DISCLAIMER: This post will have no tips that will make you a better swimmer. I’m one of those people that go “you’re doing x wrong, just look at how I do it and try to do the same.” Yep, I’m super-helpful like that! (If you want to read about what do I know about swimming after all, I wrote a bit on it here.)
Now that my pool is officially closed, and I didn’t get nearly as many swims in as I was hoping (why does family have to visit in the summer when the weather is nice? Oh, right), I figured I’d share a few of my swimming tips with you. I did start typing this weeks ago, so it’s only typical I’m posting it now when all the other pools have closed (at least in this area. If you live in FL and have access to an outdoor pool year-round, don’t rub it in). I’m still debating whether I want to spend $120 a month for a gym membership with a pool. Yep, that’s how much my gym is charging if I add the Crystal City gym to my membership, which is now $70/month for me and Karl. So without further ado…
-If you swim enough times you are very likely to get an ear infection. Yep, it sucks. There are ways to prevent it though. One that I do every.single.time I go in the water, be it at the pool or the beach is this: after swimming (or playing in the water), get rubbing alcohol and fill the cap up. Put your head to the side and put the alcohol on your ear. Wait a little bit, turn your head around (use a towel to pick up the alcohol so it’s not dripping down your face) and repeat on the other side. The alcohol will dry out the water. Don’t wait until you feel discomfort, do this religiously every time. If it hurts, your ear is likely already infected — this shouldn’t hurt at all.
If you swim a few times a week, you might want to use a mixture of 50% alcohol with 50% white vinegar instead of just alcohol (it’ll help balance the PH of the ear, or something like that). The downside? While just alcohol the smell is gone once it evaporates, this mixture will make your ears smell like a salad. But heck, it works.
-When I got back to swimming a few years ago, I refused to wear a swim cap when swimming outdoors, because I look like an alien with it, and I was single, and wanted to look cute and all. My hair was as long as it is today (way past my shoulders), soon enough, after swimming 6 days a week for a few months, this is what had to be done:
See the lack of hair? Yep, I had to cut shorter than ever because of it, as it was ALL broken, it had a green tinge (my mom finally brought me some shampoo from Brazil that would remove chlorine from hair, and I still use it to this day), and it was very weak. I’m not exaggerating… I went to pick something from the bottom of my closet, got up too fast and my hair got caught on the door handle. And it just stayed there, this big chunk of hair on the door handle, it broke it off just like that. By the time I started wearing swim caps again (and making sure my hair was completely dry before going to bed), it was already too late, the damage was done.
So much was cut off that I couldn’t even put it on a pony tail. While the hairdresser was cutting it off (no way around it, as there were chunks broken off), I literally cried my eyes out.
I have somewhat wavy hair (depending on the day, but the shorter it gets, the more waves show up), unless I spent a lot of time trying to style it (which I never had patience for) short hair did not suit me as my hair kind of poofed out…
The point of this? If you’re actually swimming laps, wear a swim cap, regardless of how unattractive it’ll make you to the opposite sex. The other trick I learned? Wet your hair BEFORE going into the pool (even if you’re not planning on doing any swimming). The hair is like a sponge, it’ll absorb as much water as it can — if you use regular water first, it’ll absorb a lot less of the chlorinated pool water. Even better? Wet your hair and put conditioner on it beforehand. Or even super-better? Wet your hair then use coconut oil — that stuff will stick to your hair like no one’s business, and it’ll help avoid the pool water from damaging it. (Don’t worry, the oil will wash off completely with shampoo, so you won’t have oily hair after a swim.)
If you’re spending a lot of time in and out of the pool, putting conditioner in your hair every time you get out helps. I use a hair mask with SPF, and the heat of the sun actually functions like a deep conditioning treatment — my hair is at its softest when I shower after a day at the pool or the beach!
When I swim laps, I jump in the shower first (a good idea anyway to rinse off sweat and product so that stuff is not washing off inside the pool), wet my hair completely, remove the excess water, put coconut oil on my hair, concentrating on the ends and tie it on a bun. When I get to the pool I put the swim cap on and I’m good to go. The swim cap also traps a lot of heat on your head — guess what? Deep conditioning again! Woohoo! (And don’t worry, any shampoo will take coconut oil out of your hair easily, it won’t be greasy after you shower.)
-Now onto swimming attire… Unless you’re competing and seconds make a big difference, the best swimsuit to get is a polyester one. Speedo make great polyester suits. It’s much harder to put on compared to the lycra suits, but it’ll last you a VERY long time. You know how when your suit gets old it becomes see through as the lycra breaks off? That won’t happen with the polyester ones. I was swimming 5 times a week a few years ago, and haven’t been swimming at all for about 3.5 or 4 years. I pulled out my old polyester suits, and they’re like new. Seriously. There’s no lycra to rotten. They’re not super cheap (about $50-$70), but the investment is worth it.
-If your goggles fill up with water, it can be two things: you need to tighten it up, or you need to get new goggles. Not everything works for everyone… I have good luck with the Speedo Vanquisher for women. And dark goggles work great for sunny days, but it’s horrible in indoor pools — it really is like wearing sunglasses indoors!
-If you’re swimming laps, this little gadget is a good investment:
It’s simple to use (just press the button every time you complete a lap), doesn’t mess up with your stroke at all (you can’t even feel it), and it keeps good count. Some people are good at remembering it in their head, I personally suck: I get lost in my own thoughts and then don’t remember where I was.
-If you swim laps regularly and don’t know how to do a flipturn (I’m surprised by the number of people who don’t), try to learn it. Not only it’ll make you more efficient, but it’s SO much fun! It’s always my favorite part of each lap!
This is all I can think of it now — I need to get another swim in to remind me of the list I was going to post when I first started writing this. What swimming tips do you have?
In running news, Wednesday run sucked (had an odd pain on my hip and knee — maybe from bootcamp?), and tomorrow is a drop down week with only 12 miles on the schedule. 23 days until Chicago. ACK.