This summer I discovered my inner mermaid! Never did I think when I booked a week in South West Wales back in February, that I would be donning a swimming costume and taking daily swims in the glorious beaches of Pembrokeshire this summer… but I did! And it was just invigorating and bracing and made me feel more alive for the rest of the day.
Upon my return, to avoid the post-holiday blues, I promptly visited my local swimming pool and together with a friend, have visited 3 or 4 times a week since. The benefits of swimming are numerous, but the main ones for me at my stage in life are as follows:
- It is increasing my lung capacity and helping me become more aware of how I breathe
- It is making my limbs and torso leaner
- I don’t ache after spending an hour in the pool (unlike other forms of exercise) or when I wake up first thing in the morning, as I used to
- I am getting better at swimming: in my techniques, the different strokes and in my pace
- It is MY go-to place to feel cool and is particularly wonderful when a hot flush comes on
- I just love the feel of water around my body. I have perfected the art of wallowing and twisting, like I imagine a mermaid might. It allows me to dance and do gymnastics and point my feet like Darcy Bussell.
- I feel utterly strong and graceful in water. Even hippos move gracefully in water.
- I wake up motivated and want to get in a swim early on if I can. I have been in the pool at 7am on a Saturday morning! No other exercise has ever made me do that.
- It has made me less self-conscious of my body. It has made me love what my body can do for me.
- It makes me feel happier, more alert, more balanced for the rest of the day. The mental benefits of swimming have been a wonderful surprise for me.
- I love how I can chunk it down in stages/lengths and set myself my own personal targets. I have progressed quickly and have moved from my early frantic 16 lengths to over 40 lengths in the same amount of time, in a few weeks!
- I love the feeling of weightlessness when I let myself float and literally let the water take the stress off my shoulders.
- I have realised that swimming is like massage, in that it helps us become in tune with our psychological and physiological selves.
I want my love affair with swimming to go on and on, I hope it does. I hope that once back into normal work routines after summer, I carry on for all the reasons above. To keep it interesting, I might dabble in a bit of aqua aerobics or even try out some wild swimming outdoors.
Swimming is MY therapist, re-energising and restoring me.