Fitness · Health

Swimming: Style and Substance

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  1. Breastroke 5 lengths of the pool or 4 minutes in open water.  This is perhaps the most popular style of swimming because your head is out of the water most of the time, it is an easy stroke for most people and a great way to warm up. It is also is a great fallback stroke if you get tired from the other strokes. [For more information and images of the breastroked see Wikipedia page]
  2. Sidestroke – 2 lengths of the pool on one side, 2 lengths on other side, or 2 minutes on each side in open water. I really like doing this stroke as I get to do a relatively large leg kick with minimal arm work. This stroke is also good preparation for doing the “crawl” because you get used to rotating the body. [For more information and images of the sidestroke see Wikipedia page ]
  3. Front Crawl Stroke or Freestyle – 5 lengths of the pool, or 3-4 minutes in open water. This one will get you going a little faster and your head will be facing down most of the time. It is important that you coordinate your kicking with your strokes. I like doing three small kicks per arm stroke. Choosing a balanced breathing pattern is also important. I recommend breathing every three strokes, and alternating the side you breathe on. To reduce the stress on your neck, I advise rolling your torso a little to your side and looking up to the ceiling when you breathe. [For more information and images of the front crawl see Wikipedia page]
  4. Backstroke – 4 lengths of the pool or 4 minutes in open water. This is one of my favorite strokes to recover and work the arm muscles in an opposite way. It is easy to breathe since your face is out of the water, and if you get tired you can always just float. You do have to be careful to know where the end of the pool is so you don’t bump your head, but most pools have markers on the roof or sides that indicate when the end is coming so you can prepare. I do the same three kicks per stroke as with the crawl. [For more information and images of the backstroke see Wikipedia page].

Swimming is different from wading and lounging by the pool in that your swimsuit needs to fit more securely. To help you look your best while swimming, here are a few styles that work in the pool and out.

TYR Aquatic One-PieceTYR Aquatic One-Piece Swimsuit – Square Neck ($29.89 at Sierra Trading Post). This gets great reviews for it’s design and fit. Comes in several colors.


Solid Ultraback Plus SizeSolid Moderate Ultraback Plus Size (20-24) – PowerFLEX ($47.59 Key features include chlorine resistant fabric, an “ultra back” strap design on the back, sewn-in soft cups, and a moderate cut.


Lap SuitPrint Lap Suit ($44-89 at As We Change) A chlorine resistant, four-way stretch suit that comes in a variety of different prints.


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