Swimming will break you down to your core, and get you thinking about what is really tough.
Have you ever meditated deeply, or gotten into a super pumped up workout, and thought man I love this feeling. This feels like I am in tune with myself even more than before?
Why + Philosophy:
That is what it is like to push yourself to your limits, feeling like you are more one with who you are on the inside. Swimming is one of the few exercises, maybe running at higher levels, where you can literally feel like you are in a meditative state while physically working hard.
It is the quickest path to a early level of strength, and if you feel that you need to improve your overall strength; Then learning to swim will help you with that swiftly. There are bound to be plateaus, just like any other exercises, but they are usually more so breath control or muscles.
You are able to push past the plateaus by looking at them in the sense of the why/how/what point of view. As you level up your needs change, and you may learn how to do things. You may learn the psychology behind breathing, but you will then need to learn WHY we have to do things in this way.
How + Physics:
I really can’t speak for everyone, as your background could be in BMX biking, or maybe boxing. Perhaps you haven’t done any sport, or you are just recovering from a major operation. In both of those cases you are starting from a lower level than you might be used to. Regardless of where you are starting from, there is usually a breaking point across the board. That happens when it comes to breathing.
You have these moments of where you think “OH I need to breath!”, where you 99% of the time don’t actually need to. Most people act this way when they first get started, as when you do any other sport you are able to breathe whenever you want. However with swimming you do not have that luxury. I see some people cheat it by doing sidestroke or backstroke, but you aren’t getting the best you can from swimming from those strokes.
Once you learn that by breathing out prior to coming up for air, then you will feel ten times better. However until that point you will panic under the water, even if it is in a minor way.
What + Psychology:
The example I used before was that of breathing, and that is literally one of the first big hurdles you gotta get through. However there are plenty more after that, and I rarely see people skip over them. You usually hit them in some shape or form.
Some other examples to wrap your mind around would be: learning to glide (push off the wall into a streamline [tight posture]), training the neuromuscular connection when doing the legs or arms, gaining the strength to do more laps, breathe endurance, or breathe control (crucial for controlling buoyancy).
All of these points people will get stuck, and being able to push past that trains the mind and body to new levels. These are not things you really have to worry about with other exercise routines. Maybe a bit with biking or ballet, where you have a lot of moving parts to keep track of. However with swimming you are often really pushing multiple areas at once, and our brains can’t multitask. Meaning you have to really push the body in specific ways, one by one, until they all start coming together.
The BEST Exercise
I honestly left out some other major points when it comes to why swimming is the best exercise. Really just went into how it is so great for you, and why it is so challenging. Although those challenges you face are what is going to level you up in the first place.
You need measurable actions you can take, so that you can SEE your progress.
Sometimes you’ll do things and you won’t see the progress in the pool, but then when you look in the mirror your efforts will start to become clear.
This is advice for people to level up their swimming, or perhaps get started in the first place. While you swim you should make sure you are doing so in a public facility with a lifeguard on duty for safety.