I have got a crazy goal – to swim 2,500 metres freestyle on my 100th birthday!
Crazy, isn’t it? WHY???? I hear you scream.
Because 1) You need to have goals in life and 2) When I am swimming, get to around 1500 metres and think of stopping, I say to myself, “Steve, if you cannot do it now, how on Earth do you expect to do it when you are 100!”
So why bother? Because swimming is damned good exercise.
Since I was 8 years old I could swim; in our town, we had a very good swimming instructor, Vic Levitt, who thought that every child should be able to swim. Great man, Vic! I never really got into swimming, though, preferring soccer, rugby and squash.
However, squash at a high level becomes risky after 35 and rugby suicidal. So I started to seriously swim some 25 years ago (running was not a realistic option – flat feet!). I started off doing a length (25m) and having a breather. I swam once a week and built up through 1,000 m breast stroke to where I am today – 2,500 m or more. I “cheat”, according to my family, because I wear flippers, but I do it in about 50 minutes.
Swimming is good for the following reasons:
- You exercise many more muscle groups than with running or cycling
- You are buoyed by water, so there is no gravitational pressure on joints
- Water “gives” to pressure, so you cannot over-strain joints and muscles
- Combined with Buteyko breathing, it helps respiration.
- It is ideal if you are obese, have arthritis or are pregnant.
- It increases flexibility, endurance, muscle tone, strength and cardio-respiratory conditioning without straining your heart.
- Acts as an ideal lymphatic pump, helping clear your lymph system of toxins.
- After an hours swimming, you release oxytocin , the cuddle-drug, into your bloodstream which makes me feel like I am floating for several hours.
- You also meet like-minded people at the beach or in the pool or in the sauna afterwards.
It is important that you swim correctly. I swim TI (total immersion) freestyle with a little bit of latitude due to the flippers. If you want to learn this, visit Terry Laughlin’s Youtube pages. Many women try to keep their heads above the water, which causes neck problems. Get some goggles or a face mask to avoid this.
Personally, I don’t like swimming in the sea. Therefore I am very glad to swim in a local pool that has Denmark’s best water quality. It is not overheated either.
One thing the Buteyko breathing is taught me is how to swim a full length underwater. I generally do this every 10th length. You feel like a dolphin, but alas, I have not mastered moon walking with my flippers or leaping 6 metres in the air.
I also do a “high intensity burst” every 10 lengths between underwater swimming. This is supposed to be very good conditioning for the body. I give it everything and swim 25 metres in 15 seconds on one breath. It is absolutely exhilarating!
I have also been inspired over the years by the octogenarians who swim on a daily basis at the pool. I am working towards swimming at this age and beyond.
So, get your swimming togs out and go down to your local pool. If I can do 2,500 lengths at 61, so can you and who knows? We could start a 100 (25m lengths) at 100 club!