. But you’ll usually be in a class with other parents (not always). So it’s a great activity to meet other parents with children of the same age.
34 – Builds muscles before they are more mobile on land
As we’ve covered, swimming is a great exercise due to the weightlessness environment. This is the also going to benefit babies and toddlers because they can get great ranges of movement and lots of exercise for their legs. This can be done without falling over and for longer periods due to the weightless environment
35 – Develops motor skills
According to Baby Magazine, repeat movements such as bouncing and splashing about in the pool provides great stimulation for the vestibular system and aids motor development
36 – Gives baby (or toddlers) confidence to be more independent
Using devices such as baby floats or jackets allows very small children to move independently in the water under the close eye of mum or dad. Learning to move around the pool on their own is good for their confidence and can develop self-esteem.
Benefits of swimming for children
37 – Water safety is so important
A 2018 study revealed that 1 in 3 children cannot swim when they leave primary school. Getting your children swimming from an early age means they will be safer around water and you can better enjoy time at the beach, or near water without the concern of the children getting into difficulty
38 – Learn dedication and commitment
Swimming can be quite hard at first, it doesn’t come easily for everyone. Children will learn perseverance, dedication and to stay committed in order to develop their skills. Usually swimming is a weekly or multiple times a week past time and it takes commitment
39 – Life lessons
I often say that “sport is life’s playground”. Swimming (and Water Polo) is great for learning life lessons. There’s an article from Olympic gold medallist Rebecca Adlington that has some good insights, including learning respect, determination and learning how to be a good competitor. At Drenched we try to develop players to be great individuals, great teammates and great for the game we all love
40 – Noticeable fitness improvements
I’ve heard several parents say how our Water Polo and swimming programmes have helped the children with their fitness in other sports, such as Rugby, Netball or football. Swimming is great for your general fitness, both cardio and muscular.
41 – Mental health
Staying active is so important for children, even when they are in the middle of exams and stressful times at school. It’s good to get away from it all and spend a couple of hours away from the rigours of school and just swim or play.
42 – Great for the social life
It’s well known that the friends you meet and swim with are often friends for life. Whether it’s socially swimming, at a club or playing a team sport like Water Polo, the friends you develop can leave a lasting impact and stay friends for life.
Benefits of swimming for adults
43 – Low impact exercise
Swimming is an amazing activity for adults because it is a low impact exercise that you can do for a sustained period. Maybe, like your coach here, you’re a few pounds heavier than you should be, swimming is fantastic for working cardio without risking damage to your knees, for example, if you were to go for a run instead.
44 – Other sports recovery
For adults that play other sports, it’s good to jump in the pool the day after to work those muscles, aches and pains and actively recover. Whilst at University, the Rugby team would often be in the pool recovering after their game, although I must admit they were usually running or walking – but at least they were in the pool!
45 – You can maintain your level past your (official) peak
Swimming is a great exercise to keep up because you can stay at a good level for a lot of your adult life. I’ve trained with so many swimmers who are still at a really good level and still so fit. You MUST keep it up though, if you stop, swimming is a hard one to get back into.
46 – Cardio and muscle strength
It is well known that swimming is great for developing cardio endurance and muscle strength. Swimming is a full body work out that can tone all areas of the body and provides a great cardio workout
47 – Swimming is accessible to all
Swimming is great exercise for people of all abilities and disabilities. Due to the weightlessness of the water, people with many different conditions can benefit from increases in flexibility, pain reduction and weight control – check out this article about the benefits of swimming for an MS sufferer.
48 – Swimming is great for mental health
We’ve touched upon this in the “mind” section – but for adults the daily rigours of life can cause a lot of stress. Not only is swimming great for stress relief, but it is proven to help with mental health as well.
Benefits of swimming in the sea or cold water swimming
49 – It’s free!
Obvious, but fair. You can swim in the sea and you don’t have to spend a penny. During the pandemic we spent time playing Water Polo in the sea (helped by the great weather) it was great and totally free
50 – It’s good for the skin
According to Voya. The rich vitamins and minerals in sea water are a natural cosmetic for the skin and can help sooth some skin conditions.
51 – You feel great afterwards
This is a great blog about this but from experience there’s nothing better than the feeling after you’ve been in the sea or any cold water environment. You feel fresh and it’s almost guaranteed to put you in a great mood. Edit: apparently this has a name “Post-swim high”
52 – Great for your circulation
According to swimming.org the cold water cause the blood to rush to our organs and make the heart work hard.
53 – Great for the immune system
Many source has claimed that cold water swimming is great for the immune system. Aspire claims “suspected to trigger an increase in white blood cell production, providing a natural boost to your immune system.”
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