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I've started swimming again recently (I've only ever been able to do breast stroke :roll:). i've found that if I stay underwater I can swim quite well but if I pop my head up to take a breath I start to flounder, can't kick properly and find I have to stop and start again.

Does anyone know why this might be? Could it be because my core is quite weak or some other inter-relationship between muscles. Would love to hear from any of you knowledgeable people out there with any tips for me.

Thanks :D
Hi Wilkes

Technique is really important in swimming especially to help with fatigue. I had my stroke corrected many years ago prior to MS as I was always getting out of breathe and couldn't manage many laps. The problem was that I was turning my head too quickly and to erratically. When I corrected this, it made the world of difference and since then I have been able to swim well. So I recommend that maybe you get some adult swim lessons if you can on stroke correction. You will then find that swimming makes the MS body feel wonderful. It is definitely my favourite form of exercise.

Good luck!
I've gradually been adding swimming to my routine this year. Like you, I was exhausted after one lap - it's great exercise.

The way I started was with a kick board. I reckoned that I needed to get my strength up. Still, even doing 5 laps is tiring, but I feel so great afterward.

Recently I finally started swimming the crawl - but in my enthusiam, I did too much and have had to scale back (some stiffness and pain in an inflammed hip)

I'm going to get back to it this weekend after a week off.

But it's the BEST exercise.

Diagnosis: Jan 2010, OMS April 2010.
Top tip - thanks Sharon. Also finding pool great place to do my stretches and balance exercises.

I've never been able to do breaststroke as I can't work out how to time the legs, arms and breathing so I know exactly how you feel Karen! I sink before I've even started, I would have thought it's a combination of technique and strength that is contributing.

I love the pool, it's where I do most of my cardio, I think it's been for a good 6 months now. Before this I didn't have the energy to get in to the pool, but having been following the OMS Program for quite a while I was able to. I'd probably been following the Program for a good 18months before I had the courage to try the pool.

When I started in the pool I could do about 10 lengths in total and that would totally wipe me out. I very gradually built it up and now I don't count the lengths I just do 30minutes and vary between front crawl, back stroke and walking.

I've been doing front crawl mainly and backstroke with a float between my knees as my core is so weak I couldn't keep my legs up.. Over the last few weeks that has changed.. I can now do 8 lengths backstroke with no float as I'm getting stronger and stronger. When I do front crawl I can now kick my legs for at least half of the time instead of letting them 'hang' and just use my arms :D

On land I walk using 2 crutches so the pool is a great place to walk without them! I do between 4 and 8 lengths walking forwards, backwards and sideways. When i started I could manage 1 length and have very gradually increased it from there.

At the end of the 30mins cardio I do some stretches and wait until my heart rate gets back to normal before I get out of the pool.

What I've found amazing is that for the first time since diagnosis (May 2005) I've actually been able to do the recommended 30minutes exercise 5/week and I feel amazing.. physically and mentally.

We've just had the Olympics here in London so am feeling particularly inspired by all the athletes and what they have been able to achieve through dedication and belief.

Interesting post, Katie and well done on persisting and improving. I like your comment about dedication and belief. I'm doing some walking in the pool too but failing to get my heart rate up. Good idea about the float between the legs. I walk with a rollator as my balance is so poor but hoping to improve that in the pool and walk with crutches or sticks (and then maybe no aids at all!!!)

I find yoga really helps with balance too, I know that when I work my core muscles my balance is always better afterwards. I'm not sure they ever really recovered after having Billy 4 years ago so i try to really focus on these muscles!

What about if you try and walk quickly in the pool, maybe that could raise your heart rate? I start with 4-6 lengths front crawl to get my heart rate up and then do 2-4 lengths walking to keep heart rate going. Then back to swimming for a few lengths and then fit in some more walking depending on how I feel and how busy the pool is! Apart from anything alternating between walking and swimming keeps the session more varied so it's not the same every time.
Hello all,

I have always been a swimmer. In fact, I think I'm part fish! I find cold water swimming has the best effect. I find the windmill motion of the front crawl stimulates something in my lower back which helps with walking afterwards. I look at it as stimulating the neural pathways which I know are still functional since there are a few times when I can walk without my sticks after a good glacial swim.

The pool schedule has not worked out in the winter with my work schedule. However, just recently I was saying I needed to make swimming a priority so I may need to shift my schedule.

I have an above ground pool in my backyard in Montreal 7feet by 12 feet. I have a harness that I attach around my waist and then tie to the back of the pool. It allows me to swim on the spot. I put a noodle under my pelvis so Ihave better buoyancy. It's called a swimill. July and August I'm in Cape Breton, Nova Scotia where I swim in the ocean and it's marvelous. This summer it's been pretty hot so the water is too warm! (Of course, I'mthe only one saying this!)

Good luck to all,

Teena Marie
KatieRose - I put a better effort in today thanks to you and stopped dithering between laps and, of course, increased my heart rate :D

I'm hoping to join a yoga class in September and do some pilates to strengthen my core. I'm convinced I'd have much better balance if I could strengthen my core more and I keep working at it (I suppose I should've thought about that more after having 3 kids!).

Teena Marie - I can't imagine swimming in cold water because my legs go into spasm when my foot touches it but glad it works for you and interested in your comments about front crawl stimulating neural pathways. If I have swimming lessons, I'll try to learn.

Thanks to everyone for their input. I learn so much from people on this forum and you're all spurring me on to keep going.

Keep as well as you can

Pilates had a noticeable positive effect on my balance and coordination within 3 weeks of starting a weekly 45 min class; it's great. Swimming was the first exercise I got into after dx as I really struggled with balance, particularly when overheated, and swimming meant no overheating and no need for balance.
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