Few things can match going for a swim in the ocean or a lake for its sense of freedom and belonging to something greater. But why are we drawn to the water in the first place? And what can keep us safe and free from injury when we do take the plunge?
Swimming as we know it
Swimming's storied past dates all the way back to the Stone Age, some 10,000 years ago, with art from the period showing early humans enjoying a relaxing dip. Its status was cemented in Greek myth by Leander's long swims across the Hellespont for his liaisons with Hero. And references to it can be found throughout ancient history, in the works of Homer as well as in the Bible and Quran.
It wasn't until the 19th century, though, that swimming as we know it took shape. After Lord Byron followed in Leander's breaststrokes and famously swam the Hellespont in 1810, competitive swimming took hold. The first races took place in the 1830s in Britain after the opening of the first indoor pools.
A boom in public baths and amateur swimming clubs led to the emergence of new strokes, as swimmers from around the world, including Native Americans and indigenous South Americans, showed off what we now know as front crawl.
And when Capt. Matthew Webb became the first person to swim the English Channel in 1875, the same year the heroic Agnes Beckwith swam in the Thames from London Bridge to Greenwich in just over an hour, swimming became a mainstream concern.
By the early 20th century, swimming was a cornerstone of the newly minted Olympics, with major European nations all forming their own federations. A boom in lidos, or outdoor pools, duly followed, particularly in England and the United States. New York's classic Astoria pool, used for Olympic trials, opened in 1936. England's most iconic art deco pools later fell into disrepair, but in recent years, they have enjoyed something of a renaissance.
Mind and body benefits
Aside from the vital fact that swimming can save your life if you happen to fall into water, it also has tangible benefits for mind and body.
It's great for cardiovascular fitness and endurance, without the high impact of going for a run. It's also brilliant for building muscle, boosting heart and lung health, not to mention an ideal way for those looking to lose a few pounds.
Swimming in open water, which tends to be a lot colder than your average heated pool, is also increasingly understood to have mental health benefits, too. The feel good hormone dopamine is released by simply getting into cold water, ensuring an endorphin rush that can lead to a calming sensation that lasts for hours.
Research by the University of Portsmouth in the UK has started looking at cold water's anti-inflammatory properties, with a growing body of anecdotal evidence showing that it can dampen the inflammatory responses that cause anxiety and depression. Just being in a so-called "blue environment," close to the ocean or a body of water, is known to lower stress responses.
Can you swim in a hot tub?
Yes! But this will all depend on the type of spa. Unlike regular hot tubs, swim spas are designed with powerful swim jets that create a constant water resistance moving in one direction. Many of our customers describe it as very similar to open water swimming. Most swim spas are slightly turbulent and very much like a treadmill, which does take some getting used to
Buying a hot tub is a very personal experience. It’s one of the biggest purchases you can make, aside from your house and car! With almost 20 years of industry experience, Reef Spa aims to supply the best low cost hot tubs, without compromising on design and quality.
If you would like more information about our swim spas or would like to conduct a wet test, get in touch with our team today.