5 reasons swimming is awesome

Completely evidence-based and unemotive, here are the Top 5 reasons why swimming is fabulous.

1. Swimming is cheap.

Aside from paying to gain entry to the occasional 5 Star hotel pool, I don’t think I’ve ever paid as much as $10 to swim in a pool anywhere in the world. The story is pretty much the same wherever I rock up.

Me: Hi. One for the pool please.

Them: That’ll be $5(ish)

Me: Thanks

Them: Oh, wait. Did you want to use the gym cause that’ll be an extra $400?

Me: I don’t want to use the gym.

Them: If you need a towel, they’re only $60. Per half hour.

Me: Brought my own towel.

Even the gear is cheap. Swimmers come in at around $25 (bit more for women, and a lot more if you want an LZR ‘water-repellent’ polyurethane suit like the Thorpedo wore until they were banned). Costs about the same for goggles and towel and then you’ve got all you need.

Some sports  – particularly those with cars – require more of an inheritance to get you started. Plus a dozen or so mates all dressed the same. Not to mention hiring a racetrack for a few laps. Just try spending that kind of money on swimming. Nonsense.

You (minus your inheritance) and all your mates ready for action

I reckon you could dress all your mates in nice little red Speedos for the cost of one F1 pit stop.

2. Swimming is efficient.

Let’s consider golf (which I’d happily debate isn’t a sport in any case – I think it’s something about the eating and drinking and driving in a little buggy). 18 holes can easily take four hours (more if you combine the drinking and buggy driving in an overly indulgent manner). Marathon running takes about the same time (more if you include the post-run rehab where you are slowly nursed back from a gelatinous state over a number of weeks). Cricket = 5 days. But swimming, if you treat it as exercise, will do you a world of good in just half an hour.

Here’s why. Unless you’re an Olympic swimmer, if you can swim a K in under 20 minutes you’re bound to be getting some very decent exercise. Your heart rate will be going hard. How hard? If I use the ‘220 minus your age = maximum heart rate’ formula which, while apparently not scientifically proven has at least enough ‘exercise gurus’ on the internet who’ve written their own books debunking it that it has to be taken seriously, my maximum heart rate comes out as 178bpm. If I exercise at 85%-95% of my maximum heart rate (ie 178 x 85-95% = 151-169bpm) that’s classed as an intense workout. That’s appealing to me. I’m an intense guy. It depends what your goals are of course, but swimming a K as quickly and hard will get me into that ‘intense workout’ every time.

So, for me: Drive to Pool + Intense Workout + Gulp for air like Guppy for 10 minutes + Drive Home in less than an hour = Efficiency Max.

Golf cart

No such heart-breaking disasters for you, should you choose to take up swimming.

3. It’s just you and the clock (and the black line).

Some thoroughly gregarious types may find this a negative enjoying as they do the social side of sport, (even to the point of eating and drinking whilst engaging in it – ‘Hello!’ golfers). And team sports are brilliant for discipline and building friendships and playing umm, team sports, ie those sports you can only play with more than one person.

But even if you’re involved in polo or basketball or beach volleyball, being able to swim a K in under twenty minutes is certainly going to do your fitness no harm, not least your cardio-vascular system and lung capacity.

With swimming you’re not dependent on anyone turning up, or booking the ground, or the weather, or even your gear failing. You go when you’re ready. You swim. You come home. It’s not particularly creative either; you’ll never be forced to use the little grey cells to work out how to adapt the game of tennis when five people show up. Instead, you’ll have plenty of time to think of other creative challenges as you stare numbly at the long black line.

4. Swimming is good for your body.

Really good. It is one of the very few exercises that both extends and contracts your muscles, (rock climbing and cycling are two others). It’s also low impact, so you won’t get shin splints, dodgy knees or ankles, or bruises all over your body (which you may, should you opt to take up boxing or middle-age rugby instead). You’re also using many muscles at the same time, not just your legs or your arms, so you won’t end up looking disproportionate like an Olympic discus thrower. Lastly, it’s an intense cardio-vascular work out so you’ll be sucking in air as hard as you can and your lung capacity will increase. As this happens, you’ll find that the more you swim, the quicker your recovery time will be, meaning your heart rate will drop back close to normal faster and faster.

As evidence, I offer myself. Note the photograph of me pre-AquaLegend. A tad flabby. Confident enough to be snapped in Speedos true enough (and somehow the camera didn’t crack) but perhaps not a shot worthy to use as your screensaver.

Now rollover to see me today. Gorgeous times. ‘All this from swimming?’ I hear you ask. Well, individual results may vary and I can really only speak for myself, but it’s safe to say I feel like a new man. Even in this age of ubiquitous Photoshop, we all know pictures don’t lie and so this is the best evidence I can offer.

5. Swimming is safe.

Pretty much. You could drown, obviously, but you’ll never get shot by drifting into an unsavoury neighbourhood of the pool. Even at night.

You won’t get a 10-ton truck swerving in front of you as you may when out cycling. And the chances of breaking your leg, getting concussed, or swept up in a riot are also fairly remote. In fact, if you’re an adult and you know how to swim and you’re not drunk or trying to do something you’re planning on posting on YouTube, the likelihood of suffering serious injury whilst swimming are virtually nil.

Unless you add a crocodile.

Riot police

Of course, there are quite a few reasons why swimming ain’t the thing for certain people. If you can say ‘Yes, indeed,’ to any of these statements, perhaps keep away from pool.

  • I don’t like getting my hair wet.
  • When I go into a pool, I have to wee (and I like to wee a lot).
  • I have a very large ‘Speedos turn me into Mr Horny’ tattoo stretching across my back.

And naturally, there might also be numerous other reasons why swimming is so fun and fab that it’s simply madness not to get involved (I was about to say ‘fully immersed’ but stopped myself). Such as,

  • I like being almost naked whilst exercising (yup, it might just be your thing)
  • I harbour a secret desire to be a mermaid (please remember, though, humans cannot actually breathe underwater)
  • I have a sincere love of sharks (for those wishing to take to the open waters)

The danger of this post, of course, is that I’ll convince so many of you of the glories of swimming that my local pool will become as crowded as Pitt Street. But we’re a long way off that I’m sure and if I manage to convince at least a few of you to hang up your sweaty badminton rackets for the pleasure of the sparkling, heavily-chlorinated water rippling across your bare torso (now you’re interested aren’t you), I’ll have helped the sum of human happiness more than an iota.

The Walrus Porpoise blue for map


    • Thanks Kath. Glad you liked the ABC article. Was good fun. Weekend Sunrise interviewed me last Sunday from Coogee too. If you search my name and 1000 pools, it should come up.

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