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Hate jogging? Try water workouts!

Swimming For Total Fitness, by Jane Katz, Ed.D., with Nancy P. Bruning, Doubleday/Dolphin, Inc., Garden City, New York, 348 pp, illustrated, softcover.

The swimming bibliography is replete with excellent books on competitive swimming, but for the first time here is a comprehensive text for those wishing to swim for recreation. . . “to enjoy Nature’s perfect exercise.”

This book is well on its way to popularizing recreational swimming much as Fixx’s books did for jogging. Already 22,000 copies have been sold and it has been reviewed and widely acclaimed in many of North America’s leading publications. The author, Dr. Jane Katz, has been a guest on many popular television and radio programs.

Swimming for Total Fitness discusses every aspect of recreational swimming. It is authoritative and well-balanced in its treatment of techniques and progressive aerobic workouts. It deals with all the components of total fitness and includes a special section on diet and weight reduction through swimming.

Katz emphasises the special qualities of exercise in water (as opposed to jogging), while teaching beginning and advanced swimming as well as diving and training techniques.

The text is eminently readable, in fact, Katz’s pleasant colloquial style is unusual and compelling. It’s obvious that she writes with conviction:

“It falls from the sky and it comes out of the ground. Two-thirds of your body is made of it. It keeps your skin from wrinkling, flowers from wilting. You wash with it, drink it, cook with it. Kids love to play in it. Wars have been fought over it. Three-quarters of the earth is covered with it. Some believe it cleanses the soul and purifies the mind. What is it? It’s water — and it’s also what makes swimming unique in the world of sports and physical fitness.”

The author contends that many sports, which initially seem like fun, eventually prove boring, expensive or limited in scope (or all three). She maintains that broken arms, bad knees, hours of gruelling sweaty work, not to mention depleted bank accounts, should not be the price paid for physical fitness.

Water is the secret ingredient that makes swimming better for recreationalists than any other sport. Katz says, for example, that every time a runner’s foot hits the ground, the body receives a shock of up to three times one’s own body weight. Multiply that by 3000 strides for every mile run, and you’re talking about an incredible pounding. On the other hand, because of the upward force of buoyancy, a swimmer’s body feels as though it weighs less in water. And there’s no jarring against any hard surface; there’s only the smooth, rhythmic motion through water.

The text includes over 80 workouts, gradually increasing in distance from 100 yards to two miles. There are stroke drills which can be done while training so that technique can be developed concurrent with improving one’s physical condition. Moreover, there are exercises which can be done in the water (hydrocalisthenics), as well as dry land exercises, an entire section devoted to questions and answers, advice on equipment as well as workout logs . . . and literally everything else that needs to be known to enjoy the many beneficial effects of swimming for recreation and total fitness.

Without doubt, Swimming for Total Fitness is the best book yet published on recreational swimming. It is highly recommended to those who seek to be really fit while achieving symmetrical muscular development and a supreme feeling of well-being. Cecil Colwin

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