Why swim techniques aren't the only lessons one can take from coaches02/03/2021 | Written by Nikos Kaskaras in Fitness & Nutrition Tips
Swimming is not a simple sport. More than that, it's a way of life. Not all people attending swim classes can appreciate the valuable lessons that swimming has to offer to those with open ears and eyes. Of course, this assumption goes the other way too: Not all swim coaches understand or appreciate the broader role they can play during the swim classes they provide. This is a two-way flow that can transform the swim classes experience to a new level and help both students and coaches gain valuable lessons for life.
Swimming helps to appreciate your body
Our current civilisation is moving in quite extreme opposites regarding the appreciation of human bodies. On the one hand, the advertising industry promotes pictures of super fit and slim men and women. On the other hand, obesity is increasingly becoming a severe problem in most western societies. It is striking that 2 in 3 Australians were found overweight or obese in research conducted in 2017. The magic word again is balance. The more you get in the philosophy of swimming the more you will appreciate the importance of your bodies for your overall physical performance. Nonetheless, such a realisation does not indicate that your role models should be bodybuilders or supermodels. Of course, it's much better to have a lean body, but one lesson that you would most definitely get by your swimming coach is that the most decisive factor is endurance. This is why it's not unusual to witness a much heavier swimmer performing equally or even better than a slim one. More practice brings better endurance and consequently improves performance in the swimming pool.
Diet is vital for swimmers
Body appreciation should come together with understanding the great importance of diet. A good swimming coach would always highlight that assumption and make sure that you have fully incorporated the idea of eating healthy into your daily lives. You can find a detailed article from our blog about what you should eat before and after swimming, but what is more vital is a general principle: We are what we eat. Careless eating habits would not only affect one's performance in training but it could be deteriorating for overall quality of life. Eating healthy is refreshing for both body and mind and it could even be the decisive factor between happiness and misery. As exaggerating it may sound, it's true. Completing successfully a demanding swimming lesson is just an indicator of good health. Carrying on a healthy diet through the day ensures equivalent performance to all aspects of life.
Discipline equals success
As you carry on your swimming “journey” it would be impossible not to learn and understand that there is a clue that connects all the pieces: Discipline. This is maybe the optimal virtue, one that is a prerequisite for every achievement. Experienced swim coaches are well aware of that. There's no point learning something useful if you are not able to practice it repeatedly in real-life conditions. Discipline is itself a learning process. More experienced swimmers know that for good, especially if they are familiar with a variety of swim techniques. Butterfly, for example, is more demanding than freestyle but once you take the step forward and learn it, the feeling is great. It's a universal truth that discipline equals success. You need to have it to gain new skills and it's what makes the big difference. That's why it's so usual to see disciplined people being more successful than more talented individuals who don't master it. Swimming lessons would teach you that fact.
Patience is a major virtue
Similarly, with discipline, another big lesson for life that swim coaches can teach you is that patience is required for achieving the desired results. It's quite common for many people to set goals that they wish to reach quickly. And when they don't manage it, they get disappointed and quit trying. Both of the above manners, rushing things and quitting effort too soon, are major mistakes that could affect negatively most aspects of professional and social life. Rome wasn't built on a day. You can't be a competent swimmer in a day, a week or a month. Not even your swim coaches managed that and this is a lesson that they could teach you. What is more important, even from personal talent and ability to assimilate knowledge at a fast pace, is persistence. Persistence comes with patience. Like in life, not all your trials and sessions would be successful. There will be mistakes, misunderstandings, nerves. All that is natural. In the end, everybody will progress their swimming abilities. But what will finally make the major difference is the level of patience throughout the process. Patience is a great virtue for succeeding in life. And again like discipline, it is rather an acquired than an innate quality. This is just one of the many lessons that swimming can teach you.
Exceeding your limits is a mental thing
How many times have you said the words “I can't do that” or “it's impossible to reach that goal”? Chances are that you have done it many times. Like most of us anyway. Well, ask yourselves another question: Who defines what's possible and what's impossible? Isn't it you and maybe your social environment that determines the limits of your potential? We are all conditioned to believe what we can and what we can't do. It's our mind that does that and sets us the limits. And now with the one million dollars question: Are the limits that we deliberately put to ourselves a matter of valid evaluation or just a mental projection? Swimming lessons could provide you with solid answers to the above philosophical but also very practical questions. When feeling, for example, that it's beyond your limits to swimming 10 km, you may be amazed for what you can manage. Once you start a process, whether it is a swimming race or implementing a project, it would not be a surprise to realise that you can do it. Most of the times, extra thinking can be a preventing factor for achieving goals. You can't know your limits until you test them. Reaching and exceeding your limits does not depend on physical factors, like how fit you are. It's 100 % a mental thing and professional swimmers could well confirm that.
Team relations and leadership
Humans are social animals, and our social context and relationships determine, to a large degree, our personal and social status. Team swimming classes can be extremely helpful for developing both your social and leadership skills. As a part of a team, you will engage in various team activities with your fellow swimmers. This is an occasion of appreciating and cultivating team relations as well as leadership skills. Although in swimming classes the undisputed leader will be your swimming coach, since he/she will coordinate training, there is still latitude for exploring your potential and developing new skills. You could lead by example or allow a more experienced or determined fellow swimmer to play that role and learn from him/her. Experimenting with and testing your leadership traits within a safe and controlled environment can extend your relevant abilities in both professional and personal level and thus make you a better person as a whole.
The wider picture of swim classes
Swim classes overall can have a wider spectrum than just learning to swim. Of course, acquiring a life-saving skill is not to be underestimated, but as in most occasions in life, there are greater advantages to gain. It's the coaches’ role to work on the variety of lessons they can provide and make sure that the message is heard. Most times, students are sensitive enough to listen to such wider messages and then apply the lessons they learn in their lives. This is how a wonderful game of receiving and transmitting can begin. Making every day count and learning something new every single day is a safe road for evolution and progress.