Many anticipate watching the swimming Olympics, as it has become one of the most popular sports and has been recurring every year since 1896 (WOOD 2010). While most would think that swimming is a leisure activity more than a competitive sport, it actually has a ton of benefits for our physical and mental health. Swimming is an excellent choice of sports because it is easy to learn and it’s a fun and healthy activity. Moreover, it accommodates all ages, even the older generation. For these reasons and many more, we at RAS believe that providing the swimming CCA is crucial for students’ health.
What makes swimming unique is that exercising in the water doesn’t feel like exercising. So no matter how intense you exercise in the water for a short or long period of time, you may not really feel as fatigued as you would if you played basketball for example. Children are more likely to enjoy swimming due to the fact that exercising in the water doesn’t truly have an impact on stamina, it burns calories quickly and it’s not likely to cause injuries. The buoyancy of water keeps one’s weight lighter than usual, which helps in learning how to maintain your balance while eliminating the chances of joint injury (edsys 2018).
Swimming, like other sports, also keeps one’s health in check, whereby blood flow is enhanced and multiple muscles are exercised simultaneously. Not only is it an excellent exercise for children with its low-impact nature, but it also adds a set of important physical skills for a lifetime. In addition, since it has a lower risk of injuries and lifts a weight from joints, senior citizens can maintain their health and improve their muscle strength by swimming (“Benefits of Swimming for Seniors | ASC Blog” 2015).
Unlike other sports, swimming can train one with respiratory problems such as asthma to regulate breathing patterns and increase lung capacity. Understandably, you’re required to take a deep breath before going underwater. So, when you regularly practice swimming, you’re also training your lungs to expand and stay longer periods of time underwater. Practicing to maintain and balance your breathing patterns also boosts blood flow, relieves stress, and reduces toxins (Sinha 2021). Asthmatic patients have also been recommended to participate in swimming, as it may be easier to exercise in the water rather than intensely exercising in dry, cold air in other sports (myDr 2019).
Participating in sports and exercising regularly is known to improve mental health and psychological well-being. Swimming is no different, where you can take your mind off stressors and focus on things like maintaining your breath and carrying out swim strokes correctly (Sinha 2021). Endorphins and serotonin, also known as the happy and relaxing hormones, are also secreted from the pituitary gland which help us respond to stress better and improve our moods. With our sensations immersed in water, it’s easy to see why swimming elevates stress. Author Dr. Wallace J. Nichols has written a book called Blue Mind, where he talks about how humans’ nature while being in the blue waters puts a sense of peace and wellbeing. He writes in his book, “Research has shown that being near, in, on or under water can provide a long list of benefits for our mind and body, including lowering stress and anxiety, increasing an overall sense of well-being and happiness, a lower heart and breathing rate, and safe, better workouts. Aquatic therapists are increasingly looking to the water to help treat and manage PTSD, addiction, anxiety disorders, autism, and more.” (Sinha 2021).
The majority of studies that looked over the relationship between participating in athletics and academic performance found significant results. Swimming is no different than other sports that improve cognitive and academic performance, but its nature allows improvement in other areas as well. A study by Queensland University School of Nursing pointed out that since swimming requires bilateral coordination, it can be used to help dementia patients in improving their memories and children in learning balance and creating brain connections. This is because in the brain, a region called the corpus callosum is a group of 200 million nerve fibers and it is referred to as the facilitator between the right and left sides of the brain. So, when swimming, bilateral movement activates both hemispheres simultaneously, enhancing cognition and balance (Whitehead 2012).
In addition, there were multiple longitudinal studies that showed babies’ cognition growth as they grew older. In particular, Griffith University concluded that children younger than five years old who swam regularly had a greater advantage in their physical, social, and language development (Whitehead 2012).
Swimming CCA: Interview with Karran Kinchington
Our current CCA swimming coach for the year 2021-2022, Karran Kinchington, has years of experience in swimming and is a licensed swimming coach. Because of this, we were interested in learning more about swimming, its benefits, and what goes on in the swimming CCA.
Tell us about your experience in swimming and your career as a swimmer.
My career as a coach started when I first joined RAS, but I have always swam in my swimming team in school and competed in Australia. It used to be [being a competitive swimmer] one of my favorite things to do and I loved it. What surprised me most about living in various countries in Asia for more than 20 years was that not many people are able to swim. This is what motivated me to become a licensed swimming coach and help students learn how to swim.
How old are students in the swimming CCA? Are they all beginners?
The swimming CCA consists of students who have the basics down and already know how to swim. And currently, our swimming squad has 12 students from the age of 10 to 18.
What kind of swimming lessons or styles do you teach the most? Do you have a set lesson plan?
I have a general lesson plan every week, starting with a land warm-up where we stretch our bodies first, followed by a swimming warm-up to get the muscles working, then we do drills and speed to enhance our techniques and endurance. I also encourage my students to hold their breath for as long as they can to increase their lung capacity and their speed.
Even though it’s important to push students past their limits and have great endurance, I still make sure that they are happy in the water. So, every new CCA season, I tell them to go underwater and touch the bottom of the pool. Our big swimming pool is 2 meters deep, so older students may be more comfortable while the younger ones may feel that it’s very deep. Though as time passes, the younger students do get used to the water.
Besides learning how to swim, do you inform students about the benefits of swimming?
I want to make swimming as fun as possible for them and not turn it into another lesson, but I still inform them of how swimming is beneficial for their bodies.
Based on your experience, give us five reasons why students should join the swimming CCA.
- It’s a great workout that doesn’t feel like a workout.
- The health benefits and the fact that everyone of all ages can participate in swimming makes it a fun activity.
- Since increasing lung capacity is one of the many benefits, it means that even asthmatic people could benefit from it. I have two family members who have asthma and I always encourage them to swim.
- As a CCA, I believe that being in a pool in a friendly environment makes it even more enjoyable.
- Overall, it’s a fun activity
What do you think is the most important skill students can learn from swimming, physically and mentally?
Mentally, I believe that swimming makes us push ourselves and endure until we achieve our goal. Physically, one life skill I believe is important to gain from swimming is not becoming fearful in water.
Written and Researched by Jumana Raggam