Suiting up for swimming is as simple as seeking an aerobic exercise that's gentle on the joints.
Sticking with swimming after the first few laps is a matter of redefining the pool's boundaries with workouts that combine variety and repetition to unlock the sport's cardiovascular potential.
"We aren't designed for water," says Jim Heath, swimming coach for Phoenix High School. "It's not as enjoyable when it's so hard," he says, adding that many newcomers to the sport lose interest after just a few days.
Getting comfortable in a pool is the first hurdle, he says. Survival instincts compel humans to keep their heads up when navigating water, trailing their hips and legs at a downward angle. New swimmers should concentrate on putting their heads down, immersing the face and eyes, and rolling the head to breathe without changing the neck's angle.
Closer to parallel with the water, the body moves more efficiently. It's a position that comes with practice and is usually more comfortable with goggles. Breathing every third stroke on alternate sides of the body keeps the motion consistent while preventing strain to one side of the neck.