First thing's first: I am not a swimmer. I'm just a girl who started swimming last year to prep for triathlons.
My feelings in the pool or lake have always been mixed:
- Sometimes, I loved the peacefulness and rhythmic nature of swimming. I loved how it didn't give my body a pounding like running and made my body feel- and look- stronger. I enjoyed challenging myself. It's so humbling and rewarding to watch yourself improve each day.
- Other times, I hated my time in the water. It would often make me sick. I couldn't always handle the smell of chlorine, the wakes in the lake, the tightness of my goggles, getting water in my ears, or worse, swallowing it. The monotony of counting laps got to me, and I couldn't wait to be done.
My last triathlon of last year was on August 1. Yet, I kept swimming at 6:00 a.m. 2 to 3 days per week until I met my awesome goal in mid-January. I stopped swimming when I decided to cut back on exercise to help my fertility.
Why did I keep swimming for so long though? Did the pros of this sport really outweigh the cons?
There was one big reason to continue swimming: I'd heard time and time again that swimming is one of the best exercises for pregnant women. This is because it's low impact, safe, and makes you feel weightless (source).
I kept thinking pregnancy was around the corner which is why I kept up my swimming routine. It figures I'd get pregnant a few months after I gave it up
But being out of swimming shape didn't stop me from taking a dip in the water again. Around 6 weeks, when I wasn't allowed to run yet, I had a rare moment of energy. I took advantage of it and headed for the pool.
Swimming felt great… for 10 minutes. Then nausea and dizziness hit me like a ton of bricks. I ran out of the pool and had to sit in the locker room for a good 20 minutes before I felt well enough to drive home. I felt this way for the next 3 days, so I took it as a cue that I wasn't quite ready to resume swimming.
At 10 weeks, I chaperoned my hubby (meaning I followed him in the kayak) while he swam in the lake. I was feeling ok at that moment, so I swam afterwards. And I'm happy to report that I've been swimming in the lake every weekend since then
My personal lifeguard.
But like running, swimming during pregnancy is different:
- I need a lot of breaks. I used to never stop and take a breather during my swim sessions before. Now I can only go a couple minutes without fully taking my head out of the water. I keep moving by doing a Jen version of breast stroke. I just need air.
- I can't swim that long. My workouts were never that long anyway; 40 minutes tops. Now I just stick to 20 minute sessions. For some reason, swimming tires me a lot more than running. I'm just listening to my body.
- It feels really good. As I get further along in my pregnancy, I'm noticing new aches in my body each day. Swimming takes them all away. It just feels so darn good to float.
- My form suffers. I barely know anything about proper swimming technique anyway. But I used to keep my abs tight to help keep my hips parallel with my head and shoulders. Well, I cannot flex my abs now no matter how hard I try!
(Check out this info about swimming during pregnancy from the experts.)
I haven't made it back to the pool since the day I felt sick. I have a feeling the chlorine is what did me in. But as the weeks tick by, I'm sure I'll want to start replacing some running workouts with swimming ones. I just need to muster up the nerve to hit the pool again!
And a new bathing suit in a few weeks would help too