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Photo: lowellschool.org

There’s nothing like swimming on a hot summer day. However, swimming is also a skill that can save your life. When you know how to swim, you can safely enjoy water activities like kayaking and surfing. Swimming is a great workout, too. It forces your body to work against resistance, which strengthens your muscles, heart, and lungs.

The best way to learn how to swim is to take lessons. Let’s look at the most commonly taught strokes and how to improve your technique.

Top 7 Swimming Tips

1. How to Begin

Stand with your back against the end of the pool, take a breath and bend forward at the waist until your face is completely in the water. Your ears should be at the water line. Hold this position for two seconds, slowly turn your head to one side and exhale into the water as you do. Return to a standing position, according to Livestrong.

2. Start In The Shallow End Of The Pool

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Photo: 123RF.com

It’s natural to harbor fear of the water if you’ve spent little time in it. One way to overcome that fear is to start in the shallow end of the pool. There, you’ll be able to stand in the water, lowering yourself according to your comfort level. Practice holding your breath while your head is under the surface, knowing you can come up for air whenever you wish.

3. Inhale and Exhale

Hold your arms out from your side, palms down with your fingers together. Take a breath and bend forward as before. With your face in the water, bring your right arm up and out of the water, and reach in front of yourself.

When your hand contacts the water, pull your arm straight down and make a circular motion underwater until your hand is behind you and at your right side. Your palm should be up at this point. Turn your head to the right and draw a new breath through your mouth without lifting your head. Turn your head back and exhale through your mouth or nose.

4. Consider using fins

When learning freestyle, it’s helpful if you’re moving through the water. Fins can be invaluable for that purpose, especially in the beginning. They’ll give you the forward movement you need to learn the individual mechanics of the stroke.

Are using fins cheating? Perhaps if you never take them off. But they’re a useful tool when you’re just starting to learn how to swim.

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Photo: myswimpro.con

“Swimming short and fast enforces better form than swimming long and slow”

5. Enroll into swimming lessons

If you’re interested in how to learn swimming as an adult, it’s recommended that you take lessons from someone with experience. That way, you’ll learn proper stroke technique from the beginning. You’ll also avoid developing bad habits that will hamper your progress.

6. Practice

Gaining confidence and becoming a proficient swimmer requires that you spend sufficient time in the water. The more time you spend, the more comfortable you’ll feel and the better swimmer you’ll become.

We realize it can be difficult to set aside time to regularly climb into the pool. But it’s the only way to learn how to swim. Keep in mind, you don’t need to practice every day. Once a week might suffice. Allow more than a week to pass between sessions and you may find it difficult to make forward progress.

7. Let go of your fear

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Photo: Healthline.com

A lot of people put off learning how to swim because they're afraid of drowning. While drownings do occur, most of them could have been prevented by simple safety measures. Follow these guidelines whenever you're swimming, and the odds of drowning will decrease dramatically:

Don't swim alone. Always go swimming with one other person who is a strong swimmer, if not several other people. An area with a lifeguard is usually the best place to swim.

Stay within a depth you can handle. When you're first learning how to swim, don't venture into water that's too deep for you to stand in. That way, if something goes amiss, you can simply stand up and breathe, Wikihow expressed.

Swimming Mistakes

You rely too much on your upper body

“Keep in mind that swimming utilizes your whole body,” says Corbin. “Most people make the mistake of believing it’s just a workout for your upper body.” But when you depend on your shoulders, arms and lats to do all the work, not only will you exhaust those muscles faster than you want, you’ll risk not completing a full stroke properly — meaning you won’t slice through the water as quickly.

Swimming Mistakes: You hold your breath

“When we’re little oSwimming Mistakesr first learning how to swim, a lot of us are taught to take a deep breath, hold it, and put our faces in the water,” says Scott Bay, coaches committee chair for U.S. Masters Swimming and an ASCA Level 5 certified Masters swim coach. “But you’re burning oxygen for fuel when you do that.” Think about it — if you’re out running a 5K, are you going to hold your breath and run? No, because it deprives your muscles of much-needed oxygen.

Swimming Mistakes: You take your head out of the water to breathe.

We know, it sounds counterintuitive. How are you supposed to actually breathe if you don’t lift your head out of the water? Let us clarify: It’s more about keeping your head in the water, while lifting your face out. If you pop your head up each time you need to take a breath, you throw your body’s alignment out of whack. Often that’ll mean forcing your hips lower into the water, which is the opposite of what you want, making your straight swim more of a zig-zag, says Linsey Corbin, CLIF triathlete and five-time Ironman champion.

Swimming Mistakes: You let your hips sink

Doing this creates more drag in the water. And more drag equals more resistance, which ultimately slows you down. Corbin says the goal is to “stay flat and float on top of the water,” rather than dropping in it. Too often beginners default to movements that force their hips down, like letting their feet sink when they should be just below the water’s surface, thus forcing their body to work even harder to get from point A to point B.

You practice swimming for a long time at a slower pace

There’s definitely a place for slow and steady as a beginner swimmer, but the problem occurs when you stay in the comfort zone of leisurely logging laps, says Corbin. Eventually, you can get lazy about form, since you’re just focusing on getting from point A to a really far point B.

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