To paraphrase a well-known saying, “I hate swimming, but love having swam.” I hate the best possible form of exercise, and at the same time, love it.

Despite being a personal trainer, I’ve never been a fan of any distance-based exercises, swimming, cycling, jogging, etc.  I think my reluctance to engage in exercise that takes a long time to complete has something to do with a latent Attention Deficit Disorder that rears its ugly head when I’m faced with the prospect of doing any one thing for more than 20 minutes.

I kind of surprised myself when I started to swim regularly about 10 years ago.  Despite hating the typical cardio stuff, I did it all for more time than I care to remember.  Jogged, biked, hiked, yuk.  My natural weight is about 205-pounds and jogging subjected my connective tissues and joints to a pounding that I didn’t want to endure. 

For any of you who aren’t familiar with my philosophy, I think distance running is the worst form of exercise.  It’s inefficient, ineffective and injurious.  But that’s a different story for a different time.

To get my weekly dose of conditioning work I swim at least one time per week and in the summer add at least one more day since I spend a lot of time at an outdoor pool.  The maximum amount of time I spend in the pool on a regular basis is about 25 minutes give or take a lap, and when I swim more than once per week I go for about 10-12 laps on these additional days.

I’m not into killing myself, proving anything to myself – or anyone else – or pretending to swim the English Channel.  Also, I do the breaststroke to ease the strain on my cranky shoulders.

The miracle that is the waterproof iPod case makes my swimming routine infinitely more palatable and I highly recommend that anyone who swims pick up this case made by H20Audio.

On top of the swimming, I get plenty of exercise.  In addition to 2 or 3, 40-minute weight lifting workouts, I do a sprinting/agility workout at least once per week and incorporate calisthenics into my routine as well; all of this activity suits me well. 

The most important aspect of this schedule is to make sure that I get enough rest and recovery time in between workouts.  I get a lot more outdoor exercise in the summer, so I cut back on the amount of time I spend in the gym.  I’ll stay indoors in the winter when the weather is lousy.

The point of this whole thing is to point out that I hate swimming, but love what it does for me both physically and mentally.  Granted it’s a bit easier to get into the pool in the summer, but in the winter when it’s cold, damp and generally miserable outside, the thought of slogging my way to another gym just to get into a pool is almost a deal breaker. 

But I do it. 

I do it because I feel great afterward – actually I feel better after about 10 laps – because swimming improves my overall health and conditioning level.  I feel better about myself because I’ve gone out of my way to do something that is good for me.  Since I do some of my best thinking when I’m swimming – like running this piece around in my head – I wind up getting a lot more work done because I swim.

So since we’re in the midst of summer I thought I’d give a shout out to get people to try swimming. For most folks this is the best opportunity that they will have to try swimming, and just maybe will kick off a swimming regimen that will last throughout the year.

Give swimming a try; you’ll be rewarded for your efforts.


  1. I love swimming. If I didn’t have a bad ear I’d do it constantly. Same with cycling and cross country skiing (until I blew out both ACLs). This year has been an off year unfortunately. Is there anything better for you than swimming?

  2. i love calisthenics, but without a healthy ACL you’ll probably have a tough time being able to perform some of these moves…perhaps with some modifications you’d be able to get something out of them.

  3. I like the sound of swimming, but being COMPLETELY out of shape….where do I start?!?!? I have fins does that count to get started or does it make the workout too easy?!?!?


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