By Amy Padilla//Contributor | Thursday, July 11, 2019
Organizing recreational team activities over the summer can be a fun way to add new types of exercises to your training. Implementing various swimming and non-swimming activities to your fitness schedule creates team-building experiences, encourages enjoyable group well-being, and help build muscles that can improve your overall swim practice. Although some of these activities are played as competitive team sports, they are also considered rewarding recreational exercises for anyone to participate in.
Ultimate Frisbee is a very athletic team sport. Players run up and down the field, oftentimes sprinting, jumping, and diving for the disc throughout the game. Teamwork is also important for Ultimate, as every team member is an integral part of every play.
Ultimate Frisbee is like a blend between football and soccer with a few extra rules added to the mix. The game is separated into two even groups of offense and defense, and it can be played on a half field or full field. The object of the Ultimate is to pass the Frisbee between players into the end zone and to obtain the most points.
The match begins with a “pull,” where one side throws off to the other, similar to football. Then, the offensive team passes the Frisbee between the players while running down the field to try and score a point over the goal line. Once a team member catches the Frisbee, he or she must stop and throw the disc to another offensive player within ten seconds. Interceptions, blocks, the Frisbee landing out of bounds, and a player holding onto the disc for more than ten seconds result in a turnover to the other team.
Ultimate Frisbee is the ultimate way to obtain a full body work out while esteeming time with teammates outside of the pool.
“I run with my group before practice every day, and on occasion we will play Ultimate Frisbee. They love this game and often request to play when it is someone's birthday as a special reward. This is such great exercise and it reinforces camaraderie amongst the swimmers. With swimming, the swimmers generally have their face in the water so they don't always get to organically talk to each other during practice. With Ultimate Frisbee, the swimmers get a chance to talk, bond, and play with each other while getting some aerobic work.
Soccer is a wonderful sport that builds flexibility, stamina and endurance. It increases muscle and bone strength due to shifts between walking, running and sprinting. Soccer lowers body fat and improves muscle tone, while also increasing aerobic capacity and cardiovascular health. During a 45-minute game, the average player runs five-to-seven miles.
Soccer builds muscle for the lower body through running, twisting, turning, jumping, changing directions, and kicking. The upper body is built up by throw-ins, shielding the ball and holding off opponents.
As a recreational activity, it promotes teamwork and sharing, helps to increase skills in concentration, persistence and self-discipline, and promotes coordination and teaches players to “think on their feet.” These abilities can be transferred over to the pool, which will help you focus and train better during practice.
“Our 10-and-under program at the Dynamo Swim Club plays soccer once a week. It is great for developing spacial awareness, quick reflexes, and it helps contribute to a team atmosphere. Soccer adds great versatility in learning to coordinate young swimmers’ bodies with a ball, as well as working with their teammates and opponents. It can be especially great for athletes who are going through growth spurts because they are pushed to learn how to coordinate their spacial awareness while balance and controlling a ball is similar to the balance required in the water. Soccer is a fun and creative aerobic warm-up for getting in the pool.”
As aquatic elitists, competitive swimmers already have an advantage when learning to play water polo. Similar to soccer but in the water, players sprint up and down the pool and pass the ball between their teammates to try to score a goal. Water polo builds endurance, burns up to 700 calories in one hour, improves cardiovascular health, and increases strength in the legs, glutes, hips and core.
As a challenge with this team activity, competitive swimmers have to learn to sprint continuously, with no rest between sets. The eggbeater kick, which uses every muscle in the legs, is also a difficult but gratifying skill to master when playing the game.
Water polo helps build team problem solving skills by learning strategies to break down a defense as well as working together to score a goal. It adds a bit of excitement to swimming and creates an atmosphere that is both encouraging and physically demanding.
“On my high school and club swim teams, we would play water polo about once a month. It created teamwork and was a bonding experience. In addition, we had to focus on sprint work to get to the ball and also treading water strengthened our legs. It was a fun way to get a different workout but still use our swimming skills.”
Most people remember kickball as a sport played in elementary school with classmates during PE. What is interesting, though, is that the activity has become so renowned that there are actually competitive adult leagues that play the game. The group activity is easy and an excellent way for swimmers to connect with each other outside of the pool setting.
Kickball is a fun team sport because players get to kick the ball while also running the bases and trying to score outs for the opposite team, similar to baseball. Each participant burns between 300 and 600 calories per hour and builds strong leg and core muscles during the exercise. The activity has also been shown to improve mental health, coordination, and dexterity.
“We mix in games like Kickball, Speed Ball, Crab Soccer, Dodge Ball, and Capture the Flag with our team. These games and activities help to mix up the practice layout from the standard day-to-day swim practice routine. They help promote a competitive spirit and the inclusion of teammates toward a common goal. Not to mention the cross training benefits and athleticism these activities require, that is necessary for our youth today. Incorporating these activities into your regular practice schedule is essential to developing well-rounded athletes in and out of the pool.”
Indoor Rock Climbing
Rock climbing is an exercise that increases mental and physical stamina, gives you a full body workout, and increases your heart rate all at the same time. Rock climbing can be performed at an indoor rock climbing wall or outdoors, depending on a person’s experience with the sport.
Swimmers can partner up or get in small groups to encourage one another during each person’s climbing session, which requires significant focus, flexibility, balance, and strength. The actions of climbing, leaping and reaching can frequently create a sense of exhilaration, which is similar to racing in a swim meet. Rock climbing works a variety of muscle groups including your abs, obliques, biceps, traps, delts, quads, lats and calves.
“Rock climbing uses very similar muscles groups in your upper body and core as swimming does. I like to use it because it tests the athlete’s determination as much as it does their physical strength.”
The most important aspect of these recreational activities is creating a stimulating atmosphere for your team to develop rewarding relationships, learn impactful teamwork lessons, and expand your fitness repertoire.