Are Runners Automatically Good Swimmers?

So, you’re an excellent runner – your legs are strong, your heart and lungs are in top shape, and you’ve got a mental toughness that can push through the toughest of marathons. Now, you’re thinking about diving into the world of swimming. How will your running expertise translate into this new sport?

are runners good swimmers

Being a runner does not automatically make you a good swimmer (and vice versa). The only things that transfer over between these two sports are your cardiovascular endurance and your mental fortitude. When it comes to swimming technique, nothing you do as a runner prepares you for that, so you’re no better than the average non-swimmer in that regard.

In this article, we’ll briefly compare and contrast running and swimming to help you better understand why being a good runner does not necessarily make you a good swimmer, or vice versa.

Ways Running Benefits Swimming

First, let’s look at the similarities between running and swimming..

Both running and swimming are aerobic activities, meaning they require oxygen to generate energy for prolonged exercise. They both need a strong cardiovascular system – that’s your heart and lungs – to supply oxygen to your muscles.

As a great runner, you’ve already built an impressive cardiovascular base, and this will definitely give you an advantage when you start swimming compared to a completely untrained individual.

Second, the mental strength and discipline you’ve developed as a runner will be invaluable. Swimming is a demanding sport that requires a lot of concentration and resilience.

The same grit and determination that got you through those tough runs will help you push through challenging swim workouts when you swim laps for what seems like hours.

Areas Where Running Does Not Benefit Swimming

However, there are also significant differences between running and swimming that might pose some challenges.

For starters, swimming is a full-body workout that engages different muscle groups than running. While running primarily uses your legs, swimming requires a strong core and upper body, especially your back and shoulder muscles. So, you might find you need to build strength in new areas.

Next, swimming is heavily technique-focused. Unlike running where you naturally put one foot in front of the other, swimming involves complex movements that require precise timing and coordination.

The way you move your arms, kick your legs, and even how you breathe – everything needs to be in sync.

So, even with your excellent fitness level, you might need to spend some time mastering these skills because you don’t automatically know them from a different sport; this is known as the principle of specificity in training.

Lastly, let’s not forget water resistance vs air resistance. In swimming, you’re moving through water, which is about 800 times denser than air! This means you have to work harder to move forward compared to running. But, on the bright side, this also makes swimming an excellent workout for building strength and endurance.

The Verdict

While your running skills will give you a solid foundation in terms of cardiovascular fitness and mental toughness, there is not as much technique transfer from running to swimming as you might think; in fact, almost none at all!

But hey, with your proven track record in running, there’s no doubt you’ll make a splash in the swimming world in no time if you hire a swim coach and put in the time and effort.