swimming: fitness by floating in water


I have an eight to five job that literally takes my entire day and drains my energy reserve. If you’re like me, having to a lot to juggle and manage all at once, then keeping fit would normally be the last item on your list of priorities. I have fitness routines that include aerobics, racing, walking and of course swimming. I have been swimming since I was a little girl who strides along with the entire family on the beach in the husky hot wind. First I would just run in and out of the waters, screaming and evading the tiny fishes that mingles between my laps. I eventually graduated to knowing the tricks and twists as well as the rules or the art. Swimming is my go-to because it takes care of my body’s all round fitness needs.

However, when I decided to take it up again after a really long time away from the waters, I realized it was completely foreign to me. Thankfully, my elder sister came out with me so she helped ease the tension the entire time. There was an aquarium just by the pool we used and we spent some time admiring the sea creatures in their elements, they looked really beautiful, especially the star fish. And I knew I wanted to have the kind of freedom they had to mingle in the waters and not drown.

Getting Started…

First off, get into the water and start moving your body. Emphasis should not be on becoming a professional at this stage, especially if you are new to the activity. If you used to swim but stopped for a while, start with a few simple laps and gradually build your endurance again. At this point, comfort is very important. Artificial fins, paddles, kick boards and pull buoys help beginners get comfortable in the waters. Eventually, you will be able to decide on your own if you want to do without the extra gears. Swimming is one fitness activity that involves your entire body so you will need to warm up before you begin the complete laps. A lap is a swim out and back once for a standard fifty yard pool and twice for a standard twenty five yard pool. It can be a bit of a struggle though, considering the amount of time, energy and mind preparation that goes into it. Swimming is similar to racing in many ways, you’ll need endurance and breath control, and you’ll be moving every part of your body at once. But in swimming, the postures are different and you make use of the waters rather than the ground or tracked floors. So you have to be very water friendly or expect to get used to it overtime.

Finding Company In Unpopular Places

As an adult swimmer, the water feels different and I get to take responsibility for my choices from when to swim to who to swim with and then on to where to swim. Almost on a weekly basis I have to answer these questions to keep the activity interesting for me. I didn’t want to be put under more time pressure by conventional classes and I wanted to experience the adventure side of swimming. So I decided to create my own team, they didn’t necessarily have to be pros but they were people I enjoy going out with. First it was my elder sister, until we co-opted her friend and we became a team of three. We would normally use the pools of hotels in the neighborhood, my favorite being the Novotel Hotel pool because they have a lot of facilities that make swimming very friendly. I also enjoy the privacy of their environment every weekend, it has a way of resetting my mind for the week ahead. About three months down the line, the organization I work for had sport activity “Jogging to Bond” and after the official sporting, my colleagues and I set out for the beach. Swimming is different when the water has no boundaries, wind and current causes it to go up and splash and this can be so much fun. On the sands, there is usually fish and chicken barbecue, small chops, smoothies and yogurt of several flavors, people and more people. After that day, we have had repeat visits to beaches within and around town, we get to plan the outing at work the Friday before, in hushed voices. What other thing will a group of five shenanigans do behind closed doors?

I took it a step further. I signed up for a monthly class. Comprising of beginners, fitness swimmers and professionals, Fit Afloat are a group of persons involved in swimming for many reasons. I learnt about them from my friend Elsie who is a member of Port Harcourt Sports Club and I registered for their youth membership. I was assigned to a trainer who made me see swimming from a whole different light: a worthwhile venture, a way of life. Ever since then, I have met persons who are passionate about swimming and fitness, my social life is rich and my circle of friends a lot wider.

Benefits And Drawbacks Of Swimming

Swimming is one thing that helps you workout your entire body without stressing the legs and back that much. It works for virtually every fitness reason, relaxes your muscles, and your brain will always thank you. There’s a flip-side to this though. The highest risk in swimming is drowning, but if you follow the safety tips, this will never be a factor. Damage to the joints caused by over swimming is another. Also if you are looking to gain abs, then swimming should be combined with workout sessions to get the desired result. Every single time I swim, I have to get past the first entrance phobia. The chillness of the water shocks my skin and it takes a few minutes for my body temperature to get adjusted to the new environment. I had to learn the tricks. I feel the water with my feet, splash a little water to my face and body, then  take a dive in. When the weather is warm, I damn every consequence and take a full dive. It can be really fun to get the skin shock once in a while. Because the goal is to stay fit and healthy, after some time of regular swimming I could get bored. Instead of stepping out, I keep myself busy in the water with a few moves, some were learnt during training and others were discovered by my adventurous self. Either ways, there is no hard and fast rule and it is no competition.

Getting Geared Up

The first few times, I must confess I wore the wrong things and didn’t enjoy the waters as much as others did because of this.  A few years down the line, I have even learnt how to personalize my guards for special effects. Below is a list of things that make up my kit, with a bit of flexibility once in a while. A Swim Cap shrinks the size of my hair and covers it from water.

A Swim Suit that can be worn to my taste and fashion sense.

Googles keep my eyes safe from water reactions. Plus I also want to look cool.

A towel Set comes in handy when I want to dry my skin or wrap myself up for any reason.

Body Lotion is for keeping the skin fresh when swimming time is over.

Drinking Water to keep me watered up inside out!

Safety Rules To Observe

As much as I want to keep fit, stay healthy and have fun in the process, I realized that if I got hurt or sick in the process, fitness would have to pause or even end, at the very worst. Every single time I swim, I check the to-do list below during and after my time in the water:
  1. I scan the waters for obstructions and harmful objects before I start swimming.
  2. I ensure the water is clean and devoid of acids and reactive elements. I get to know this from the water color, smell and texture.
  3. I stay in sight. l always ensure that a few persons are around the environment, just in case I slip.
  4. I keep some water around.
  5. I wear the right swim suits to avoid choking and sinking and increase flexibility in the water.
The waters is my perfect tool for planning a convenient fitness routine. It can get really chilly, but my body adjusts to the temperature within seconds and it just tickles my skin the rest of the time!

Chikosolu Uzoka

I am first a human before I am any other thing. A health and wellness specialist, wordsmith and digital pundit, I travel round the world advocating for universal health causes like cancer, clean air, fitness and related topics.