With temperatures rising all over India and COVID restrictions being lifted, people start flocking to swimming pools in apartments, sports clubs and hotels. Summer swim classes are all the rage in April and May. But here are many of the reasons why swimming should be a round the year sport and not a seasonal one. This is also a lifesaving skill and will enable you to swim in pools, open water and enjoy a host of other fun water activities like snorkelling, scuba diving and the latest fad, triathlons!

Swimming can be introduced to babies as young as six months through parent toddler classes, which are water familiarisation sessions with group activities, toys and nursery rhymes. The best part is the parent child bonding through the class. They are safe for pregnant women, since the cool water lowers the body temperature while working out. Those who are injured or in rehab will benefit from the low impact nature of water. It also has the biggest benefits for the elderly who might have back, knees issues or other health problems.

So what are the benefits of swimming and how does it work, you ask? The buoyancy of water helps to reduce impact on the joints and hydrotherapy is fast becoming the best for of rehab for people post ACL and joint replacement surgeries, arthritis, strokes and other disabilities. A swim can help reduce depression due to the calming effect of the water as well as rhythmic breathing which is similar to meditation. It is a mood booster and you will have that post exercise high. The range of motion that swimming requires, leads to increased flexibility and mobility.

Swimming regularly helps tone muscles and improves endurance and can be used as a recovery workout if you are playing a professional sport or into regular fitness training. This sport helps you tone your entire body and the best part is there is a lot of usage of the non-dominant hand/side and a lot of bilateral movement. It helps lower blood pressure and control blood sugar and improves sleep patterns. It improves your lung capacity and is this very beneficial to asthmatics. In this post covid world, we understand the benefits of improved immunity and remember you are working out in outdoor pool with sun and lots of fresh air.

Want to lose some weight or just get fit? Well, swimming moderately for an hour helps burn between 500 to 1000 calories. If you want to increase the intensity grab a kickboard a do a freestyle kickset which will leave you puffing and panting by the end. People who have weight related issues are recommended to swim rather than activities on land due to the reduced impact on the joints. A relaxed swim in great even in third trimester of pregnancy because the cooling effect of water keeps the body temperature down and reduces the weight on our joints since our body weighs only a tenth of its actual weight in the water.

So if you are convinced that you want to add swimming to your year round fitness plan then here are a few things you must keep in mind.

>It’s never too late to learn how to swim. We have people in their 70’s in the 80’s learning how to swim even today.
> Swimwear brands like Speedo and Decathlon have a wide range of swimsuits for men, women, girls and boys to fit all body shapes so you feel comfortable in the pool.
> Invest in a good swimming cap and swim goggles. People with eye power can even buy powered goggles and do not have to chance it by wearing contact lenses in the pool behind their goggles.
> Chlorine does not tan you; it’s only the reflection of the sun on the water that leads to a stronger tan. To avoid this swim before 9am or post 5pm and you will not get a tan. If you do enjoy swimming in the sun, please use waterproof sunblock with SPF 30 +,kids need to use this as well. Chlorine has also been shown to immediately deactivate all coronaviruses, not just Covid!
> Enroll in swimming classes by certified instructors and make sure the pool is hygienic and water clarity is good.
> Always go for a swim with a buddy or with a lifeguard present especially in deep pools or in the sea/lakes. Only strong swimmers who can swim and keep afloat in the deep part of the pool using sculling/treading water techniques should attempt to swim in open water like the sea. Otherwise keep that lifejacket on at all times
> Never dive into a pool unless you have been taught that skill and always check for depth markings. Do not enter the water after consuming alcohol or if you are prone to seizures or have been diagnosed with epilepsy.

All in all, with improved access to pools around the country, renewed focus on fitness and immunity building, the low impact nature of water, the importance of training outdoors and the social benefits of swimming with a group of friends, there is no better sport to take up than swimming!

– By Nisha Millet, Olympian and Director of Nisha Millet’s Swimming Academy.