A recent survey showed that one in five adults in Britain is unable to swim. Many adults will be of the frame of mind that if they can't swim now, they never will. But it's never too late to learn!
Swimming is the perfect activity for people of all ages and abilities, it's cost-effective, and has a wide range of both physical and psychological benefits.
The most obvious advantage to swimming is that it's a great form of exercise. Around 30 minutes of steady, paced lane swimming can burn over 200 calories, and brings the same benefits as 45 minutes of land-based exercise; the pressure and resistance of the water makes your body work harder.
As well as burning calories, swimming is great for toning up as it works the muscles all over your body. And as the water takes your weight, it is a perfect method of low-impact exercise; this is ideal for pregnant women, people with mobility problems, and those who just wish to protect their joints.
Swimming can also improve your overall health. It's an ideal workout for your heart and circulation, as you are using your whole body to swim; therefore your heart has to pump blood harder than it normally would to your arms and legs. Additionally, length swimming is great for your lungs as it forces you to breathe in a deeper, more rhythmic fashion.
The psychological advantages of swimming are less documented than the physical benefits, but can be just as important to a person's well being. Studies among both amateur and professional swimmers have shown that those who swim regularly experience less tension, depression and anger after a session in the pool, and they gain significantly more energy through swimming than through other types of exercise.
It is easy to see how swimming can help to relax both body and mind. Being in the water can take you away from it all for a short while, and the feeling of being in the pool can be a refreshing, relaxing and liberating experience as the water takes your weight.
Still think it's too late to learn? Many local pools offer adult classes for those to want to take the plunge. Dive right in, and experience the benefits of swimming for yourself.