The Joys of Swimming

27. September 2010

My love affair with the water started when I was five years old in my hometown of Davenport, Iowa. Dad took me to the municipal swimming pool where I learned to splash and float. Thanks to the local Family “Y,” I subsequently learned to swim and then compete in the sport that’s kept me fit and been a source of joy for 56 years.

For me, the only thing better than swimming (my license plate holder boldly proclaims ‘I’d rather be swimming!”) is helping someone else discover the thrill of being surrounded by water for the first time! As a swim instructor for years, it was a delight every time one of my young students finally called up the courage to jump into the deep end or swim all the way across the pool for the very first time.

So imagine my excitement when Palomar Health asked me to help with a brand new program designed to give North County kids the opportunity to learn to swim!

Palomar Health, The City of Escondido Parks and Recreation Department and Neighborhood Health Care all came together to create “Carol’s Swim Club.” The July kickoff included a family movie night, health screenings and free swim classes at Washington Park’s swimming pool in Escondido… but they’re also looking to the future.

The swim club not only promotes the joy of swimming, but also the health benefits of water exercise. Many of our kids are at risk of developing diabetes and a host of other health problems because they don’t have a sport or activity to call their own.

I know. I was one of those kids. Overweight and not the least bit athletic, I was on my way to a lifetime of health problems. But swimming changed my life! It was fun. It gave me confidence and a sense of self and water exercise has helped keep me fit for decades. My goal is to help provide that opportunity for every youngster in North County.

By the way, swimming’s not just for kids…. and whatever your age, it’s never too late to start. Here are just a few of the reasons swimming is such a wonderful exercise: (this includes vigorous water aerobics)

• Swimming uses almost all the major muscle groups and puts a high demand on your heart and lungs.
• Swimming develops muscle strength and endurance. It also improves posture and flexibility.
• Swimming is a great activity for those who are overweight, pregnant or have leg or lower back problems.
• Swimming is great for people of all ages and all skill levels.
• Swimming provides most of the aerobic benefits of running with many of the benefits of resistance training thrown in!
• Swimming doesn’t put strain on the joints and connective tissue often associated with running, aerobics and some weight training regimens.

So let’s all get in the swim! Kids who register for free swim classes will become official members of “Carol’s Swim Club.” But for all of you more mature water enthusiasts out there consider yourselves honorary members of the club and ambassadors of the great sport of swimming! See you at the pool!
If you’re planning a Super Bowl party or just want some comfort food to keep you warm on these crisp winter nights, how ‘bout a steaming pot of chili? I know many of you take pride in your elaborate, even “secret” recipes. That’s fine. But if you’re like me and just want something quick and easy that tastes good, here’s my not-so-secret recipe for “Bachelor’s Chili.” It was created with the single guy in mind, but it’s perfect for anyone who loves chili, but doesn’t want to spend the entire day in the kitchen. (Use lean, ground turkey instead of ground beef and cut the fat and calories in half!)

Contact Carol by emailing her at Carol@palomarhealth.org.