New Zealand’s rivers and lakes aren’t in such good condition nowadays, but you can continue swimming in indoor lap pools. The setting might be a little more formal, but you get to exercise and escape the summer heat.

Finding a Lap Pool

A 25-meter lap pool should be sufficient for beginner to intermediate swimmers; you don’t need to swim the full 50-meter length and you push-off twice as much. Make sure that the facility is clean from the NZ shower cubicles to the bottom pool tiles. You’re already avoiding the waterways because of unclean water, so you shouldn’t be exposed to it in the pool.

Water should be odorless. If you’re smelling chlorine (or what you think is chlorine), it means there’s not enough of it, and what you’re smelling is urine in the water. Try to match the location with your expertise. If competitive athletes are frequenting the pool, it might be too restrictive and stifling for starting swimmers.

Swimming Etiquette

Bring proper swimming attire when you go to your chosen lap pool, including a swim cap. Take a thorough shower. The dirt and grime sticks to your body, so use soap and shampoo to make sure none get to the water. No diving unless you’re sure there’s nobody in the pool. You don’t want to dive into a swimmer doing dolphins, injuring him as well as yourself. Take a measure of the people in the water and choose a lane.

There won’t always be a free lane, so choose the one with the least swimmers. Some pools will have dedicated lanes for beginners, and you can take a minute to observe the swimmers and see their speeds. Alert the swimmers that you’ll be joining them with a gesture or just by standing on the lane until they see you. Stick to the right of the lane and swim at a uniform speed. A single lane should be enough for two swimmers, and you might encounter a swimmer on his/her way back.

Going for Distance

girl on edge of swimming pool

Swimming to the other end of the pool shouldn’t be your only goal. Learn how to turn. A flip turn might seem complicated, but it’s relatively easy once you learn the movements. Then there’s the side turns and open turns. Learning the transitional turns allows you to stay moving and not waste precious seconds standing idle on the sides.

If you don’t have the endurance to swim lap after lap continuously, you might want to focus on your form. Learn to streamline your body and try to avoid kicking too frequently. You can learn competitive or Total Immersion-style swimming. If you’re not planning to get into competitive swimming, Total Immersion’s form and endurance-based approach in swimming should be the right fit for you.

It can take years — even decades — before New Zealand’s rivers and lakes are safe enough to swim in. Take your love of swimming indoors. While the setting might not be as beautiful, at least the water is safe. Learn to swim with other people around and transition to a more structured and competitive way of swimming.

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