Letter: The virtues of swimming | PostIndependent.com

Letter: The virtues of swimming

It's kind of unusual that a small mountain community would have two public swimming pools, but that is the case in Glenwood Springs. Both the Hot Springs Pool and the Glenwood Springs Parks and Recreation Community Center have excellent facilities for splashers and soakers, and they both offer swimming lessons for all age groups.

The Parks and Recreation Community Center pool is also the home of the Sopris Barracudas, a local swim team affiliated with USA Swimming, the national governing body for swimming in the United States. USA Swimming trains swimmers for the Olympics and other national and international swimming competitions. It's a big deal.

But even with our remarkable aquatic facilities, we don't hear much about opportunities for local swimmers, nor do we hear much about the efforts and successes of the Sopris Barracudas. The coaching is top notch, they have excellent cooperative interface with the Glenwood Springs High School swim team and they have never had to report a concussion or head trauma in training or competition — ever. If you want to steer your child into an athletic endeavor but you are concerned about exposing her or him to injuries, such as ones that are inevitable in football or soccer, for example, think about swimming.

Swimming is a whole-body exercise. It reinforces the body's natural cross-crawl mechanism. It can be aerobic or anaerobic. Water pressure against the body causes the release of beneficial hormones. It can be intensely competitive. Swimming's four main strokes will exercise every major muscle group in your body.

Running is associated with biomechanical problems of the low back, knee, ankle and foot. Cycling compromises the body's normal posture intentionally and chronically, does not allow for proper coordination of upper and lower extremities, and if you crash you may suffer very serious injuries. Research has shown that in elite cyclists, bone loss and fracture come with the territory. Successful triathletes usually are the ones who have a strong swimming background.

Competitive swimming will train your child physically and mentally. Kids learn discipline, focus, determination and develop beautiful bodies. Swim coaches will tell you that swimmers usually are the most successful students in academic development, too.

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If your child is not ready to try out for Team Sopris Barracudas, swim lessons are available at the Hot Springs Pool and at the rec center. After a few months of swim lessons, schedule a tryout with Team Sopris.

Bill Conder

Glenwood Springs