Powerful Swimming

When you think of swimming, you might think of a leisurely summertime activity - pool parties and trips to the beach or the lake. But in high schools and colleges across the country, the competitive swim season heats up as the weather gets cold.

Swimming is one of the most challenging sports of the winter season. Swimming involves many of the same principles required in other sports, like strength, endurance and teamwork.

Different Styles: Like track and field, there are different swimming races for different styles of athletes. A quick, strong swimmer might do well in a 50-meter sprint race, which is one lap in a regulation sized pool. In this race, athletes essentially swim as hard as they can for the entire event. A swimmer with high endurance and the ability to swim long distances would compete in the 1,500-meter freestyle race, which is the longest event in competitive swimming. In this race, swimmers have to conserve their energy and know when to push themselves to the limit. A swimmer who excels at a number of different strokes (freestyle, backstroke, butterfly and breast stroke) might participate in the individual medley.

Teamwork: Being a member of the swim team means that you don't just jump in the pool and swim when it's time for your event. Athletes will stand along the side of the pool and cheer on their teammates, motivating them to go faster. There are also several relay events, when four members of the same team compete together.

Practice, practice, practice: In many towns, pool time is scarce. Many different groups and teams want to be able to get their laps in. Because of this, many high school teams will practice early in the morning, before school! These dedicated athletes head to practice when it's still dark out, making the effort to get better for every meet. The best way to become a better swimmer is to get in the pool and swim laps. It's not easy, but swimmers grow into some of the best conditioned and strongest athletes around.

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