I’ve just been swimming whilst Baby-O was being looked after by grandparents for the first time. My partner and I have been a bit lazy on getting Baby-O looked after without me there, so my partner usually comes swimming to look after her in the baby pool whilst I do my lengths in the lane pool. Well – they’re getting their bonding time whilst I get my fitness back! Today though I felt like I was getting some ‘Me Time’ and could (almost) completely switch off!
I’ve loved swimming since I was a kid for many reasons:
- it helps me to relax and wind down both physically and mentally;
- I get a really good sleep after swimming, when baby allows of course….zzzzz;
- it’s good therapy, almost like meditation – I just zone out and count my lengths;
- I love the almost instant feel of all over muscle tone;
- it’s low impact on the body, so minimises risk of injury when I need to be gentle on my body – or when I’m feeling a little delicate!
My Cupcake Water Babe
A welcome non-weight-bearing swim when I was preggers as a fairly competent swimmer – I managed 40 lengths at a time, still sticking to the slow lane (I’m usually a medium pace-er). Here’s how I coped with swimming whilst pregnant, most of which I’m going to build on with more intensity now…
Still moving both limbs and legs with trepidation – as much as my core would allow – I mixed these variations below of breastroke with lengths of backstroke and front crawl. I try to do 10 lengths of each style with a stretch in between each set.
Breaststroke (Warm Up):
Variation 1: power in arms and less work in the legs
Variation 2: squeeze butt as I close the legs
Kicking on back (skulling arms if it helps balance!):
Variation 1: power from the backside with straight legs, pointed toes
Variation 2: bend from the knees to kick
Backstroke/Front Crawl: I found back stroke took the pressure off my stomach, whilst front crawl gives the cardio workout;
Variation 1: lying on my back and kicking only (no arms) or just using arms to help power along for front crawl; then
Variation 2: try to only work the arms without legs moving.
Each length I focus on emphasis on a different muscle group (arms, bum, hamstrings etc.) and for all the above there are further variations in how I do the movement:
Variation 1: kicking as quickly as is comfortable to get a bit of cardio going; or
Variation 2: kicking in smooth, slow action for a more toning action.
A bit of competition
I’m not the competitive type but I like to find someone else in my lane who’s serious about their swim…so I step up to their level too! It’s not always about speed – I’m talking about durability. There’s always the one who keeps moving and it motivates me to keep going too!
For the less serious swimmer and if I had time – a toning workout
There are usually non Lane sections of the pool. Suggestions for the shallow end of the open swim lane:
Warm up: 5 mins walking the length/ width of the shallow lane is a really good gradual build up – try at varying speeds to gently increase heartbeat. Or a gentle swim if you can.
Upper body: A bit of aqua aerobics, with shoulders immersed, by keeping the palms open and flat like paddles, imagining the resistance of water is the weight in the hands – bicep/triceps curls, lifting the arms up and down to water line, breast stroke action with the arms.
Lower body: Use the side of the pool to stabilise yourself either back to the side with elbows on the side, or both hands on the side on your front and kick with variations as above with the lanes. I’d also do
- Breast stroke legs
- Sideways leg raises
Core: Slow smooth Twisting with knees bent up towards chest, back to the side of pool. Some may not feel comfortable to twist, so only take this gently, or not at all if it doesn’t feel right.
Cool down and stretch: as per warm up, decreasing speed / intensity. Make sure you gently stretch arms and leg muscle groups.
Now I’m off to collapse!