I’ve seen articles recently attempting to explain why people run, because to non-runners, running looks like hard-work and couldn’t possibly be enjoyable.
What about swimming, though? Does swimming look like a fun activity? Is it something that non-swimmers would like to do? I know a lot of people who have no interest at all. Some of them can’t swim and therefore won’t attempt to. Other people are too embarrassed by their physique to be seen in speedos. Others say they would like to go swimming, but don’t have the time, money or access to a pool.
Tonight I returned to Kakamigahara pool which had been closed for four months for repairs. Over the winter, I did my swimming at the pool in neighboring Seki, and Friday nights were usually pretty quiet. I often had a lane to myself there. In Kakamigahara, on the other hand, the pool was full, and not with elderly people or school kids. No, every lane was taken by athletic young men, like me! Haha!
It made me wonder what would motivate a man to go swimming on a Friday night? When I was in my twenties I was out drinking every weekend. I would never even contemplate going to a pool to grind out 1500m of freestyle.
Back and forth, back and forth, just 25 meters at a time, with no music and a lifeguard watching your every move. It’s not very appealing, is it?
Or is it?
The actual process of gliding through the water is somewhat therapeutic. Once you’re proficient enough that you don’t have to worry constantly about your breathing or your form, you can relax and zone-out, much like you can on a long run. With both vision and hearing impaired by the water, and songs from your car stereo still playing in your head, the feeling could be compared to how you might feel on the dance floor in a nightclub.
It takes a fair bit of effort to get yourself to the pool, changed and into the water, but I make every effort to include swimming in my training schedule. Not only because it’s a component of triathlon, but because, along with cycling, it allows me to work out without running. In other words, I no longer run on consecutive days. Running has been hard-going on my now 37-year-old body, and I feel that running every other day will reduce the likelihood of injury. Swimming is a fine alternative because it’s a low impact sport, still develops endurance, and gives my upper-body a workout, too.
It’s also good fun, and I’m sure none of the guys at the pool tonight would have been there if they didn’t enjoy it as well.
Do you swim? Why or why not?If you like, you can find me on Twitter at @nick_ramsay. I'd love to hear from you!