Making a Splash

I grew up not spending much time in the water. Weird, I know! My hometown is pretty cold for a lot of the year, and my parents were just never really into going to pools and stuff like that. So I grew up only rarely swimming or spending time on the shore.

I’d like to change that! It seems to me that spending time in the water is a healthy thing to do, so I want to become more of a “water person.” What activities would you recommend to a novice swimmer? What can I do to stay active (and in the water) as I get older? I don’t want to spend a ton of money or anything like that, but I’d really like to “make a splash” a little more often in the future!

What a great idea! Getting outdoors and getting exercise are pretty much always good ideas, and diving into the water--whether you’re at the pool, the lake, or the ocean--is a great way to get out there. Experts agree that there are health benefits to spending time outdoors: research suggests that the benefits go beyond the effects of the exercise we might be getting outside. We can actually trace things like improved memory and mood to spending time outside, regardless of what we’re doing out there. And, of course, exercise is good for you: it helps you stay trim and healthy while also boosting your mood and making your body feel great. So whether you’re swimming in an outdoor pool or relaxing by the shore (or, better yet, exercising in the water outside), you can bet that spending time in and near the water is a good thing for your mind and body.

So how can you get started with your watery ways? A good first step would be to take swimming lessons. While there are certainly a ton of ways to enjoy being at the beach or the lake even if you can’t swim, being able to swim competently will open the doors to many more fun activities--while helping to ensure that you’re as safe as you can be on boats, docks, and near bodies of water.

It’s never too late to sign up for swimming lessons. There are plenty of places to get instruction, including one-on-one instruction for those who would prefer to avoid group settings. Check out local pools--don’t forget to look at indoor pools and pools that are part of larger complexes and organizations, like the YMCA. You should have no trouble at all finding a reliable place to get some instruction. You can prepare yourself by reading up on the basics online before you show up to your first lesson.

As you become a stronger swimmer, you’ll find that there are lots of great ways to enjoy the water. Summer trips to the pool are an obvious choice, and a good one, too: look for local public pools or join a private club with an indoor or outdoor pool. And, of course, it never hurts to be friends with someone who has a pool in their backyard!

Naturally, your vacations will be times when you’ll have great opportunities to spend time in and around the water. Beach towns are very popular vacation destinations, so be sure to take a look at your options! There are places to see on Florida’s Gulf Coast and all around our country. You could even head out of the country for a beach vacation on an island or foreign shore.

Remember to stay active on vacation if you can! You can ensure that by adding a little structured fun to your trip, recommend pros who offer surfing lessons in Waikiki. Sign up for an invigorating outdoor activity in advance and make your healthy fun a part of your vacation plan from the start!

As you grow older, you may find that you have less time to spend in and around the water. That’s natural, but there are plenty of ways to prioritize your healthy outdoor time. One obvious way is to add a pool or a spa to your property, say pros who specialize in swimming pool construction. Folks who own pools have a great reason to spend time outdoors, and that’s a healthy influence to have in your life. In fact, experts say that owning a swimming pool on your property can have measurable health benefits.

Of course, any outdoor activity can have its dangers. Be sure to know your limits and to pursue only those aquatic activities which are appropriate for your skill level as a swimmer. And be careful about mixing food and drink with swimming--you could experience cramps that could keep you from staying afloat. Alcohol mixes wonderfully with beach and pool settings, say the pros at a liquor store in Woodbridge, NJ, but you need to be careful about how you mix them: don’t dive into the water while you’re under the influence, keep glass bottles clear of areas where you (and others) walk barefoot, and--as always--know your limit and don’t over-indulge.

Be sure to mind signs and warnings, too. Know where you are and what dangers you might face. Familiarize yourself with the dangers of riptides on beaches and learn how to make your way back to shore if you get caught in one. Beware of boats on lakes, and swim only in designated areas--the same goes for fishing, boating, and all other water-related sports and activities.

You have a ton of wonderful options for enjoying the water now and for many years to come, but there’s no rush. Start with swimming lessons and learn how to stay safe and feel at ease in the water. Then begin to branch out and try new activities. You may find that you are drawn to particular types of water activities and water sports. You may be drawn to the beach instead of to the lake, or vice versa. You may prefer to swim in the calm waters of a pool. It’s all up to you and your personal preferences! We wish you all the best. Stay safe, have fun, and enjoy--the water’s great!

“For whatever we lose (like a you or a me), It's always our self we find in the sea.”― e.e. cummings

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