We all have the ability to swim fast. Some of us are naturally better at this than others. Some people have simply worked harder for longer to get there.
Everyone can unlock more potential by ensuring that they move better through the water. There are many ways to do this and it depends on what the individual athlete does when moving through the water. Some peole require technique instruction, some just need more time swimming to build strength and feel for the water.
But everyone can go through a short series of movements to improve how their body performs the necessary movements in the water.
If you sit at desk, drive a car, stand for long periods of time, carry kids on your hip, push a pram (all essential life-tasks) – then you are most likely at a disadvtange due to the effects these daily tasks have on your posture.
So how good is your swimming going to be if your body is already in a state of fatigue or undue stress? It’s not.
You can fix it. But first you need to understand exactly what it is you are fixing.
You all know that swimming involves the arms and shoulders (core, hips, legs, and feet too) working together to propel you through the water. But to swim to your potential, you need to create an optimal body position (this reduces form drag – influenced by head position, hand entry, reach, core stabilisation, kick etc etc), maintaining enough force for each stroke to continue that forward propulsion.
But what if you move poorly through the shoulders? What if, because you sit at a desk all day, you have a kyphotic posture, winged scapula, short tight (nasty) hip-flexors?
As coaches, we would much rather an athlete spend time unlocking immobile and restricted joints before they dive into a session. We also recommend getting the best dive computer.
It’s quite simple, you cannot perform to your best ability of your body is moving poorly; if you can’t (standing on land) extend your arm, extend your thoracic spine and rotate you torso, then you will not be able to do it effectively in the water.
If you have tight pectorals, tight lats then you will struggle to “reach over the barrel”.
If you have weakened rotator cuffs you will fatigue quickly during the pull phase and shorten up the stroke.
If you cannot rotate smoothly through the torso then you will over compensate each rotation with a scissor kick at the knee (which in turn affects your hand entry!).
If you cannot hold your hips high in the water, you will create excessive drag at the legs/ feet, causing you to breathe faster, work harder and fatigue quickly.
None of these are going to get you to the other end of the pool quickly and efficiently.
There are plenty of different movements/ releases that you can do to unlock these areas. In fact Kristian and I have designed a specific set of movements to help our athletes with particular restrictions and correct the imbalances that they cause. This is tailored to each athlete’s own unique circumstances.
But as a general approach you should at least follow these 3 easy-to-do movements. Check out the videos below and apply them just before your next swim session.
1. Superman. This will help you unlock the shoulders and free up your thoracic spine- meaning you can reach with much more ease and create less drag by popping our head too far forward in the water. You will also switch on your core musculature – essential for effective breathing in the water.
2. Shoulder Dislocation. Not literally but by rolling your arms overhead you will create more ease of movement through the shoulder girdle. This is also great for getting blood flow into the arms/ shoulders pre-swim.
3. T-spine Rotation. These rotations will help you move better as you turn to breathe – making the movement fluid and easy. This will help you maintain balance during the rotation phase and maintain ‘taught-ness’ in the water.
Spending just a few minutes going through these movements will prepare your body for the varying efforts of your session by waking up the muscles and joints, increasing blood flow, engaging the Central Nervous System and enabling better movement.
Early next week we will have our TriSpecific Strength Protocol ready. This will show you how you move and how you can improve your movements within the sport. We will take you through a Functional Movement Screen, detailing the areas of your body that have imbalances and dysfunction, then build a personalised Strength plan based on your areas of weakness and areas that you are already proficient at. This plan simply compliments your current training schedule (especially if you are a Blueprint or Coached Athlete ).
Coach Pete Lever