Overview of the Two Sports
As a competitive swimmer of fifteen years, I know full on the benefits of swimming. Now, I train at an elite level, swimming for a D1 college in the Midwest, but I still know all about the benefits for even recreational swimmers. Swimming is a great way to enjoy time with others and get your daily exercise. It is a great change of pace to land based exercises such as running or lifting weights. It also feels great to jump into a nice, cold pool on a hot summer day. You will not notice how much you are sweating, which is nice but also something you should take into account when getting hydrated. Always make sure to drink at least a bottle of water every hour that you swim.
Why is Swimming so Much Safer?
Swimming is very similar to running, but it is much easier on your joints. Just due to the nature of running, your ankles, knees and hips will take a very severe pounding. This can be more of less severe depending on some other factors such as form and type of equipment used. The most common injury is tendonitis in the shoulder, but correct technique can almost always prevent this type of injury. Other than this, swimming is a very clean sport and you will most likely never serve an injury. Tendonitis in the rotator cuff is due to the very repetitive motion of the shoulder while swimming freestyle incorrectly. Most people when they swim recreationally will only perform the freestyle, but there is a way to get around a shoulder injury if you have one. Instead of doing freestyle, you can swim breaststroke, which is a very different motion for the shoulder. Alternatively, if breaststroke hurts your knees, you should do freestyle instead.
Going along with a fact stated earlier, swimming is great for your respiratory system. You will spend large amounts of time underwater, more for some strokes versus others. This is key to helping your body learn to function under the extreme condition of having zero oxygen. In running it is a little hard to watch your breathing, because there really is no obstacle obstructing your path to oxygen. In swimming, you have to consciously make an effort to breathe, therefore you have control over how long you do not breathe. Many swimmers take advantage of this, training their lungs daily so that their body will be ready for periods of oxygen debt. Overall, swimming is much more effective at doing this than running, just by the nature of the activity.
Swimming, once again like running, has strong benefits towards the respiratory system. But unlike running, swimming is a full body workout. This means that not only is your lower half worked, but so is your upper body. If you are not a competitive swimmer, go out and swim a few laps, I am sure you will have an elevated heart rate and a little muscle soreness, with lactic acid buildup. Swimming is also a great way to build full body strength because you must use your whole body at once to move through the water. Overall, swimming is probably the most well balanced sport/activity that one can partake in!