The Hidden Benefits of Swimming

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Photo Courtesy: Taylor Brien instructor-with-kids-at-make-a-splash

By Ashleigh Scott, Swimming World College Intern.

Nowadays, numerous products are marketed as having multiple secret benefits with catchy slogans, like “all hail kale!” or, “It’s one simple motion: put on the lotion!” While swimming of course, is neither a cosmetic tool nor a superfood, it does yield various hidden benefits that are highly beneficial for different aspects of life.

Okay… maybe that isn’t the best advertising shtick, but it is the truth!

Although not immediately apparent, swimming offers a great deal of under cover benefits. From hydrotherapy to learning essential safety skills or employment to social opportunities, swim skills give people unique opportunities that may not be immediately apparent.

Hidden Therapeutic Benefits

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Swimmers using equipment to enhance hydrotherapy. Photo Courtesy: Penn State

It has become increasingly popular for people to turn to hydrotherapy following an injury or for pre-existing pain. Performing different exercises on land can be rather challenging for people who are injured or have mobilization difficulties. The immediate pressure on people’s joints and muscles can be harmful, so the perfect alternative for physical exercise without causing further injuries or pain is swimming.

Because swimming allows us to be lifted by a natural element, it provides a unique benefit that is not experienced in land sports. According to an article written by Sandy Overman on Brainline.org, “The buoyancy of water causes the individual to feel an upward thrust when submerged.” This suggests that there is no need for someone to personally exert an extreme amount of force, since the water is doing it for them. This is extremely beneficial for someone who has arthritis, is recovering from a broken bone, is relearning motor skills after a brain injury, and many other conditions. Being in a pool allows people to relax and let their buoyant self to float through the water – no forceful effort necessary.

Many physical therapy companies have brought water treadmills into their facilities to help patients with mobility issues. The motions of running are transformed into less impactful movements in the water yet work the musculoskeletal and nervous systems. This allows the patient to work the injured area without adding more pain.

Important Safety Skills

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Open water race closely monitored by kayakers. Photo Courtesy: Arch Academy

Another hidden benefit swimming provides us with is an essential life tool in terms of safety. We’ve all heard devastating stories of drownings. Future drowning situations can be avoided if swimming skills are more widely taught, accessible and accepted.

You may hear lifeguards and other safety personnel using this phrase: “Swimming truly is the only sport that can save your child’s life.” However, this does not only apply to children. People of all ages benefit from knowing how to swim. The water does not slow down, and riptides and undertow currents can easily sweep swimmers away from safety in larger bodies of water, such as oceans or lakes. However, having knowledge of swimming and safety skills can help prevent drowning situations.

Several organizations across the world exist for the purpose of water safety education and drowning prevention. One such organization is the International Life Saving Federation. Their site provides some alarming facts and figures: “Even with swimming and safety classes available in many countries, large numbers of people still drown every year. The best scientific evidence available has taught us that 1.2 million people around the world die by drowning every year, that is more than two persons per minute. From that more than 50 percent are children.” Exploring their site can help you learn more about drowning prevention strategies.

While knowing drowning statistics, practicing safety strategies and gaining swim skills is not a fail-safe way to prevent all drownings, they are a good start. This makes swimming unique, because as mentioned, it is a sport that teaches us crucial life and survival skills.

Provides Employment and Social Opportunities

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Photo Courtesy: Mike Curtain Photography

Not everyone feels comfortable and confident in and around water; thus, those who are have a highly marketable skill. Being a lifeguard at a beach, lake, or pool is a great way to make money as well as meet tons of great people. Going to “work” really doesn’t feel like work because of the fun and welcoming community in which they serve. Lifeguards connect with each other while also forming relationships with members and patrons. Anyone who has been a member at a summer pool can admit to having been greeted by “that one lifeguard.” Or they’ve experienced that one guard who always stayed on chair just a little bit longer so that they could swim a few minutes past closing time.

Similarly, both swim lesson instructors and coaches of competitive teams build great relationships with their swimmers. Although lessons and competitive teams provide different atmospheres, both offer employment in the swimming field that teaches crucial communication and relational skills. These bonds are equally as important and meaningful to the coach or instructor as they are to the swimmer. Connections can open employment doors down the road!

It doesn’t matter if someone is a lifeguard, swim instructor or a competitive coach. The actual job isn’t just saving lives or improve strokes. The job consists of building bonds of trust that encourage unified comfort and happiness. The connection between employment and social relationships go hand in hand, making this another hidden benefit of swimming.

Swimming’s Hidden Benefits As a Whole

Swimming evidently has more to offer than just elite programs with highly competitive swim meets. There are, in fact plenty of other benefits to swimming. From physical rehabilitation to life skills, swimming truly is a multi-purpose activity.

“Swimming. The Sport that Keeps everyone winning.” There – that’s a better advertising shtick.

Help us uncover some other hidden benefits of swimming in the comments below!

-All commentaries are the opinion of the author. They do not necessarily reflect the views of Swimming World Magazine nor its staff.

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