Sport and Health

Summer Swimming

Do you remember going swimming when you were a kid? Wasn’t it fun?

It didn’t matter if it was at the local public swimming pool, a popular river hole or a nearby sandy beach, it was exciting to splash, jump, float, paddle and swim especially if it was with your family or some friends.

I don’t remember not being able to swim. I probably learned with through Dad, who in his young days was a competitive swimmer and surf lifesaver. I would hold onto his broad shoulders as he dived underwater with me attached like a pilot fish. He was huge – to me like a sea elephant and we would stay underwater for ages. Dad’s arms and legs would strongly move his big body and my small one through this watery world until I thought my lungs would burst. Sometimes I had to let go and kick upwards to the surface. Perhaps that is when I learned to swim. I felt so safe in the water with my big, strong Dad.

Swimming is a wonderful activity for us older people. It is kind to our stiff joints, and knee and hip replacements, and helps expand our lungs. It supports our body weight no matter what that is and provides gentle resistance for our moving muscles. It may not be much fun in cold winter, but it is a great activity for the warm summer months.

If you swim in the sea, do not swim alone. Make sure you go with a friend or family member, and if there are lifesaver safety flags on the beach, always without exception, swim between these. Know your own limits when swimming. You don’t have a young body anymore so know your own limits. Big waves can knock you down and it may be difficult if not impossible to stand upright again so be careful. Swim shoes can be useful to prevent sharp shell or stones cutting the thin skin on your feet.

A local swimming pool is better if you don’t have a swimming companion as there are lifeguards available. Don’t feel embarrassed to ask them to keep an eye on you while you swim as it’s their job after all. A swim noodle is fabulous to give floatation support. Swim the way that feels comfortable for you. Aging limb and joint operations may mean that you can’t do overarm or breaststroke anymore. Dog paddle and walking in the water is lovely gentle exercise. Local pools also have aqua-classes during the day and in the evening. The day classes often have older swim members so as well as being physically healthy can provide social interaction. If you have limited finances, you can ask your doctor for a ‘Green card’. This is a health card and provides cheaper access to public swimming pools (and also council run gyms).

Swimming is still a fun activity even for us senior people. Do give it a go (and be safe in the water).


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