/ benefits of swimming for athletes

Benefits Of Swimming For Athletes In Other Sports

Swimming is an essential life skill we all should learn. That’s why we should encourage our children to take the plunge and enjoy the various health benefits — and fun — found in the water. While swimming has been found to promote heart health and reduce stress in swimmers of all ages, few realize just how beneficial it can be for athletes specifically.

The Benefits of Swimming for Athletes

Athletes need honed skills, proper training and physical fitness to get the most out of their bodies. Whether they’re kicking a soccer ball down field or racing to the finish line in track, they must rely on their ability to perform in order to succeed.

Swimming can be an effective way to support all these endeavors, and it can benefit athletes in important areas such as:

Cardiovascular Health

A young boy in a soccer uniform prepares to kick a soccer ball into a goal

A healthy cardiovascular system provides oxygen-rich blood throughout the body. This is pivotal when performing demanding athletic feats. Although generalized fitness training can improve cardiovascular endurance, swimming can see results more rapidly because it is a total-body workout requiring exceptional breath control.

As athletes utilize swim training to build cardiovascular stamina, their hearts are able to pump blood and oxygen through the body for longer stretches of time. Such stamina is essential for lacrosse, hockey and basketball players who must make their way from one end of the field, ice or court as quick as they can.

What’s more, as a low-impact aerobic exercise, swimming can strengthen the heart with less demand on the joints. Other cardio-intense sports — such as cycling, dancing and running — can involve high-impact movements that create joint stress. If land-based athletes choose to get cardio in the pool, they can enhance cardiovascular endurance while challenging their bodies in a different way.

Lung Capacity

Breathing coordination and control is fundamental for athletes. Imagine the degree of breathing control that tennis players need to successfully return a serve after sprinting. If they’re out of breath, the body lacks the oxygen to make those muscles work and the point could be easily lost. The same control is necessary for cross-country cycling or skiing, among other sports.

An athlete’s lung capacity can increase little by little through swimming. This means an athlete can play longer before becoming winded. Improving lung capacity also means there is more oxygen to circulate and minister to the needs of the body during performance. As a result, recovering after exertion is easier.

Strength and Endurance

Swimming is not a purely cardio-based sport, as some may think. It places great value on full body strength and endurance. With every kick of the leg or stroke of the arms, swimmers are working muscles and gaining strength. However, it’s not just leg or arm muscles that develop, but every major muscle group in the body.

Having total body endurance and a refined strength-to-bodyweight ratio is vital for figure skaters, gymnasts and skiers. Swimming can help because it combines muscle endurance training with muscle strengthening. Few other exercises can say the same.

Stability and Coordination

Many athletes utilize swimming as cross training because it can improve balance, core stability and body coordination. As every part of the body is used to propel a person through the water, it trains the muscles to work harmoniously. This translates to improved performance elsewhere.

Swimming can also lead to a greater range of motion through the torso, hips and around the shoulder joints. Having controlled, smooth movements in these areas is particularly advantageous in sports that demand rotational motion. This can include everything from throwing a football, baseball or softball to the whole-body fluidity and coordination needed in a golf swing.

Is Swimming a Sport?

Despite the fact it doesn’t receive the same recognition as others, swimming is a sport. It’s done competitively and can be performed on an individual basis or as a team. However, it’s unlike any other sport in its physiological demands, training methods and versatility. The fact that swimming can also function as great exercise for any age, rigorous athletic training and for whole-family recreation doesn’t mean it has less value than any other sport.

A young swimmer with goggles prepares to swim a length of the pool

Additional Resources

All in all, swimming incorporates a total-body workout that is challenging on the cardiovascular system, yet gentle on joints — not to mention, fun! While swimming competitively may not be for everyone, all athletes stand to gain from swim training.

Click here for more information on the health benefits of swimming.

Swimming is an essential life skill we all should learn. That’s why we should encourage our children to take the plunge and enjoy the various health benefits — and fun — found in the water. While swimming has been found to promote heart health and reduce stress in swimmers of all ages, few realize just how beneficial it can be for athletes specifically.