Even non-competitive swimmers can benefit from lessons aimed to analyze the motion and promote efficiency in the stroke. Strength, flexibility and cardio endurance are inherent to any swim workout. The major muscles requiring focused strengthening for competitive and non-competitive swimmers alike are the legs, core, shoulder, and arm muscles. In addition, hamstrings flexibility is essential to ensure correct pelvic alignment as tight hamstrings can comprise stabilizing the core. Attention to the deep shoulder stabilizers (the rotator cuff) is essential to sustaining a good swimming motion. Strong core muscles are imperative for efficient upper and lower limb action.
Tips for Staying in the Pool
- Core Strengthening: Lying on your stomach with arms extended overhead and elbows straight. Lift both arms and both legs at the same time with the head and neck lifting off the floor.
- Hamstrings Flexibility Stretch: Seated on the floor place one leg straight out in front and the other leg bent with the sole of the foot placed on the inner side of the straight leg. Bend forward over straight leg. Hold this position for 30 seconds. Repeat with opposite leg.
- Shoulder Strengthening: Lying on your side, hold a 5lb. weight in your upper hand. Bend your elbow, drop your hand across your waist, keep your elbow tucked into waist, lift hand and weight upwards. Hold for 10 seconds. Lower your hand. Repeat 10 times. Perform to opposite arm.
The major concern in the mechanics of swimming are minimizing the resistance of the water and taking advantage of the water’s buoyancy. The swimmer reduces the resistance by streamlining his or her body position, by relaxing in the recovery phase of the stroke, and by eliminating useless motions and tension. Swimming with ease, power and efficiency requires a precise coordination of arm and leg motions, of breathing and of use of the trunk muscles in maintaining an optimum position.
Coordination, Not Buoyancy
The problem of moving the body through the water is fundamentally not so different from that of moving it on land. As in walking, it is necessary to push against something in order to move the body from one place to another. The chief differences between locomotion in the water and on land is that in water, the body is concerned with buoyancy rather than with the force of gravity. The practical goal in swimming is not to keep from sinking, as novices are inclined to believe, but to get the mouth out of the water at rhythmic intervals in order to permit regular breathing. This is a matter of coordination, not buoyancy.