Wild swimming in a pool? Is that even possible?
YES! Well, sort of. Of course, nothing compares to wild swimming in a crystal clear mountain lake, or the feeling of the waves in the ocean, but it IS possible to replicate some of the natural movements that you use when swimming in open spaces.
1. Treading water
It is surprisingly tiring just to stay in one place with your head above water. It’s also not particularly exciting. You can make it more interesting by incorporate treading water into your wild swimming routine in a more organic way — why not set a rule that you don’t hang onto the side of the pool, the lane ropes or touch your feet to the ground for the entire session?
You can also try the following variations of treading water:
- Just using your arms
- Just using your legs
- Take each limb “out of action” in turn (surprisingly, I find this harder than only using arms or legs!)
2. Diving for pennies
This childhood classic is great for practicing duck dives and underwater swimming. It’s so fun and absorbing that you won’t notice how much of a workout you are getting.
Here are some variations:
- Swim underwater to the penny.
- Swim above the surface of the water until you are over the penny, then duck dive straight down to retrieve it.
- Race someone to get to the penny.
- Use an object that sinks slowly
3. Change of direction without using the wall
When you are wild swimming in nature, there are no walls to push off when you change direction. It takes a lot of strength an coordination to decelerate, turn around and accelerate again, all in an efficient way.
To train the skill, swim as fast as you can in one direction then double back on yourself. Notice if you always do it by turning in one direction (i.e. to your left or your right). Try and train the other direction too.
You can also do this exercise while swimming completely underwater if you feel confident to do so.
4. Carrying an object
There is huge potential here for a serious aquatic workout. Here are some ideas:
- Find an object that is heavy and waterproof. I like to use an old rope stuffed in a drybag (squeeze all the air out so that it sinks).
- Swim while carrying the object in the water.
- Swim while carrying the object out of the water (imagine that it is something that can’t get wet for some reason).
- Allow the object to sink to the bottom of the pool, dive down to get it, resurface and repeat.
- Borrow a friend to be a “body” that you need to transport while swimming. Try and keep their face above the water. It’s only polite.
5. Underwater wrestling
For more confident swimmers this is a fantastic (and super fun) pool exercise. Try some of these variations:
- Use a hair tie / elastic band etc to loosely attach a ribbon/short cord to each person’s ankle, the aim of the game is to get the ribbon first (similar to the sport of aquathlon).
- The rule is that only palm to palm contact is allowed. The aim is to push the other person back to their side of the pool.
- Play “limpet” – one person is the “limpet” and attaches themselves to the other person who must attempt to detach themselves. Best played with close friends, I think the key to winning is not laughing so hard that you inhale water.
Obviously, it is assumed that you are playing these games with a friend and not someone who will try and drown you. But if you and/or your friends have a tendency to get over competitive, maybe agree upon some additional ground rules to prevent dirty play!