Top 5 Reasons to Add Swimming into Your Workout

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Marine swims at the Combat Center Training Tank.
Cpl. Kyle Fierro, radio technician, 3rd Assault Amphibian Battalion, practices the breaststroke at the Combat Center Training Tank, July 27, 2015. (Levi Schultz/U.S. Marine Corps photo)

After a challenging workout, whether it be a summer run or ruck or a high-repetition calisthenics workout mixed with cardio, following it with swimming is a great addition. Here are the top five reasons why adding a swim or water movement workout at the end of your day will enhance your training goals:

1. It cools your body temperature. After a hot or sweaty workout in humid or arid environments, the pool water can be very refreshing. After about five minutes in cool pool water, you will start to feel refreshed and renewed. If you are hot and tired, hydrate and jump into the pool and simply tread water for 5-10 minutes. This is an easy way to transition into the water and allow you to cool yourself. You likely will have the energy for a short segment of swimming laps or practicing your stroke technique.

2. Second wind. After getting into the pool, many call this newfound energy a “second wind.” Perhaps you actually are overheated, and cooling yourself down helps you overcome the fatigue brought on by tough workouts. Getting into a pool after a tough, hot and sweaty workout when you thought you were done will enable you to acknowledge that you have some energy left to end your workout with swimming sets. See treading article.

3. Mobility work. One of the best ways to recover from long runs, rucks or challenging high-repetition PT or leg days is to get in the pool and swim or tread water. Adding in dynamic stretches in chest-deep water is another way to add to your pool time after a workout. It has saved me during high-mileage running cycles when ending a workout with a 10-minute tread (using a variety of kicking methods) to loosen up the hips, knees and lower-body muscles/tendons. See pool mobility after workout article.

4. Practice skills/techniques when tired: It requires greater focus to work on swimming skills and techniques when tired, but it is a great way to learn or build your muscle memory about what is required to move efficiently in the water. If you feel too tired to swim, focus on other elements in the water you may have in your future, like treading water, drownproofing or other survival skills.

5. Transition to shower. Get your day started with a tough workout on land, topped off with a session in the water and the transition to the shower, and the rest of your day has begun with new energy to tackle the day. You will need to eat and hydrate near immediately after long workouts like this, but ending the workout with some pool time will help you be immediately productive afterward.

This is how I start my day nearly every day. If you are not much into swimming, just get in the pool, tread water for a bit and do some basic movements in chest-deep water. You will not regret it.

Stew Smith is a former Navy SEAL and fitness author certified as a Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS) with the National Strength and Conditioning Association. Visit his Fitness eBook store if you’re looking to start a workout program to create a healthy lifestyle. Send your fitness questions to stew@stewsmith.com.

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