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Safety Tips: Swimming

Swimming is a fun and generally safe sport. Follow these tips for an injury-free season.

Swim Gear

Here's some basic swimming gear to think about:

  • Goggles. Swimming with leaky, uncomfortable, or foggy goggles can be tough on your eyes. Be sure to get a pair of competition or practice goggles that are comfortable and fit your face. Some swimmers like to have different goggles for practices and competitions.
  • Swimsuits. Choose a swimsuit based on what's most important to you. If you want something that will help you go faster, research brand names and see if they can back up the claims they make. If you want a suit for practice, choose something made with quality materials that will last.
  • Swim caps. Most swim caps are made from latex or silicone. As with swimsuits, choose a cap based on your needs. In general, latex caps are thinner and less expensive, and silicone caps are usually thicker, last longer, and cost more. If you'll be spending a lot of time in a warm pool, a silicone cap might keep your head too warm.
  • Ear plugs and nose clips. Some swimmers like to use these to help keep water out of their ears and noses. Ear plugs should be specifically designed for use in the water. (Noise-canceling earplugs won't make a watertight seal.) Nose clips should fit comfortably and stay in place as you swim.

Safe Swimming

To prevent injuries during practice and meets, swimmers should:

  • Get a sports physical before starting any new sport.
  • Always warm up and stretch before swimming.
  • Take time off from training if they feel shoulder, neck, or other pain. They can try a different stroke or do something else out of the pool to stay in shape. Swimmers can go back to their regular stroke after the pain is gone.
  • Wear water-resistant sunscreen of SPF 30 or greater for outdoor practices and meets. 
  • Check that the pool is deep enough before diving. 
  • Know the plan for emergencies.

To help prevent overuse injuries (also called repetitive stress injuries, or RSIs), swimmers should:

  • Build up extra swimming time or distances slowly.
  • Learn and use proper techniques.
  • Do other sports that strengthen different muscles, especially core (abdomen) muscles.

Reviewed by: Amy W. Anzilotti, MD
Date Reviewed: Apr 1, 2019

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