• Get in the swim

    Tips for structuring your swim workout
  • Suiting up for swimming is as simple as seeking an aerobic exercise that's gentle on the joints.
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    • Swimmers' Manners
      Before diving in the pool, know swimmers' etiquette:
      Choose a lane appropriate for your speed and skill level. Some local pools mark lanes during lap swim with placards indicating "slow," "mediu...
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      Swimmers' Manners
      Before diving in the pool, know swimmers' etiquette:

      Choose a lane appropriate for your speed and skill level. Some local pools mark lanes during lap swim with placards indicating "slow," "medium" or "fast." The general rule of thumb is slower-moving lanes are on the outsides of the pool while inner lanes are reserved for faster swimmers.

      Make eye contact with other swimmers in the lane to ensure they see you, says Jim Heath, swimming coach at Phoenix High School. If possible, have a short conversation about how to share the lane, either splitting it down the middle, with one half for each of two swimmers, or "circle-swimming" if more than two people are using the lane, Heath says.

      "You watch the traffic patterns."

      Like driving a car, swimmers keep to the right-hand side of the lane while circle-swimming and pass on the left. Even if another swimmer is closing in, keep swimming while he or she passes or yield at the wall.

      "Don't stop in the middle of the pool," Heath says. "Stop at the wall and move to the corner of the lane."

      But don't be intimidated by other swimmers. There's no reason to delay a workout while waiting for a lane all to oneself. It's always possible to share the pool space among swimmers of all skill levels and speeds, Heath says.

      "A lot of people won't get in with other people in the pool," he says. "Swimmers like company."

      SWIMMING MASTERS

      Serious about swimming? Rogue Valley Masters is an organization of about 20 swimmers focused on fitness. The group works out at 5:45 a.m. Mondays, Wednesday and Fridays at Southern Oregon University's pool. Sunday workouts are held 8:30 to 10 a.m. at SOU.

      Most members are in their 40s or 50s and have a background in swimming, says Masters president Todd Lantry. However, the group welcomes new members, even those without swimming experience. Members take turns coaching during each workout and are ready with tips for improving technique, Lantry says.

      "It's low-impact, and you can do it at the pace that makes sense for you," he says. "The nice thing is we can find a spot for anybody."

      A few members compete in U.S. Masters Swimming events, which provide a fitness goal, Lantry says. The group also hosts an annual open-water swim in July at Applegate Lake.

      Dues are $30 per month, which covers rental of SOU's pool. An additional $40 yearly fee is required to join Oregon/U.S. Masters Swimming, which insures members and allows them to enter competitions. Newcomers are granted a two-week, free trial period. Swimmers also can pay a drop-in fee of $5.

      For more information, e-mail roguevalleymasters@yahoo.com or call Lantry at 541-482-1047.

      A separate group of about a half-dozen swimmers, called Southern Oregon Masters, meets from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays at the Rogue Valley Family YMCA in Medford.

      Masters swimming is open to anyone 18 or older, Lantry says, adding that the name shouldn't discourage anyone from joining.

      "All it really means is that we're old," he says. "Everyone is welcome."
  • 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.
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