Staying active when the pool’s closed.

Swimming is indeed a unique form of exercise and some of its benefits are almost exlusive to it. Almost no other sport is as joint-friendly, or as relatively injury risk-free for example. This is not to say that swimming can’t be substituted with other excercises, especially when the situation forces this upon us. During these unusual times of the COVID pandemic, with pools being closed in many countries altogether, it’s important that we find ways to stay in shape, preferably ones that would be parallel to swimming as far as specific groups of muscles, methods, or benefits are concerned. Hopefully, when we do get back into the water, it will be easier to restart our fitness schedule.

Aerobic Training

Here are some ideas for aerobic training that should be feasible even with limited access to sport facilities:

⦁ Racewalking

While running, as popular as it is, will seem like an obvious choice for many, it is racewalking that may be a better solution for swimmers. The former carries bigger risk of injury, particularly of knee and ankle joints. Of course, chances are that you are already running, along with swimming, in which case you’re less worried about potential injuries. On the other hand, in such situation you won’t substitute swimming with even more running and you might wish to diversify your excercise and go for racewalking instead. 

Involve Your Arms

Hold the elbows fixed at a 90-degree angle while racewalking and stretch the opposite foot strides each forward and backward in synchronization. Arm exercises mimic swimming strokes in freestyle to some extend and reinforce the muscles in the shoulder and rotator cuffs. 

Don’t underestimate breathing

A proper breathing technique is to some degree forced on swimmers, at least much more so than on other athletes. While you won’t face similar constraints as in the water while practicing your chosen substitute sport (like racewalking), there’s no reason why you shouldn’t replicate your swimming breathing pattern. You will be tempted not to do so, but treat this as an opportunity for practicing breathing discipline.

Strenght Training 

Here are some basic ideas that you are likely to be able to start implementing right off the bat, with little or no equipment needed.

⦁ Resistance / stretching bands

Half way between water and weights are resistance bands. Much like in case of racewalking, we recommend resistance band workouts as ones with minimal risk of injuries. This is especially the case if the alternative you thought off is weights. Perhaps most importantly for us, swimmers, we can mimic various swimming motions while the bands provide appropriate resistance. These bands are affordable and easy to store, so you don’t have to turn your home into a gym for these few months until the pools open in your area. Many swimmers are already familiar with these great tools and it seems like a great opportunity for the rest of us to enjoy them.

⦁ Bodyweight training

The simpliest solutions are often the best, and this is the case also for bodyweight training. As mentioned above, you don’t necessarily need to rush to buy various equipment, especially that we are talking about temporary substitutes for your standard swimming workouts now. Start with the basics that you can never go wrong with (8-10 reps/set; 3 sets):
⦁ lunges
⦁ push-ups
⦁ pull-ups
⦁ flutterkicks (30 secs)
⦁ squats
⦁ mountain climbers

Of course don’t forget to warm up first.

The list above is by no means exhaustive and its purpose is to serve rather as an inspiration to look for alternatives, and not to give up on your workouts. The latter may be particularly tempting to those of us who are beginners and who were struggling to stay motivated even before the pandemic. Think outside of the box and remember that challenges are often always opportunities for improvement. See you at the pool (eventually)!


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