Swimming has been called the perfect exercise. After all, you can get all of the benefits of an aerobic workout without any damaging impact on joints, and it can be done by both the very old and the very young. It is utilized by athletes to stay strong and keep fit when recovering from injury, and there is no fancy equipment needed—just you and a good body of water.

However, swimming has many more benefits that those obvious advantages seen on the surface; its improvements to overall health go much deeper. Here’s a list of swimming benefits:

 

  1. Swimming Improves Muscle Definition and Strength

Swimmers gain muscle strength throughout the entire body. Where runners see muscle build in their legs, swimmers utilize more muscle groups to move through the water. While the legs kick, the arms pull. As the back reaches and rotates, the stomach tightens to power the legs and stabilize the core, making swimming one of the best aerobic exercises to give you a total body workout.

  1. Swimming Helps You Stay Flexible

Swimming requires you to reach, stretch, twist, and pull your way through the water. Your ankles become fins and are stretched with each kick as you push off against the liquid pressure.

  1. Swimming Reduces Inflammation

While swimming’s cardiovascular benefits of strengthening the heart muscle are common knowledge, aerobic activities, such as swimming, reduce inflammation that leads to atherosclerosis build-up in the heart. Benefits for the heart are therefore comprehensive.

  1. Swimming Holds Its Own for Calories Burned

Everyone knows that swimming is a great way to burn calories, but most don’t realize it can be just as efficient as jumping on the treadmill. Depending on the stroke you choose and your intensity, swimming can burn equal or greater calories than running.

  1. Swimming Can Improve Exercise-Induced Asthma

Nothing is as frustrating as trying to exercise and being unable to get your breath. Unlike working out in dry gym air or braving seasonal pollen counts, however, swimming allows you to breath moist air while you train. People who don’t have asthma benefit too, as swimming increases overall lung-volume and teaches good breathing techniques.

  1. Swimming Lowers Stress and Depression

Swimming stretches your body constantly. When combined with the deep rhythmic breathing of swimming, you can experience a relaxation rush that’s very unique to the sport. Swimming is also calming and meditative, as the sound of your breathing and the water rushing by helps you focus inwardly and drown out all other distractions. This effect lowers stress and depression naturally.

  1. Salt-Water Swimming Can Be a Beauty Treatment for Skin

Swimming regularly in salt water helps the skin retain moisture. The salt water also detoxifies the skin to promote new cell growth.

  1. Swimming Can Make You Smarter

Of course, all exercise is great for the mind, but can swimming actually make you smarter? There is research evidence to show that swimmers are able to master language development, and advance fine motor skills, confidence, and physical development, at a faster rate than non-swimmers.

  1. Swimming May Just Lengthen Your Life

While all exercise can produce greater health and longevity, swimmers have a 50 percent lower death rate than runners, walkers, or people who don’t exercise.

 

There so many benefits to swimming. But most of all it’s just so much fun to do.

There are many styles of swimming, but freestyle, also sometimes called the front crawl, is perhaps the most common stroke that recreational swimmers perform. The stroke strengthens your abdominal and gluteus muscles, and like almost any type of swimming, burns calories. Competitive freestyle is a fast-paced race, even in distance events. Rules and regulations for swimming the freestyle are upheld by governing body, FINA, the Federation Internationale de Natation. It is a fantastic style of swimming that brings peoples and nations together in the water.

 How does it work in competition?

Starts and Finishes

The rules regarding starts and finishes for freestyle are easy to understand and follow. The freestyle start is a forward start — you must be moving in a forward fashion toward the other end of the pool. You are allowed to keep your entire body and head submerged for up to 15 meters after your start and each turn, but after that distance, your head must break the surface of the water. The freestyle finish occurs when any part of your body touches the wall after you have completed the race. For most competitive swimmers, this is a one-handed touch.

Stroke Mechanics

The term “freestyle” means that you can swim in any style you like. In a technical sense, you are free to swim backstroke, sidestroke or any other stroke you choose in a freestyle race. The exception to this rule is during a medley event in which you are already swimming backstroke, butterfly and breaststroke. In this case, you cannot repeat a stroke and must choose a fourth, unique stroke. In competition, however, freestyle refers to the front crawl stroke. The stroke is performed on the stomach with an overhand arm stroke and a flutter kick. Unlike the butterfly, backstroke and breaststroke, competitive swimmers cannot be disqualified for performing the arms or kick incorrectly.

Turns

Freestyle turns are performed in either an open or flip-style. Both types of turns are legal as long as part of your body touches the wall before you return to the other side of the pool. The hand is usually the body part that touches the wall during an open turn. Your feet touch and push off from the wall in a flip turn. Touching the wall with any other body part, such as the back, buttocks, shoulder or elbow, is inefficient from a racing perspective, but is not grounds for disqualification.

Disqualification

Competitive swimmers may disqualify themselves from a freestyle race if they do not adhere to additional rules regarding their activity in the pool. Swimmers who walk with their feet touching the bottom of the pool during a race, or forcefully pull on the lane lines are disqualified from that particular race. Accidentally bumping into the lane lines is not grounds for disqualification. Refraining from touching the wall during a turn also disqualifies you from a freestyle race.

That’s all you need to know for competitive freestyle swimming. Of course, for just pure pleasure in the water, it’s unbeatable for movement, speed and fun.