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For some swimmers, breaststroke is the best stroke! Just like freestyle, this type of swimming is a great form of exercise, provided that you get a few basics right. Just like in freestyle, your legs, hips and shoulders need to form as straight a line as possible. In breaststroke, however, you need to slant your body slightly to make sure that the kick happens underwater. Don’t overdo this though – your legs should never be far below your torso.

Don’t make the mistake of thinking that the kick uses purely your leg muscles – you should be feeling it in your stomach muscles and core muscles as well. Your feet shouldn’t be too loose, so focus on keeping the flexed throughout each stroke.

With regard to the upper body movement, avoid sweeping your arms out too wide – the idea is to pull the water behind you. It’s also worth remembering that in breaststroke, the majority of the forward movement comes from your legs – not your arms. Keep your shoulders and neck as relaxed as possible. 

When you’re not taking a breath, your face should be in the water with your eyes looking downward. This protects your neck by avoiding strain on these muscles. 

When you reach the point in your stroke when it’s time to take a breath, don’t bring your head high out of the water. Simply allow your chin to be just above the surface of the water, and breathe in through your mouth.

We suggest including a mix of strokes in your swimming training. Each different stroke gives different sets of muscles a workout – and changing it up keeps things fun and interesting!

If you’re jumping into the pool after work every day to get fit rather than just to cool down, floating on your back and occasionally splashing the kids isn’t going to cut it – you’re going to have to do some laps. We’ve put together some freestyle and breaststroke tips to help you make sure you’re getting these strokes right. Avoiding incorrect body alignment and poor form will enable your body to make the most of its workout AND prevent injuries.

When it comes to freestyle, the first thing to ensure is that your body stays as flat as possible. Try to make sure neither your torso nor your legs ever start to sink below the surface of the water.

With each slice into the water, stretch your arm out as far in front of you as you can without straining your shoulder muscles. The more water you pull behind you, the further you’ll get.

The freestyle kick should come from your thighs – not your calves. This will give you a more powerful motion that will help propel you through the water faster. Don’t put too much energy into the kick though – in freestyle at least three quarters of the work is done by your upper body.

The last important thing to remember about freestyle is your breathing pattern. You need to inhale on every second or third stroke and blow bubbles gently and consistently while your head is under the water. Holding the air in your lungs will make you out of breath faster.

Freestyle is the stroke most used by open water swimmers, and for good reason. It’s efficient, fun and relatively easy to get right. 

Contribution by Steph

Swimming’s a great form of exercise – it works multiple groups of muscles without putting any strain on your joints. Thanks to the various strokes, you can work different groups of muscles – all without getting hot and sweaty. Our favourite sport does even more than that though – it’s a great way to relieve stress and enjoy a better quality of life.

Getting into the water and swimming laps three times a week for just half an hour has been shown to lower stress levels and anxiety. Many swimmers also find that the body’s naturally positive response to being immersed in water helps to improve their sleeping patterns.

During swimming training, your body and mind are focused on a number of different aspects such as your arm movements, your kick and your breathing pattern. With all this to focus on, the stress and strain of work and other pressures are forced to take a backseat. Thanks to this, swimming has been likened to yoga in terms of its power to soothe the soul. Over and above this, the feeling of being weightless in the water quite literally lifts the weight off your shoulders.

It's that time of year when just about all of us are feeling the pressure of year-end deadlines and the fast-approaching festive season. Jump into your pool for half an hour and feel the difference!

Ask just about anyone who’s got a pool and they’ll tell you that there’s nothing better than jumping into the pool at the end of a long day. It relaxes you, refreshes you and gives you a chance to make the stress of your day a thing of the past. Check out our top two reasons why swimming is a great idea.

All the benefits of cardio…and none of the strain on your knees
It's not just retirees who need to watch out for their knees. Do a quick Google search on “knee pain” and you’ll quickly learn why you don’t want it. On the other hand, everyone knows that cardio is an important part of exercise. It helps you lose weight and keeps your cardiovascular system healthy, among a host of other benefits. Swimming offers the best of both worlds – it’s cardio that’s kind to your knees. Since the water is carrying your weight when you swim, there’s none of that jarring motion that can hurt your knees.

Water offers resistance…which combines cardio with strength training
When people go to the gym to do resistance training, it involves using things like dumbbells or resistance bands. When you get into the water, the water itself provides a moderate level of resistance. This means that swimming helps you to build and maintain muscular strength. As a form of resistance training, swimming also increases your bone density and your muscle-to-fat ratio. If you’re an insomniac, it’ll even help you get a better night’s sleep.

Watch this space for our next post on the mental and psychological benefits of swimming. If you’re having a hard time emotionally, going for a swim is definitely part of the solution.

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There is much discussion about what type of finish to surface your swimming pool with. There are three popular types of swimming pools made in South Africa, and particularly in Durban:

  1. Gunite (concrete) shell with a marble plaster finish.
  2. Pre-formed pools manufactured on a mould, which have a fibreglass finish.
  3. Gunite (concrete) shell with a fibreglass-lined finish.

 

The standing argument is that fibreglass lasts longer and is more resilient to harsh water conditions. For the most part, this is true. However, many fibreglass contractors who are not members of the National Spa and Pool Institute of South Africa use substandard resins and thinner mats. These contractors are usually substantially cheaper because they don’t use the correct specifications for swimming pools. The pool owner doesn’t know how to tell if the correct materials are used, and the contractor generally gets away with it – at least for a while. 

The long and short of it is that if shortcuts are taken, whether you plaster your pool or fiberglass it, you’ll be staring at an eyesore rather than a pool sooner or later. These types of swimming pool problems are not cheap to fix.

If the job is done properly, on the other hand, a marble plastered pool can last just as long as a fiberglass lined pool. The trick is to use good quality products and a reputable pool company. After that, the only thing you have to do is keep your pool water balanced at all times.

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Balancing your pool water right after it has been resurfaced is a vitally important part of making sure you have a long-lasting and trouble-free swimming pool. A pool company worth their “salt” will dose the pool with the initial balancing chemicals such as calcium flakes, sodium bicarb, stabiliser, etc. However, different bodies of pool water respond differently to chemicals. Water temperature, the source of the water and many other factors influence your pool water balance, so take a sample of your water back to the pool shop and check if the dosing had the desired effect.

Usually, BioGuard dealers have the correct water testing equipment and knowledge to guide you through getting and keeping your pool water balanced and ready to dive into at all times.

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The technology in the marble plaster used in the construction of gunite (concrete) swimming pools has advanced in leaps and bounds over the last five to 10 years. Back in the day, pool companies used to buy their white cement and marble dust separately and then mix it together in the emptied swimming pool. After this was finished, they would plaster it to the pool surface. Although this practice is still used by some pool builders and renovators, the technology has changed significantly. 

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In the old days, we used to put additives like calcium flakes into the mix to heat up the cement and speed up the curing process. You may be surprised that we used to add dishwashing liquid into the mix to ensure a smooth and shiny finish.

Thanks to new and improved swimming pool plaster, we no longer have to add our own witch’s brew to the swimming pool plaster before resurfacing! Products such as PoolCrete (made by Cemcrete), have all the ingredients needed already in the mix.

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There’s also a stringent process that needs to be followed when resurfacing a pool:

  • After draining the swimming pool, an axe needs to be used to tap around the pool surface to listen out for hollow areas. Plaster that has separated from the ‘gunited’ pool shell must be chopped out and removed.
  • 24 hours before plastering the pool, a slurry mix of white cement and FlexBond (a non-toxic latex-based liquid admixture) should be applied to the surface in horizontal brush strokes.
  • The plaster should always be mixed at a ratio of six or seven litres of water to every 40kg bag of Poolcrete. Adding too much water to the mix will make the plaster sloppy and difficult to apply to the pool.
  • The pool should be filled a few hours after the plaster application is complete, depending on the ambient temperature.
  • The pool water must be balanced immediately after the pump is switched back on. Properly balanced pool water will give your plaster longevity and prevent black algae from growing on it.

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