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  • Writer's pictureEmma Tanti

2024: Just Go For It

Don't wait for good things to happen - get out of bed and make them happen.

Every year you make a resolution to change yourself. This year make a resolution to be the best version of YOURSELF

The swimming pool presents a unique challenge compared to other sports, as every New Year brings a wave of Resolutionistas who, unfortunately, tend to fade away by mid-February. Integrating swimming into a fitness or weight loss regimen is generally more challenging than with most other sports, a fact often overlooked by beginners. Some individuals commence their swimming journey with a level of expertise or fitness from another sport, mistakenly assuming a seamless transfer of skills.


CONSISTENCY IS THE SINGLE MOST IMPORTANT ACTION

Achieving a transformation from zero to hero in just four weeks is unrealistic. Long-term thinking is essential. Not focusing on a single day, but a week. Not fixating on a week, but a month. And beyond that, not just a month, but a year. While a year may seem lengthy, in the grand scheme of life, it's not. Embrace the understanding that sustainable exercise contributes to a longer and healthier life. Progress should be measured through realistic and achievable improvements. Setting overly ambitious targets in fitness, ability, or weight loss often leads to frustration and disillusionment. The key is to swim consistently, gradually increasing your efforts. Nike's famous ad slogan, "Just Do It," doesn't quite capture the essence; it should be "JUST KEEP DOING IT." Many New Year swimming Resolutionistas give up by mid-February, but if they persisted for just two more weeks, they would likely feel the positive changes that could motivate them to continue.


SWIMMING IS HARD AND THAT'S A GOOD THING

Swimming is, in reality, more challenging than it may appear. A prevalent misconception is that swimming is easy. The fit young individuals outside the pool may seem more admirable, but good swimming requires a combination of cardio-respiratory fitness, refined proprioceptive senses (understanding every part of your body's movements), and extensive hours of technique training. Even as an average swimmer by swimming standards, will not compare to any other sport. Imagine trying to master a complex piano concerto after practicing for just 20 minutes every other day for two weeks. It's unlikely. So, be kind to yourself and take your time.


It's crucial to acknowledge that highlighting the challenges of swimming isn't meant to discourage you. In fact, it's this very challenge that makes swimming a lifelong pursuit worth undertaking.


SEEK OUT TECHNIQUE ADVICE

It's challenging for swimmers to identify their own mistakes, especially when they are unaware of the correct technique. The first step toward progress is understanding your current approach, making stroke analysis immensely valuable. This involves having someone observe your swim, pinpointing areas that need improvement.  There are always avenues to seek assistance; every proficient swimmer you see had to do the same.


YouTube, Instagram and other sites have great swimming advice. But the information will not be as effective as the good swimmer in your pool or the local swim coach who can see what you are doing. Someone who knows what they are doing who can make actual suggestions relevant to your specific swimming is always the better option to the online experts.


LEARN TO BREATHE OUT

One of the most common complaints from non-swimmers, beginners, or those improving their swimming skills is, "I can swim fine, but I have problems breathing." It's crucial to understand that if you struggle to breathe, then you can't truly "swim fine." An insightful swimming aphorism advises to "swim around your breathing, don't breathe around your swimming." This implies that prioritizing your breath comes before your movements. To address breathing issues, it's essential to learn to breathe properly in a controlled manner and integrate it into your stroke. The secret to achieving this is surprisingly simple: slow down and exhale continuously underwater. Many beginners make the mistake of trying to breathe in and out above water, but proper technique involves maintaining a controlled exhalation underwater.


SWIMMING IS POOR FOR WEIGHT CONTROL FOR BEGINNERS

There are two important reasons for being mindful of your breathing while swimming. Firstly, if you find yourself panting and out of breath, you may not be getting as much exercise as you think. Panting is not the same as exerting effort. Secondly, swimming has the tendency to stimulate appetite more than many other sports. It's common for people to overeat after swimming. However, once you get into the routine and you train regularly you will start to see a positive difference, and it will contribute to your overall health. Try find the right balance not to overdo it on your first month, balance is key to see long-lasting change.


ENJOY YOUR IMPROVEMENTS

The advice to "enjoy the process" is often shared, and while it holds truth, it can be deceiving. Every swimmer will attest that swimming is filled with frustration and exhaustion. While there are those occasional indescribable days of "flow," they are indeed quite rare. The genuine enjoyment arises from maintaining consistent health and fitness. Good swimming days are undoubtedly special, but the not-so-great days are not extraordinary. They only become noteworthy if you let them be your last swimming day. The key is to embrace the challenges, understanding that they are integral to the journey, and find satisfaction in the overall journey toward health and fitness.


MOTIVATION DOES NOT COME FROM OUTSIDERS

Absolutely, don't engage in these endeavors because someone tells you to; do it because you genuinely want to. Pursue these challenges to discover your untapped capabilities. Recognize that anyone can swim the Malta-to-Gozo swim with the right determination, and nothing else matters. Disregard artificial inspiration. Pay no attention to those who belittle you or claim superiority. Make your choices based on your own convictions, as you will be the one present on both the tough and good days. You own your body, and only you can navigate it. Find your personal reasons to persevere, and do it for yourself.


Put yourself out there. Try that practice. Apply for that role. Sign up for that class. Join that community. Implement that ritual. Explore that concept. Learn that skill. Make that call. Set those boundaries. Ask those questions. Pick up that hobby. Go for that walk/run/bike ride. Give up that habit. Create that new dish. Embrace that style. Book that therapist. Journal your thoughts and feelings. Challenge that belief. Visualise those goals. Speak those affirmations. Book that time off. Watch those documentaries. Take that chance. Share that love.


So, this year, let's abandon the pursuit of instant results and embark on a journey of gradual health improvement that will truly transform our lives for the better.





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