Aqua Notes

Head Position in Freestyle… Have Your Cake and Eat It Too

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Originally published on SwimSwam.com

While swimming freestyle, the positions of least frontal drag do not necessarily correlate with the positions of maximum propulsive power. Head position is just one example of this conflict. When the head is in alignment with the body and the spine is straighter, the least frontal drag is encountered. Yet, to maximize the power of the underwater pull, the lower back should be arched some, which results in an elevation of the head.

With some of our freestyle swimming motions, such as the underwater pull, we need to choose between more powerful force and lesser drag positions and often compromise between them. Not so with the head position.

Because of the exponential relationship between frontal drag and speed, the most important time to have the lowest drag coefficient is when our body is moving the fastest within the cycle. That occurs precisely when one hand first enters the water. It is at that point that it is most critical to have the head down.

Two beneficial events happen when we tuck the head down at the hand entry. First, the bow wave goes over the top of our head, essentially putting the head underwater for a brief moment. There is less drag underwater than on the surface. Second, our body straightens out more, creating a better shape to surge forward.

Elite freestylers, such as Phelps, Sun Yang or Katie Ledecky, create a noticeable surge in speed with the head down right after the breath, accompanied by a strong propulsive kick. It is easier to do this with the slower stroke rates of the hip-driven or hybrid freestyle, than with the faster stroke rate of the shoulder-driven freestyle. Yet it works with any freestyle technique.

Once the hand is under water, about one foot in front of the shoulder, initiating the propulsive phase of the pull (when the hand starts moving backward), the body must change its shape slightly in order to increase power. One cannot maximize the force of the underwater pulling motion without arching the lower back, which also causes a small lift of the head, similar to initiating a pull up from a bar.

If one were to be able to see the movement of the spine as an elite freestyler propels down the pool, one would see a shift from a relatively straight spine to a slightly arched lower back with each stroke cycle, over and over again. This movement enables the swimmer to take advantage of both the power position and the least frontal drag position.

The real question is, if swimming with the head down is conducive to faster swimming, why is everyone swimming with the head up? The answer is defensive swimming. Within the environment of a crowded workout lane or a frenzied swim at the beginning of a triathlon, swimmers are watching out for themselves, looking forward, hoping to avoid an unnecessary collision. In a crowded pool, lead the lane or go 10 seconds behind, stay to the right and pray, but keep your head down. Once you are in a race, where you are given your own lane, or after finding your space in an open water swim, you have no excuse. Get the head down when the hand enters the water and enjoy the surge.

Watch Freestyle Head Position Swimisode.

Yours in Swimming,

Gary Sr.


Happy Feet Part II… The Sequel

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All of that plantar flexibility of the ankle you have worked so hard to develop to become a fast kicker, aside from avoiding some seriously sprained ankles while inadvertently stepping in a hole, probably does no good deed for you on land. In fact, the excessive pronation (flat feet) of the foot that is commonly found among swimmers, may ultimately lead to some serious foot issues. I should know, because I have them.

Two problems that may develop from hyper-pronation of the foot are halux valgus, which is a turning out of the big toe, and hammer toe, which is a contraction of the toes where the middle phalangeal joint begins to rise upward in an inverted V shape. Both problems often progress and make wearing shoes more challenging or painful.

Part of the cause of these two problems may be genetic and not necessarily related to swimming. Many non-swimmers develop the same issues. The looseness of the ankle and hyper-pronation of the foot may merely be contributors. Regardless, I began to develop both of these problems with my own feet years ago.

In 2010, after a hammer toe began developing on my right foot, I decided to go to the Cleveland Clinic in Florida and have it looked at. The Orthopedic surgeon was a fairly young specialist in foot and ankle surgery. I should have been suspicious when he stated “I hate operating on this problem”. Nonetheless, I went ahead with surgery to try to correct it.

One year (and $34,000) after a painful surgery (6 weeks on crutches), my toes were back to the same as before surgery. There was almost no change whatsoever in the condition. For the next few years, the condition seemed to be gradually worsening.

In Spring of 2014, I checked around more thoroughly and this time elected to go to a podiatrist in Miami who had an excellent reputation. Of course, he stated that the previous surgery had been done all wrong and that he would operate completely differently, breaking this bone and fusing that joint. It sounded even more gruesome than the first one, which had left a pin sticking out of my middle toe for a month. Believing that I had no other good option, I scheduled surgery for the fall, when I had more recovery time.

At the end of the summer, just two weeks before my surgery date, I visited my son, Gary Jr. in Solvang, California. Gary Jr., was an extraordinarily fast kicker and was already beginning to develop the same toe problem as his father. Somehow, he had gotten the name of a Chinese foot specialist in Santa Barbara, a man named Harry Kim, who recommended orthotics. Within 6 months after wearing Harry’s orthotics, Gary’s toes and feet began improving. Before my pending surgery, Gary convinced me to go see Harry.

Harry at Happy Feet on State Street in Santa Barbara is not a doctor. He is not a podiatrist. He is a technician, and apparently a very good one. I was skeptical, as I had worn orthotics for at least 15 years with a continuous progression of the problem. I waited a long time to see Harry, sitting in his store. Three people were ahead of me waiting patiently to see him. He doesn’t take appointments. You just come in and wait for him. Don’t let anyone else there take care of you.

Each of the three people ahead of me told me Harry was a genius. Two of the people were physicians, like me. All were runners. Each told me of the miraculous cures of their problems with Harry’s orthotics. I was still skeptical.

Finally it was my turn. Harry had me stand on a German-engineered orthotic device that measures the weight bearing force of your feet while standing. From the printout, Harry then proceeded to describe why my foot was causing problems for my toes. Among the hundreds of orthotics hanging on the wall behind him, Harry picked out three and had me walk with all three of them to try them out, before deciding on one. I told him I was scheduled for foot surgery the following week.

“In foot surgery” Harry said, “only one person win…the surgeon”. I forgot to mention to Harry that I had been a surgeon. “Give 6 months…then decide”, he continued. “And walk like Chinese soldier”. He began walking heal to toe, pushing his arms backward with each stride.

It took about a minute and a half for me to make the decision to postpone my surgery. “What’s another 6 months if it doesn’t work?” I thought to myself. “It’s worth a try”.

So here I am 6 months later, wearing my new orthotics from Happy Feet every day, walking up and down the pool deck like a Chinese soldier. I even bought some of those strange Vibram five-fingered shoes to put them in, just to keep my toes separated.

I can now tell you that I will not be having any foot surgery soon. The problem is nearly resolved. My hammer toe is getting smaller every month. My feet are happy and I am happy. It might have been the best $100 I ever spent. Thank you Harry. Thank you Gary Jr.

If you are having foot or toe problems, go see Harry.

Yours in swimming,

Gary Sr.

If you’re wondering what Gary Hall Jr. is up to, check out his website here: http://gary-hall-qtpv.squarespace.com/


How to Maximize the Fifth Stroke

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Originally published on SwimSwam.com

HAPPY FEET, HAPPY SWIMMER — PART I 

Recently, I have spent a great deal of time using the Race Club Velocity Meter technology to analyze the dolphin kick. After all, the dolphin kick has become so important in all of the swimming strokes that it is now considered The Fifth Stroke. The Velocity Meter allows one to study the velocity and acceleration/deceleration of the swimmer’s body throughout the kicking cycles.

THE FIFTH STROKE

Surprisingly, not a lot of scientific research has been done on the propulsion of the dolphin or flutter kick. In one of our recent videos, The Fifth Stroke Part I, Olympic ChampionRoland Schoeman demonstrates a powerful dolphin kick with and without fins. These exquisite slow motion video images enable us to see the extraordinary flexibility of the ankle, particularly during the down kick, coupled with strong legs, which enables such great kick propulsion to take place.

MAXIMUM PROPULSION

The maximum propulsion from the kick occurs at the beginning of the down kick with a flick of the foot toward plantar flexion of the ankle. The more plantar flexion of the ankle, the more foot surface area is available to push backward in the water, creating propulsion.

THE DOWN KICK & THE UP KICK

While it is only during the down kick that the foot is actually moving backward in the water, I was surprised to find that there is some propulsion on the up kick, even though the foot is moving forward during this motion.

This can only be explained by the fact that the previous down kick and the swimmer’s body creates a stream of water moving forward and downward that is greater than the speed of the foot moving forward. Within this hydrodynamic system, the foot can still produce propulsion while it is moving in a forward direction. Acceleration of the body occurs in the up kick from the time the legs are horizontal with the body upward to nearly the end of the upstroke.

DOWN KICK X2 POWER OF UP KICK = VELOCITY

The velocity of the swimmer in the water reached after the down kick is about twice that of the velocity after the up kick. With the exponential relationship between velocity and frontal drag, that would mean the down kick likely produces roughly four times greater propulsive force than the up kick. Regardless, both the up kick and the down kick are important, so the fast kickers are working the legs in both directions.

In freestyle, I consider the speed of the kick to be the baseline speed of the swimmer before the arm pull is added in. It is almost as if a swimmer has a choice of swimming in a pool or a stream. With no kick propulsion, the swimmer is swimming in a pool where there is no current. With a kick, the swimmer is now swimming with the current in a stream. The stronger and faster the kick, the faster the current is moving in the stream. With a strong kick, when you add the arm pull, a swimmer can rip down the stream.

The kick is even more important in fly, breaststroke and backstroke than it is in freestyle. Yet it is important in all four strokes. Work on ankle flexibility, leg strength for the kicking motions and leg fitness to sustain those motions and you will see great improvement in your swimming times.

Watch The Fifth Stroke Swimisode

Yours in Swimming,

Gary Sr.


Is Butterfly Swimming a Short Axis Stroke?

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A short-axis stroke is defined as a stroke where there is desirable rotation of the body along the short axis through the middle of the hip, as opposed to the long axis, along the length of the body. Breaststroke is a short-axis stroke because the swimmer should extend the lower lumbar spine (arch the back) and elevate the shoulders as much as possible to augment the force of the kick. Freestyle and backstroke are both long-axis strokes as there is clearly body rotation around the axis in the line of motion down the pool with each. What about butterfly? Where does it fit in?

Butterfly is clearly not a long-axis stroke, but it is not really a short axis stroke, either. Unlike breaststroke, where the kinetic energy of the upper body and head moving angularly forward couples with the kick, augmenting its force, the underwater pull and first down kick of butterfly occur as the upper body and head elevate for the breath, not moving downward, so there is no coupling energy there. While the downward motion of the upper body in fly might couple with the second down kick, any advantage of that is negated by the poor body position caused by elevating the shoulders.

In breaststroke, the elevation of the shoulders occurs right after the underwater pull and before the next kick. In other words, it is a period of deceleration when the body’s speed is slowing and comes nearly to a halt, once the knees are brought forward under the body for the next kick. Since frontal drag is exponentially related to the velocity, putting the body in this poor shape (for frontal drag) during this slow time has less adverse effect than if the body were traveling fast.

In butterfly swimming, the elevation of the shoulders for the breath occurs during the fastest point in the stroke cycle, when both arms have completed the pull, timed with the first propulsive down kick. At this critical fast point, with more elevation of the shoulders (more vertical body position) a detrimental shape will more adversely affect frontal drag forces.

In order to get the head above water for the breath and because the preceding up kick requires some extension of the lumbar spine, there will always be some shoulder elevation for the breath and curvature of the body. However, the shoulder elevation can be minimized by allowing the neck to extend forward as much as possible. Indeed, when watching Michael Phelps take a breath, that is precisely what happens. It is as if he were a giraffe, extending his long neck forward, yet low to the water, to get each breath. By doing so, he minimizes the elevation of the shoulder. With the strong kick, he elevates the entire body to remain flatter and skates over the top of the water. That is the closest we may ever see a human being come to hydroplaning.

In butterfly, use your neck muscles to breathe forward, not upward, develop a strong kick and skate over the top of the water for maximum speed and distance per stroke.

Watch Improve Butterfly Technique Swimisode

Yours in swimming,

Gary Sr.


How to Maximize Swimming Starts With the Back Footplate

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Originally published on SwimSwam.com

Starting with the back footplate

Part I: After the whistle blows

Getting off to a good start is one of the most important parts of the swimming race. The shorter the race, the more important the start becomes. Last spring at The Race Club, we had the opportunity to learn from one of the best starters in history, Roland Schoeman.

Once the whistle blows, signaling that the athletes can mount the starting block, it is important to get positioned properly. With the new adjustable back footplates, one needs to know where to position the plate (forward or backward) for the optimum attainable force. This will change depending on the swimmer’s height and whether he/she chooses to be weight forward or backward after the command. It is extremely important to practice some starts in warm up with the starting block in the racing pool to be absolutely certain where to place the footplate. Different companies manufacture these blocks, so one cannot assume that they are all the same.

Once you have climbed on top of the starting block, the front foot is positioned first with the longest toes hanging slightly over the front edge of the block. If you are not certain which foot should go forward, practice it both ways and see which way feels more comfortable. If you are still not sure, imagine doing a lay up in basketball. Which foot would you jump off of? That should be the foot that is forward.

After setting the front foot, position the back foot on the plate where you want it with the heel slightly off the plate, resting on the ball of that foot. The feet should be placed about shoulder width apart and both feet should be pointing forward.

When both feet are planted you do not want to stand up, nor do you want to place your hands on your knees, bent slightly at the waste. From either position, when the command to take your mark occurs, it will take too long for you to bend over, grab the front of the block (or the bars on top of the block) and lean backward into the cocked position. Starting from this elevated position, too many swimmers have heard the beep go off while pulling themselves backward, leaving them far behind. Instead, you should hang down from the waist, arms relaxed and loosely grab the front of the block or bars with fingers of both hands. Do not pull up tightly with your arms until after the take your mark command is given.

The head should be positioned in a neutral position or slightly extended. That means you will be looking down toward your front heel or toward the middle of the surface of the starting block. You do not want to extend the neck too far forward, as that will tend to make you feel tight and uncomfortable. At this point, you do not need to look forward and see the water in front of you. You know the water is out there.

With the head in this neutral position, the fingers loosely holding on to the block or the bar, your weight should be placed mostly on the front foot, with the longest toes of that foot wrapped around the edge of the block. No part of your body should feel extremely tense. You are now ready for the command of the starter.

For video images of good starts, please watch this Swimisode.

Yours in swimming,

Gary Sr.


Coupling Motions Boost Distance Per Stroke

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Published on SwimSwam.com

Have you ever noticed that leaner men or women often swim faster than bigger, stronger men or women? Reducing frontal drag is certainly one of the reasons why a leaner body may have the potential to swim faster, but there is another reason, called coupling motions.

A coupling motion is defined as kinetic energy created within the body that augments the effect of the propulsive forces. These motions can occur either at the same time the propulsive forces are acting, or while the effect of the propulsive forces are still occurring. In swimming, the propulsive forces are nearly all derived from the hands and the feet, as those (along with the forearm) are the only parts that actually move backward in the water as the body moves forward. Yet there are many other motions of the body that can be used to enhance those propulsive forces.

Perhaps the easiest way to comprehend the effect of coupling motions is by visualizing a great relay takeoff. As the swimmer in the water approaches the wall, the swimmer on the block will step forward, first with one foot, then with the other. This sets the body in motion toward the desired goal of jumping as far out over the water as possible, taking advantage of the law of inertia. This motion is similar to the result that a long jumper running down the runway will have compared to a standing long jumper.

The swimmer on the relay also will swing the arms fully extended in a backward circle as fast as he or she can while pushing off the block with the feet. The kinetic energy of the arm swing is increased by lengthening the arms maximally (radius) and by swinging the arms as fast as possible (angular velocity). The act of swinging the arms does not lead to any direct propulsive forces that help the swimmer get off the block, but when coupled with the force of the legs pushing the swimmer, that motion results in a longer jump. The parts of the body are not working as an isolated system, but rather connected together in an open system, where all the motions of one part affect, either positively or negatively, the propulsive forces created by another. Further, all motions are also affected by outside forces in this open system, such as gravity and frontal drag, which impact our swimming speed.

There are other less important coupling motions that occur on the relay start, such as lifting the head forward during the jump and kicking the back leg up in the air, but the net result of all of these coupling motions acting during the time the force of the push off the block is still taking place, result in a better relay take off. Coupling motions not only occur in swimming, but in virtually every sport. The long jumper continues to move his legs and arms while in the air. The golfer or baseball player rotates the body and swings the hips forward to get a longer drive or a hit the ball more powerfully.

The coupling motions of a swimmer differ for each of the four strokes. In freestyle and backstroke, for example, the rotation of the body and the recovering arm swinging over the top of the water during an underwater pull can augment the distance a swimmer travels from the force of each pull (Distance Per Stroke or DPS). The faster the body is rotating and the longer and faster the arm is recovering, the greater the effect of the coupling motion. In breaststroke and butterfly, most of the coupling motions occur during the kick, not the pull. In breaststroke, the lunge forward of the upper body and head, timed precisely with the backward kicking motion, results in a longer glide after the kick. In butterfly, the swing of straight arms over the top of the water and the snap down of the head are coupled with the second down kick, resulting in more distance traveled from that kick.

If coupling motions really make us swim faster, why doesn’t everyone do them? The reason is that they require work, over and over again. It is much easier to swim by minimizing the energy in these coupling motions, but we swim much slower. In order to swim fast, we need to put a lot of energy into the effort, but it must be spent intelligently. Motions that do not couple with our propulsive forces or that lead to a huge increase in frontal drag will simply wear us down.

No one said swimming fast was easy, but one must also swim smart by using coupling motions. Read more about the Science of Coupling here: http://theraceclub.com/aqua-notes/freestyle-recovery/

Yours in swimming,

Gary Sr.


Why Head Position in Backstroke Matters, Plus 2 Drills for Head Position

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Originally published on SwimSwam.com

The fundamentals of backstroke are the same as for freestyle. Although the biomechanics change some when one rotates from the freestyle to the backstroke position, all of the basic laws and forces governing technique remain the same. In other words, we want to reduce frontal drag as much as possible, increase propulsive power as much as possible and try to comply with the law of inertia.

COMMON MISTAKES

When it comes to reducing frontal drag, one of the most common mistakes made is elevating the head too much. As in freestyle, the elevation of the head creates two problems. It causes the hips and legs to drop down resulting in a bad body position for drag and it increases surface or wave drag by not allowing the bow wave to go over the face.

HEAD POSITION

Head position in backstroke is an example of the conflict between the positions of propulsive power and reduced frontal drag that occur in swimming. For maximum biomechanical propulsive power in backstroke, the head needs to be elevated and the back straightened, while the body rotates from side to side. To reduce frontal drag, the head needs to be laid back with extension of the lumbar spine just enough to allow a small trickle of water to go over the goggles. Fortunately, because the times at which maximum propulsion from the pull and maximum body speed during the stroke cycle occur are different, with respect to both frontal drag and power, one can have his cake and eat it, too.

A SMALL STREAM OF WATER OVER THE FACE

Frontal drag is exponentially related to the object’s speed, so it is important that the position of lowest drag occurs precisely when the speed is highest and that is when the hand enters the water. At that point, or slightly before, one should be able to see a small stream of water pass over the face. To the backstroker, as opposed to the freestyler, where one cannot tell if the water is going over the back of the head or not, the end point is easily discernible by seeing a small amount of water stream over the goggles.

ACHIEVING MAX POWER

To achieve maximum propulsive power from the arm pull, the backstroker needs to be on his side with the back flexed slightly and the head elevated some. This position of power should occur just a few tenths of a second after the hand enters the water, during what is called the catch phase of the pull.

THE MINI-CRUNCH

The different times in the stroke cycle that these two important facts occur enable the swimmer to move from one position to the other with each stroke taken, taking advantage of the different forces that occur at each position. This slight change from extension to flexion of the lumbar spine essentially requires the same motion as doing a mini-crunch in the water, over and over again. This motion, along with body rotation, requires tremendous core strength to do well and often.

TWO DRILLS FOR HEAD POSITION

Two of our favorite drills to help establish good head position for backstroke are kicking in a streamline on the back, allowing the face to go slightly underwater after each breath, followed by swimming backstroke using a similar head motion. The second drill is sculling on the back with arms extended over head, allowing the face to drop beneath the water after each breath, followed by a swim in a similar head position.

You can learn more about head position in backstroke by watching our recently released Race Club swimisode featuring World Champion backstroker, Junya Koga.

HTTP://WWW.THERACECLUB.COM/VIDEOS/SWIMISODES-BACKSTROKE-JUNYA-KOGA-HEAD-POSITION/


10 Ways to Improve Health and Swimming Performance

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Nutrition is so important for swimmer’s health and performances, I consider it to be one of the five essential disciplines needed to reach maximum potential in swimming. The other four are swim training, strength training, mental training and recovery.

Nutrition is also one of the most controversial of the five disciplines. It is hard to find two people that agree on what one should or should not eat. Also, it seems that recommendations change from one year to the next. I was fortunate to have two parents that were genuinely concerned about nutrition and that, as an athlete, I was eating what they considered to be ideal foods. The thinking about what was ideal then compared to what is ideal today is much different.

The greatest education I have received regarding the value of nutrition occurred in 2000, when The Race Club was training 13 sprinters for the Olympic Games in Sydney, including Anthony Ervin and my son, Gary Jr. For the first 2 months of training, we covered four of the five disciplines mentioned above, but forgot about nutrition.

Our swimmers were on a very tight budget and were eating inexpensive junky fast food at least twice per day, rotating among McDonalds, Burger King and Wendy’s. Their performances in practice, under coach Mike Bottom, were severely lacking in quality. Finally, Mike and I huddled one day about their lackluster training, took a trip through their apartments, checking the cupboards only to find mostly sugar cereals and processed foods. It then dawned on us that bad nutrition was the cause of the poor training.

We immediately called on Mike’s friend from Los Olivos, California, Dr. Doug Herthel, founder of Platinum Performance products. Dr. Herthel flew over to spend a day with us and changed everything about the Race Club swimmers’ diet.

Two Platinum bars were given to each swimmer for breakfast each morning to replace the sugar cereal. Freshly baked chicken and beef pot pies were brought in for lunch with fresh vegetables and fruit. Platinum Performance supplements were given between practices. Dinner was on their own, but since it was the only meal they had to pay for, the rule was no fast food nor processed food allowed.

The results of this change in diet were immediate and impressive. Within days, practice times improved dramatically and recovery times shortened. Confidence levels rose so much that 10 of the sprinters made their country’s Olympic Team and the six Americans in the group won 10 Olympic medals for the USA, one tenth of the total medal haul for our country in all sports combined. Had we not changed their diet and added the Platinum supplements, that never would have happened.

To improve health and swimming performances, here are 10 of our most valuable nutritional recommendations from The Race Club:

  1. Avoid all fast food restaurants
  2. Avoid all processed foods
  3. Avoid gluten (bread, pasta, grains etc)
  4. Avoid dairy products (butter is not a dairy product)
  5. Eat a lot of protein (fish, chicken, meat, nuts)
  6. Rely more on healthy fat for calories
  7. Hydrate during and after practice with a non-sugar carbohydrate drink (Vitargo S2 for example)
  8. Eat sweet potatoes and fresh fruit often as a source of complex carbohydrates (organic)
  9. Eat lots of fresh or lightly cooked vegetables (organic is better)
  10. Post-pubescent swimmers supplement meals with products from reliable, high-quality-controlled manufacturers. Pre-pubescent swimmers should take daily vitamin supplements, including D3.

For further reading on the subject, I recommend the New York Times bestselling book, Practical Paleo by Diane Sanfilippo, BS, NC. Click here for more information about Platinum Performance supplements. No supplements should be taken that are included on the anti-doping association lists of banned substances, nor that have known harmful side effects when taken in recommended dosages.

Here is to leaner, healthier bodies and faster swimmers!

Yours in swimming,

Gary Sr.


Dolphin Kick Breaststroke with Rebecca Soni

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We asked Olympic Gold Medalist, Rebecca Soni what she thought of using dolphin kick breaststroke drill in practice. She shares how she got through some tough workouts and how important it is to feel the water. Reb explains some of the qualities that make strong swimmers in racing and in life.

“Dolphin Kick Breaststroke drill is one of my favorites! For me, the biggest benefit of this drill is being able to work on the timing of the stroke. To me, the timing is the most important variable in this stroke! And there is no better way to work on it than through different drills. When doing this drill, I always like to harness the feeling of falling forward in the stroke. It is this feeling that I chase, both in practice and in competition.
Whenever I think back on my swimming career, there are many memories that come up of workouts, those great workouts, and the not-so-great workouts. But the biggest thing to remember is that even during a rough workout, you are still getting a lot out of it! In fact, I think you are learning more from a workout that doesn’t go so well. You are learning how to deal with challenge, and how to be patient and open and accepting of yourself. These qualities are much more important than having a perfect workout!”

 

-Reb Soni, 2 time Olympian and 6 time Olympic Medalist

Watch the Swimisode: Dolphin Kick Breaststroke with Rebecca Soni and Zach Hayden

 


Vinyasa Yoga for Swimmers – Shoulders

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At The Race Club, we believe that Yoga is one of the best forms of dry land training for swimmers. In 2008, all of our Race Club swimmers training for Beijing incorporated two Vinyasa Yoga sessions per week in which movement is synchronized with breath. The swimmers liked Yoga and felt that they benefitted from these sessions. In 2008, Rebecca Soni abandoned her traditional strength training and stretching routine in favor of doing Yoga. As a result, she felt stronger in breaststroke and swam faster.

Yoga can help swimmers in several different ways. First, it improves flexibility of key joints used in the swimming motions. Second, it can help reduce the chance of injury from overusing selected joints or muscles. Third, it can help build strength and stamina in the core, upper body and legs, depending on how it is done. Finally, it helps improve breathing, relaxation, recovery and mental training, all needed to become a better swimmer. Yoga is more than exercise. It helps improve health and lifestyle.

There are so many different types of and moves in Yoga, that one cannot really refer to the benefits of Yoga without being more specific. Consequently, we have developed different Vinyasa Yoga workouts for swimmers that focus on three different areas of strength; core, shoulders and legs. This first Yoga #Swimisode will focus on strengthening shoulders and features all of our Race Club Olympic and world-class swimmers, led by Race Club coach, Amy Hall.

With Amy leading, you won’t need to have a Yoga instructor come to your swimming practice, nor take your swimmers to the Yoga studio. Just set up the computer near the pool, lay down some mats and get your swimmers started. Watch Yoga for Swimmers Shoulders.

Use #yogaforswimmers when you tweet about yoga or share your yoga pics on FB or insta.

Yours in Swimming,

Gary Sr.