If you did an informal poll of adults from the lower mainland, from the prairies, or from the great white north of the territories, I’m guessing they’d all tell you the same thing about their favourite childhood memories.
They all happened on the water.
Here in Vancouver it’s a pretty simple luxury since we’re surrounded by water. Heck, half the time the water falls on us from the sky! Whether it’s on a boat or floating aimlessly on a tube or paddling like crazy on the cold waters of an ocean or a lake, lifelong memories are created when you’re submerged or about to be submerged in the water.
So why not take advantage of those memories and get a little training in while you’re at it?
Yeah I know, usually I’m the one advocating for a complete break from training in the summer. Why?
The difference here is that I’m not actually calling for more formal training or for you to spend a bunch of money on specialized sessions.
Nope, all I’m saying is that there are a lot of advantages for hockey players who spend plenty of time in the pool.
Swimming, whether it’s casual splishy-splashy with some buddies or more serious team swimming or lessons, is a sneakily handy way to avoid future injuries. Pushing against the natural resistance of the water strengthens more than just the key muscles any young athlete uses, it solidifies joints, tendons, and connections that are easily neglected during the winter when hockey players repeat the same motions over and over and over again.
That natural fluid resistance is also valuable in lengthening muscle tissue and improving recovery and recoil. Hockey players are accustomed to the same types of stretching routines on and off the ice, but there’s no replacement for strengthening muscles and improving flexibility at the same time by pushing through the water.
The minute a hockey player steps on the ice for tryouts in August they’re told where to go, what to do, and how to play. This means a natural pecking order evolves as players sort out where they fit on the ice. Swimming on the other hand normally flips that pecking order on its head or makes it obsolete completely. I’ve seen kids slashing and tripping and punching each other one minute on the ice only to be best buds in the NSWC pool 15 minutes later. Like, I’ve seen this happen several times over the past five years.
Look, the reality is that it’s important for kids in the summer to just have some fun. Yeah, swimming in any form is awesome for agility and strength and injury prevention, but more importantly it’s simply the best way to create memories with your buddies while the sun is shining.