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The whole swimming teaching industry heaved a collective sigh of relief in January 2021 when the central government gave the green signal for pools to open after 10 long months of closure. Other sports were allowed to open up in a few month's time but swimming was not given the go-ahead for the longest time due to many misconceptions surrounding the sport. I would like to clear up a few of these as well as other common myths around swimming.
Swimming is THE safest sport. Let me tell you why. The chlorine levels, when maintained adequately at prescribed levels, is the best killer of germs and viruses, including all coronaviruses (COVID, SARS, etc) This was proven by intensive research done by WHO. It is due to this that pools in other parts of the world opened shortly after lockdown and continued to stay open. The best part about swimming is that the chlorinated water continuously flows over the walls, ladders of the pool so the disinfection is constant.
Most pools are open to the sky and therefore the fresh air and natural ventilation ensure that you are not breathing in contaminated air. After a year of being stuck indoors, the added Vitamin D will help boost your immunity along with the physical exercise.
2020 made us realize the importance of strong, healthy lungs and there is no better sport than swimming to strengthen the lungs. Doctors recommend swimming to patients who suffer from Asthma. My own sister started swimming for this very reason and has never had a serious attack during her swim career.
Swimming is recommended right from toddlers aged 6 months, all the way up to people in their 70’s and 80’s. This is due to the low impact nature of exercising/ swimming in the water. When the body is submerged in the water there is very little stress on the joints due to the buoyancy of the water. People with Arthritis, Pregnant women, those recovering from surgeries, and the elderly will benefit a lot with regular pool time.
Physiotherapists around the world use water as a medium to help the healing process. Swimming in slightly warmer water greatly improves the recovery time post-injury/ surgery. In terms of the mental benefits, the post-swim endorphin high helps lower stress and leads to better sleep patterns.
When you are going back to the pool, please keep the following in mind:
Minimise the use of changing rooms. You can wear your swimsuit to the pool so you can reduce time spent indoors.
Check on the water quality of the pool. If possible ask the staff to check the chlorine levels at least twice a day.
If you cannot see the bottom of the pool it is probably not safe to swim in it.
Masks still need to be worn around the pool before and after your swim.
Regular hand sanitization when you have used the changing rooms or bathrooms.
Always carry a warm jacket post your swim and hydrate well.
As the head coach of the Nisha Millets Swimming Academy, I am excited that post the lockdown there has been a huge surge in the demand for classes and lap swimming access. This is due to a renewed focus on health and outdoor activity. Exercising daily leads to better productivity at work, low injuries (in the case of swimming), lower stress levels, and the social element of working out with others.
As an Academy, we will be focussing on more quality with lower numbers in batches which will lead to better learning as well as ensuring social distancing in the pool. The current norm is 2 swimmers per lane (16 swimmers in an 8 lane pool). We will also be highlighting the fact that swimming is a life-saving skill and that age plays no role in learning how to swim. Once you learn ensure that you get in a quick swim every week or two. There's a world of wonders out there if you are comfortable in the water such as scuba diving, snorkeling, surfing, and open water swimming if you are comfortable in the water. We saw a huge increase in people wanting to swim in lakes even during the lockdown. We conduct our lake sessions in a highly safe and controlled environment (with kayaks, life jackets, and swimming aids)
There is more access to pools in apartments, schools, and clubs these days, but always remember to swim with a buddy. Not just for safety reasons but also to motivate you to keep at it. Remember children have to be monitored in, on, and around the water at all times by an adult, even if they are competent swimmers. So jump back in and enjoy the water safely and without too much worry!!