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How Swimming Can Improve Health Essay

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Updated: Mar 5th, 2022

Swimming is the a of moving through water without any artificial support. It has been a very popular activity for many people around the world because of its soothing and relaxing nature. It even developed into a competitive sport at the end of the nineteenth century, leading to sporting events specifically featuring competitive swimming as a separate event. Another popular use of swimming has been in rehabilitation from injuries where patients are soothed by the activity as well as being exposed to light exertion so as to build strength.

The activity is known to have been prevalent from the Stone Age. Ancient paintings are seen with people wading through water and some of the oldest works in Western literature such as the Iliad, the Odyssey and Beowulf have characters that swim the ocean waters. In the year 1538, a German professor by the name of Nikolaus Wynmann is said to have written the first book on swimming. After that competitive swimming took hold in Europe with the advent of the nineteenth century and it became an Olympic sport in the 1896 Athens Olympics.

There are many different styles for swimming. The most popular one is freestyle which is generally regarded as the fastest which is further proven by the high times clocked in its sporting events. Another one, which gained the most popularity among the British, was the breaststroke. This was because the British did not consider the splashing accompanying the freestyle as socially appropriate and preferred the gentle motion of the breaststroke. A third one, and usually considered the most difficult to master, is the butterfly. It requires more strength to execute as well compared to the other ones.

Swimming was initiated as an Olympic sport in the year 1896 at the summer Olympic Games in Athens. It began as a male only competition with Alfred Hajos of Hungary becoming the first athlete to win a gold medal in the event. Women were allowed to participate in the 1912 games in Stockholm for the first time. Soon after the variant methods of swimming started being incorporated as different events and even relay race equivalents were started with competitors representing their respective countries.

Swimming has slowly seen some application in industry and scientific research as well. Health facilities and spas started utilizing the activity as a good method to get some good exercise and soothe the body. Therapists that dealt with patients recovering from injuries recognized the benefits of the activity, choosing to let the patients “swim” their way to good health. The use of lifeguards quickly became widespread on all the major beaches around the world where their services were required to spot and save people who may be drowning. Even marine biologists and oil exploration companies looked to good and capable swimming as a crucial skill in terms of the surveys they conducted which required going out to sea or diving deep underwater.

One of the most famous men in the world of swimming and regarded as one the best swimmers in the world is the Australian Ian Thorpe. He is said to have been born larger than a typical baby for his age and quickly got to a height above six feet by the time he was fourteen. After getting a few swimming classes with his sister, Thorpe started competing in school level championships and eventually made it to the Pan Pacific Swimming Championships in Japan where he managed a top three finish. Thus he subsequently became the youngest Australian ever to be selected to represent the national team. Thereafter, Thorpe participated in the Atlanta Olympics in 1996 and won a silver medal. With a string of successes in the World Aquatic Championships in 1998 and the Commonwealth Games in the same year, Ian Thorpe was heavily expected to break the world 200m and 400m free style records in lieu of his physical as well as mental growth. He ultimately attained that feat and even went on to break his own records in the following years. In the 2000 summer Olympics, much was expected from Thorpe and he duly delivered by winning three gold medals and extended his record in two styles, although he was eclipsed by the Dutch Pieter van den Hoogenband in the 200m final. He was thus named the Australian swimmer of the year.

In the Summer Olympics of 2004, Thorpe was again a highlight of the Australian team. However, he faced controversy when he slipped from the board for the 400m qualifiers in Australia and was thus disqualified. The second place finisher came under intense public pressure to relinquish his position in the team in favor of Thorpe which was eventually done after much ethical debate. In that Olympics, Michael Phelps entered the 200m competition with a view to get eight Olympic gold medals which therefore led to the media characterizing it as the “race of the century” with the juggernauts Phelps, Thorpe, Van den Hoogenband and Hackett competing for the medal. The tense final again saw Ian Thorpe being eclipsed by Van Hoogenband at the start but eventually chased him out to set a new world record and claim the race of the century. Following the 2004 games, Thorpe decided to temporarily withdraw from competition after which he retired, following one attempt at a return in 2006.

The remarkable success of Ian Thorpe has been ascribed to a variety of factors. One was his physiology which was said to be inherently suited to swimming. Another was his work ethic and habits which allowed him to train hard and persistently. He has also been lauded for his trademark strong kick and ability to accelerate. Outside of his swimming career, Thorpe has been a jewel in the eyes of the Australian public who see him as a role model based on his personality and response to fame. This led to many Australian business giants approaching him for lucrative contracts on the basis of his amazing popularity among the public. He was widely claimed to have been one of the greatest swimmers the world had ever seen and a graceful champion as well.

Health Maintenance Techniques

Health maintenance is a good way to retain a happy and fulfilling lifestyle. It brings physical well being as well as a mental feeling of fulfillment. It is however an active process and requires considerable effort and sustainability on the part of an individual. If the focus goes out in holidays for example, one may find things slipping away from one’s grasp. That is why it is crucial to apply health maintenance techniques in holidays such as in a Spring break.

One of the methods is swimming. It has been known to be a refreshing exercise that not only helps burn calories and provide exercise to the muscles; it also provides a very refreshing feeling. This is especially helpful in warm countries where the glaze of the summer sun can be avoided and some nice aerobic activity attained while not dropping loads of sticky sweat. Freestyle and particularly the butterfly styles are good for this as they require more exertion and hence more benefit to the body.

Another method is employing regular cycles of walking or jogging. This can be a good way to both socialize with friends over a summer jog as well as maintain good health by rounds of a nice and green park. It can not only help burn those extra calories but also helps regulate the schedule during a day as one has to plan and take time out in a day for a treadmill or to a jogging track. This can be augmented with the use of a walkman to make the activity less monotonous and listen to one’s favorite tunes while maintaining good health.

If one prefers to build or maintain muscular strength and get out a body shape, then weight training is the ideal pursuit. It can help build muscle mass and strength while making a person feel mentally good about the activity. At the end of the spring holidays, not only does a person feel good about retaining health, there is also the added incentive of having a body shape to boast about and muscular brawn to show for it. This is also helped by the presence of friends or colleagues at a gym where socialization can take place side by side.

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