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Tips for Beginner Swimmers By a Beginner Swimmer

Looking for an idiots guide to swimming and public pool etiquette?  It is time to get fit, and here is a good place to start.

Don’t wear your holiday shorts

What you wear is up to you really but wearing your baggy, palm tree emblazoned shorts or your cut-out designer swimsuit might be a little much.  Try to go for something likely to not slow you down with drag and that wont get ruined.  There are plenty of tight fitting, purpose made costumes to choose from, check out brands such as Speedo or Arena.  Just remember the three C’s – comfort, chlorine resistance and confidence! Wear something you will feel good in, because even though people are not looking at you it can feel like you are being watched, especially when you are new to the pool.

Don’t just dive in the fast lane, stretch!

So you’ve just gone swimming, you’re back in the car, you turn the engine on, ease forward and try to put the car into second gear and suddenly your arm feels as heavy as an elephant and your legs feel like jelly.  You should’ve stretched.  Get the blood flowing through the arms at the side of the pool or even in your changing rooms with simple warm up techniques.  Then go into the slow lane to ease yourself into exercise before progressing to a faster, more intense swim. Don't forget to warm down afterwards and shake it all out!


Don’t be one of those people who try to keep their head above water when swimming, then spit ‘n’ splutter when you get splashed in the mouth, it also slows you down and is bad for your spine.  Buy three pairs of goggles, try all three on at home, keep the best and return the rest (taking care of the packaging!) - then you will have found the perfect fit for your head and shape for your face.  Also make sure they are anti-fog!

Research breathing techniques

For example: “lift your head up to take a breath...When your head returns under the surface, empty your lungs so that they are ready for the next deep breath, keeping your blood oxygenated.”  Taken from our blog about mastering the breast stroke - tips like this - although may seem obvious to some, can be a great help to those struggling to not end up with a mouth full of chlorine.

If you’re gonna backstroke use a rear view mirror!

Not really, but be mindful of your fellow swimmers.  If you want to do a backstroke then try to keep in a straight line when swimming, which is easier said than done.  Unfortunately you will probably end up making contact with another swimmer at some point, just be courteous - apologise or give a knowing nod and swim on.  If you find yourself a victim of an accidental stroke or in a collision with a foot, don’t fly off the handle demanding a lawyer because you’ve just experienced GBH!

When resting – be kind to others

So you’ve just done a couple of lengths and you need to rest…or you’ve just done one length and sadly, you need to get your breath back.  Keep to the edge of the pool and out of the way of swimmers who are fitter than you and can march on.  There is no real etiquette or rule for this in a public pool, just be mindful of whether your lane is swimming clockwise or anti clockwise and try to be out of the way – for the obsessive swimmer, a length isn’t technically a length unless they have touched the wall.

Ignore those who are fitter than you

Exercise and fitness takes time and dedication.  It is not a onetime deal.  It is not a New Year’s Resolution or Lent based sacrifice, it is a weekly devotion.  Get it in your schedule and you will feel the physical and mental benefits; however do not expect miracles.  Ignore those in the fast lane or the kids in swimming class.  That ten year old may make you feel miserable because they can keep on going but you are not ten anymore.  Just go at your own pace, ignore others and focus on your bench mark and your fitness.  Do not give up. Thanks for reading and let me know what rules you learnt when you first began swimming on the comments below.