Swimming is fun and lifesaving sport and an excellent form of exercise. As a form of exercise, swimming has many advantages. According to the CDC, swimming works the lungs, heart, joints and the muscles of the whole body. It is fun fitness activity that is primarily a summer sport but can be extended to year-round, providing an indoor pool is accessible.
Youth can begin swimming for fitness at any age. Youths begin with water safety and readiness classes based on their swimming ability. They may be eligible for a swim team once they are able to swim the length of the pool unassisted. In addition to being an excellent form of exercise for youth, it is also a great builder of self confidence, water safety, relaxation, attention and sportsmanship.
Swimming requires very little equipment compared to other sports. The most important equipment required is swimsuit, goggles and a swim cap. In youth and adult swimming, four strokes are utilized: freestyle, breaststroke, backstroke and butterfly. A youth may swim distances of 25 yards, 25 meters or 50 meters with both endurance and sprint events utilized.
Swimming is an excellent full-body exercise for youth of all fitness levels. Swimming builds aerobic conditioning, motor skills and dexterity in youth that affords both an aerobic and anaerobic workout. In addition, it utilizes muscles from all the major muscle groups, including the glutes, legs, hips, back, abdominals, chest and shoulders. Water offers more resistance than air in each direction, helping to build strength without weights.
Special Needs Youth
Swimming and aquatic activities are also a great form of physical fitness for youths with various physical and mental disabilities. Disabilities such as hearing or visual impairments; cognitive, developmental and learning disabilities; autism; amputations, cerebral palsy; spinal injury or other mobility impairments can become involved with swimming and receive the same health and fitness benefits as their peers. According to the National Center on Health, Physical Activity, and Disability, “people with disabilities who are encouraged to participate in recreational activities such as swimming can achieve a greater sense of individual wellness and overall satisfaction with life”.
Sample Youth Beginner Swim Workout
A youth that is new to swimming should always start slowly. The youth should attempt to swim for 10 minutes and slowly build up to a 30-minute swimming session that includes a warm-up and cool-down. The workout should be performed three to five times a week concentrating on working endurance, speed or stroke perfection.
Injury Potential and Special Considerations
The potential for injury is low due to the low-impact nature of the sport. There is a possibility of repetitive stress injuries to the shoulder, knee or hip if a youth is swimming too rigorously, according to the American Orthopaedic Society for Sports Medicine .
Anytime the youth is in the water, there should always be a lifeguard or coach on duty as drowning is a very real and potential risk. Always speak with your child’s doctor prior to your child beginning any new exercise program.