May 23, 2024

Swimming and your Heart Health by Becky Flanigan

The more you exercise a muscle, the stronger it gets – and that includes the heart muscle. Since over a million people will suffer heart attacks each year, doing things which will make the heart stronger just makes good sense.

Why is swimming such good heart exercise?

The cardiovascular aspect. The resting heart rate is about 10 beats per second lower when a person is in the water, and the maximum heart rate will be 10 to 30 beats lower in the water. A swimmer’s heart will pump the same amount of blood as in other exercise, but do it more slowly. While no one completely understands why this happens, it is thought to be due to decreased gravity and the lower temperature of water. This gives swimming an advantage over land exercise, allowing the heart to grow stronger and pump more oxygen to the body. Here are a few resources with more information:

Swimming Saved My Life

Heart Health and Swimming Pools

Swimming and Heart Health

Lower risk of heart disease. Swimming burns calories and builds muscles, so a regular regimen of water workouts will boost the metabolism. This will help in managing weight, which will reduce the risk of obesity and heart disease. The American Heart Association states that 30 minutes of aerobic exercise each day lowers the blood pressure, which also reduces the risk of heart disease.

Check with the doctor. Before you begin a swimming routine to improve your heart health, check with the doctor, to make sure she/he clears you to exercise. Ask him how much exercise you should begin with. While the guideline for adults is 30 minutes of moderate intensity exercise, set that as a goal to work for over time – don’t just try to begin at that level.

Start slowly. If you are new to working out, particularly swimming, don’t overdo at first. Swimming is a strenuous form of exercise, so it is suggested that beginners start with 12 to 20 minutes of swimming, and over time, let the length of your swims gradually increase. The best beginning stroke is freestyle.

To get in a great aerobic workout, which strengthens your heart without stressing other body parts, it’s tough to beat swimming. The best bonus – how great you feel after a good swim!

Becky Flanigan writes for, and her areas of expertise are kids and parenting, exercise and health. She is avid about her workouts, which have ranged from aqua jogging to marathon training. She and her husband Ed also enjoy entertaining, and taking vacations with their 3 kids.

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Triathlon Open-Water Swimming Tips by Mark Kleanthous

Swimming in open water is very alien for most people. Beginners, experienced triathletes and the elite all sometimes get nervous from open water swimming.

For the majority of most people it is almost impossible to sink when wearing a correctly fitted triathlon wet suit. Just try to dive down in 1.5m swimming pool wearing a wet suit, then try and touch the bottom. Being relaxed in a wetsuit will give you the biggest improvements in performance. It is perfectly normal to become nervous, your mind is telling you to not swim in open water to avoid going into the unknown.

Two important principles for open-water swimming success:

Practice swimming in open water. Firstly do not venture out too far. Stay close to the edge where you can easily get out of the water. Try and float on your back in a swimming pool and see how much effort it takes, then repeat with a wetsuit on and you will soon realize how easily you float without any effort. You will have considerably more confidence in open water once you have experienced the art of floating.

Never swim alone and always swim close to others. Make sure you have already discussed an emergency action plan and you know the address of the entrance for emergency services to arrive THE BEST safety decisions are always made before you get into the water.

Here are three how-to tips to gain comfort swimming in open water:

Swim in all different conditions; calm day’s windy days, dull days and bright sunny days. Learn to love and experience what Mother Nature decides to throw at you. Frequency of open water swimming builds up self confidence.

Before you venture into open water, practice in a pool breathing on both sides. Learn the water polo style of looking ahead. If possible, swim is an adjacent lane to an aqua-cise or fun swim session and the pool will have more waves than normal. This will better prepare you for open water swimming.

Sighting or correct navigation is easy to learn. Find out how often you need to look up before going off course. You may need to look up every 4, 6 or 8 strokes. The more you swim in open water the less often you will need to look up and still swim in as straight line. If you swim 2 metres in the wrong direction you will at least need to cover another 2m to get back on track. Use 2 points as reference, a buoy and a tall building or tree directly behind the buoy. Make sure when looking up to sight, you kick a little more to keep your body vertical in the water and avoid the legs sinking.

Mistakes to avoid:
-Only start swimming in open water only when YOU are ready, not when others are ready. It is much better to wait a few extra weeks for the water to warm up then try and swim in freezing cold water and lose any confidence you have. Taking the plunge too early can set you back months.
-Avoid swimming close to rocks, weedy areas,  boat traffic and harbour walls where there is no place to exit the water.
-A wet suit can make you over confident, and will not prevent you from drowning.

Mark Kleanthous is an open water swim coach and has his own lake for individual coaching. He has competed in more than 450 triathlons and has competed as an elite and recorded some of the fastest T1 & T2 transition times overall. Mark Kleanthous has competed in triathlons for 30 consecutive seasons and crossed the finish line in more than 450 triathlons including 35 ironman events. He is the author of The Complete Book of Triathlon Training and is a full time sports and nutrition coach. Mark can be contacted via his web site

5 Factors for Triathlon Fitness written by Mark Kleanthous

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5 Factors for Triathlon Fitness written by Mark Kleanthous

There are five main factors that contribute to fitness in triathlon – aerobic threshold endurance, nutrition, economy, strength and recovery – but your approach to them has to be balanced. Neglect one and your performance will suffer.

Aerobic threshold endurance

The use of intense aerobic-threshold training (which effectively, means training at your predicted triathlon pace) is perhaps the best way to get fit – the more you do the easier the training session gets and the faster you become. However, the problem is that we have a limited tolerance to it, and the result can be over-training. Therefore, not all your training should consist of intense, aerobic-threshold work-outs, also known as a ‘key work-outs’. Unfortunately, it is a common mistake to do too many of them with more than eight weeks to go before a triathlon.


In order to compete successfully in any triathlon event you must be able to load your body with all the fuel necessary to propel yourself across the required distance at the desired speed. But this factor isn’t only important when racing, because in order to complete your training successfully your body must be constantly carrying the correct amount of fuel. By that I mean the type of carbohydrate that can be accessed and fed to the muscles during training, as well as when racing.

Top triathletes all have one thing in common – they don’t waste energy doing things they don’t need to do. Having 10% extra energy is not good if you use up 15% more running compared to a fellow competitor. Economy of movement is something that can be learned early and needs to become automatic.


Strength is important in all sports. However, what is required in triathlon is sport-specific strength to the level required. For example, resistance training using hand paddles, cycling up hills and running off road is more specific than weight training.


Full-time athletes are obviously more successful than those who work full time because they can dedicate more time to training, but another equally important reason is because they are able to take more recovery time. Most injuries and illnesses are caused more by the lack of consistent sleep, regular massages, healthy food, stretches and cool downs than anything else. These recovery essentials  not only help you recover from work-outs, but more importantly they allow you to tolerate a greater amount of training. Fitness is about being able to recover as you train; the quicker the recovery the greater the effect it has on fitness.

This article is written by Mark Kleanthous. Mark has competed in triathlons for 30 consecutive seasons and crossed the finish line in more than 450 triathlons including 35 ironman events. He is author of The Complete Book of Triathlon Training and is a full time sports and nutrition coach. Mark can be contacted via