In the recent obsession over personal trainers, gyms and athleisure outfits, it is easy to forget swimming is an enjoyable and effective way to keep fit. So the next time you want to hit the gym, head to the pool instead.
According to a study conducted by the Counsilman Center for the Science of Swimming at Indiana University Bloomington, a regular swimming regimen can benefit one’s body in various ways.
These include improvements in core strength and stability and the cardiopulmonary system, lowered blood pressure, a lower total cholesterol level, and improved skeletal and muscle mass.
Now that the monsoon season is over and sunny weather has returned, spending an afternoon in the cool blue water of a swimming pool is a welcoming prospect.
If you don’t know how to swim, Sports Lifestyle Initiatives, which offers structured swimming programmes to students and adults, has you covered.
Established in 2005, it currently operates the Aquatic Training Hub at the Sports Lifestyle Centre (SLC) in Bukit Merah Central. This year, the Speediswim Aquatic Centre, or Speedi, moved to the SLC, and is now integrated with Sports Lifestyle Initiatives.
Speediswim’s founding director Philip Lee is the former vice-president of the Singapore Swimming Association, and the driving force behind Singapore’s national synchronised swimming team, which won seven medals at last year’s 29th Southeast Asian (SEA) Games in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, including three golds.
Says Mr Lee: “We hope to enhance our Learn to Swim programme, increase Water Safety awareness, and develop and groom a large pool of competitive athletes in various aquatic sports — namely, competitive swimming, water polo and synchronised swimming.”
Regardless of your age, it is never too early or late to learn how to swim. After all, everybody has to start somewhere, whether you are five or 50 years old.
But good news for young ones: according to a study jointly carried out by Griffith University, Swim Australia and the Kids Alive Swim Programme, children who learn to swim at an early age develop literacy, numeracy and visual-motor skills faster than average.
There is no better place to get your child started on the sport than Speediswim. Its swimming curriculum is painstakingly designed by Mr Lee, who has over 20 years of coaching experience.
The revamped Learn to Swim (LTS) curriculum at Speediswim revolves around four main objectives.
Students will learn how to swim the four basic strokes (breaststroke, front crawl, backstroke and butterfly). Apart from picking up good mechanics and techniques, they can also improve their fitness and swimming speed through “energy system” training, acquire crucial water survival skills, and learn how to perform water rescues.
“The enhanced LTS structure creates more activity-based content for participants, which is essential to ensuring that they have fun attending the swimming classes,” says Mr Lee, citing Speedi’s motto of “Happy Swimming, Good Technique”.
Who knows? Your child could turn out to be the next Joseph Schooling, Quah Ting Wen or Tao Li.
For experienced swimmers and adults
So maybe your child has passed all his LTS lessons with flying colours. Or perhaps you are an experienced swimmer who has perfected the four basic strokes, and wanting to do more than just lap after lap in the pool or performing cardiopulmonary resuscitation drills.
As advanced as the LTS curriculum may be, it barely scratches the surface of what Speediswim has to offer.
If you are serious about going competitive, sign up for Speediswim’s intensive Competitive Swimming programme, which serves to further develop your endurance and technique.
You will also be taught the basics of being part of a swim team, such as how to perform proper dives and turns, reading the pace clock and circle swimming techniques.
Be warned though — the Competitive Swimming programme is only meant for competent swimmers who are proficient in at least three swimming strokes. Speediswim has a reputation for nurturing the best of the best, so entrants will need to have at least a Swim Skill 4 certification from the LTS programme, and attend a tryout session.
But if you simply want to explore different fields, or in this case, pools, check out the Water Polo or Synchronised Swimming programmes.
An aquatic ball game similar to handball, water polo develops your strength, stamina, reflexes and hand-eye coordination.
At Speediswim, aspiring players are trained at a competitive level, with the eventual aim of participation in national-level tournaments and leagues. It has the results to show for it too — former Speedi water polo players Nicholas Ting, Darren Tan, Eugene Tan and Min Guan Lin — all went on to join Team Singapore.
But where water polo is about aggression, interception and strategic play, synchronised swimming, or synchro, poses its own set of unique challenges. A sport originally exclusive to women, synchro has recently begun including a mixed duet category.
Speediswim’s synchro classes are wildly popular amongst its female LTS graduates, while the mixed duet has been registering increased interest among male swimmers.
Speedi’s synchro swimmers have competed on an international level, in events such as the Fina World Championships and Asian Games.
A sport that demands the grace of a dancer, power of a gymnast and agility of an acrobat, synchronised swimming entails swimmers performing choreographed routines underwater with extreme precision, sometimes even on a single breath.
It requires an incredible amount of stamina, strength and flexibility — and most of all, determination.
For older folks
Even if you have never learned anything beyond the basic doggy paddle even in adulthood, LTS classes are available for adults as well, so there is nothing to stop you from finally mastering the breaststroke with the best of them.
If you already know how to swim, but want to keep fit without stressing your joints or muscles, opt instead for Sports Lifestyle Initiative’s Aqua Aerobics or Deep Water Workout programmes.
These are intended to burn a maximum amount of calories while minimising joint strain. Plus, they still offer all the benefits that regular swimming does — increasing bone density and muscle mass, reducing atherosclerosis, and best of all, keeping you cool as you stay fit.
Sports Lifestyle Initiatives and Speediswim Aquatic Centre are located at 3500A Bukit Merah Central. Visit www.speediswim.net or www.facebook.com/familyofspeedi to find out more about their aquatic programmes. For further enquiries, call Speediswim’s hotline at 9170-3765 or 9320-3366 from 9am to 9pm, Tuesday to Sunday.