Whether it’s for health benefits, interests or life skills, learning more than one swimming style while attending swimming lessons for adults is a really good idea. Some people might tell you that it’s a better to focus exclusively on one skill and excel at it.
Maybe, but context is important. In my opinion it’s better to learn multiple skills and be good enough at them for their practical benefits.
Sure, competition at the workplace means that single-mindedness is often rewarded, but in the real world – nature is a generally more partial to those with a larger skill set. After all, it obviously didn’t make evolutionary sense for us to evolve into all-brain and no arms or legs.
Each different style has its unique advantages and disadvantages. Some of them are related to just the pool while others become apparent when swimming in a natural setting.
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1. A fuller body workout.
Different swimming styles focus different muscle groups. Mixing in different swimming strokes means that you’ll get a fuller body workout. Freestyle works the 24 different muscles on both sides of the body, including the arms, upper body, neck, shoulders, torso and legs.
In breaststroke the same muscle groups are utilized but at varying intensity for each muscle, which works the inner forearm, biceps, pecs, latissimus dorsi, groin, glutes and calves more.
The butterfly stroke works out the big muscle groups, including the pectorals, latissimus dorsi, quads hamstrings, calves, shoulders, biceps and triceps. This makes the butterfly stroke very tiring – and definitely a good workout.
2. Reduced risks for injury.
Alternating between different strokes during a session puts less strain on the same muscle groups without having to take breaks in between. This means an uninterrupted cardio workout.
Sports related injuries take a long time to heal (if they ever) and the time you spend waiting will reverse most of the gains that you’ve painstakingly made. So remember, safety first!
3. Transferable skills.
There’re more similarities between different strokes than there are differences. From breathing to balance, energy efficiency, body motion and hydrodynamics – most of the skills needed to swim one stroke is the same for others.
4. Different strokes complement each other in different situations.
We all know the crawl or freestyle is the fastest swimming stroke – but, except for the flutter kick, becomes completely useless when you’re trying to swim completely submerged.
And when you’re swimming in a natural body of water such as in a lake, being able to keep your head above water lets you see where you going is very important – unless you don’t mind swimming head-on into dangerous objects floating in the water or getting lost. The breast stroke is perfect for this, lets you easily swim with your head above the water for significantly better situational awareness.
And in the ocean, unless you’ve got a pair of swimming goggles on, the salt water would make it impossible for you to submerge your head. When powerful waves are coming at you and the water and it’s too deep to stand with the water below your knees, you’re probably going to have to swim underneath the waves. Again the breaststroke is best here, although I personally like combining the flutter kick with the breaststroke’s arm movement.
As for the backstroke, even the strongest swimmers eventually need a break. Flipping onto your back and doing the backstroke is a very relaxing and requires next to no effort to keep your head above the water.
5. Simply more fun.
Swimming the same stroke every day, year in year out can get really boring. So picking up a few extra strokes to add to your repertoire at the pool can make things a lot more fun and interesting.
Any new stroke will do; doggy paddle, side stroke, dolphin kick (butterfly stroke without the arms). It’ll definitely be a lot of fun for kids swimming lessons.
Even if you are attending swimming lessons for adults, you’re never too old to have a little fun. Once in awhile.