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Parents of Swimmers Hit the Gym but Are Missing Out on the Best Workout

“I have run marathons but I marvel at my kid’s ability to swim laps for an hour each day.”

Every summer, parents all over the country dedicate countless hours to swim lessons, clinics, practices, and swim meets...not for themselves, but for their kids. Many of these parents work out regularly, yet when they get in the pool, they will tell you, they can’t swim more than two laps without feeling exhausted.

As DC-area swim parent and local blogger, Amy Mascott from explained, “I lifeguarded at County pools for 7 years in high school and college, and never, ever, ever have I viewed swimming as a relaxing, enjoyable exercise.  Running? Sure. Stairclimber? Yep. Yoga? Yes. Pilates? Absolutely. But swimming? No way. I swim one lap and want to collapse; if I swim two laps, I feel like I could eat my arm afterward.”

She is not alone.

Angie Yeatman is a black belt in karate, takes kickboxing, and coaches Girls on the Run at Jones Lane Elementary School. Angie is an athlete in every sense of the word, yet she, too, is in awe of her kids who swim for an hour several times a week, year round. She admits, “I never swam with a coach so I don’t have the breathing down. The breathing seems different from running…almost the opposite.”

Why is swimming so much more difficult than ‘land’ sports?
According to swimming expert and author of Swimming for Total Fitness, Dr. Jane Katz there are three main factors: water pressure, multi-directional resistance, and, as Angie mentioned… breathing.

According to Dr. Katz, water pressure is 12 times greater than air pressure. This means that just getting into the water your body has to work harder to move. In addition, the resistance your body feels is longitudinal, circular and vertical.  Lastly, swimmers need to learn to expend all the air in their lungs before taking another breath. This is a skill that must be learned. Most athletes who are not swimmers do not expend all the air, which means they are NOT getting all of the oxygen they need into their lungs. This buildup of carbon dioxide is what causes fatigue.

Let the kids coach you
Swim team parents Jessica and Chris McFadden from A Parent in Silver Spring share goggles and swim a few laps every “adult swim” period at their pool.  Jessica explains, “Sometimes during these swim workouts my daughter Eve decides to “coach” me by walking along the side of the pool while I swim, mimicking her own swim coaches. She calls out encouraging words and at the end of the lap she will critique my strokes and form. She's like my own personal Bela Karolyi of swim!”

Parents of Swimmers CAN Learn to Swim with their Kids
Luckily, Montgomery County Aquatics offers group and private swim lessons for adults of all swim abilities. To see which class is right for you, contact Montgomery County Recreation Aquatics at 240-777-6870, or browse through the Summer Guide.  You can also stop into one of the four County indoor swim centers to connect with a private swim instructor. Lessons are $35 per half hour.