Here’s exactly how swimming changes your body shape


If you’ve always been the girl who stays on land and doesn’t get her hair wet, you’re missing out. Swimming is expanding beyond the pool to dams and the ocean – and the body benefits are enormous.

How swimming changes your body shape

It legit changes the way your body looks. Plus, you won’t be the only woman in a sea of dudes, says Olympian Michelle Weber.

“Women’s swimming is getting so much faster and it’s just crazy how it’s improved in the last 10 years,” she says. “Records are being broken. And that’s exciting for female swimming.”Here’s what you can expect if you take the plunge.

You’ll tone up

Unlike traditional cardio, like cycling and running, which use one particular muscle group, swimming incorporates every part of your body. Want sculpted shoulders? Check. Keen to tone your butt? Check. Killer core? Check, mate.

It’s also low impact, so there’s very little chance you’ll be injured and benched. Plus, there are drills you can do to target specific muscles or get you in the peak heart-rate zone.

READ MORE: These swimming hacks will make you less afraid of the water

You’ll torch kilojoules

Not keen on slipping into cold water? That chill factor can turn your body into a fat-burning machine, even if you’re just swimming at a manageable pace. It’s why people who swim the English Channel have to bulk up on carbs before swimming: their body needs fat to burn.

READ MORE: How to protect your natural hair after swimming in the pool or sea

“You burn so much in cold water because your metabolism just has this humongous boost,” says Michelle.

You’ll never get bored

If you’re the kind of person who can’t bear to do the same thing. Every. Single. Day. Good news! Open-water swimming, like the ever-changing ocean, is always different.

“You’re in a different environment, whereas in the swimming pool, you’re looking at a black line all the time,” says Michelle. And races are in different places: some are in dams, while some are in the ocean.

You’ll travel

Michelle took up the sport when she was 11 and found a social club and travel opportunities in the process: “I used to do pool swimming. When I was 11 years old, I did my first open-water event and after that my parents and I just searched the country for other ones,” she says.

READ MORE: #MondayMotivation: Board shorts, running shorts and men’s swimming trunks - the new denim cut-offs?

They were hooked after experiencing the social culture of the events. “The community is so great and you’re getting away with your family and friends and having a braai and then competing,” she says.

You’ll be zen

You may find yourself subbing your next yoga class for a swim: a small Finnish study found that swimming a few times a week significantly lowered tension and fatigue scores in participants. Michelle agrees: “You sort of zone out and you’re on your own,” she says.

READ MORE: 5 awesome travel destinations every fit girl will love

“Some swimmers I speak to find it very relaxing and just time to get away from the noise.”

Got your cossie yet?

We’re loving how reasonable the costumes are at MrP Sport. These two are our resident Women’s Health swimmer’s fave.

swimming costume

This one’s strappy, colourful and oh so pretty. R179.99 at MrP Sport.

Swimming costume, Mr Price
Swimming costume

This one has thicker straps for support – more for the serious swimmer. R179.99 at MrP Sport.

Sign up to W24’s newsletters so you don't miss out on any of our hot stories and giveaways.

We live in a world where facts and fiction get blurred
In times of uncertainty you need journalism you can trust. For 14 free days, you can have access to a world of in-depth analyses, investigative journalism, top opinions and a range of features. Journalism strengthens democracy. Invest in the future today. Thereafter you will be billed R75 per month. You can cancel anytime and if you cancel within 14 days you won't be billed. 
Subscribe to News24
Editorial feedback and complaints

Contact the public editor with feedback for our journalists, complaints, queries or suggestions about articles on News24.