Tuesday, October 2, 2007

An Aerobar for Swimmers: Body Position and Balance in the Water

By Ken Mierke

Wouldn’t it be nice if swimmers could buy an aerobar (hydro-bar?) or a disk wheel that could help them swim faster and more efficiently just by tightening a few bolts? The bad news is that there isn’t much equipment that can help a triathlete swim faster. The good news is that you can dramatically decrease body drag without purchasing any equipment. Making simple adjustments to your body position will accomplish this.

Effective triathlon swimming, just like cycling and running, is about efficiency more than it is about strength and fitness. Certainly long and hard workouts are important for optimal performance, but the first swimmers out of the water aren’t necessarily the strongest. Go to any Masters Swim team and you’ll see guys in lane five, the slowest lane, with 6-pack abs. Every Masters team lane 1, the fastest lane, also has a guy who swam in college, but is 40 pound overweight and a two pack a day smoker. Hard and long training is necessary to swim your best in triathlon, but developing an efficient stroke is even more important.

Swimming speed is a result of propulsion minus drag. The best way for almost every swimmer to get faster is to swim through a smaller hole in the water. Improving body position in the water is the area of the greatest potential improvement. The time spent on the side should be maximized so the shoulders do not break the water-line and do not produce bow waves. Dryland swim machines such as the DrySwim Trainer promotes the user to use the core muscles that are needed to rotate the hips and shoulder from one side to the other. This reduces the frontal cross-section, reducing drag further, and also increasing the ratio between the body's water-line-length and width. Similar improvements are possible by orienting the narrowest direction of head, hands, legs and arms into the water.

While each swimmer will develop his/her own style, there will always be fundamentals. It is hard to argue with physics.

Horizontal Body Position: Efficient swimmers maintain a relatively horizontal position in the water to minimize frontal area and drag. Less efficient swimmers legs and hips stay lower in the water, increasing frontal area and drag enormously.

Human swimmers are buoyant, we are just imbalanced in the water. We float naturally, but not in a horizontal position. A human’s center of mass is located in our hips. Our center of buoyancy is in the chest, caused by the air on our lungs. What pulls us down in the water is located low; what pulls us up in the water is located high. Our heads and chests tend to ride too high in he water and our hips and thighs sink.

There are two ways to keep the hips and legs higher in the water as we swim. The first is very effective at keeping the hips and legs up, requiring tremendous energy. The second requires almost no energy, enlisting the water to do the work for you. Which sounds like a better approach to you?

Many swimmers kick very hard when swimming. While this does keep the legs up, it uses tremendous energy and produces almost no propulsion. Kicking hard is exhausting, causing cardiovascular fatigue while swimming and muscular fatigue during the bike and run. Since the feet move up and down, almost all of the propulsion is produced vertically and very little horizontal propulsion.

A more efficient way to keep the body horizontal uses the pressure of the water to keep the hips and thighs up. Since the air in a swimmer’s lungs provides most of the buoyancy, balancing the body around this source of floatation is key. Efficient swimmers keep the head, arms, and shoulders low in the water. This causes water pressure to maintain the body’s horizontal position with almost no energy expenditure from the swimmer. There are a number of keys to balancing the body around the position of the lungs to maintain a horizontal position.

Head Position: Most triathletes tend to lift the head when swimming. As anyone who saw the movie Jerry McGuire knows, the human head weighs 10 pounds. This much weight several feet in front of the center of buoyancy has a great affect on balance. Lifting the head only a few inches will cause the legs to drop significantly. Efficient swimmers carry the head in a neutral position, at the same depth in the water as the lungs. During workouts, concentrate on looking at the bottom of the pool and not forward in the lane. Occasionally swim a few lengths alternating several strokes with the head carried high in the water and several strokes with the head positioned lower in the water. Notice that when you carry the head high the feet drop and you naturally kick harder. Pay attention to the decreased effort when you correctly keep the head down.

Entry: At completion of entry, before the arm begins the pull, it needs to be positioned horizontally in the water to minimize drag during the glide. Since the shoulder will be about 10 inches below the surface, the fingertips need to be about 10 inches below as well.

Many swimmers extend the arm forward and begin the stroke with the arm relatively straight and pulling down into the surface of the water. This downward pull, against the resistance of the water, lifts the upper body which causes the hips and thighs to sink.

Efficient swimmers spear down into the water, with the forearm and elbow following the hand and passing through the hole in the water cut by the hand. This entry keeps the upper body lower in the water and positions the arm to initiate a high-elbow catch.

Lengthened Body Position: Longer vessels create less drag as they move through the water. Efficient swimmers reach for the far wall with their fingertips, pulling the shoulder of the lead arm forward and the opposite shoulder down. This reshapes the body from a rectangle into a long triangle and reduces frontal area dramatically, like an aerobar for swimmers.

Stand relaxed with arms at your sides, looking at yourself in a mirror. Notice how wide your shoulders are. Now, without tilting your shoulders, raise your right arm overhead so that the arm is fully extended toward the ceiling. Shoulder width should not have changed. This is how many athletes swim, dramatically increasing hydrodynamic drag as well as reducing propulsion.

Now extend your right arm fully toward the ceiling, reaching as far as possible and feeling a significant stretch in the armpit and shoulder area. Slide the fingertips of your left hand down the left thigh as far as you can, maximally tilting your shoulders. Look how much narrower your shoulders are in this position. This is the position swimmers’ shoulders should achieve for the glide as one arm finishes each pull and the other finishes entry. Reversing this shoulder tilt during the pull also provides an additional source of propulsive power and lengthens your power zone. Reduced drag and greater propulsion equals faster swimming.

Torso Rotation: Good swimmers rotate their torsos dramatically on each stroke. This generates tremendous power, places the body in the sideways position that minimizes frontal area and drag, and enables relaxed arm recovery.

Breathing: Correct breathing is critical to efficient swimming. Research consistently shows better endurance in swimmers who breathe air instead of water.

Many athletes lift the head and shoulders in an unnecessary attempt to get up where the air is. While they do get air, this movement causes the hips and thighs to sink in the water, dramatically distorting their horizontal body position.

Efficient swimmers stay low in the water, actually breathing below the surface of the water. The pulling shoulder creates a vacuum below the surface of the water. Efficient swimmers breathe in this vacuum, called the bow wave, and are able to get air without climbing out with the head and shoulders. This allows them to maintain a horizontal body position and minimizes unnecessary displacement of water.

Most swimmers rotate the shoulders before the head on breathing strokes, attempting to whip the head around at the last second to catch up. Breathing this way causes swimmers to miss the bow wave and requires climbing out. Learn to keep the chin on the shoulder and allow the torso rotation to pull the head around to the breathing position. Breathing right on the shoulder allows a lower head position.

Exhaling underwater allows better timing of breathing. Many swimmers lift the head, exhale, and then inhale. This takes too long and distorts timing and body position.

Keep the forehead low in the water when breathing. Remember that we breathe through our mouths and noses, not our foreheads. Lifting the forehead does not get the mouth and nose higher. Tuck the forehead and breathe to the side and you will swim faster.


* Keeping the upper body as low in the water as possible is critical to maintaining a horizontal position without unnecessary energy expenditure.
* Maintain a neutral head position, looking at the bottom of the pool, not forward.
* Spear your hand and forearm down into the water on entry.
* Reach forward as far as possible on entry with the lead arm and shoulder.
* Rotate your torso a full 180 degrees on each stroke.
* Keep your head low in the water, breathing to the side very near the pulling shoulder.

About the Author

Exercise physiologist Ken Mierke is a 2-time I.T.U. World Champion and head coach of Fitness Concepts. Ken coaches triathletes, beginner to professional www.Fitness-Concepts.com.

Source : Tri-Newbies Online


Five Exercises for Swim-Specific Strength

By Brad Culp

Plenty of triathletes are willing to do whatever to takes to become faster and more efficient in the water. They join the local masters team, they do all the right drills and they listen intently to their coach’s every instruction. Even with that kind of focus, these triathletes still struggle with the opening leg.

The truth is, unless you’ve been in the pool since you were in grade school, you need more than just time in the pool to drop those swim splits. You need to develop swim-specific strength to make you slice through the water like Michael Phelps – or at least like you belong in the local triathlon.

Strengthening these very specific muscle movements often means getting out of the pool, as well as altering the sets you do in the water. Listed below are some of my favorite workouts to build these muscle groups and improve swim efficiency.

1. Pull-ups. You already know how to do them and chances are you hate them. As with everything else in sport, they get easier with time. Start by doing five sets until failure with your legs directly underneath your torso. After a few weeks, try lifting your knees up so that they’re even with your midsection. This will help you strengthen your core muscles, as well as your upper back and arms. You can alter your grip between palms-facing and palms-away for a slight variation.

2. Reverse push-ups. This is a slightly more complicated exercise. Place a barbell on a squat-rack about two-feet off the ground. Slide you body under the bar and reach up so that you’re suspended and looking up toward the ceiling. You can place your feet on the ground, or to make it harder, place your legs on a bench. Pull your midsection all the way up to the bar and then slowly lower yourself until you almost reach the ground. It should look like an upside-down push-up. Try five sets of 8-12 reps.

3. Dry-land swim simulators. These devices help you mimic a swim stroke while out of the water to build upper-back, shoulder and tricep strength. You can use a basic swim simulator, such as Stretch Cordz (www.nzmfg.com), or a more complex system, such as a Vasa Ergometer (www.vasatrainer.com), the Halo Swim Bench (www.haloswimtraining.com) or DrySwim Trainer (www.dryswimtrainer.com). These tools allow athletes train with far greater resistance than they could in the pool. Twenty minutes with any of these tools will feel like a 4,000-meter swim workout.

Source : Triathlete Magazine


The MOST Important Aspect of Swimming

By Glenn Mills

In the process of making swim videos, I spend a lot of time thinking about what is THE MOST IMPORTANT aspect of swimming. My conclusion? That the most important aspect of swimming CHANGES, based on what level of swimmer you are, and what your goals are.

For the beginner or novice swimmer I believe, without a doubt, that TECHNIQUE is the most important aspect. This is simply common sense. Who would think that strength training or building an aerobic base or working on speed would have ANY lasting effect on someone with limited knowledge of how to swim? No mater what your physical condition, if you haven’t mastered the basic motions and body positions and timing of each of the strokes, you’ll still struggle in the water.

Coaches, parents, and swimmers are too often in a rush to begin training. They see the first meet coming up – and the next and the next – and worry that they’ll have no endurance if they don’t start to train. What they don’t realize is that swimmers are building strength and conditioning even when they are working on technique. More important, they are imprinting perfect strokes. Too much training, too early, leads to the breakdown of the stroke too early in the imprinting process. At the end of a race, your stroke tends to revert to the worst form that your body knows. If your body has learned only perfect form, guess what happens at the end of a race. Perfect form. If your body has learned how to struggle when it gets tired (take a look at almost any age-group practice and you’ll see what this looks like), then you know what to expect at the end of a race.

Once a swimmer starts to understand the basics of the sport, then (and only then) does the focus start to change. And the next important stage isn’t necessarily what you think it is, i.e., training. Yes, you can begin to train swimmers how to maintain proper technique for longer periods of time, but it’s still too soon for 6000-yard days. Training at a young age should be filled with fun sets that challenge the athlete physically and mentally. Sets should be designed to make each swimmer use his body AND his mind. At this stage, the most important part of swimming becomes the MENTAL aspect.

There is SO much to think about while swimming…and most people don’t understand this. When they watch the Olympics, they think about how cool it is that these men and women can go so fast. What they don’t think about is the mental anguish that accompanies the physical toil. They think these athletes get to the podium by doing countless laps and by staring year after boring year at the black line on the bottom of the pool. What they don’t realize is that elite athletes don’t talk about how boring their training is…but how interesting. They look for ways not to tune out, but to TUNE IN to how they move and use their bodies. They look for ways to keep themselves mentally involved in every stroke and turn. What are some of the things you can do to engage your mind?

* I used to play a game in practice that involved breaking the world record on every 200 breast that I swam. Of course, I was going YARDS, and the WR is in METERS. Think this is easy? Give it a shot during your next practice and see how it can add challenge to your workout. Good luck.
* Swim sets in which you descend your times AND the number of strokes you take per lap.
* Swim sets in which you work your pushoffs for just a little longer off each wall.
* Swim sets in which you work a fast kick to increase your breakout speed.
* Watch the swimmer in the next lane, and DESTROY him or her on each turn, but do it LEGALLY.
* Keep a watchful eye on your closest competitor, and always beat him or her. Do whatever it takes in practice to get inside the heads of your teammates, all the while supporting them and telling them to go faster. Use your teammates to make you better, and make them better so that you have faster swimmers to race.
* For young swimmers, learning how to read the pace clock, count strokes, figure splits, and understand goal times and race strategy can provide PLENTY of mental challenge in every practice.

The mental aspect of the sport isn’t about being tough just on the day of the meet. It’s about being tough EVERY DAY. We all have our bad days, but it’s the champion who understands that he or she MUST perform even on their worst days. Use the bad days as a challenge to overcome, rather than use them as an excuse. Keep your goals in mind so that you understand that championships may fall on a “bad day.” If you’re not ready for it…if you’ve never practiced how to mentally and physically rise above the low spots, then chances are you won’t be able to do it on race day. Teaching and understanding the mental aspects of the sport at any early age builds swimmers who are involved, intrigued, and destined to enjoy the sport more.

As a swimmer starts to build the technique side and the mental side enough to advance to the elite levels of the sport, still another shift occurs. It’s now that PHYSIOLOGY becomes the most important aspect of the sport.

If everything has been done correctly, what you’re working with at this stage is an athlete who understands how – and why – the body works the way it does. The athlete knows how to stay involved in each practice, meet, or event. In order for an athlete to reach full potential, he or she must now focus on FITNESS. He must have the best possible strength-to-weight ratio. She must be turned into a lean, mean swimming machine and, yes, this takes WORK. And lots of it.

The training aspect of swimming is an exacting process. Some athletes believe in, and thrive on, 20,000 yards a day. Others can excel on 3,500 QUALITY yards a day. Each athlete must find what he or she needs to perform to potential. This means that different athletes require different types of training. Some swimmers perform better when they’ve got miles and miles of yards under their belts, while others require only a little swimming, but enough done at race pace to imprint the speed on their bodies and minds. If you go the mega-yardage route, you need to focus on pacing. If you go the low-yardage route, you need to be ready, mentally and physically, to put it on the line every day. You need adequate rest between repeats, and a super-charged practice atmosphere that fools the body into building enough adrenaline to perform at the levels that will be set when the race is on the line, the crowd is screaming, and your fiercest competitor is in the next lane. Although this last aspect is absolutely mental, it’s the rest intervals in practice that allow this type of athlete to perform to the level required for this type of training.

During the physiology/fitness stage, dryland training becomes increasingly important, based on how much swimming is done. The raw strength that can be gained through weight training, sit-ups, pull-ups, dips, rope climbing, push-ups, medicine balls, stretch cords (shall I continue?) is required at the higher levels of the sport. Elite athletes find it difficult to get the strength gains needed through swimming alone.

What’s the most important aspect at the highest level of the sport? FEEL. The ability to HOLD ON to the water rather than muscle through it. The ability to apply optimal force rather than maximum force. We have all seen swimmers with what “experts” describe as poor technique break world records while thrashing through the water with poor head positions and huge kicks. Yet when you watch these swimmers under water, you can see that their hands grab hold of a spot in the water and hold on to it. Rather than PULL their hands back, they hold on and move their bodies PAST their anchored hands. It’s as if they see an invisible ladder stretched along the bottom of their lane, and each time they put in a hand, they grab a rung and pull their body past it.

An elite swimmer can have fantastic technique, and possess incredible mental toughness, strength, and endurance, but without FEEL he or she will be simply fast…not the best. Without FEEL, even the strongest, most fit athlete will be humiliated by young swimmers who DO have it and understand how to use it. Are the best athletes born with it? Some are and some are not. Most acquire it over time. It may come from swimming 20,000 yards a day, and they’ve learned it through survival. For others, it comes from practicing over and over again what the last 10 meters of their race feels like.

It’s the combination of all these aspects that makes for a great swimmer. Each aspect is a building block toward the next. But is that all there is? Does greatness come just from mastering the four aspects? For true champions, these are only the beginning. The true champion is always searching for something new and something more.

Source : Go Swim

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Friday, July 6, 2007

Bench Marks

By Michael J. Stott & Phillip Whitten

Swim benches are not only helpful in developing specific strength in swimmers, but they are also invaluable in addressing the critical areas of endurance, technique, power, speed, injury prevention and rehabilitation.

Time was when mega-yardage sets were dogma and deemed the preferred means to swimming improvement. Today, though establishing an aerobic distance base remains essential, advances in physiology and kinetic research, combined with better training techniques, offer healthier, more holistic and practical applications for swimmers and their coaches.

Integral to dryland training at the elite, college and university levels is the swim bench, which along with other on-deck devices is "all about simulating swimming," says David Marsh, head men's and women's swimming coach at Auburn. "Benches are one of the many ways to transition early season weight room strength to the pool."

The benches of choice are the Vermont-based Vasa Trainer and the Biokinetic Swim Bench, developed by Evan Flavell in Albany, Calif. Vasa lists more than 230 colleges and university custom

Two Different Effects

Coaches believe that the benches produce two very different effects. On Flavell's Biokinetic Swim Bench, swimmers move their arms in patterns identical to the various swimming strokes. It is an "exercise modality that can duplicare the swimming motion with speed," he says, with the result that acceleration capability is built into his product. That function reflects Flavell's early association with Doc Counsilman, who espoused exercising at speed.

Data-hungry coaches are particularly fond of the dynamic force and strength analysis possible with the Biokinetic Swim Bench. A simple hookup allows coaches to get computer readouts that calculate and graph power output for every pull. Jim Richardson, women's coach at the University of Michigan, has seven Biokinetic Swim Benches and seven Vasa Trainers, and likes to utilize the former for training and as a sophisticated testing device.

When he uses the machine's variable resistance capability for rate-specific work, he'll connect the Biokinetic Swim Bench to a computer to learn how much force a swimmer is exerting in a certain block of time. With sprinters, he is looking for peak information, or maximum force exertion in the shortest period, and often tests his sprinters at 8-10-12-second bouts at, or faster than, race pace. Cal Berkeley's Nort Thornton likes the machine's ability to find a swimmer's power peak (it varies by individual), then sets speed settings that permit optimum training loads.

The Vasa Trainer operates on a sled that rolls on a track and comes equipped with all sorts of cords, straps, pulleys and a slew of accessories. It's proponents like the variable resistance and different angles of attack and settings that make prone and supine use possible.

Thornton bought his first Vasa machine for the training effect, but finds he's gotten a bonus in the area of technique instruction. Not only does the swimmer get to anchor his hands and move the body past the hands as he would in the water, but he is also able to correct dropped elbows, "which is probably the greatest error made by swimmers all over the world." Marsh concurs with Thornton about the elbows, and likes the Vasa Trainer applications that allow butterflyers to set a high elbow and breaststrokers to work on deep kicks.

The Vasa Trainer also has a pulley cable system that allows the user to swim in place doing freestyle. It reduces the load significantly compared to using the webbing straps, which serve as an anchor to move the body past the hands. The pulley system allows for complete range of motion of the arms in freestyle and enables coach and swimmer to analyze arm strokes and correct flaws.

Says Bauerle, "It's a great teacher for backstroke because it gives the swimmer a good feel for the upsweep and finish. And for all strokes, it teaches the athlete to finish all the way through, giving a direct correlation for distance per stroke in the water."

The best swim bench candidates are those who have "good strength-to-mass ratios," says Richardson, whose familiarity with the devices dates back to 1983 and his days at Iowa. "You need to be able to handle your body weight adequately," and for that reason, he doesn't recommend benches for age groupers. "Young swimmers need body control movement. They need to do activities to handle their own weight. Once the foundation work is done, there is a place for swim benches," he says. "Unnecessary," concurs Marsh, until swimmers get to the national level. ers on its web site (www.vasatrainer.com) and many college teams have equipment from both firms available to their swimmers.

"I think benches enhance our program," says Jack Bauerle, whose NCAA champion University of Georgia women's team does between 45 and 75 minutes of dryland per day, including 10 to 15 minutes every other day on the bench. "They have had a role in our success, and the work we do on them mirrors the types of training we are doing in the pool."

As for use by Masters, ringing endorsements come from the likes of Rowdy Gaines and George Boles, head coach of the 1997 long course national champion St. Petersburg Masters. Both credit Vasa Trainers with making a significant contribution to performance, as does Julie Wynn of Thousand Oaks, Calif.-a mother of two and thrice-- honored silver medal winner at World Masters in Sheffield, England.

Frequency of use during the taper period depends upon the coach. Marsh utilizes benches slightly more toward the end of the season when he is looking for specificity of stroke, while Bauerle and Richardson are examining what the benches have done to manufacture productive swimmer speed.

Words of Caution

Coaches are quick to offer words of caution. Supervision, to ensure that swimmers are using proper motion, is a must. "If you are training with improper technique, you are only hurting yourself," says Marsh. One way to check for technique is to have the equipment placed by mirrors, suggests Phoenix Swim Club's Pierre Lafontaine.

"The machines don't yet have the ability to connect the core body to the extremities," says Richardson. Neither bench accommodates body roll very well, and the only one that did was an expensive European version that has since slipped from most coaches' consciousness-and, presumably, their pocket books.

Benches are not cheap, and therefore, not for everyone. The Biokinetic Swim Bench retails for $2,995. The Vasa Trainers most used by professional coaches, the Pro SE and Pro, go for $1,099 and $849, respectively (includes $50 coach discount). Unquestionably, they are expensive devices and permit use by only one swimmer at a time. "In some ways, I think we'd be better off buying surgical tubing and making our own dryland devices, like in the old days," says Marsh.

Yet coaches acknowledge that each swimmer has a different dryland routine and no one really wants to be deprived of the options they provide. Bauerle's Stephanie Williams, third this year at the 2001 NCAAs in the 100 and fourth in the 200 free, is a big bench person. Richard Quick had Dara Torres on benches before water workouts to the point she was a "hurting pup." Still others don't require as heavy a load.

"Benches are not the answer, but they work as a tool like fins and hand paddles," says Marsh. What they offer is the variety that is so critical to swimmer motivation. "You need exercise choices for athletes. We look for things where kids will work hard outside the pool," says Bauerle, "and the benches provide that."

Source : FindArticles

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Dry Land Training

By Dick Hannula

Supplement your swimmers’ strength and power training with dry land training. Schedule a designated time for your dry land training when the equipment and facilities are available. Your time training out of the pool will also change during the course of the swim season according to the phase of your in-pool training. During the peak preparation period, your dry land training will decrease considerably, and it will be at its highest point during transition training.

My dry land program changed every season according to my team’s training phases and the availability of equipment and facilities. My dry land program includes the following: surgical tubing units, swim benches and swim sleds, medicine ball training, basic exercises, flexibility exercises, and weight training. However, I couldn’t possibly use all of these on any one day because of time constraints and equipment availability. I suggest rotating specific groups of swimmers through your planned dry land training on alternate days. Such an arrangement will result in maximum use of the equipment you have available.

Surgical Tubing Units

Surgical tubing units are inexpensive and can be safely anchored to diving board railings and to wall eyebolts. I like to have them anchored at a position above shoulder height. Your swimmers, at minimal risk of injury to themselves, can duplicate swimming movements closely, resulting in an increased power and endurance that will transfer effectively to their swimming.

I use these units every season, and each swimmer owns his or her own. I prefer a paddle at each end of the tubing to simulate the hand position while swimming.

Here is a sample training session using a surgical tubing unit:

Perform each exercise for 30 repeats or one minute. Do the repeats of each exercise with fast movement but perfect technique. Perform three sets of each exercise in numerical order:

1. Butterfly full stroke
2. Elbow forward extension presses
3. Lateral forward arm swings
4. Butterfly recovery
5. Butterfly finish
6. Butterfly full stroke (a second set)
7. Backstroke pull-downs
8. Breaststroke pull

One round of this particular set would take 24 minutes. The number of repeats and the rest interval would depend on the stage of the season. This particular set would probably be used in midseason. Emphasize that each set must be done with perfect technique and fast execution.

Swim Benches or Swim Sleds

Swim benches and swim sleds are both units on which the swimmers lie in a prone position and simulate a swimming stroke, usually butterfly. On the swim bench the body remains stationary, and the machine setting determines the amount of resistance that the arm stroke will have to overcome. Swim benches can usually give you a power rating that is scored electronically.

On the swim sled, swimmers lie on a movable platform and pull their body past their arms, as they do in actual swimming. The swim bench helps the athlete attain the feeling of swimming while providing additional resistance. The body doesn’t move past the arms on the bench, but your swimmers can duplicate fast swimming strokes with variable resistance.

Pair up your swimmers, with one doing the bench or sled exercises and the partner performing sit-ups, push-ups, or some other exercise while waiting. A typical sled set would be 5 3 20 repeats with good technique and a power pull on the sled. Partners would alternate on the sled after each set of 20. The swim bench set would vary the resistance and the number of repeats according to the stroke and distance swum.

Medicine Balls

Medicine ball training increases core strength as well as strength of the extremities. Review a list of recommended medicine ball exercises to determine which best serve your needs.

In using medicine balls, I like twist and turn drills, passing drills, and stomach exercises. You can create many interesting and motivational drills with medicine balls.

Basic Exercises

Our basic daily exercises include a minimum of 300 sit-ups and 100 push-ups. When I have suitable equipment, I add pull-ups and dips to our program. The sit-ups and push-ups take very little time and can be done anywhere that is convenient to the swimmer.

Provide your swimmers with some time for flexibility exercises before they go into the water. At the Australian Institute of Sport, where a specialist teaches flexibility exercises at the start of each session, the swimmers report to practice 15 minutes early to do their exercises.

You must sell your swimmers on the benefits of being flexible. Teach them the necessary exercises at the start of the season. There are a number of excellent sources for flexibility exercises, including a booklet published by USA Swimming. (One Olympic Plaza, Colorado Springs, CO 80909-5770)

Weight training has been an area of controversy for swimmers, because it is a form of dry land training that can increase the risk of injury and can bulk up a streamlined body. However, it can also help to prevent injuries when supervised and done properly. You need to research and understand the effects of weight training before introducing it into a program. The American Swim Coaches Association has an excellent study course on dry land training.

I believe in weight training for some swimmers, because most swimmers will develop more strength and speed as a result of it. On the other hand, many great distance coaches do not believe in any weight training because they want to avoid any additional bulk and other possible negative results from the use of weights. I suggest that distance swimmers be more cautious in their approach to weight training. You should approach weight training based on individual needs and abilities.

Age-group swimmers who have not gone through puberty should use gymnastics and any other dry land opportunities that meet the requirements of their physical maturity. I didn’t use weight training for my age-group swimmers, but if you decide to do so, base your decision on the best research available on the subject.

When I had a weight-training room available in my high school, I used it for my boys’ team three times a week for about 45 minutes each session. Because I don’t have a weight-training room available as a club coach, I use the other forms of dry land training.

Source : Human Kinetics

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Thursday, July 5, 2007

Going Dry For a Change

For swimmers and tri-athletes, it can be effective to turn to the weightroom as an alternative exercise source for your swim workout. Dryland training allows them to train with far greater resistance than they could in the pool. Twenty minutes with the DrySwim Trainer will feel like a 4,000-meter swim workout!


A DrySwim Trainer Fan

I've watched the DrySwim Trainer video on your website. Looks like fun. Can't wait to try it. Now I can squeeze in a swim workout almost before anyone knows it.