How to swim: The Complete Guide on how to go from beginner to pro
Swimming is a fun activity that most people enjoy a lot.
But the problem is that people have no idea how to swim and as such they are missing out on one very fun and enjoyable outdoor activity.
If you fall into this group and you are out to learn how to swim, then in this article I will take you by the hand and show you everything you need to learn to go from beginner to advanced swimmer in a few short months.
But before we get started, I need you to know a couple of things.
One… this is a very long article and you may want to bookmark it and come back to it later.
Two… I need you to forget everything you have heard or read about how to swim. You need to realise that swimming is a fun activity and the only way you get to enjoy and benefit from it is simply by starting.
Alright? Let’s begin
Swimming Tips for Beginners
Before you start playing in the deep end of the pool, there are some helpful tips that you need to know. These tips will make your swimming lessons so much more fun, enjoyable and also ensure your safety.
1. Make sure you have the right gear
Having the right gear and equipment is very important as you learn how to swim.
This is simply because using the right equipments will ensure that you get grounded in learning the basics.
Also you want to make sure that you are not getting equipment just because they look good when you take a picture.
You want to get something that works and will help make your swimming much better.
So for example, you want to get the basic swimming gear.
Things like your swimming suit and goggles should be among the first things you get.
2. Get Comfortable in water
This is another very important tip for a first time swimmer.
Getting comfortable in water simply means overcoming your fear of water.
Now I know this sounds easier said than done but to become a good swimmer you need to let go of your anxiety of the water.
Here are some tips that you can use to get comfortable in water
NEVER go swimming alone as a first timer
Stay in the shallow end of the pool as your get started and become more confident
Do not start learning how to swim in a moving stream or current. This means you need to avoid swimming in oceans and rivers as a beginner.
Avoid swimming in water that is too cold. This is because you want to avoid a situation whereby your arms and legs become rigid as you try to swim in cold water.
3. Learn to float
As a beginner learning how to swim, the first thing you should learn is how to float.
Floating simply means lying on your back on the water and allowing the buoyancy of the water to carry you.
This is a simple method of swimming which can make your progress much faster.
To get started, here is what you need to do
Hold on to the side of the pool or dock and just let your legs float out from behind you.
If you find out that your legs are dropping to the pool floor, it simply means that you still have some form of fear or tension in your body.
Don’t let it bother you. Just retry the method again until you get better and better.
4. Don’t panic
One thing you should always remember is never to panic in the pool.
When you start to panic, your heart rate starts to increase and you lose composure.
This is bad and causes you to forget everything you have learnt and might even lead to drowning.
Always remember that you have a coach or second person with you who is ready to take care of you if anything happens.
5. Eat healthy foods
Swimming is an activity that burns a lot of calories.
As a result, you want to make sure that you stock up and replenish your body with the right foods and nutrients.
This will also give you a huge confidence boost everytime you step out to swim.
So make sure your diet is well balanced and contains the essential nutrients for a healthy body.
Breathing Techniques for Swimming
As you learn how to swim underwater, one thing you need to get right is your breathing technique and how to control your breath.
This is very important and getting this right will ensure that your foundation is solid and without any mistakes.
Here are some basic breathing tips you need to know
You need to wear swimming goggles. This is because as you practice breathing underwater and you dip your head in the water, water enters your eyes. This can cause irritation and discomfort. Using a swimming google will make you more relaxed and also boost your confidence level.
When you place your head in the water, try not to hold your breath. Instead exhale and allow the air come out through your nose.
As you come up for air, inhale quickly through your mouth
As a beginner, here are the two most important things you need to ensure that your breath control becomes better
Keep your face in the water
This is obviously a very huge challenge for most people and they struggle to overcome it.
This is because you really cannot immerse your head in water and breathe at the same time.
But if you think about it, this is what you need to be able to swim properly and at a reasonable pace.
So with your head up and your hips lowered, you can easily push through the water giving you more endurance.
So the first thing you need is to make sure you have proper swim goggles on to avoid water getting into your eyes and causing discomfort to you.
Next you want to control your breathing and ensure that it has a rhythm to it.
Without any rhythm, you find out that you are trying to inhale and exhale at the same time which might cause serious problems.
So you want to learn how to exhale while your face is in the water and then inhale while it is out of the water.
Start slowly and get your timing right and over time you will build the confidence needed to get better and improve your breathing.
Basic Breathing Drills for Beginners
Here are some basic breathing drills you can use to get started
In shallow water, take a deep breath and then crouch down so your head is immersed inside the water. Stay in that position for a few seconds and then rise up.
While under the water, exhale through your nose so that it brings up bubbles
Next try blowing out bubbles through your nose and mouth
Crouch down in shallow water, until the water rests between your nose and your mouth. Now practice inhaling above water through your nose and exhaling underwater through your nose
Bob up and down with your body in shallow water and inhale and exhale. This drill will help with getting your rhythmic breathing right.
How to Swim Faster
As you develop your confidence and control your breathing, you obviously want to learn how to swim faster.
This is awesome because it shows that you are improving and you want a fair advantage over others.
Here are some tips to help you become faster and improve your coordination while swimming.
Learn how to reduce drag in the water
The first thing you need to do to be able to swim faster is to reduce drag while swimming.
Drag simply means becoming more efficient in water.
As you know the density of water is much more than that of air and as a result you find yourself with a lot more work to do.
So if you want to be able to swim faster, then you need to learn how to reduce drag
The first thing you need to do is to improve your balance
This means that you want to stay as horizontal as possible while swimming
By doing this, you disrupt a very small amount of water molecules which in turn results in reduced drag
Next you want to swim taller. This means that you want to make yourself as tall as possible while swimming.
By doing this, your longer body mass creates less turbulence in the water than a long mass.
You also want to practice your kicks and get a compact and efficient kick motion
A compact and efficient kicking motion is very important for fast swimming
The next thing you need to understand while learning to swim faster is you need to improve your propulsion
Propulsion simply means the rate at which you are moving through the water.
One way to improve your speed is by swimming more on your sides.
So you want to roll more from side to side with each arm stroke. This allows you to better engage your back and shoulder muscles.
Also you need to use your core to swim faster.
Your core is usually your back, torso and your hip muscles. Using these three muscles while swimming will allow you to apply more force to your arm stroke.
Here are some swimming tips to help you swim faster
Get a buddy or partner to help you track your progress and also stay motivated
Start now and avoid putting off the decision to another day
Ensure you have a post workout snack to start your muscle recovery process immediately
Make sure you take a few minutes each day to improve your flexibility
Learn how to breathe properly
Get the right kind of feedback and support from a trained professional
Do not forget to recharge your body by getting that extra hour beauty sleep
Develop and stick to a structured routine
How To Swim Freestyle
The freestyle stroke is probably the most common swimming stroke out there.
This is because it is very easy to learn and gives the best health benefit in terms of body exercises and coordination.
The freestyle stroke is also a category in most competitive swimming competition and it is commonly referred to as the crawl.
To be able to effectively swim the freestyle, you need to learn how to flutter kick your feet while also reaching forward with alternating strokes.
Here are 4 steps to becoming better when swimming the freestyle
Step 1. Your body position
You want to make sure you keep you body face down in the water and also inline with the surface of the water.
Step 2. Your arm movement
You also want to make sure that your arm movement is well synchronised with your body movement.
There are basically 2 major arm movements you should consider - the pull and the recovery.
Pull - With your palms facing downwards, pull in line with your body and then bend your elbow slightly all the way to the side of your upper body.
Recovery - with your hand close to your thigh, lift one hand out of the water with a bent elbow
Keep both hands alternating between these movements and move your body simultaneously
Step 3 - Breathing Technique
When doing the freestyle technique, your breathing technique is very important
Choosing the side to breath from usually depends on if you are right handed or left handed.
So while your arms are in the recovery phase, you want to turn your head slightly to the side and then inhale
The trick is to time the roll of your head with your arm movement so that you get the perfect timing.
One mistake most beginners make is to lift their head out of the water instead of rolling it to the side.
The downside of doing this is that it messes up your body position and you lose your balance
Step 4- Leg Action
The movement of your legs is also very important as you attempt the freestyle stroke.
With your ankles relaxed and flexible, you point your toes behind you and then kick up and down in a continuous motion from your thighs.
How To Swim Underwater
As you progress in your journey to becoming an awesome swimmer, you also need to learn how to swim underwater.
This is because swimming underwater gives you a certain confidence which can easily help you become a better swimmer
Before we begin and I show you my top 10 tips for how to swim underwater, I need to mention the dangers associated with this
Swimming underwater can lead to something called shallow water blackout.
This happens when a person faints in water that is less than 10 to 15 feet deep
This is usually caused as a result of low oxygen levels in the bloodstream. The person starts to hyperventilate and may eventually lead to drowning.
So always ensure that you go with someone (preferably an experienced coach) when you start to practice underwater swimming.
Here is how to become a better swimmer underwater
1. Boost your confidence
The first thing you need to know is that swimming underwater requires a certain level of confidence and relaxation.
There is no need to panic or be anxious
Breath holding exercises and water submerging exercises are a good starting point for most beginners
The more relaxed you are, the less oxygen your body will need which also increases the amount of time you can spend underwater.
2. Get your face wet
Next you need to get your face wet.
One thing you should know is that getting your face wet and being splashed on your face are two completely different things
Here are somethings you can do to get your face wet
Blow bubbles on the surface of the water
Cupping water in your hands and throwing it on your face
3. Partially submerging your face in water
Next you need to learn how to submerge your face in water and then breath in and hold it all in.
For some people, this is very easy to do, while for others it can be very difficult to master.
Take it at your own pace and do not be pressured
One exercise you can do is to place a ball or object at the bottom of the pool and you retrieve it and come back up.
This will gradually build up your confidence.
Also make sure that you go about this exercises with a trained person with you.
4. Total submersion and swimming underwater
As you build up your confidence by doing exercise 3 mentioned above, you can then gradually move to total submersion and swimming underwater.
So you want to completely submerge your head underwater and then retrieve an object placed at the bottom of the pool.
By this stage you have your breath control well aligned with your body movement.
Progressing from this stage you want to incorporate different swimming strokes and motions.
All the stages mentioned above will help you swim underwater faster and better
Finally you want to understand your body buoyancy and how it affects your swimming underwater.
If you have a good body buoyancy, then it is going to be a little difficult. A little difficult but not impossible.