In the first part of Going Wild we tackled the mental aspects, now we shall talk about the physical aspects.
One of the core abilities of becoming a good swimmer is learning to breathe properly. I’ve noticed that almost everyone who has a tendency to panic when getting into wild waters or sometimes even the swimming pool breathe incorrectly on land too. When in water they would not let go of air leading to their chest expanding. At the same time, they would also try to breathe in air.
Another group of people who keep gasping for air with a lung already full of air are those with lung issues. Working on the right way to breathe with a few exercises always solves this problem.
By learning to breathe the right way and swimming consistently, swimmers who used to have frequent asthmatic attacks at the beginning stage of learning to swim were able to completely overhaul their respiratory system to have no issues at all. Even weekly swims were able to increase the exhalation and inhalation volume of the lungs. The capacity of the lungs to hold air also increased considerably.
Another common physical problem people face while going wild are allergic reactions and infections. This is because their urban bodies have not been exposed to natural biodiversity - also a primary cause for allergies and chronic inflammatory diseases present among the city's population.
Swimming in wild waters increases the bioflora of the nasal and ear cavity and skin. Initially this might cause allergic reactions and infections and those who can overcome those will never have any problem with it ever again. There was also considerable reduction of allergic sneezing in people with sensitive nasal cavities who persisted with their swimming sessions. This increase in the body’s immunity prevents any future infections.
In my case, initially I would get skin rashes whenever I got into any wild water but the irritation eventually disappeared with repeated exposure to natural water bodies.
*Vivek one of our swimmers getting in for his routine swims
One of the most common concerns I hear from friends who are interested in swimming in open waters is getting tanned. Getting tanned is the body's natural response to being outdoors and we’ll have to be comfortable with that if we want to explore the unexplored.
We should be comfortable with our natural skin tone and not hang on to our artificial ‘colour’ most of us try to maintain by staying indoors. Indian skin is also less likely to get sun burnt or get skin cancer.
Our muscular system also goes through a lot when we incorporate swimming to our routine. Swimming in different paces helps us balance between endurance, sprint and power. Different strokes in swimming help balance out our upper and lower body (also front and back) musculature and prevent injuries that we often see in other sports.
Swimming gives our bodies an opportunity to destress our tendons, ligaments and joints and even people suffering from chronic joint pains can get instant relief from a single monitored swimming session. The usually dogged lower back pain was the easiest to get rid of by swimming.
Swimming can completely overhaul our cardiovascular system. With a well deserved program you’ll notice lower resting heart rate when resting or inactive, and higher max heart rate when doing physical activities. Many swimmers go on to lead a healthy and long life into their 90’s because of this. Regular swimming also keeps the blood pressure in check.
You’ll get all of these benefits and irritants when swimming in the pool or in the wild.
There are a lot of stressors and changes your body goes through while going wild. It is upto you to decide if you can go about your day with these temporary problems.
These are the few things I've noticed as a coach and it might differ from the opinion of another coach or someone from the field of medicine. I'm always open to an in depth discussion and enjoy the process of understanding or not understanding each other's opinions.