Benefits of Competitive Swimming

We are all aware of just how good swimming is but what are the real benefits of competitive swimming?

It is low impact

While competing will mean that you put in more effort than your leisurely swimmer, it is still a low impact exercise. Therefore, not only will you benefit from pushing yourself, you will also limit the damage caused to muscles and joints. Of course, this does depend on your technique but if you are swimming competitively then your technique is probably pretty good!

It keeps your brain active

Swimming competitively requires you to actively think about your stroke, your lengths and your times. All of these aspects of competitive swimming will keep your brain active and will give provide further benefits in other walks of life.

It improves your look

While many will go into competitive swimming for the chance to compete against others, not many go into it knowing that they will have a great physique. When you think about a swimmers physique it is lean, broad and strong and that in itself is a benefit.

Keeps you and others safe

If you are a competitive swimmer it essentially means that you are good in the water. You can probably swim long distances, using the correct techniques and that makes you safe around water. Between the age of 1 and 4, drowning is the biggest cause of death which is a staggering fact but being able to swim will give you the confidence to save someone should you see them in trouble in the water.

Swimming works for all ages

It does not matter how old you are, once you have learned the skill of swimming, you will be able to enter the pool and swim as much as your body will allow you. As a competitive swimmer now, it will give you the stamina and fitness to go on and continue swimming to a high level as you get older but even then, you will still be able to grace the water like a professional.

It is social

Taking part in swimming competitions and being part of a team will give your personal life real structure. It will also give you the ability to meet new people and form new friendships that stem from a sport you love and enjoy. When you are all training and working towards a common goal will bring you all closer together.

It gives you complete versatility

When you swim just to keep fit, you tend to stick with what you know but when you swim competitively, you will find that you will push yourself to try new things. This might be competing in a new stroke or even in a new competition but it will give you the chance to give yourself new targets as opposed to just standing still and playing it safe.

You can train in a way that suits you which means that you can either train for endurance or if you want to train for the shorter competitions then that is also possible.



In the UK, we are blessed with beautiful countryside and stunning outdoor space that is there for us to use. When it comes to swimming, many of us might think that we have to use our local leisure centres or lidos but that is not strictly true. We are an island that is not only surrounded by water but we also have some of the best lakes where you can swim freely and outdoors. The following lakes are some of the best in the UK, so take your pick because they are all pretty special in their own way. 

Goldiggins Quarry Lake, Cornwall

This spring-fed quarry lake is ideal during the summer months because it really is a suntrap, giving you the freedom of outdoor swimming and the feeling of the warm sun on your back. Filled with water that gives off a stunning jade colour and surrounded by jagged rocks, it is the perfect spot for all competent swimmers. There are flat ledges for those who enjoy a spot of jumping and grassy areas for relaxing with a picnic. The walk there is simply magical on its own and so, if you get the chance to swim here, you should grab it with both hands.

Loch Caoldair, Laggan, Western Cairngorms

Scotland is known for its lochs as there are thousands of them dotted around the country, however, new open access laws mean that almost all of them are available to swim in. One of the best is Loch Caoldair which can be found on the western side of the Cairngorms. A mile from the main road, it is surrounded by wilderness and nature but it does come with a stunning little beach. If you find yourself lucky enough to be staying in one of the hotels nearby then this loch is an absolute must. Explore the area a little more and you will find waterfalls and secluded places that are perfect for an early morning dip.

Llynnau Mymbyr, Snowdonia

This is not one lake but two and they can be found on the edge of Capel Curig. They are a real thing of beauty and offer amazing views of Snowdonia, including the Snowdon horseshoe. As it is a tourist hotspot, you are likely to be surrounded by people who are keen to take photographs of the beauty that surrounds you but if you are looking for a swim in open-water then this is it.


Lake Windermere, Lake District

One of the most famous lakes in the UK, this is outdoor swimming perfection. Plenty of open space to enjoy a casual swim with amazing surroundings and backdrops of huge mountains.

Serpentine Lake, London

This famous lake in London has been used by the public for swimming for more than 150 years, and so, it is clear to see why it is ranked as one of the best in the country. It has its own swimming club that meets each Saturday but the whole affair is civilised. Wetsuits are banned here, so it will have to be your swimming costumes only but remember that non-members can only dive in between May and September.

The Top 5 Swimming Fins

If you want to enhance your training and become more efficient in the water then training fins are perfect. However, there are many out there to choose from but understanding which ones are right for you can prove difficult.

To determine which ones are right for you, you might need to speak with your swimming coach or even try out some that belong to friends, families or fellow swimmers. Fins are designed to give your ankles more flexibility in the water while also increase resistance all of which improves the strength in your lower body.

However, it is important that the fit properly and tightly without stopping your blood flow. If the fit is tighter then it will ensure that more power is transferred from the kick and through the fins.

Different brands are likely to have a different fit but they do fit in the same way as a shoe. So, with this in mind, what are the top five swimming fins currently available?

Aqua Sphere Microfin HP

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This training fin is considered an all-rounder and is often the perfect choice for those of you who are having difficulty finding a fin that fits your feet. The foot pocket is ergonomically designed and that is why they are more suited to those with narrow feet.

They come with additional features such as raised rubber ribs to channel the water correctly as well as the right grip to improve your grip on the wall when carrying out a flip turn. These are great fins and offer excellent value for money.

Manu Training Fins

These are another set of all-rounder fins that are ideal for everyone. They are open-toed and have an enclosed heel while they 100% silicone offers comfort. These are perfect for beginners and can be purchased in three bright colours which makes them great for young ones.

Arena Powerfin Pro

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These have been cleverly designed thanks to a surface that is sloping while the hydrodynamic slit at the top makes it possible to swim using a faster leg kick and a greater level of control. Ankle flexibility is enhanced through the open heel design and this provides a greater level of upwards motion and more power when carrying out the downward leg kick. This training fin is light and compact and comes with a number of features while also reducing the possibility of blisters.

Finis Positive Drive Fins
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This swim training fin has been designed for all four swimming strokes which included the butterfly while also being lightweight and extremely comfortable. Due to their design, they are perfect for those who train using a number of strokes. It has a wide blade that is short and therefore, it encourages a natural inward supination style of kick for the Butterfly Freestyle and Backstroke.

Speedo Biofuse Fin
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If you carry out basic training then this fin is perfect for you. The Speedo Biofuse technology means that they work with your body, giving you a sense of freedom and movement in the water. When compared to the Maru fins, they are heavier and feel more rigid which means that they are probably better suited for teenagers through to adults.



With summer getting into full swing, time spent outdoors is an absolute must. When the sun shines in the UK, we have to take complete advantage of it. It makes us feel good and for some reason, when the weather is hot we tend to look for the best ways to keep us cool and this is where an outdoor swimming pool can really work wonders for you.

A lido is a great place to cool down, have fun, take your clothes off and have a good old-fashioned swim or paddle around! Take a look at the following outdoor swimming pools, all of which are the best in the UK.

Saltdean Lido

The pavilion and pool were built in 1938 and for decades it has provided people with a place to swim and enjoy the outdoors when the sun is shining. It is great for those of you who like to take the opportunity of outdoor swimming or for those of you who like to frolic around. It is currently going through a restoration but once that is completed it will be more popular than ever before.

Brockwell Lido

This Lido is now 80 years old, which is mightily impressive and despite its age, it still looks pretty good! For those of you who like to spend a day there, it has a café, sundeck and gives you the chance to squirrel yourself away in a place that his hidden amongst the concrete jungle of London.

Droitwich Spa Lido

This is a Lido that got hit hard in the 20th century and fell into some kind of disrepair but the 21st century has seen it being given a new breath of fresh air. After years of closure, it re-opened and is the gift that keeps on giving. The pool is saltwater, which is different from many other Lido’s but when you live in Droitwich and a fair distance from the sea it is the perfect place to go. 

Jubilee Pool

Jubilee Pool really has been through it all after being damaged by storms and closed for several years but now it rises again like a phoenix from the flames. A lot of money has been spent on Jubilee Pool, £3 million to be precise but now it is up and running and looking great once again. Its position makes it stand out, perched on the foreshore which provides a spectacular backdrop for those who swim there. What makes this pool even better is that it is geothermally heated and that makes it even more bearable.

Parliament Hill Fields Lido

This Lido screams retro in every possible way and it is clear to see that it has been created for all, regardless of how rich or poor you might be. The whole idea behind this lido was to provide everyone with the opportunity to swim and get fit. It is one of the biggest lidos and that means that you are free to swim how you wish and with the warm summers of London, you can be sure that this is a swimming experience you just have to try!


Benefits of open water swimming

There is no doubt that Open Water swimming is exciting and fun but with it comes a wide range of benefits to your health. These benefits can enhance your wellbeing and make you feel great.

Improves your immune system

There have been many studies carried out on open water swimming and it has been found that it can improve your immune system. They found that those who swam in open water for an hour, three times a week benefited the most. They found that it constituted a shock or an attack to the body, which causes the body to react and boost the immune system.

It enhances circulation

Open water swimming can help to improve the circulatory system because of the change in temperature, it causes the body to pump more blood to the organs. This results in improved circulation and any impurities in the blood are removed easily. However, things are even better than that because it can also enhance your complexion as it can give your skin a healthy glow.

When it comes to boosting the skin, it has been found that swimming in the sea is the best option as it can improve certain conditions such as psoriasis. Alongside this, the British Association of Dermatologists has found that swimming regularly in the sea can help to decrease the symptoms that are associated with eczema.

Enhance mental health

In terms of mental wellbeing, it has been found that swimming in open water can help to improve it which can lead to a reduction in stress and anxiety. Removing yourself from the busy and hectic urban lifestyle and getting closer to nature will enable you to have more sunlight which can help to improve your levels of Vitamin D and serotonin, which work together to make you feel better.

In the same light as this, open water swimmers often say that they have a feeling of exhilaration, which is also backed medially as it is believed that it enhances the release of adrenalin and promotes a feeling of positivity. To see whether this is true, it could be worth finding out for yourself by heading off to your nearest lake, river or outdoor swimming pool.

You can burn more calories

Swimming is know to help you burn off all those unwanted calories and can help you get fit but Open Water swimming takes it even further. Swimming in cold water helps to burn more calories than you do when you swim in a normal swimming pool. This is down to the fact that you are not only burning calories by working hard in the water but also because the body is constantly working hard to keep your body temperature stable in a cold environment. It is a workout that targets the whole body.

Clearly, there are many benefits that come with open water swimming. If you enjoy being in the water or want to try something new then now could be the time to start swimming outdoors.



Do children receive enough swimming time?

We all know just how crucial swimming is to both children and adults. Having access to the right facilities enables people to take advantage of being able to take part in an exercise that comes with many different benefits but is there more to it than this? 

From a young age, we are all told that swimming is extremely important to our wellbeing but we are also told that being able to swim keeps us and others safe. Therefore, children should be given access to the facilities and more time spent in the water to fine-tune their swimming skills in order to make them competent swimmers into their adult years and beyond. However, do children receive enough swimming time?

The swimming time they receive can be split into two categories. Swimming that is carried out in school time and swimming carried out in personal time with family or friends.

The worrying statistic is that it seems as though more and more children are completely missing out on learning to swim. As many as 20% of children in the UK do not know how to swim and that has been blamed on the cost, the time, as well as schools not playing their part in the bigger picture.

The Swimming Teachers’ Association has found that 90% of parents agree that swimming is a life skill yet 20% of them have a child who has not been taught how to swim, clearly indicating that children are not given enough time because that figure is alarmingly high. Alongside this, 75% of parents have concerns that their child is not a confident swimmer, while 15% of these parents said the reason for their child not being able to swim is simply down to not having the time. So, is this where schools should step in and play their part? 

It would seem that this is a solution to a growing problem but the figures suggest that swimming in school is dropping by as much as 50% when compared to their parents’ generation at the same age.

It is also alarming just how many schools in the UK do not offer swimming lessons, which is 1,300. This is a figure that is certainly shocking because it has been recognised by inspectors from Ofsted that this is the only sport that could potentially help to save lives.

The belief is that this lack of swimming time stems from a missed generation, where they received little or no time in the pool when they were children. This has led to them having a dislike of the water or a lack of confidence in the water, which has now been passed onto their own children. In schools alone, where teachers are under increased pressures to deliver and meet targets, it is clear to see why swimming often takes a back seat. 

There are over 1 million children between the age of seven and eleven in England who cannot swim a full length of a standard pool, highlighting that there clearly is a problem. The government recommends 22 hours a year of swimming lessons in schools yet only 2% of those schools that were surveyed are meeting these recommended targets. 

It seems as though parents and schools are both contributing to the downturn in the number of children who cannot swim. However, the schools can easily rectify this problem by ensuring that children swim regularly while parents should do all they can to encourage their children to swim, especially as swimming lessons can be reasonably priced and leisure centres in some cases, offer free swimming for children of a certain age.

Top 5 swimming toys for children

With summer fast approaching and more time spent outdoors, it is time to consider the best swimming toys that are available for children. We all know that children can spend hours in the pool, whether that is during a summer holiday under the blazing sun or in an indoor pool at home. Whatever it might be, keeping them busy in the water while ensuring that they have fun and continue to learn to swim can prove tricky but luckily, there is a solution! In fact, there are toys available that are both educational and fun at the same time, which means that your little swimmers will be able to enjoy their time in the water even more.

Intex Sea Turtle
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SwimWays Disney Dive and Catch Game
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Water Sports Swim Thru Rings
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Swimming underwater takes practice but these Swim Thru Rings will encourage those children who are more confident in the water to take a peek at the underwater world while trying to swim through these rings. They can compete with friends to see who can swim through the most rings or to see who can swim through the deepest ring. With adjustable underwater depths and great colours, kids will really love these.

Zoggy Dive Sticks
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This can involve you as a parent or it can simply be left to the children to enjoy but the Zoggy Dive Sticks will provide hours of fun. Again, this is a toy that is aimed for little swimmers who are more confident in the water but again, it can help them to feel comfortable swimming underwater. Either you or the child can throw the sticks into the pool, allowing them to sink before the children head off for an underwater treasure hunt. They can have races, see who can pick up the most sticks or simply practice their diving.

Splash Balls
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For little ones who are still yet to get used to being in the water, Splash Balls are a great way of allowing them to have a feel of the water but they are not just limited to really small children. This is because older children can use them to play catch with in the pool or to throw and swim after as part of a fun race to see who can collect them all first.


UV Protection Swimwear for Your Child

Spending time in the sun is what summer is all about. We love to head off on holiday to exotic locations where the sun shines from morning until night but if the weather is good in the UK, we like to take advantage of it by spending time at the beach. Whatever you decide to do, if you have children with you, then you have to make sure that they are protected.

We are all aware of how damaging the sun can be and while we are encouraged to use the correct sun cream for our children, we should also consider the right UV protection swimwear, so what are the options?

UV Sun and Sea Suit

Choosing an all in one suit will ensure that your child is kept warm when in the water because it will help to reduce the risk of UV damage. With long sleeves and legs, your child will remain protected as it has a sun protection of UPF 50+ while it is comfortable and comes in a wide range of colours and designs.

Sun protection top

If your child is a little too old to be wearing an all in one suit, then a sun protection top is the next best thing. It enables them to wear bather shorts or bikini bottoms while ensuring that their upper body is protected as much as possible. A raised neck coverage will protect the neck as much as possible, while the UPF 50+ offers a high level of protection from the sun. For the children, they will be pleased with the fact that they are quick drying because every child hates a wet top that sticks to them!

UV Hat

Often, the head, neck and face are the most vulnerable when it comes to spending time in the pool because we tend to focus on the rest of the body, regardless of how much we cover their faces in sun cream. A UV sunhat will protect the top of the head and the scalp, the back of the neck while the deep brim will also provide shade for their face.

UV Two Piece Set

If a UV top is not sufficient enough for your peace of mind and you are concerned that your child is not protected enough, you can opt for a two piece set. The top will protect the arms, neck and body with UPF 50+ protection while the bottoms will also offer protection of UPF 50+. These are great for older children who are active both in and out of the water.


When children spend time in the pool, they are not just there to swim because they also like to play which means that their upper body spends time out of the pool. While protecting the body is vital, they also need to protect their eyes from the direct sunrays and those rays that reflect off the water. Therefore, opting for glasses that have a UV 400 rating will ensure that all rays are blocked.




Top 5 MP3 players for swimming

As with any form of exercise, having something to inspire you and make you work harder can make the world of difference. Many people love to listen to their favourite music when it comes to training because it gives them something to focus on but also helps them to feel good. For decades, swimmers always lost out on being able to listen to music while they swim but technology makes this possible and so, they can now listen to their favourite tracks while swimming lengths but when it comes to choosing an MP3 player, it is important to determine how you plan to use it.

If you swim infrequently and do not spend a huge amount of time in the water then you could opt for one that is partially waterproof but all of this changes if you swim in deeper water on a regular basis. This is because you will require one that carried the right rating for the depth that you swim at or else it could become damaged. Once you understand what you require, you can then choose your waterproof MP3 player. The following five waterproof Mp3 players will certainly give you the chance to listen to your favourite songs when you are in the water.

AudioFlood iPod Shuffle
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This is a waterproof version of the original model but this comes in six different colours to suit your needs. It has a capacity of 2GB which gives you plenty of space for your music and it comes with 15 hours of battery life. If you are familiar with iTunes then this is a great option. Short-cord headphones, a swim cap included and a depth rating of 200 feet should make this a great choice.

WaterFi 8GB
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This has more storage than the shuffle as it can hold 2,000 songs, which is a large amount of music to choose from while exercising in the water. It can be submerged in up to 20 feet of water and there is no software required to use this. A one year warranty will also give peace of mind should anything go wrong.

Swimbuds Syryn
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This is a great waterproof MP3 player that offers a shuffle feature for those of you who like to mix things up. Along with that, they come with adjustable goggle, a tube of FitGoo and a hair product that is designed to protect your hair. The manufacturers have also acknowledged the fact that everyone has different needs when it comes to their earphone tips and so, it comes with several handy different sized ear tips.

Sigomatech 8GB Swimming
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This is waterproof to a depth of 10ft, which is ideal for those who do not dive to extreme depths. It comes in standard colours such as black, blue and pink and is durable which means that you do not have to worry about how you handle it. It is light when attached to goggles and delivers an excellent sound while a full charge takes around two hours.

AGPTek 8GB S66

A neat MP3 player that supports a wide range of file formats. The headphones are particularly useful as they have coiled sections that have just enough stretch in them to fit comfortably without wires getting in the way of your stroke. Again, these come with three ear tip sizes and has enough of a capacity to hold a large volume of tracks.

Best drills for front crawl breathing

For many, the front crawl can prove to be a swimming stroke that is difficult for them to master. It might require perseverance and patience to get it right as well as the correct progressive swimming drills but this will enable you to learn the correct breathing technique to master this stroke.

Drill No. 1

Begin this drill by standing in shallow water that is around waist deep. Then, bending from the hips, stand with your face and chest in the horizontal position and submerged. The arms need to remain positioned at the side of your body before you exhale in the water. Once you have completed exhaling, turn your head to the left and inhale before returning your head back to the water. You can continue this until it become more familiar to you.

Drill No. 2

This drill is rather similar to that of the first drill but it incorporates freestyle arm movements. So, begin by bending from the hips and then submerging your head and chest. Exhale while you are in the water and then, when you position your head sideways to inhale, take your arm that is positioned on the breathing side and sweep it backwards. Once you have inhaled, return your face to the water and bring the active arm back to original positon. You can then alternate the breathing sides and the arm movement.

Drill No. 3

Start by putting on swim fins and use a kickboard that is positioned at arms’ length. Push off, so that you are floating in a horizontal position with your face submerged and facing downwards. Gently kick with your fins and exhale in the water and then rotate your body and your head sideways so you can inhale. Then turn your body downward to exhale before alternating sides again.

Drill No.4

This drill is much like Drill 3 but it does not involve the use of a kickboard held out in front of you. So, your face and body remains horizontal in the water with the face submerged and facing downwards before kicking with your fins and exhaling. Again, turn your body and head sideways so you can inhale before returning to the water.

Drill No.5

Attempt to carry out the full freestyle stroke with fins on while breathing on the same side for the duration of the length every two strokes. After completing this length, change the breathing side for the next length and continue this if you feel comfortable. The fins will aid the buoyancy of your legs and make it easier to move forward which will enable you to focus more on your breathing technique and to synchronise that with the arm stroke and roll of the body.

Drill No.6

This follows on from Drill 5 as it requires you to swim a length but to alternate the breathing sides throughout the length. Therefore, aim to inhale every third stroke and not every second stroke like previously. This helps to instil a habit of breathing bilaterally, which his crucial to ensuring the stroke remains balanced and symmetrical.


Take off the swim fins and aim to swim freestyle following all that you have learned in the drills you have followed. If you are finding certain aspects difficult, revert back to the specific drill that deals with that issue and you will soon find that you are swimming front crawl perfectly.