We asked our founder, Harshad Daswani, what he thought you needed to start swimming as a workout!
Here's what he has to say:
Before you hop into the water, there are a few items you’ll need:
Swimsuit Choose a style you feel comfortable wearing, but keep in mind that loose-fitting, baggy suits will weigh you down, Daswani says. So look for a swimsuit that fits snug. For men, Daswani recommends a suit style known as “jammers” (they look like bike shorts) rather than loose-fitting swim trunks. For women, simply choose a swimsuit that provides the coverage you prefer. Whichever suit you settle on, remember to rinse it off with fresh water after each workout. “It’ll last a lot longer if you do that,” Daswani says.
Swimming Cap The chlorine in swimming pools can be very damaging to hair — especially light and color-treated hair — so if you’d like to protect your hair from your pool workouts, invest in a swimming cap. A swimming cap can also safeguard your hair from salt water if you prefer swimming in the ocean. There are Lycra (a type of fabric) caps, which keep the hair out of your eyes, but won’t protect your hair from water. Another type is latex caps, which are typically thinner and cheaper. These will protect your hair, but can be tough to put on and take off. To make the process easier, and prevent the cap from sticking together when it’s not on your head, Daswani recommends drying it out and then sprinkling some baby powder inside. A thicker, more expensive type of cap is silicone. “These tend to be a little more comfortable, and they tend to last longer,”
Swimming Goggles A great-fitting pair of swimming goggles can help you see better underwater and keep irritating pool chemicals and salt water out of your eyes. But you don’t want big, scuba-style goggles covering your nose, instead, look for a pair that covers the eyes and fits snugly but comfortably. “You should be able to put goggles on your face, shake your head around, and there should be no water entering,” he says. If there is water, you’ll have to adjust the nosepiece or the strap or try a different pair. Recommended brands include Speedo, Arena, and TYR goggles. Many of these brands also offer prescription goggles if you need them.
Safety Tips for Beginners
Like any other form of exercise, swimming carries risks. Use these expert tips to stay safe:
Don’t swim alone. No matter your experience or fitness level, you should never swim alone. “You never know what can happen,” Daswani says. You can pass out, hit your head on a buoy or the edge of the pool, or have a medical emergency like a heart attack. So you should always swim with a friend or in a pool with a lifeguard on duty.
Be visible. Whether you’re swimming indoors or outdoors, it’s always a good idea to be as visible as possible. Opt for brightly-colored swim caps and swimsuits. And if you’re swimming in a lake, river, or ocean, you need a safety buoy, Koleber says. A safety buoy is a brightly-colored, inflatable device that attaches to your waist with a belt so it trails behind your feet. It makes you more visible to boats and other swimmers. It also gives you something to hold onto if you need to take a break.
Start slow and build up gradually. Easing into your swimming workouts will help keep soreness to a minimum. Begin with two to three swim workouts per week, and don’t expect to break any speed or distance records. “It might be that you can only make it halfway across the pool before you need to take a break, and that’s okay,” Daswani says. “Stand up, pull up to the wall, or have a seat, and then go another half-length.” Know that it will take time to build your fitness and skill with swimming.
- Check water quality. Natural bodies of water can be great places to swim. However, they can carry germs that can make you sick or cause an infection if you get in the water with an open wound so look around and check the location.
Though swimming is generally a safe activity for people of many ages and fitness abilities, be sure to consult with your physician if you have any medical condition or injury that might interfere. It is a good rule to avoid swimming if you have just had surgery, have open wounds, or don’t have the strength to do the strokes.
“The beauty of swimming is that it can be done at a very leisurely pace and the variety of strokes make it ideal for patients with loss of motion, mild weakness, and joint pain,”