10 Reasons To Start Competitive Swimming

Why You Should Start Competitive Swimming

Competitive swimming offers a variety of different benefits to individuals of all ages. If you’re a current or former swimmer or a swim parent, you can probably agree with most of these.

From the health benefits to the lifesaving skills that swimming provides. It’s all there for the taking 🙂

Still need some more reasons? I have 10 reasons you should start competitive swimming.

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10 Reasons to Start Competitive Swimming

1. Life Saving Benefit

Hands down, we think this should top every list of why you should start competitive swimming. Or any swimming for that matter! Whether you swim for fun, leisure, or competition. Swimming is a lifesaving benefit. No matter what age!

Take a moment to look at the numbers for deaths related to drowning (Source):

  • Top 5 causes of death for people aged 1-14 years old
  • In the US alone, 80% of drowning victims are male
  • Children ages 1-4 have the highest drowning rate
  • The number for minorities is 5.5 times higher than that of Caucasians of the same age

We hear the news reports frequently during the summertime, and they’re hard to hear. A life snuffed out for something that could’ve been prevented.

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If you take away anything from this, we ask that it’s this number one benefit. To start competitive swimming or simply start swimming in general is a lifesaving benefit.

2. Health Benefits

Research proves time and time again the benefits of swimming. As we grow, it becomes important to keep a healthy, active lifestyle. When you start competitive swimming, you hit all the right spots for this.

Swimming builds up your cardio endurance while toning muscles as you work against the water. It also provides a full-body workout. And the not breathing part? Yeah, that’s the real workout right there!

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We know runners who say that a thirty-minute swim offers a bigger challenge than an hour of running. Why? You work nearly every muscle in your body at once and you do it while holding your breath.

And yes, you burn more calories while swimming, making it one of the best ways to lose or maintain weight.

But it’s not just about losing weight!

While swimming offers a great way to lose weight, it also provides dozens of other benefits for your health. Such as:

  • Great cardio workout
  • Low impact for the joints
  • Strengthens the lungs
  • Full body workout
  • Can help with arthritis and asthma
  • Tones and strengthens muscles
  • Ensures an active lifestyle
  • Offers great rehab from surgery

3. Swimming is for any age

This is our favorite of all the reasons (bar number one, of course). But you can start competitive swimming at any age! We’ve probably said that a dozen times. But we only say it because it’s true and we wholly believe it!

Masters Swimming

For those over 18 and older, Masters Swimming provides a great place to start competitive swimming. Masters swimming aims at encouraging adults to swim from age 18 up to 90.

Yes, you read that age right. 90 years old!

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Masters Swimming
US Masters Swimming National Champion patch for USMS Nationals

Summer League

And at the same time, you can start competitive swimming as young as age 5-6! Most swimmers begin competitive swimming at summer league around ages 7 and up.

Summer league offers not just a chance to start competitive swimming, but also teaches kids how to swim.

Most summer leagues have an age group for those 6 and under.  It provides an easy and fun learning experience for younger children. And has the added benefit of teaching them swimming skills without them realizing it 😉

Year round, high school and YMCA swimming

Of course, you can also start competitive swimming at any age through different means. Some options, such as high school swimming requires that you have a basic understanding of the sport. While others, such as YMCA can offer lessons that build you up to competitive swimming.

Want to start competitive swimming but not sure where or how to begin? Check out these articles to get you started!

4. Time Management

Balancing practice(s) and school/work isn’t for the faint of heart. Yet it’s something that most competitive swimmers learn quickly.

When it comes to time management, not many people will claim that as a skill they have. Especially as someone in high school or just entering college. I heard first hand from fellow co-workers how much they struggled their first year in college with time management. It took them a full year to get their arms wrapped around it.

As a competitive swimmer, I never had that issue.

Now that’s not to say that when you start competitive swimming you’ll automatically become a master at time management. It does take time and patience to find what works best for you. A regular swim schedule only helps you buckle down on the specifics.

Related article: Time Saving Hacks for Swimmers

Some swimmers can handle this easier than others. Again, starting competitive swimming doesn’t guarantee anything. But 95% of the time, swimmers have better time management than non-swimmers.

5. Travel

Everyone likes to travel! Personally, I love it 🙂 It’s one of the reasons I decided to swim at the 17th FINA World Masters Championships in Budapest, Hungary. Traveling and swimming. Two of my favorite things.

While you might not want to travel that far for swimming, the sport does offer chances to travel. Whether that’s locally or nationally.

That could be a few hour’s drive or flight! I know from my experience, I’ve seen more states through swimming than actual vacationing.

Swimming at the 2017 FINA Masters Worlds Championships in Budapest, Hungary
Swimming at the 2017 FINA Masters Worlds Championships in Budapest, Hungary

6. Scholarships

Who doesn’t like free money?! Especially when it pays for your college education. 🙂 While not all colleges have a swim team, a good percentage of them do. And with those colleges come the chance to swim for them with the hope of a scholarship.

I swam in college on a scholarship. It not only paid me to swim, but it also allowed me to graduate debt free! With the average student graduating with college debt, that was a blessing for me.

One of the benefits of competitive swimming is that it opens the chance for scholarships.

Yes, you don’t know what sort of money you’ll get, but you’ll never receive any money if don’t start. Period.

That said, I do have a disclaimer. Because it’s much like time management. Just because you start competitive swimming doesn’t guarantee that you’ll earn a scholarship. I want to be very clear about that.

It takes hard work and dedication to the sport to get there. Plus, I think it also requires an enjoyment of the sport. If you swim just for the scholarship, you’ll probably feel pretty miserable most of the time.

7. Mental Endurance

Probably not something you would think about when you think of benefits to swimming. Yet it’s one of them!

To start, swimming gives you a mental break from the day. For 1-3 hours, you can just swim and not think about anything else. It’s easy to set the day aside when you’re at the pool Because you focus instead on counting your laps, the pull of your stroke, and the kick from your legs.

For most swimmers, swimming also relaxes the mind. Because even if you have a hundred different things on your mind, you can still leave the pool feeling better.

Exercise in general releases endorphins to help you feel better and more positive. Everyone needs a bit of that in their life!

8. Team Environment

I know what you’re thinking. Swimming is an individual sport. And you’re right!

To a degree.

While we might not work together in the same manner as basketball or football players, we’re still a team.

We still have to work with one another to ensure that we know the sets and the order of the lane. We listen for the person’s time behind us in case they missed it. And we learn to tolerate those that annoy us.

While it might not seem like a lot, but the little actions we do still carry a great weight on the rest of the team.

9. Life Skills

Learning to swim, time management and working as a team. All of these provide valuable life skills. Knowing how to swim might not advance your career. But time management and knowing how to work within a team environment are skills you can’t teach.

When you start competitive swimming, it also offers a good view of your discipline.

Because interviewers know the dedication, discipline, and hard work that goes into swimming. Chances are, they either swam or knows someone who swims. They know the hard work that you put in for your sport.

And again, you can’t teach someone that. It’s a skill that you grow and develop throughout your swimming career.

10. Enjoyable

We use the word enjoyable because fun isn’t exactly the right word. Perhaps as a younger swimmer starting out, swimming can be fun. But as you advance and grow, it becomes more enjoyable to a degree. You work long and hard every day. Sometimes twice a day!

It’s not necessarily fun, but you can still enjoy it. You can enjoy the rush of pushing your body harder and dropping time when you didn’t think you could. Or going faster in practice than you once did. Lifting heavier in dryland.

Getting to those points is hard. We won’t sugar coat it there. You’re sore and tired most of the week, but it’s still a good feeling. It’s the feeling of accomplishment.

So while swimming might not be ‘fun’, it does offer a sense of achievement and it can be enjoyable. It is what you make of it though. As is life 🙂

In Closing

Competitive swimming offers a plethora of different benefits. You just have to take that first step to start competitive swimming in order to see them for yourself.

If you haven’t done so yet or are still on the fence in terms of joining, I highly encourage you to take one more look at the sport.

If you don’t want to swim competitively, that’s fine, too! You can still start swimming for most of the same reasons I listed above.

At best, do yourself a huge favor and at least to learn to swim. That alone trumps all the other benefits that swimming offers. 🙂

I hope to see you in the water soon!

As always, to happy swimming!


Bonus Content for New Swimmers:

Swimming Terminology: Knowing some swimming terminology, or swim terms, will help you navigate the swimming world. Here are 25 common swimming terms to get you started.

5 Things to Know Before Joining a Swim Team: Joining a swim team comes with benefits and challenges. Avoid these five things that seem to catch most new swimmers off guard when they first join a swim team.

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