Jumping into the world of swimming is more than just getting over a fear of water or mastering the art of circle swimming in a crowded pool. Navigating through the vast amount of swim knowledge and resources available can be overwhelming. Should you watch YouTube or read textbooks? Do you hire a local coach or submit videos for analysis? Here are a few things that you should focus on first:
1. Breathing: New swimmers will automatically hold their breath while their face is underwater. Learn to inhale through your mouth when your face is out and exhale through your nose underwater. Practice bobbing up and down next to the wall.
2. Body position: Swimming is easiest and most efficient at the surface of the water. Practice floating on your stomach while looking at the bottom of the pool. Take a deep breath and relax your face down in the water. Make small movements with your hands and feet, stay horizontal and feel how your body balances in the water.
3. Kicking: Mastering the kick is a challenge for many runners and other “land” athletes. Develop a good kick by practicing against the wall, with or without a kickboard, face up and face down. The kick originates at the hips using strong glutes and thigh muscles. Keep knees and ankles relaxed as the top of your feet quickly splash up and down at the surface of the water.
Don’t get overwhelmed with advanced concepts—like stroke rate or two-beat versus six-beat kicking—while learning to swim; just stick to the basics until you have become comfortable in the water. Focus on mastering the ability to swim multiple laps of the pool without stopping or being out of breath. When you are ready, seek a professional coach to assist you with the advanced stroke and technique concepts.