Courtesy of Original Watermen
There comes a time in every swimmers’ life when they decide to hang up the suit and goggles. Unless you are swimming on a masters team this day will come by your early 20’s, or earlier. Regardless exactly how long you swam competitively, the skills learned in the pool can boost your aptitude and success in countless other activities and hobbies.
Swimmers tend to gravitate to water as that’s where we often feel the most comfortable pushing physical and mental limits. Continuing to swim competitively through masters may be for some, but others are ready to move on to a new arena. Finding a new passion or hobby will help alleviate the empty feeling many swimmers have once they retire, especially if it involves the water. After college swimming, I invested myself into these sports that quickly became new hobbies and passions in which I could utilize many skills I gained from competitive swimming almost my whole life.
Many former swimmers flock to water polo as a great way to have fun as well as stay in shape. Water polo is obviously much different than swimming simply due to the fact that it’s a game. People do not “play” swimming so this is an option for those who want to stay in shape but also want to avoid boring cardio. Your kicking skills are useful in water polo since you need to tread water.
This can be one of the most physical sports, so those who do not like physical contact may just want to skip over water polo. Many people do not realize how much wrestling goes on under the water. The composure and patience that swimming taught you will come in handy during an intense game, not to mention the stamina.
Since water polo is a team sport you obviously need enough players in order to setup a game. That can be a challenge when you’re simply looking for a hobby, so you should check if a pool near you organizes or hosts. On the other hand, when those logistics are handled you don’t have to worry about much extra gear. Aside from your standard speedo or one-piece, you may want to get a ball to practice on your own – and that’s even optional.
Snorkeling or Scuba Diving
Scuba diving and snorkeling are great hobbies to take up as a former swimmer, if you live in the right areas. Instead of pounding out the yards in the pool, you can get in a swim while enjoying nature’s beauty. Breath control is extremely important to conserve air under water (with or without a tank) and you need to decompress your lungs as you ascend from a deep dive, in order to avoid nitrogen bubbles forming in your blood. Heart rate control is another skill practiced in swimming that you should apply in scuba diving and snorkeling. Panicking will cause you to use more air which is a sure way to cut short your fun adventure, let alone it can be potentially deadly.
You need to be certified to scuba dive but that should not be too difficult for a former swimmer. Snorkeling is typically less intense since you stay on the surface or only go a few feet down. Freediving is arguably the hardest of all 3 since you go deep underwater but don’t wear an oxygen tank.
You can affordably rent pretty much all the scuba gear; but it’s nice to have your own mask and snorkel. If it becomes a hobby, you’ll appreciate getting yourself higher-end underwater gloves, a performance rash guard or wetsuit top, and the most comfortable swimwear. It helps ladies to wear shorts to give them a bit more protection. For guys, trunking it might not be enough since even in warmer waters it gets a little chilly 40-feet below. Wearing men’s compression shorts help you maintain good circulation through your legs. Regardless if it’s colder and you’re wearing a wetsuit or warmer water without one, chafing is a serious potential fun-killer. Wearing these Watermen compression shorts under your trunks and boardshorts will prevent those pesky rashes that can ruin even the best dives.
Spearfishing is extremely popular in warmer climates like in Florida and California, but can still be done in cooler temperatures. You’ll actually use much of the same gear as you do in scuba diving and snorkeling, of course with the addition of the spear and a bag to carry your prize.
Some enthusiasts use spear guns and others use the more traditional Hawaiian sling spears, or pole spears. Those using traditional spears have to get significantly closer to their target versus a spear gun, which has considerably more range. To put it simply, you are hunting the fish so you have to use a combination of stealth and speed.
One benefit of going spearfishing with former swimmers is it makes it a lot easier to circle your target and work as a team. At some depths you only use a snorkel so breath control is the utmost importance. Spearfishing is not only great exercise and cardio, but also a great way to catch a healthy meal!
We all know the lessons learned in competitive swimming are vast and often last a lifetime, manifesting in new ways. However, we don’t always think about how the athletic skills we learned can make it easier to become successful in other hobbies and activities. Find a hobby that can help fill the void you get once you stop competing. Try the ones above and comment below to share any other water activities you’ve found fun, fulfilling and that inspire you to work hard both physically and mentally.
About Original Waterman
Like so many great things in the 70’s, we started in the back of a VW bus. Surfer and lifeguard, Ken Miller and future wife Jen, began making and selling water trunks. The first customers were Carlsbad locals and eventually the State of California lifeguards signed up for 36 red shorts.
Since those early days we have evolved and grown and eventually outfitted over 1700 organizations from local and state agency lifeguards and fire fighters to military special forces. Original Watermen, as a company, was created with a singular vision: provide the best quality, fit, and performance in every garment. Few industries have the opportunity to test their mettle each time a great set rolls in. We’re fortunate; we do. At Original Watermen we measure our success by the performance of our products and the satisfaction of our customers. If you’re new to us, welcome aboard…it’s time to earn your salt.
Courtesy of Original Watermen, a SwimSwam partner.