How Swimming Makes You Better at Other Sports
Whether you’re new to lessons or a seasoned athlete, it’s well known that regular swimming practice carries a raft of benefits. Not only is it a fun way to keep fit, this low-impact activity provides a whole body workout, improves mental health and can be a great way to make friends.
What may surprise you however, is that swimming can help you become better at other sports and activities outside the pool. Most swimmers enjoy other sports, so it’s great to know every time you get into the pool, you’re also enhancing your performance in other areas. Team leader at SwimMagic Whangarei, Ty Mirko, explains the advantages of cross disciplinary training.
Full Body Workout
Swimming fires up every muscle group in your body, providing a full body cardio workout. Unlike other sports such as running or cycling, that only focus on lower body muscles, or netball and basketball, where a player uses their legs for a moment and then the arms, swimming engages your entire body, says Mirko. “Swimming uses the whole body in tandem. Every part of your body is getting strong but also you’re strengthening your nerves as well and improving coordination.”
Each swimming stroke leads to greater range of motion around the joints, demands core stability, builds strength and improves lung capacity - all transferable and highly valuable skills in other sports and activities. “Swimmers tend to be a lot more relaxed in the water compared to other out-of-water activities, so learning to be relaxed in the moment helps reduce muscle fatigue during sports activities,” says Mirko. Swimmers also develop an awareness of how their body works, and its strengths and weaknesses, which is an advantage when doing other physical activities.
Injury Prevention and Rehabilitation
The low-impact nature of swimming is one reason so many athletes turn to it when recovering from an injury. Swimming provides the opportunity to strengthen your muscles, even during rehabilitation, with virtually no impact on your joints. This makes it a powerful recovery tool and equally, increases injury prevention. Mirko experienced this during his own recovery from joint injuries, when he used swimming to improve movement and flexibility.
Mirko has also shown his students how to utilise swimming skills to benefit their other sports - or the other way around - and he has seen the results firsthand. One standout example was a swimmer who had a coordination gap where he was kicking in the water more strongly with his right foot compared to his left. “So I set homework, when he had spare time to kick a soccer ball around and focus a lot more on his left foot, and that strengthened up his kick in the pool over the course of a couple of weeks.”
Cross training is a great way to improve your performance as a whole. Whatever sports you participate in outside the pool, they can all benefit from regular swim training. Gentle on the joints and tough on the cardiovascular system, swimming works your entire body, increasing your range of motion and strength, while reducing your risk of injury.