Image from Pexels

Image from Pexels

It was an obvious decision for me to join a swim team when I was younger. The first opportunity to do so presented itself during the summer when I was seven, and since I didn’t have much going on during the summers at that time, swim team was hardly debatable with my parents. But little did I know that the summer I stepped foot in a pool, I’d never want to get out.

Swimming is, without question, a unique sport. It’s obviously an aquatic sport, but what people don’t always realize is that it requires a greater endurance than most other sports, and thus can be one of the most beneficial exercise methods. Aside from this clear motive—to stay in shape—I’ll share with you why swimming is, and will continue to be, a prevalent part of my life.

Let’s face it, we aren’t all gifted with exceptional hand-eye coordination skills. I certainly am not. Over the years, I’ve tried nearly every sport I’ve had access to

—basketball, soccer, softball, volleyball, tennis—none of which I felt confident enough in or enjoyed enough to pursue. Simply put, I can’t do any type of contact sport. This is what makes swimming an appealing sport to so many. It requires literally zero initial technique (there are ways to improve stroke technique and speed once you are further in your swimming career, of course, but that’s beside the point). You can get into swimming without any prior experience—all you need is the ability to stay afloat and to move your arms and legs.

In addition to being appealing to people for its accessibility, swimming is an attractive sport because there is very limited injury associated with it. According to MedicineNet, “There’s no ground impact when you swim, and so you protect the joints from stress and strain.” Though there are some risks you can face, as with any sport, these are usually preventable and/or not unique to swimming. The limited hazards associated with the sport makes it not only appealing to those considering adopting it as a full-time sport, but to athletes/people who may be recovering or dealing with another injury and are looking for a safer exercise alternative in the meantime. The fact that you will not get hurt while swimming also makes it a sport that can be continued throughout one’s whole lifetime.

Swimming has many other perks according to research conducted at Bucknell Universtiy. Some of these include increased strength and flexibility, circulation, muscular balance, and strengthening of the heart.

Swimming, from my point of view, gives you the best of both worlds because it can be looked at as an independent and team sport. Some of my best friends do swim team with me, which makes attending practices really fun and upbeat. Aside from strictly swim team practices, though, going to a nearby YMCA or community pool to lap swim can be another social outlet that allows you to meet people who already share a common interest. Swimming doesn’t depend entirely on team practices, and it doesn’t even depend upon other people at all, so it’s not restricting and can often be squeezed into your schedule somehow. On the other end, I enjoy swimming because, as it’s impossibly to talk to friends while actually under water, it’s a really great time to think and reflect. It’s a great stress reliever in that the exercise not only releases endorphins, which create a more positive attitude, but I can also channel whatever emotions I have into swimming, which makes me feel relaxed and has the added bonus of letting me get a better work out.

As previously mentioned, swimming doesn’t require prior technique or skill, so I urge you to give joining a team or simply lap swimming a shot, regardless of your age. Though it’s hard work, joining a swim team has been worthwhile for me, physically and emotionally. Good luck, and regardless of whether you apply it to swimming or life, I encourage you live by the Finding Nemo quote: “Just Keep Swimming.”

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