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How to fall in love with swimming

If you want to be a lifelong swimmer, it’s a big help if you love swimming. That might sound obvious, but not everyone who swims loves it. Here’s how to love it more.

People start swimming for all sorts of reasons. As a child, you may not have had much choice. You could have been sent to lessons whether you wanted to or not. I know people whose unhappy childhood experiences turned them away from swimming for years. Others, like me, had positive experiences of swimming that kept us coming back for more.

As an adult you might return to swimming to get fit or to take on a challenge such as a triathlon. Through this you may discover – or rediscover – a love for being in and moving through the water. If so, amazing. You’ll enjoy each swim and probably continue swimming after you’ve completed your challenge. Keep on swimming.

But not everyone does. For some, swimming means a list of unpleasant chores: find your kit, travel to the pool or lake, get changed in a smelly changing room, get cold and wet, fight the water, get tired and then have to deal with wet hair and the smell of chlorine following you around all day.

There is no doubt that there are barriers to swimming. And we should recognise that some of us face bigger barriers than others. But if we can overcome those, and discover a love for swimming, the rewards are magnificent. Swimming becomes a virtuous circle. We live better because of swimming, and we swim better because our lives are improved. As a result, the barriers to swimming fall away.

So, to fall in love with swimming (or to stay in love with it) try some of the following:

  • Swim frequently: The more often you swim, the better it becomes (within reason).
  • Be mindful: Notice how the water cools your skin and buoys you up, listen to the sounds it makes, savour how it supports and embraces you.
  • Always be improving: Keep refining your technique. The better you swim, the easier and more enjoyable it is.
  • Don’t fight it: Swim serenely. Caress the water rather than pummel it.
  • Enter a flow state: Find a rhythm that feels effortless and you could maintain for hours. Let time drift away.
  • Be grateful: We have access to a unique and special activity.
  • Swim in beautiful places: Be inspired by nature or architecture.
  • Swim with your friends: And deepen those friendships through swimming.
  • Read Outdoor Swimmer magazine: Be inspired, improve your swimming and discover new places to swim.

There are also some things to avoid:

  • Overtraining: Training too hard for too long leads to injury and burnout.
  • Neglect: You lose your feel for the water if you spend too much time away from it.
  • Making it a chore: While an initial motivation to swim might be to get fit, it’s a poor long-term motivator. Swim because you want to not because you have to.

One of our goals at Outdoor Swimmer magazine is to share our love of swimming. We are swimmers. Swimming has been a huge positive influence on our lives and we want to inspire as many people as possible to swim more and enjoy all the benefits swimming offers.

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I created Outdoor Swimmer in 2011 (initially as H2Open Magazine) as an outlet for my passion for swimming outdoors. I've been a swimmer and outdoor swimmer for as long as I remember. Swimming has made a huge difference to my life and I want to share its joys and benefits with as many people as possible. I am also the author of Swim Wild & Free: A Practical Guide to Swimming Outdoors 365 a Year and I provide one-to-one support to swimmers through Swim Mentoring.