I’ve recently taken up lap swimming. By recently, I mean in November when I moved home for the summer months. In the past I’ve been a gym junkie and a runner, but hadn’t really swum further than a couple of hundred metres since I was twelve years old and my parents forced me to do swimming squad training, which I hated at the time. Clearly, something has changed.
After deciding to start swimming due to an easily aggravated knee injury, I started out with 1km, then built up to 1.5km over a couple of weeks. Now I typically swim 2 km a couple of times a week. Sometimes more, sometimes less, but 2 km twice weekly is my aim. My first 500m are generally a slow warm up, a mix of freestyle and breaststroke, with some kicking intervals. The next 500m I try to get some intervals in – fast freestyle with lazier breaststroke ‘rest’ laps. The second kilometre is typically faster and all freestyle, as I count down the laps and try to give myself a real work out, ensuring that I don’t slack off towards the end.
Aside from being incredible cardio that works your whole body (ever seen a regular swimmer who is overweight or anything but bangin’?), the biggest selling point for me is the relaxation. There is no choice but to zone out and either count the laps or let your mind wander – watching TV or listening to music simply isn’t an option, nor is chatting to the person next to you. It’s definitely helping with my ‘less screen time’ resolution. Swimming is a solitary activity, but very satisfying, and a completely different type of fitness to on land cardio such as running. Other benefits? It’s relatively inexpensive – start up costs are one piece swimmers, goggles and a cap (like these, these and these), while pool entry is a fraction of the cost of a gym membership. Furthermore, there’s no kind of sleep quite like that which comes after a 2km swim. My worries drift to the bottom of the pool and stay there, and the sheer physical exhaustion invites the deepest of slumber.
The downsides? Constant hunger. Give me all the carbs, please. Swimming in chlorinated water and outdoors can also take a toll on your hair and skin – I’ve been wearing a swimming cap which doesn’t really do the job, so I make sure I douse my hair in a serum or oil (this Dove one is my favourite for effectiveness and affordability), wash my hair after every swim, and wear SPF such as the Cetaphil I named in this post. Nevertheless, I have some pretty crazy tan lines going on – a compromise that for me, is 100% worth it – backless dress be damned.
What’s your workout du jour? x