Diving In

I might like swimming more if I was doing it here.

When I was a kid, I would spend my entire summer at the pool, splashing around in the water with my friends. But even in the days where I spent nearly every waking minute in the water, I rarely did any actual swimming. Sure, I can swim; I passed my swimming test to earn access to the deep end of the pool when I was 8. But it’s nearly impossible to actually swim a lap in a pool crowded with kids playing Marco Polo.

As I looked for low-impact exercises to help rebuild my fitness level without putting too much stress on my recently-healed foot, swimming was an obvious choice.

Swimming takes the weight off your joints, making it a good option for injury recovery, relieving joint pain for arthritis patients, and even for weight loss. I knew that the buoyancy was beneficial, but I hadn’t realized exactly how much joint stress was reduced by the water. According to WebMD, “when immersed to the waist, your body bears just 50% of its weight; immersed to the chest, it’s 25%-35%; and to the neck, 10%.” That’s a pretty dramatic difference.

But let’s not confuse buoyancy with ease. I’m not sure if it’s my diminished cardiovascular fitness or just a pitiful lack of upper body strength, but holy cow, swimming is way, way harder than I remembered. It’s deceptive, too. For someone so used to running and kickboxing, it seems implausible that I could be huffing and puffing without visibly sweating.

Swimming has long been known to be a great source of cardiovascular fitness for all ages, and don’t think for a minute that I haven’t entertained the notion that maybe, just maybe, gradual improvements in both my swimming and running skills could put me 2/3 of the way towards a triathlon. Just a tiny one. A sprint tri, maybe.

Then again, maybe I should just focus on my rehab and stay off the triathlon circuit for a while.

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