February 10, 2020

Swim Lessons: Q&A With Former Olympian Scott Dickens

In these frigid temperatures, it can be tricky to get our workouts in, especially when we typically enjoy outdoor activities like running. Luckily, swimming is a great cross-training workout to explore during the winter months—and no one can better attest to that fact than Scott Dickens, a former Olympic swimmer who is now dedicated to helping swimmers train effectively through his work with Vacouver-based Form (the company behind the first-ever augmented reality goggles). Here are Scott's top tips to get you in the pool this winter! —Vita Daily


Hi Scott! Please tell us a bit about yourself to start.

My name is Scott Dickens and I’m the director of strategic partnerships at Form, where we make wearable technology for swimming, more specifically smart swimming goggles that display metrics to you while you swim. I am a two-time Olympic swimmer and competed at the 2004 and 2012 Olympic Games for Team Canada. Swimming has been part of my life since I was a child and has taught me so many life lessons that I still fall back on to this day. I’m happily married to my lovely wife Michelle Landry, also a former national team member for swimming, and we have a two-year-old daughter Sydney. Now that I am retired from swimming, I still love to focus my efforts toward goals such as doing several Gran Fondos over the past few years, taking my MBA at SFU and now training for my first half Ironman in Victoria.

With snow falling in many parts of Canada (including Vancouver!), winter weather can have an obvious impact on our outdoor workouts. Why is swimming a great alternative option?

Whether it is winter or summer in Canada, swimming is a great option for improving your fitness overall. It is a low impact workout and works every muscle in your body, as you are always fighting the resistance of the water. Swimming is a great way to compliment training for other sports or to build baseline fitness endurance as well.

Specifically, what fitness benefits does swimming offer?

Swimming increases cardiovascular endurance, helps with relieving back and joint pain, can help improve range of motion and flexibility, is a great mental release exercise and can be enjoyed both inside and outside (when the weather cooperates).

What about other benefits, beyond the physical?

For me, swimming is one of those sports/exercises that I do as a way to check out mentally. I like how I unplug during this time and just focus on being in the pool. Life is distracting enough and when I am in the pool, there is nothing better than just hearing the sound of the water and nothing else.

What are your top tips for getting started in the pool? Best exercises for maximum impact?

Whether you are just getting started in the pool or have been swimming for years, it is always good to set goals for yourself to work toward. These can be as simple as swimming a certain number of times per week, or getting to a specific target distance, or improving efficiency. Whatever the goal is, having one helps you stay motivated and committed. Some of the best exercises for maximum impact in the pool would be to first focus on improving technique, as this will help make swimming more enjoyable and increase the quality of your workout. And, If you’re new to swimming, there’s also some neat tech that can help you to have a purposeful swim in the pool. For example, FORM’s augmented reality swim goggles have a smart display that shows you calories, stroke count, distance and other metrics as you swim.

Personal question: your fave swim spot in Vancouver?!

I have two, one for indoor swimming and one for outdoor. For indoor swimming, I love the UBC Aquatic Centre, it is close to my heart as I spent over 10 years training there. For outdoor swimming, I love to swim at Second Beach Pool in Stanley Park. There is something so satisfying about swimming outside in a pool right beside the ocean.


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