Swimming is regarded by most athletic trainers as probably the best form of exercise. Because while it is fairly violent, it is, in the long run, stimulating instead of fatiguing. It calls upon the use of more muscles than any other form of exercise, and yet to be successful the good swimmer must relax as well as exert.
When swimming the body develops about twelve times as much heat as when sitting still. But since the water is almost always far below body temperature, it removes the excess heat rapidly from the body surface. That is why swimming does not leave you fatigued. It is a common experience for a person to swim a long time, using up far more energy than in many other forms of exercise, and yet not feel tired at all. After coming out of the water and dressing you suddenly feel quite tired (comfortably tired) and realize that you have had quite a severe workout.
This, as a matter of fact, is one of the dangers of swimmingthat you are liable to overdo without realizing it.
Swimming, for the same reason is one of the best exercises for reducing. Half an hour a day in the ocean or lake or swimming pool, with careful attention to diet in the meantime, should take off an excess pound a day.
As a matter of skill, the modern crawl, the most efficient swimming stroke known, could not possibly be self taught, and requires a great amount of concentration and perseverance to learn.
On the subject of relaxation in swimming, Williams and Nixon, in their valuable book, “The Athlete in the Making,” say:
“Gertrude Ederle, swimming the English channel, must have practiced perfect relaxation, since the unusual expenditure of energy on the part of one in a state of tension makes distance swimming impossible.
“It may be pertinent to remark at this point that many people have a mistaken notion of the nature of relaxation. It is apt to be associated in their minds with some special procedure such as deep breathing or contemplation of the cosmic mind. Moreover, tension is regarded by them as a natural condition from which they are sup-posed to rest or relax on occasion. The remark is frequently heard, `I must lie down and relax.’ Now, as a matter of fact, relaxation should be viewed as the normal condition, and all types of tension arising from fears or other sources, should be considered abnormal.
“Relaxation is more readily acquired on land than in water; but in either case it can be attained by attention to motives and emotions. In swimming relaxation must be attained if one is to gain any success, for without this quality it is almost impossible either to acquire the technic or to develop any reasonable degree of endurance,”