For a swimmer, building core strength and core endurance is vital in maintaining a strong posture and power when executing your strokes. When I refer to an athlete’s core, I am talking about stability and optimal range of motion from the shoulders and hips as well as strong obliques and abdominal muscles. The demand of swimming can require an athlete to withstand thousands of strokes in a given week which can be brutal on your shoulders and core. Dryland exercises should look to combat the repetitive movements and positions in swimming to reduce risk of injury and improve performance.
Common issues I see in swimmers are shoulder pathology and postural dysfunctions like kyphosis and lordosis. Here are2 examples of corrective exercises for increasing core strength and improving posture.
If you are already doing planks in your program and executing them well, try the
My first race in Worlds 2009 was the 400 free. I remember sitting in the ready room next to Frederica Pellegrini and being really nervous about my first international pool competition. What I failed to prepare myself for was that Frederica was Italy’s favorite swimmer and the stadium we were in was packed with thousands of fans waiting to watch her. When we walked out into this amazing arena, a roar ripped through me that I had never experienced at a swim meet before. I saw ripples on the water from the vibrations of the screams. It completely threw me
You’re heart is pounding, head swimming, and you feel like you’re going to throw up. You’re breathing so hard and your hands are shaking, but you’re only sitting in the bleachers with 30 minutes to go before your race! Nerves affect everyone and it can be a good thing! It means you care! It’s the adrenaline pumping through your system to help give you the energy to go fast! However, if you’re draining all your energy before you ever step up on the blocks, then you need to find a way to calm your nerves and focus that energy towards swimming fast.
Deep breathing has several benefits: both physical and mental. Physically flooding your body with oxygen helps relax your muscles and loosen your body to combat the feeling of locking up before a race. It also helps to give you energy. The mental benefits are that it focuses your brain on the breath. You feel more confident, positive, and in control of everything around you. My suggestion is to do 5 breaths where you inhale for 4 through your nose, hold for 2, and exhale for 4 out of your mouth. Try to make the breaths reach all the way down into your belly and fill you with energy, positivity, and confidence.
Practice Confident Body Language
Standing up tall and holding your head high not only gives you more confidence but it also intimidates your competitors. It might sound silly, but bring your swagger to the pool deck! Fake confidence and you’ll actually start to feel confident. I love how Claire Donahue stands tall on the block before every race with her head held high and her hands on her hips. She looks out over the water like she owns it. Practice some positive and confident body language before your races and see how your brain catches on.
Chloe Sutton - Sharing my experience of 20 years of competitive swimming including 8 years on the National Team and 2 Olympic Games.