The world’s best swimmers move through the water with grace, economy, and flow, while novices are awkward, clumsy, and inefficient. But the rest of us can learn to swim well if we take the time to master swimming as an art before tackling it as a sport.
How many land-based athletes have concluded that swimming requires some exotic or elusive kind of fitness after an experience like this: Joe, who can breeze through a 5-mile jog without breaking a sweat, decides to try a pool workout one day. Within a few minutes, he’s panting for breath and wondering, “How will I ever get in a decent workout if I can’t even make 100 yards without dying?” Experiences like that convince many adult athletes that swimming is only for those who swam competitively as kids and leave them suspecting that the time and effort required to master swimming may not even be worth it.
But mastering the “swim challenge” is decidedly worthwhile. Not only is it ideal as a restorative, general fitness workout for virtually any aging athlete; learning to swim well also gives you the option to try triathlons or Masters swimming. And I’ve yet to meet an otherwise well-rounded athlete who could not learn to swim well enough to stay fit or tackle a triathlon. All they have to do is discard everything other aerobic activities such as running have taught them, as soon as they enter the pool.