When I was a smoker, I convinced myself that if I ate a healthy diet and exercised every day, I could negate the bad effects of smoking. I promised myself that I would quit if it ever interfered with my ability to swim laps - one of my biggest pleasures. To me, there is just something about the rhythm of the different strokes, the feel of cutting through the water with them, and the sun on my shoulders as I swim.
What I DIDN'T realize was that the decrease in my ability to breathe was so gradual as to be unnoticed. Now that I have been quit for almost seven years, I can see the improvement in my breathing. I am rarely out of breath at the end of a lap and, if I am, it's because I wasn't doing it properly as I swam. I have already worked my way up from 15 to 30 minutes since Memorial Day - and am well on my way to being able to do 45 minutes by the end of the summer....and maybe even an HOUR by then.
I am guessing this would no longer have been possible if I had kept smoking. Sobering, isn't it?!
If you are just starting out, stay with it. If you have some months/years under your belt, stay committed. I am swimming proof that it makes a HUGE difference in your quality of life!