If you follow me via Instagram, you will know I love swimming. I am constantly posting updates on my Stories regarding my swim day streak, how many meters I managed to plough through before slogging it at the library, and how bloody good I feel after a training session. I was made for the pool and would urge everybody to jump in.
Not only do I find swimming to be a total body workout, but it calms down my head, reduces my stress levels, allows me to feel productive regardless of whatever else I accomplish during the day and makes me feel mighty fine.
If you are thinking of getting involved with the pool, are wondering where to begin or are feeling disheartened and uninspired from your last sessions, have a browse of my five top-tips for getting into swimming.
1) Find a pool that caters to your needs
I have swum in some gorgeous leisure centres and also dipped my toe in some grotty pools too. If you live in a city, you may have the luxury to shop around and find the pool for you.
Are you looking for an Olympic sized pool? More interested in the spa facilities? Fancy free towels every time you enter the building? It is all out there – you just need to find it. Find a pool you will feel comfortable to swim in is the first stepping stone.
I go to the Virgin Active gym at MediaCityUK. It is both calming and friendly with brilliant facilities and even better staff. The changing rooms are better than my own bathroom and I love the feeling that bubbles inside of me when I walk in. The pool area is kitted out with showers, a sauna, a steam room, a jacuzzi and loungers for if you want a serious spa day. It ticks all my boxes.
2) Get the gear, regardless of whether you have an idea
Alongside finding a pool to kickstart your new hobby, you need to feel comfortable in what you are wearing. Whether fluorescent pink speedos are your jam, prefer a tankini over a swimming costume or would rather sport a khaki kneesuit – pick out something you feel cool and confident in.
While picking out a costume that fits perfectly and looks stunning may be superficial in some people’s eyes, it always gives me the motivation to actually get in the pool and get my money’s worth at feeling fab.
3) Start off simple and build up
You know the score, the ‘New Year New Me’ mentality. You are going to swim five times per week; do 45-minute pool sessions followed by weights all night in the gym; you will fuel yourself with stereotypically healthy food and stop doing breaststroke to solely concentrate on getting faster with front crawl. You will not stop. You will be the best swimmer in the world. You will see results within two weeks maximum.
Doing too much at once, or expecting too much of yourself, will lead to ultimate disappointment and see you flaking out of your swim. Instead, start simple, small and build.
Aim to go to the pool on your day off work one week, and perhaps squeeze in a quick Sunday morning session too if you have time. If you don’t? That’s cool too. Go your own pace, start simple and build up your threshold. One day you may swim five times per week for 45 minutes – it is not a race.
4) Don’t burn yourself out
I regularly swim three times a week and try to cover 1000 – 1200 m per session if I am on a time constraint. When I first started swimming again properly three months ago, I could barely manage 500m without being ready to keel over! I was tired and ready to give up.
Swimming, like any sport, is a constant practice. Stamina and ability, muscles and mindset grow over time. Gauge your limit with your first couple swims, find your base, and begin to climb slowly. In no time, you will be doubling your distance within an allotted time and be reaching for the stars. These things do not happen overnight, don’t burn yourself out with negative thoughts and too-much-too-fast.
5) Keep yourself going with rewards
Whether swimming becomes your early morning ritual or Wednesday afternoon power hour flex, try to regularly reward yourself with something post-swim.
Your prize might be an extra episode of Disenchanted over dinner or grabbing a vanilla soy latte from Pret for the bus home. Whatever you do, do it to be kind to yourself and keep the idea of your trek to the pool being a chore at bay.
Whether you did five or 55 lengths – always try to give yourself that little extra well-done. You made it! You did it! Treat yourself!