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Health benefits, hazards of swimming

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SWIMMING-3-Swimming is a leisure sport. During celebrations, people visit places, where they could engage in swimming, like beaches and pools. It is even more so for friends and families at festive seasons.

Experts have noted that swimming is a healthy recreational sport, especially for the tropical climate as Nigeria, where the temperature is usually hot.

Unlike so many other sports that limit participation to age, swimming can be fun and health-enhancing sport for elders at 80 or 90 years, as well as children.

President, Nigeria Aquatics Federation, Babtunde Fatayi Williams, said swimming is not only for competitions but also good for security reasons.

“People could accidentally find themselves in water, but lives could be saved if they could swim. It is also important for health reasons as a recreational sport in order to exercise all parts of the body,” he said.

Williams informed that the federation always has open water swimming competitions covering various distances. There is the Lagos international open water championship for teenagers and adults from all over the country and some West Africa countries, which holds this weekend.

“People should seize every opportunity to learn how to swim, which is best solution to drowning. I know that private and government schools are having swimming lessons as part of their curriculum.

“Learning how to swim is like riding a bicycle, once you know how, it is for life. The important thing is for parents to use every opportunity to allow their children to learn how to swim,” he said.

Williams advised parents not be afraid to allow their children to learn, as in most cases, coaches are around, who teach and conduct lessons for them.

He said, “It is interesting that in Lagos, some private schools have started building swimming pools, so that they can have swimming lessons. This would give opportunity for every child in the school to learn how to swim. There is also need to have public swimming pools so that some children, who do not have swimming pool in their schools can also learn.”
Caution

The downside of swimming however, is the risk of accidents in pools and even death by drowning. Even self-indulgence, like feeding habits could pose some challenges. For instance, people are cautioned not to eat heavy meals or take large amount of alcohol before swimming, as it might lead to vomiting, blocked lungs, and even to untimely death. Armature swimmers are warned not to go into swimming pools.

Williams said: “This is because the blood is concentrated at the stomach to help the food to digest, so swimming as an exercise, at that moment, is not advisable. In such cases, one might faint. Also, one should not drink much alcohol before going into the water for safety reasons.

Proper chemical treatment of pools, he said, is necessary to avoid water borne diseases being contracted, noting that the swimmer must make mouth contact with the water in the pool.

Williams disclosed that swimming in an open river is not usually safe because some times, it could be polluted with industrial wastes. “Sometimes, it could be human waste. Usually, if the water is flowing, it carries most of the waste away. But if the water is not flowing, that is where problem could arise,” he stated.

Professor Sunday Omilabu, virologist, at the Lagos University Teaching Hospital (LUTH), Idi-Araba, Lagos, said swimming could be a dangerous sport because even divers do not swim without using oxygen. He said that rescuers should always be around in order to rescue people, whenever the need arises.

He stressed that in the swimming pool, one can easily contract a number of diseases, if the swimming pool is not properly and regularly treated.

He said: “Treatment of the water is very important. The essence is to purify the water because it is not naturally flowing water.”


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