Swimming is great for running for a number of reasons, such as rehabbing a running or impact-based injury, trying to increase your aerobic capacity or just looking for variety of training.
But it has two great advantages over other sports, in that it’s incredibly low loading, so it can be worked harder and more often than other sports, and because you have to work on breath control. These two elements mean that there’s a far better crossover effect from swimming to running and cycling than the other way around. That’s not to suggest that you could completely substitute running for swimming in the pool, but it would certainly be a great addition to your training.
Swimming is also great for stretching out muscles, namely the hip flexors and the posterior chain, which tend to tighten up from running and sitting in desk jobs.
Swimming and running both require a strong, engaged, stable core, all the time, so that your arms and legs can move from there with a good platform. It may take time to feel this in the water, but when you can feel that whole body link running through from fingertips to toes in the water, it’ll help you feel that same balance and control out on the roads.
John Wood is an award-winning multisport coach of 10 years, and a former international swimmer.