By Diana Giraldo, Reporter
Clovis Roundup Newspaper
Swimming combines all the benefits of weightlifting, aerobics training and flexibility into one exercise, which can be practiced by babies weeks old or by adults in their late years.
Most physical exercises isolate muscle groups or only focus on an objective but swimming is a full body exercise, explained Lori Klatt, the Director of Educational Development at Swim America in Clovis.
“There is great resistance when swimming so when you are pulling yourself through the water it is kind of like lifting weights because of the resistance,” Klatt said. “You are also working your entire body all at the same time including your core, heart and lungs, so it’s like combining aerobic exercise, weight lifting, flexibility and movement all at the same time.”
But swimming has another factor which makes it unique to all other types of exercises. In the water there is no gravity on your body, Klatt said, so the exercise you receive while in the water is less stressful on your joints because there is no pounding compared to sports like running or weight lifting.
At Swim America, babies can start receiving classes as early as four weeks old.
“We put them in the water that young, not to teach them to swim but because studies have proven that just movement in the water and the stimulation on their skin cause the synapse in their brains to develop,” Klatt said.
Even if a baby is not able to move on land yet, water provides a perfect alternative for them to start kicking, moving around, and floating.
Scientifically, swimming has shown to be a benefiting factor in the long run, Klatt said, enhancing physical and neurological development, accelerating academic performance, increasing memory capacity, and strengthening social and emotional confidence.
At six months old children are introduced in the class to holding their breath, submerging and basic swimming skills.
“Those classes are also filled with developmental activities that teach them pattering, reading and writing readiness,” said Klatt. “Swimming is great because it causes a crossover and utilizes both parts of your brain.”
Audrey Davis, a six-year-old swimmer at Swim America, started her classes when she was 9 months old. Her father, Matt Davis, sees that swimming has already taught her good active healthy habits.
“It’s helped her a lot because it gave her some early accomplishments and milestones as she was working her way through the levels,” Davis said. “It was a confidence booster.”
Now that Audrey has completed and graduated from the program she is looking forward to joining Clovis Swim Club, a competitive swim group, in the fall.
As kids get older swimming can even enhance their performance in other sports because of their aerobic and coordination capabilities, said Mark Bennett, a coach at Clovis Swim Club.
The benefits of swimming extend further than to children or highly physically active people, older adults can also engage into the exercise without many complications.
“You can swim for life basically because it’s not hard on your joints,” explained Bennett. “Because it’s mainly a cardiovascular exercise there are people that are swimming well into their hundreds.”
For older adults weightlifting is important for the metabolism, said Klatt, the resistance in the water offers an alternative to using weights which has less probability of injury.
“They can get great benefits with just walking in the water,” Klatt said. “You can walk in the water and because of the resistance, a short distance can be equivalent to walking a mile on land.”
Swimming can also be a relief for those suffering from arthritis. Engaging the joint in a full range of motion underwater, where gravity isn’t a factor, can increase mobility and decreases pain because the joints have been used.
“People with arthritis swear that is has improved their quality of life,” concluded Klatt. “Swimming is for everyone, all ages and all abilities can gain the benefit of swimming.”