“I’m not a swimmer because I’m slow.”
“I’m not a swimmer because I don’t compete in meets.”
“I’m not a swimmer because I only swim once per week.”
“I’m not a swimmer because I didn’t swim on a team growing up.”
These are all things I’ve heard from swimmers all over the world! Whether you’re young, old, competitive or not, the sheer fact that you get in the water and make forward progress makes you a swimmer!
As a swimming coach, I’ve noticed a lot of people are hesitant to call themselves swimmers-based on arbitrary standards. Never question your swimming prowess based on how far or frequently you swim. Whenever a swimmer claims that they are not a “real swimmer”, I feel very motivated to make sure they understand that they belong in our community.
I want everyone who swims to feel empowered and confident enough to say this loud:
“I AM A SWIMMER”
Here are a few things to remind yourself that you are indeed a swimmer:
1) You Actually Get in the Pool (or Open Water)
Unlike other forms of exercise, swimming requires you to physically go somewhere. Most people don’t have an Olympic size swimming pool in their backyard (If you do, please contact me), so if you want to swim, you have to physically get yourself to a place that will allow you to get in the water. Additionally, swimming requires an entire wardrobe change before and after your workout. Still think your running friends are as committed as you?
2) The Feeling of Weightlessness
When you’re in the water, it’s a different world. This feeling of freedom is familiar to all swimmers. This feeling is one of the key differences between swimming and other forms of fitness or any endurance sport. Running is not as calming as the feel of the water. There’s something to be said about swimming and being in the water. It’s a different feeling than running and pounding the pavement. Two different worlds!
3) You Engage Every Muscle
Swimming combines resistance training with cardio, building lean muscle and boosting your metabolism. It also puts your body through a range of movements, helping your muscles stay long and flexible. In addition to improved heart health and stamina, swimming also improves how efficiently you breathe. Swimming improves flexibility, range of motion, and functional strength in the water. This leads to improved core strength and mobile stability in all your joints, as well as stronger muscles and enhanced motor skills.
4) Swimming Helps You Grow as a Person
When you get into a swimming routine, you will pursue improvement in endurance, pace and mental well being. This desire for improvement shapes you as a swimmer, and more importantly as a person. Similar to other types of activity, when you commit yourself to something, you grow in ways you’ve never thought were possible.
5) You Want More
Some people are perfectly happy doing the same routine every time they swim. Others want to swim farther or swim faster. No two-swim workouts ever have to be the same. The ability to change strokes, alternate energy systems and use equipment makes swimming a mentally stimulating experience. These engagements along with the feelings of accomplishment that come after a swim are what make you hungry for more!
6) Mental Clarity
Swimming is meditative. Swimming boosts the endorphins that increase feelings of wellbeing. Plus the rhythmic strokes and sound of water make swimming much more relaxing. It’s been shown that swimming produces the same relaxation responses as yoga, and the stretching and contracting of muscles can heighten this experience. 30 minutes in the water can do a lot to bring mental clarity to your life.
7) Feeling of Accomplishment
Being a swimmer doesn’t depend on how many yards you swim or how fast you go. Finishing a tough workout feels amazing! Equally so is completing a 30-minute continuous swim. Whichever camp you’re in, finishing a swim will make you feel accomplished and ready for anything!
There’s no qualifying standard to be a swimmer. What matters is that you want to swim, you make an effort to do it, and you perceive yourself and those who share your passion as swimmers.