As can be seen from the cream of SA’s swimmers and Olympic hopefuls at the Kings Park pool this week, taking up the sport has many benefits, and gives your body a great look as well.
Lisa Raleigh, a local lifestyle and wellness expert and author, said swimming’s benefits were numerous.
Due to the aerobic exercise, the health benefits include lowering cholesterol, lowering blood pressure, improving circulation and regulating breathing.
“Swimming allows you to work your body without harsh impact to your skeletal system,” said Raleigh.
On why swimming creates one of the best routes to a sculpted look, Raleigh said: “It is more intense than running or jogging, as the swimmer is forced to propel themselves through water, which is 12 times more dense than air.
“That means that every kick and every arm stroke becomes a resistance exercise, and it’s well known that resistance exercises are the best way to build muscle tone and strength.”
Apart from the toned look, Raleigh said swimming was one of the sports that utilised broad muscle groups.
“This extended range of motion helps joints and ligaments stay loose and flexible. Every stroke lengthens the body, giving it a good stretch from head to toe,” she said.
And for those wanting to lose weight and then get the great look, Raleigh said, roughly, for every 10 minutes of swimming, doing breast stroke burns 60 calories, backstroke 80 calories freestyle 100 calories and butterfly 150 calories.
Robyn Minogue, a swim instructor and former lifeguard, who competed in the national championships until 1998 as a freestyle and long-distance specialist, is passionate about the difference swimming makes to a person’s life.
She teaches young children how to swim at her swim school that she runs from her home in Glen Anil, Durban.
Minogue said swimmers, such as those competing at the national championships, put long hours into training, and apart from being in the pool, they did weight and strength training.
“It is a very disciplined sport and swimmers put in long hours to become professionals,” she said.
Minogue said while she used to swim between 80km and 100km each week, training for today’s swimmers was more intense.
“South Africa is rapidly getting up there in terms of swimming, and our swimmers have lots of training, and special meals and mental training,” she said.
Minogue said it was an important life skill teaching a child how to swim.
“Apart from that and the health benefits, it is a social sport and it allows you to go surfing, snorkelling and scuba diving with friends,” she said.
Shirley Riley, of the SwimFundi Swim Academy, said swimming could help develop muscle tone and improve flexibility and toning for all ages.
She said as swimming kept “the unwanted kilos at bay especially those muffin tops,” it strengthened and toned the body.
“For adults, swimming can ease stiff muscles and sore joints as well as help heal injuries caused by other high impact sports such as running or cycling,” she said.
If you want the looks of Ryk Neethling and SA’s own Princess Charlene of Monaco, swimming seems to be the key to getting there. - Independent on Saturday