Swimming

Swimming is an individual or team sport that involves using arms and legs to move the body through water. Typically, the sport takes place in pools or in open-water. Competitive swimming is one of the most popular Olympic sports, with events in butterfly, backstroke, breaststroke, freestyle, and individual medley. In addition to these individual events, swimmers also take part in relays. Swimming each stroke requires specific techniques, and in competition, there are specific regulations concerning the acceptable form for different strokes. There are also rules put in place to regulate what types of swimsuits are allowed at competitions. Although it is possible for competitive swimmers to incur several injuries from the sport, there are also multiple health benefits associated with the sport.

In competitive swimming, four major styles have been established. These have been relatively stable over the last 30–40 years with minor improvements. They are:

  • Butterfly
  • Backstroke
  • Breaststroke
  • Freestyle

In competition, only one of these styles may be used except in the case of the individual medley, or IM, which consists of all four. In this latter event, swimmers swim equal distances of butterfly, then backstroke, breaststroke, and finally, freestyle. In Olympic competition, this event is swum in two distances – 200 and 400 meters. Some short course competitions also include the 100-yard or 100-meter IM – particularly, for younger swimmers (typically under 14 years) involved in club swimming, or masters swimming (over 18).

World Championship pools must be 50 metres (160 ft) (long course) long and 25 metres (82 ft) wide, with ten lanes labelled zero to nine (or one to ten in some pools; zero and nine (or one and ten) are usually left empty in semi-finals and finals); the lanes must be at least 2.5 metres (8.2 ft) wide. They will be equipped with starting blocks at both ends of the pool and most will have Automatic Officiating Equipment, including touch pads to record times and sensors to ensure the legality of relay take overs. The pool must have a minimum depth of two metres.

Swimwear

  • Swimsuit

A swim cap (a.k.a. cap) keeps the swimmer’s hair out of the way to reduce drag. Caps may be made of latex, silicone, spandex or lycra.

  • Swim cap

A swim cap (a.k.a. cap) keeps the swimmer’s hair out of the way to reduce drag. Caps may be made of latex, silicone, spandex or lycra.

  • Goggles

Goggles keep water and chlorine out of swimmers’ eyes. Goggles may be tinted to counteract glare at outdoor pools. Prescription goggles may be used by swimmers who wear corrective lenses.

  • Swim Fins

Rubber fins are used to help kick faster and build strength and technique, but are illegal in a race. They also improve technique by keeping the feet in the proper position while kicking.

  • Drag suit

Swimmers use drag suits in training to increase resistance. This allows a swimmer to be challenged even more when practicing. Drag suits are not used in competitive races.

  • Hand paddles

Swimmers use these plastic devices to build arm and shoulder strength and refine pulling technique. Hand paddles attach to the hand with rubber tubing or elastic material. They come in many different shapes and sizes, depending on swimmer preference or if a team has begun to taper.

  • Kickboard

A kickboard is a foam board that swimmers use to support the weight of the upper body while they focus on kicking; helps build leg muscles.

  • Pull buoy

Often used at the same time as hand paddles, pull buoys support swimmers’ legs (and prevents them from kicking) while they focus on pulling. Pull buoys are made of foam so they float in the water. Swimmers hold them in between the thighs. They can also be used as a kickboard to make kicking a little harder.

  • Ankle bands

Improving balance will minimize the need for this kick to provide an upward, instead of a forward vector, and in some cases completely corrects the kick. Using an ankle band will have the immediate effect of turning off your kick, which then forces you to make efforts to correct your balance. If you are successful in discovering these, then the ankle band has done part of its job.

  • Snorkel

A snorkel is a plastic device that helps swimmers breathe while swimming. This piece of equipment helps the swimmer practice keeping their head in one position, along with training them for the proper breathing technique of breathing in through the mouth and out the nose. This technique is the opposite of a common runner’s breathing pattern, which is in the nose and out the mouth.

  • Tempo trainer

a beeping clock attached to a swimmers cap or goggles helps them maintain a certain arm tempo or speed. As each beep is heard, their next stroke should be taken.

  • Zoomers

a type of rubber swimming fins, zoomers are cut off fins with the holes in the bottom. They help make the swimmer kick faster, but at the cost of working harder.