Swimming: More Than A Workout

This picture was taken just moments before I dove into the pool. While I enjoy most forms of physical activity, swimming is my favorite. That’s because it’s so much more to me than a way to burn calories and stay healthy. Sure swimming works the entire body and offers numerous health benefits. It’s also easy on the joints and best of all-you don’t have to sweat.

But to me, swimming offers a chance to practice mindfulness, a way to be present in my body. When I swim laps, the only sounds I hear are that of my breath and the splashing of the water. No noise of kids whining or phones ringing. Play leads to creativity and when I swim, I am able to envision ideas and dream.

My father passed away last summer after suffering a major stroke -a result from a rare medical condition he had been battling called amyloidosis. My mom, sister, family members and I were constantly by his side in the hospital for weeks before he passed away. Never had I experienced such emotions: fear, sadness, stress, lack of control, anger. It was too much to bear. At times, my breathing was rapid from anxiety. What calmed me down, unexpectedly, was swimming.

Taking breaks from my fathers’ bedside, I went to my hometown pool, the place where I took swim lessons as a kid and played all summer long with friends. The feeling of familiarity was comforting and I was able to remember good times spent there. The silence of not hearing beeping machines, my mother’s panicked voice, or intercoms calling code blue was a relief. Most of all, the resistance of pulling myself through the water slowed down my racing thoughts and breathing. Swimming calmed me down and helped me get some perspective.

It saddens me when I hear women admit that they enjoy swimming but avoid it because they don’t want to be seen in a bathing suit. Really, other than you, who cares what you look like in a bathing suit? If this is you, I hope this post challenges you to step out of your comfort zone and have fun and maybe some peace and quiet. Who knows what ideas and dreams you may discover?

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Comments (5)
  • Karen Dolins

    August 21, 2013 at 3:56 pm

    I read this just after a swim! I, too, have found solace in the mindfulness of physical activity. After my daughter was born with a rare disease, running was instrumental in helping me cope. As you point out, swimming has the added benefit of screening out noise. I second your encouragement to push away concerns about body image and focus on your inner self.

  • Stef

    August 21, 2013 at 3:56 pm

    I recently had an aquatics birthday party for me a 64 year old female. (not for 60 four year olds as the woman from the Y wanted to hear my request when i rented the pool) . I was amazed at the number of my friends didn’t want to put on a suit –even as I explained that that they would be suspended in water with a belt and feel freedom of movement that they haven’t felt in years….Those who went said they had the best time …everybody wanted to sign up …

  • Melissa

    November 2, 2014 at 3:56 pm

    Swimming is akin to meditation for Me, Something about being weightless really makes me forget all of my insecurities and hang ups, even the niggling ones related to my body image… I always do swimming as the second half of my workout and as a reward for cardio/strength training alongside the sauna.

  • Mrs. Mags

    February 25, 2016 at 3:57 pm

    Your information on weight training is reversed. Heavier weights with less reps will bulk you up. Less weight with more reps is for toning. The magazines have it right.

  • Sage Hansen

    February 25, 2016 at 3:58 pm

    Love the article Zack! I was diagnosed with PCOS when I was 16 years old. I started strength training about 18 years ago and it is and has been a huge benefit to help me control my weight. I’ve never played a sport in my life so I was definitely not what I would call a very athletic person. So if I can do it, anyone can do it!
    Thank u for addressing this topic!

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