Why Don’t You Swim Anymore?

Courtesy: Denys Fedorchenko

I’ve always wondered why so few of us (swimmers) continue to swim after college or high school graduation. Whenever I was talking to my swimmer colleagues, someone would always say something to the effect of, “As soon the senior season is over, I will never go to the pool again in my life!”

I’ve asked my former teammates when was the last time they were doing laps in the pool, and they would reply two, three years ago.

At the age of 30, after graduating more than six years ago, I still participate in open water swimming and distance events. It is painful to watch my past teammates avoid practicing the sport that they were once so good at.

We all know the reason why we stopped. Swimming in the pool is boring. We got so sick of jumping in the cold water early in the morning, swimming from wall to wall in the short course pool, and repeating the second practice in the afternoon.

However, if we can spice up our relationship with the sport, we can benefit from having a healthy connection with swimming. There is nothing that can replace this wonderful and healthy sport.

Six tips to spice up your relationship with swimming: 

1. Remind yourself that there is no other sport that will benefit your body in the way swimming does.

The mental and physical health miracles of the sport are non-comparable to the rest of the activities. Consider it as a long-term investment. Older you will say thank you!

2. Try new ways of swimming

If you have an opportunity to swim in an outdoor pool, the long course pool, or open water, don’t be afraid to try new things with swimming. The experience will be more diverse, and thus your level of excitement will be higher.

3. Try to swim with company

It’s always fun to look back on memories from the past. Remember being in the pool with the teammates, racing every 100 yards just to touch the wall first. It is beneficial to practice in a group, it’s motivatational and is more fun. Swim with a  group of peers that shares the goal.

4. Travel – make swimming explorational 

When traveling, try to swim in new locations. Maybe you have an opportunity to get into a new pool that you have never been to before. Or maybe you found a spot for open water swims—try the new location. Just make sure you follow the rules and regulations. Keep it safe!

5. Compete 

Try to compete once in the while or as much as you can. A healthy spirit of competition gives an extra boost in motivation to train. Additionally, you can keep track of your progress by comparing your performances.

6. Mix and match

Try duathlons, triathlons, and pentathlons—anything that mixes with swimming is always fun. It becomes twice as much fun. Mixing a variety of sports will benefit other groups of muscles as well.

Remember to keep it easy, don’t push yourself too hard, and keep it comfortable. Spending as little as 15 minutes swimming indoors or outdoors will give you benefits that no other sport can. If you feel ready for more, go for it, but make sure to keep it entertaining and interesting for yourself, after some time you will create a routine. As long as you swim consistently once a week, once a month, you are still a swimmer. Be healthy, be happy. 🙂

ABOUT DENYS FEDORCHENKO

Denys is a Ukrainian National Champion in the 5k open water and formerly swam collegiately in the United States at Division II Gannon University. He is currently an Ultramarathoner and open water swimmer.

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chlorinemami
20 days ago

After graduating from college, I didn’t swim for a whole year and intermittently the second year. After I finished grad school was really when I started swimming regularly again. It was life stressors I think, like moving, starting new jobs and the pandemic that pushed me back toward swimming. It became very therapeutic and my way to practice mindfulness during hard times. Now I swim almost every day and have done a few open water races.

I can totally relate to what you shared about friends no longer swimming. My husband and I met through swimming but I literally can’t get him to touch a pool. I keep asking if he will come with me in hopes he will change… Read more »

Ted Bandaruk
22 days ago

I am 75 years old and for 7 months a year I swim 3000 yards a day, takes me 50 minutes or a little more or less. I do use fins which are the void duck feet which I grew up with. While I live in the Tahoe area and hike and mountain bike and snow shoe also , nothing makes my body feel as good as swimming. I do this 6-7 days per week. It helps that we have a 25 yard pool in our neighborhood. For the rest of the year, after they close our outside pool because of snow fall, I do teach skiing at a local mountain 3 days per week, and then drive 1 or… Read more »

Denys
Reply to  Ted Bandaruk
21 days ago

Ted, I am glad you still have stamina to do it every day:)

BMays
23 days ago

Any recommendations on where to compete for recent college grads? I know there’s masters but don’t know much about it or if “im too young”

dlswim
Reply to  BMays
23 days ago

If you are a college grad, you’re not “too young”. The 25-29 age group is usually pretty competitive. If available, you can also give open water competitions a try. You also can just go to masters practices and not compete, if all you’re interested is in staying fit and you’re burnt out from high-pressure competitions.

Chasen
Reply to  BMays
22 days ago

You’re definitely not too young! Lots of swimmers in every age group, including 18-24 and 25-29. You can swim just for fitness and community if you want, but the meets are very fun and can be very competitive. You might even see a former olympian or two 🙂

Denys
Reply to  BMays
21 days ago

It will depend what you are trying to compete open water or in the pool? There is an annual calendar for masters events in open water. I belive for the pool you need to be a club member.

BigBoiJohnson
23 days ago

Retired from my college career in 2017 after swimming competitively for a total of 14 seasons; haven’t been in a pool since. Hoping to change that, but Canada shutting everything down for like 600 out of the last 700 days surely didn’t help.

Last edited 23 days ago by BigBoiJohnson
Scotty
Reply to  BigBoiJohnson
23 days ago

You guys in Canada are doomed!

Denys
Reply to  BigBoiJohnson
21 days ago

You should try to get in to open water swimming, but I know it could get chilly in Canada

swimsight
23 days ago

For anyone who is struggling to dip their toes back in, but has an itch to do so, I highly recommend Why We Swim, by Bonnie Tsui. A well-researched and good perspective on why swimming is so beneficial to all our lives.

Big Kicker
Reply to  swimsight
23 days ago

Very much second this. Great book, almost poetic.

Denys
Reply to  swimsight
23 days ago

Thank you for the recommendation, curious about the book….

Chris
23 days ago

I try to put in 3k a workout at least 3 days per week. Walked away from swimming right from college for 10 years. I guess it burnt me out. Now I dont have a masters team and have to train alone, which really sucks.

2Fat4Speed
Reply to  Chris
23 days ago

Dang, every single sentence you wrote is my story. If you live in Michigan we can make a team of three as my wife is my only training partner!

Denys
Reply to  Chris
21 days ago

I know its boring to do it on your own, try to find a pack

Former swimmer
23 days ago

It’s impossible to find open swim hours that aren’t during the work day. That’s why I don’t swim.

Big Kicker
Reply to  Former swimmer
23 days ago

From what I’ve heard, most lakes and oceans have 24/7 access

Denys
Reply to  Former swimmer
23 days ago

Where are you from?

Chasen
23 days ago

I was in this same boat, for sure! There was a mental and emotional block that kept me out of the pool for 13 years after high school. Finally got back into the pool a little over a year ago and the major game changer was joining a Masters team. It helped me fall in love with swimming again and I’m so happy it did.

Last edited 23 days ago by Chasen
Denys
Reply to  Chasen
23 days ago

Do you think it was a good idea to take a break? I feel like we enjoy the sport again because our body is not the same as when we were teens or in our twenties. With time we learn not every sport is injury preventative like swimming, and we come back to already proved exercises.

Chris
Reply to  Denys
23 days ago

I regret taking so much time off since college. It was very hard to feel the water the way I did for a long time. I should have at least swam 2x a week.

Chasen
Reply to  Denys
23 days ago

I think a break was needed. Problem was, it came at a crucial moment where I needed to decide to join a college team or not. When I decided not to, I just couldnt bring myself to get back in the water again for a long time. I would have liked to have taken MUCH less time off and perhaps I could have watched myself grow and realized some of my potential.

And like Chris said below, it felt like I lost some of my feel for the water that I used to have. About 14 months later I’ve finally started to see some of it come back.