The Many Benefits of Swimming Beyond Just Physical Health

Jun 24, 2024 | Main Blog | 1 comment

Growing up I played volleyball, loved it, was good at it, and imagined the sport being in my life for a very long time. I pictured myself playing volleyball in high school, and potentially in college, too. When I did not make the team in high school after a summer of putting all of my time and effort into the sport I felt so defeated. My mom encouraged me to try the high school swim team, a sport in which I had never engaged competitively before.

Swimming was an adjustment for me, but something started to click after putting in time and effort after just a few practices. Like all sports and exercise you get out of it what you put into it. After about a month of competitive swimming, I could feel my muscles start to reap the benefits, and at that point, I had never felt that physically strong before in my life. I felt considerably healthier, because of the large amount of cardio I was doing during each practice, and for someone who hates running, I love to swim. It’s an interesting phenomenon!

Swim practices became a time of serenity for me. I first noticed my anxiety developing towards the end of my high school career, and swim practice became a time and place where I could ponder my thoughts while I swam. I began to take that time by myself and in the water to think about my day and life and tune out the world for a while.

You might be asking: “Well that’s great, but why should I swim?” Swimming is a powerful and highly beneficial exercise. There are many articles that list extensive reasons why swimming benefits your health. Here I just want to consolidate those lists and give you a few of the top reasons why swimming is beneficial, and hopefully, I can convince you to try it!

1. Swimming is an exercise that strengthens your whole body.

There is rarely an exercise that works almost every external muscle and is safe for your body, too. Running is a cardio exercise that has many benefits but it can be hard on people’s knees and could result in injury. Swimming is often considered a therapeutic sport, especially for people with arthritis, who may have weakened bones. But swimming is a great whole-body workout. When swimming, you have to use your leg and glute muscles to kick, your core muscles to keep you in position, and your arm and shoulder muscles to push and glide through the water. If you are seeking to strengthen any of these muscles, then swimming would be such a rewarding exercise for you. A swimmer will feel these benefits within a couple of days of consistent swimming.

2. Swimming strengthens the inner body.

Another benefit of swimming is the impact it has on the inside of your body. Your inner body health is arguably more important than your external body. Swimming is known to have positive impacts on heart health and lung capacity among other things. Lowering blood sugar, increasing blood circulation, and reducing inflammation in the body are just three ways in which swimming can promote good heart health. Swimming naturally improves lung capacity because of the practice of taking deep breaths while swimming, but research shows swimmers have a greater lung capacity than other high-performance athletes.

3. Swimming regulates the mind.

Swimming doesn’t just help with physical fitness but it can have a positive impact on an individual’s mental health, too. Any exercise is a great way to help with mental illnesses like depression or anxiety. There has been a notable correlation between outdoor exercise and lowering the risk of depression, and the positive impact swimming has on stress management and mood swings. Swimming is a time when you can focus solely on the movement and detach yourself from the stressors in the world, on your phone, etc. It’s a space to think about your day and life without any distractions, and if that’s not what you need then swimming can also be a space to rest your mind from thought with no distractions. No matter the intensity of your swim, this exercise can be relaxing and meditative at whatever level of swimmer you are.

There are so many more detailed benefits of swimming; I didn’t name them all. Now, I’m not advising anyone to dive into swimming without considering water safety. Not all bodies of water are safe, and it is best advised not to swim alone (especially if you are new to the sport). Too many times people underestimate the power of open water and overestimate the strength of their swimming abilities. If you are new to swimming consider joining a class or take swim lessons to make sure you are swimming as safely as possible. Other ways to ensure your swimming safety are swimming in supervised water (pools or beaches with lifeguard supervision), bringing a friend to swim with so that you aren’t alone in case of an emergency, drink lots of water while swimming to combat dehydration, and if you are swimming outside on a sunny day don’t forget your sunscreen!

Speaking of sunny days, June 24 is Swim a Lap Day! This is a day to celebrate the joy of swimming, and it is perfectly recognized in the summer so that many people can swim a lap! National Swim a Lap Day was created to recognize the historical significance of the sport, and further encourage others to participate in and appreciate swimming more.

All in all, there are so many beautiful things about swimming. Swimming helped me build character and perseverance. I pushed myself farther than I could’ve ever done, and that characteristic of perseverance has developed into other aspects of my life such as work, school, and in my relationships. Swimming helped me believe in myself and respect my body. It helped instill a growth mindset in me because it is a sport where you can constantly learn something new; a different stroke, a way to breathe, a new drill, technical changes, and modifications.

For me, swimming was an unanswered prayer that I never knew I needed. The sport changed my life for the better in too many ways to count. In a few short weeks, I will start up my season of swim coaching young girls/women ages 11-17. At my practices, I try and emulate that space of joy and peace that I experienced with swimming. With my swimmers, my goal is always to help them find something about swimming that makes them excited to come back. Within the five weeks of summer that I coach them I not only see my athletes’ swimming improve, but I see their determination, confidence, self-respect, perseverance, and social skills all shine. So swimming is much more than a great exercise, it is a lifelong sport that improves physical and mental health all while building strong character and perseverance.

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1 Comment

  1. Paula Veneklase

    Beautifully written Maddie.
    Thank you for sharing your heart.


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Maddie Bocian

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