Marsh column: Phelps, Torres put spotlight on swimming

Published 12:00 am Friday, August 29, 2008

By Ester Marsh
For the Salisbury Post
Q. After watching the Olympics and seeing the swimmers, I would love to start swimming myself. How can I get a swimming program started?
A. I think Michael Phelps and Dara Torres definitely have put the spotlight on swimming, not only during, but also after the Olympics. Not only is swimming a great exercise which burns lots of calories, it is no impact and your chance of injury is very minimal. Plus, it just makes you feel good! I gather that you can swim.
For the non-swimmers out there, you are never too old to start swimming! When I used to teach swimming lessons in the Netherlands, my oldest participant who couldn’t swim and wanted to learn was in her 80s! And yes, she learned how to swim.
Well, let’s get you started. You need a bathing suit (duh!), goggles, and of course a towel. I would also recommend slippers or water shoes to get you from the locker room to the pool and back.
To save your hair, use a swim cap. Chlorine can be hard on your hair, especially when you swim every day. Before you put your cap on, wet your hair with cold water. Don’t take it off until you are out of the pool and done with your swim workout.
Before you get in the pool perform some basic stretches for the back, chest, shoulders, arms, and legs. Start with one length of the pool (half a lap) ó 25 meters or sometimes 25 yards (a little short of 25 meters but still an official competitive length). See how you do ó are you “sucking” air? Wait until you get your breath back and do another length of the pool. Each time, try to shorten your rest period. Do the same with 50 meters (one lap), 100 meters and so on. It depends how many times a week you swim, but the great thing about swimming is that you see training results fast! Try to use different strokes. Different muscles are being used, which keeps your workout challenging and balanced. If you are already exercising regularly but swimming isn’t part of your workouts, try to incorporate it into your workout. Especially when you have had a hard weightlifting workout; nothing feels better than a swim workout. I hope this will get you started and excited about your swim program. Let me know how it is going.
Contact Ester Marsh with health and fitness questions at 704-636-0111 or