In this guest blog post, swimmer and fitness instructor Ola Alghazzouli reflects on swimming’s role in her life, offering tips to help swimmers observing Ramadan balance their religious commitments with their fitness goals.
I was introduced to swimming when I was around age 6 in Damascus, Syria, with full gratitude to my parents. At a young age, I learned to find my comfort in the water. Swimming has always been a way for me to just be myself; I don’t need to worry about impressing other people or dressing up for others. Being in the water taught me to reflect and spiritually connect with my faith.
Adjusting My Training Due to COVID-19
With pools being closed right now, I am taking a little break from the chlorine and the aquatic environment which had become too much for my chest and body. Between teaching water aerobics, swim lessons, training clients on land, and getting my own swims in, my body was tired. These days I am trying to get back to my old normal of outdoor workouts, strength training, resistance training and enjoying nature while I can.
Tips for Swimmers During Ramadan
During Ramadan, Muslims fast from sunrise until sunset without water and food. My advice for swimmers in Ramadan who fast like myself and who try to get their (taraweeh) prayers in is to take this month to work on your mobility and flexibility for both the prayers (salah) and for swimming.
During Ramadan in 2019, I swam a lot while fasting because I was working toward my Red Cross certification. It was very challenging and tiring! There were a few times where the water accidently went into my mouth, which is against the rules of our fasting.
Related: How to Fast and Swim During Ramadan
However, I want to remind fellow Muslim swimmers that it is really important to focus on our intentions during this month and to remember why we fast in the first place. This is a time for us to slow down and reconnect spiritually, physically and mentally with our faith and our relationship with God especially now with COVID-19!
I also would recommend getting a workout in before Iftar (break-fast meal) to ensure the body can be replenished properly after the workout.
My last tip is to strive for at least three 15-30 minute workouts each week to ensure you do not lose your form and your range of motion. If pools are not an option, make sure to follow one of the dryland training plans from MySwimPro and share inside the Global Community Facebook group for accountability and support!
How MySwimPro Has Helped Me
I used to swim without a plan and had little knowledge of swim workout variations. I discovered the MySwimPro app in Fall 2019, and I was able to participate in World Swim Day which was really fun! Since then, the app has helped me log my workouts and hold myself accountable to structured workouts both in the water and on land with dryland training plans. I follow fellow swimmers and save their workouts for inspiration, and watch technique videos to improve my stroke.
The Global Community group on Facebook is a place I can call home, too. I have been able to share my feelings about being an underdog in the industry and in the sport and ask fellow swimmers for help. I have improved my skills as a swim instructor and fitness professional thanks to amazing feedback from the group!
Remember, if there is a will, there is always a way! Have the will to become a better swimmer, and God will make a way for you!
Are you fasting for Ramadan? Share your tips in the comments!