Author: admin

Why You Should Wear a Swim Cap

If you’re new to swimming and have longer hair, you’ve probably noticed that it’s a bit annoying swimming with your hair dragging in the water and in your face. Before you start one of our MySwimPro swim workouts, we highly recommend investing in a nice swim cap, that’s affordable and reliable, to make your training more comfortable.

Swim caps come in all types of shapes, sizes, materials and styles, and we want to help you find the perfect swim cap that works for you!

What’s the point of a swim cap?

  1. Keeps your hair out of your face, so you can focus on your workout.
  2. Helps you swim faster by eliminating drag in the water. Swim caps work better than just tying your hair in a ponytail, because it secures all the small hairs around your forehead and neck, and you won’t feel your ponytail dragging in the water.
  3. Protects your hair. Swim caps are not meant for keeping your hair dry, but they do add a small layer of protection against chlorine damage on your hair.
  4. Keeps you safe. Light-colored caps help other swimmers or boaters see you if you’re swimming in open water with heavy traffic. Some even keep your head warmer when you’re swimming in cold, large bodies of water!

swim cap inspiration

Is wearing a swim cap necessary?

Nope not completely! It is not required for swimming, but if you have hair that is 6+ inches or longer, we highly recommend wearing one. It’s perfectly acceptable for both men, and women to wear caps.

Benefits of wearing Swimming Goggles

Whether you’re a competitive pool swimmer or someone who enjoys an occasional dip in the ocean while on vacation, wearing a pair of swimming goggles offers a number of unique benefits. Some of these benefits are obvious, such as the ability to see underwater but others are not so obvious. If you’re still on the fence about wearing them, check out some of the benefits below.

Protects The Eyes From Saltwater and Chlorine

The first benefit of wearing swimming goggles that we’re going to discuss is their ability to protect the eyes against chlorinated freshwater or ocean saltwater. Exposing your eyes to chlorine or saltwater isn’t going to cause any permanent damage but it’s still quite painful nonetheless. Even small amounts may create an intense burning sensation while leaving your eyes red and watery.

A pair of high-quality swimming goggles offer a tight, waterproof seal that minimizes the intrusion of water into your eyes. Without saltwater or chlorinated pool water rushing into your eyes, you’ll have a greater level of comfort when swimming.

Fitment of Corrective Lenses

According to StatisticsBrain.com, approximately 75% of Americans wear some form of corrective lenses (225 million). Thankfully, manufacturers have acknowledged this statistic by offering affordable swimming goggles with custom-made prescription lenses. Swimmers are no longer forced to struggle with their eyesight due to a lack of prescription eyewear in the water. Now, they can select goggles with lenses made specifically for their vision needs.

If you wear a pair of prescription glasses or contacts, you should order a pair of prescription-lens swimming goggles. With built-in corrective lenses, you’ll be able to enjoy the sport of swimming without straining your eyes.

Improves Clarity

Of course, wearing a pair of swimming goggles will also improve your clarity and vision as well. In the case of competitive swimming in the pool, these Rx lenses would improve your depth/distance perception, allowing you to better judge when to turn and go towards improving your lap times. Not to mention you’ll also be able to see your lane more clearly so you can better judge your line.

Even if you swim strictly for recreational purposes, you’re sure to appreciate the improved clarity that a pair of swimming goggles would offer. It’s an otherwise simple accessory that can make a world of difference when you’re competing against other swimmers.

The Bottom Line

Swimming goggles may not offer the same aerodynamic benefits as a swim cap but there are still plenty of reasons why you should wear them. They protect your eyes from saltwater and chlorine; they provide greater clarity and they can be designed with prescription lenses to suit your needs.

 

 

How To Swim Butterfly With World Class Technique

Butterfly is considered the most difficult stroke to master. If it’s swum with improper form, the stroke is extremely tiring and inefficiently slow. If you’re struggling to improve your butterfly, this article is designed for you!

Butterfly was first introduced as a variation of breaststroke in the 1930’s. Originally, the stroke used today’s butterfly arm movement with a breaststroke kick. Today, this isn’t the case, and it’s one of the reasons people can be resistant to working on improving it.

Butterfly is hard, but it doesn’t have to be. Below are the fundamental elements of a proper butterfly stroke:

Butterfly Timing

Timing is the most important part of the stroke. Every other component is an extension of the stroke’s timing:

1) The Catch:

  • Move the body forward to push water back
  • Fingers should be pointing down, with palms facing back
  • Think about bending the elbows so forearm angles vertically
  • Arms should go wide after the entry and extension

2) The Press:

  • Drive body forward with chin and chest
  • Chin should not be tucked or diving down
  • Pressing too deep can compromise the catch
  • 3 actions happen together:
    1. Press body forward
    2. Hands enter/extend forward
    3. Kick
  • Kick your press and entry forward!

Related: Why You Need a Structured Swim Training Plan

The Kick:

  • Two kicks, equal in power and size
  • 2nd kick (at exit) is the kick most often missed because the knees never bend to set it up
  • Drive knee downward (otherwise feet exit water)
    1. Kick hands forward and press forward
    2. Kick breathe forward

Breathing

Breathing too high or at the wrong time will kill a good stroke. The key is to stay low and breathe forward. Having a late breath is key. You need to focus on pulling forward to breathe. If you watch the best swimmers in the world (Michael Phelps below), you can see his chin just barely grazes over the surface of the water to catch air on the breath. The second kick is critical to drive the body forward.

Hand Entry, Pull Pattern, Recovery

The hand entry should be at shoulder width or just wider. The palms are downward facing and the thumbs should come in first or at the same time as the rest of the fingers. The most important part of the hand entry is being controlled so that you don’t create a lot of splash upon entering the water.

Next you need to focus on pushing the water back and initiating an early vertical forearm with your palms, forearm and rest of your arms. The pull pattern is dictated by how deep someone presses their chest and body. The pull’s finish sets the arms up for the recovery. This sweeping recovery should be controlled.

Breathing Pattern

Generally I believe in breathing every other stroke. If a swimmer has a strong underwater presence (12-15 meters underwater consistently) then it makes sense to breathe every stroke to prepare to go back underwater. Breathing every stroke should never compromise rhythm and mechanics.

Underwater Dolphin Kicks

The underwater dolphin kick has become a major component of swimming butterfly. Even if you do not race in competition, having a good kick technique applies to the overall stroke mechanics in keeping rhythm and tempo. In competition, the world’s best swimmers can spend up to 60% of a race under water (Short Course).

Even in long course competition like at the Olympics, the best swimmers are spending a considerable amount of time underwater. The best way to do this in a race is to work on it in training every single day.

Training Butterfly

It’s critical to learn the proper stroke technique before applying heaving training to your butterfly. This is true for all strokes, but most for the short axis strokes like butterfly and breaststroke. Because you’re already so inefficiently low in the water, it’s even more important to have the right technique and body position.

It’s important to reinforce proper technique. Butterfly is a rhythmic stroke. It’s not about power, it’s about mastering efficiency. The longer the distance, the more the stroke depends on posture, line, balance and rhythm.

Butterfly is a stroke that should be trained at speed. You need to focus on maintaining a higher body position with perfect form. Shorter distances of higher repeats are better than doing continuous butterfly. It’s also good to mix freestyle and butterfly within a distance.

For example, doing 10 x 100s (25 Butterfly, 25 Butterfly Drill, 25 Freestyle, 25 Butterfly), is a good way to break apart the stroke and be aerobically challenging.

These technique insights were gathered from a presentation given by Russell Mark, USA Swimming’s National Team High Performance Consultant . You can watch the full presentation, plus more interviews with other coaches here.

Looking for more butterfly workouts and drills? 

SA sea-swim icon Yach, 60, dies

Cape Town – Long-distance swimming legend and prominent Capetonian civic figure Theodore Yach has died while undergoing hospital tests for asthma.

The news was confirmed by the Cape Long Distance Swimming Association (CLDSA), who said in a statement: “South Africa’s most renowned open-water swimmer, Theodore Yach of Cape Town, passed away peacefully on October 17 (Wednesday).

“He was undergoing routine tests for an asthma condition when he collapsed and died in hospital.

“Theodore is a veteran of 108 Robben Island swims, an English Channel swim and many other international distance swims.

“He will be remembered as humble gentleman, who loved motivating the youth to achieve their dreams – he was a friend to all and took interest in all swimmers who shared his passion for sea swimming.”

Tributes have already followed on Twitter from prominent sports personalities.

Fellow swimmer and Ocean protection advocate Lewis Pugh (@LewisPugh), a United Nations Patron of the Oceans, wrote: “Devastated to hear of the passing of Theo Yach.

“One of the world’s great endurance swimmers. And so much more – family man, community leader, environmentalist. Rest in peace my friend.”

Leading former Test rugby referee Jonathan Kaplan (@RefJK) said:“I never knew Theo well but he had many interactions on social media.

“I had total admiration for his views on life and desire to push the limits of his body. I’m sad I never got to meet him. To his family, I wish you long life and much strength during this time. RIP champ.”

SA Olympic gold-medallist Ryk Neethling (@RykNeethling) described Yach’s passing as “terrible news”.

Charismatic Springbok and Western Province flank of the 1980s Rob Louw (@roblouw6) said: “Wow, can’t believe it … fellow Wynberg Boys High buddy and close friend who did the impossible by doing the Robben Island swim over 100 times has passed.

“What a gentleman and incredible athlete. Still shocked by the untimely news. RIP Theo.”

This writer, while based in the London office of the former Argus Group, accompanied Yach on his support boat across the English Channel on his first crack at the gruelling crossing in 1989.

Ahead of the attempt, some long-distance swim sages in his home city had said they feared he would fail as they felt he was simply too inexperienced and over-enthusiastic at the time; this duly occurred as he swallowed water from an oil slick in the busy shipping lanes and complained of stomach problems as a result.

But in a classic case of the “I get knocked down, but I get up again” virtue in sport, a better-prepared Yach triumphantly completed the crossing to France several years later, in 1996.

Yach was prominent in the property industry and charity work in his home city, and had been a recipient of the Mayor’s medal for civic contribution.

He leaves his wife Michelle and sons Daniel and David.

 

Written by: Rob Houwing

How do you swim breast stroke?

MASTER YOUR SWIMMING TECHNIQUE (1): BREAST STROKE

The breaststroke is also known as the “froggy” stroke among children learning to swim as it sounds more endearing. The movement also resembles that of a frog swimming in water hence the use of this term. It is the most popular recreational style because it is very stable and does not require a lot of effort if a good technique is applied.

It can be a tricky stroke to master but once you manage to coordinate it properly, it can become a very leisurely way to swim. Here are 5 steps to ensure you master the breaststroke.

Step 1: Body position

Keep your body flat and lie facing down in the water with your body kept in line with the water surface.

Step 2: Arm movement

There are three steps in arm movement – the Catch, Pull and Recovery. A fun way to learn this is to imagine scooping a gigantic bowl of ice-cream (Catch), pushing towards your mouth to eat (Pull) and then doing it again (Recovery).

1. Catch – With arms out straight and palms facing downwards, press down and out at the same time.

2. Pull – With elbows elevated above hands, pull hard towards your chest. The pull should have an accelerating hand movement pressing back and downward by the palm and forearms.

3. Recover – Join both palms together in a prayer like fashion in front of your chest and push out until your arms are straight again. This position helps reduce drag when pushing against the water.

Breaststroke arms

Step 3: Breathing Technique

Lift your head and neck above water at the end of the pulling movement for a breath. In the recovery phase, exhale bubbles in the water whilst your hands are pushed forward. Remember to use the praying position and the correct breathing techniques!Step 4: Leg Action

Starting with your legs straightened, bend your knees to bring your heel towards your bottom and make a circular motion outwards with your feet until they return to the starting position. When your knees are being bent, your feet should be below the water surface and shoulder width apart.

An important point to remember is keeping your feet in a dorsi-flexed position (flat-foot) whilst doing the breaststroke kick for more thrust.

breaststroke legs

Step 5: Learn to Glide

After executing the breaststroke kick, your body should be in a streamlined position with your arms and legs straightened. Stay in this position for one to two seconds as the forward propulsion by your legs should allow you to “glide” forward.

Notes on Coordination

  • When your breathing is finished, drop your head down in water and begin the kick.
  • When your kick is finished, hold out your arms straight in streamline position. (Gliding)
  • After 1-2 seconds, begin your arm movement again. (Step 2)

Helpful Tips

  • Do not rush through the gliding phase as it is actually the fastest part of the stroke.
  • Keep your feet in flat-footed position when performing the kick.

How To Swim Breast Stroke

MASTER YOUR SWIMMING TECHNIQUE (1): BREAST STROKE

The breaststroke is also known as the “froggy” stroke among children learning to swim as it sounds more endearing. The movement also resembles that of a frog swimming in water hence the use of this term. It is the most popular recreational style because it is very stable and does not require a lot of effort if a good technique is applied.

It can be a tricky stroke to master but once you manage to coordinate it properly, it can become a very leisurely way to swim. Here are 5 steps to ensure you master the breaststroke.

Step 1: Body position

Keep your body flat and lie facing down in the water with your body kept in line with the water surface.

Step 2: Arm movement

There are three steps in arm movement – the Catch, Pull and Recovery. A fun way to learn this is to imagine scooping a gigantic bowl of ice-cream (Catch), pushing towards your mouth to eat (Pull) and then doing it again (Recovery).

1. Catch – With arms out straight and palms facing downwards, press down and out at the same time.

2. Pull – With elbows elevated above hands, pull hard towards your chest. The pull should have an accelerating hand movement pressing back and downward by the palm and forearms.

3. Recover – Join both palms together in a prayer like fashion in front of your chest and push out until your arms are straight again. This position helps reduce drag when pushing against the water.

Breaststroke arms

Step 3: Breathing Technique

Lift your head and neck above water at the end of the pulling movement for a breath. In the recovery phase, exhale bubbles in the water whilst your hands are pushed forward. Remember to use the praying position and the correct breathing techniques!Step 4: Leg Action

Starting with your legs straightened, bend your knees to bring your heel towards your bottom and make a circular motion outwards with your feet until they return to the starting position. When your knees are being bent, your feet should be below the water surface and shoulder width apart.

An important point to remember is keeping your feet in a dorsi-flexed position (flat-foot) whilst doing the breaststroke kick for more thrust.

breaststroke legs

Step 5: Learn to Glide

After executing the breaststroke kick, your body should be in a streamlined position with your arms and legs straightened. Stay in this position for one to two seconds as the forward propulsion by your legs should allow you to “glide” forward.

Notes on Coordination

  • When your breathing is finished, drop your head down in water and begin the kick.
  • When your kick is finished, hold out your arms straight in streamline position. (Gliding)
  • After 1-2 seconds, begin your arm movement again. (Step 2)

Helpful Tips

  • Do not rush through the gliding phase as it is actually the fastest part of the stroke.
  • Keep your feet in flat-footed position when performing the kick.

How do you swim freestyle or front crawl?

MASTER YOUR SWIMMING TECHNIQUE (2): FRONT CRAWL

The Freestyle is not actually a stroke but a category in swimming competition. The most common and popular stroke in freestyle races is the front crawl as this style is the fastest. For this reason, the term freestyle is often used as a synonym for front crawl.

The front crawl requires you to flutter kick your feet while reaching forward with alternating strokes. Follow these 4 steps to learn how to swim and refine your front crawl swimming technique.

Step 1: Body Position

Keep your body flat, lie facing down in the water with your body kept in line with the water surface.

Step 2: Arm Movement

Your arm movement can be broken down to the simplest form consists just two actions – the Pull and Recovery.

  • Pull – With your palms facing down, pull in-line with your body with a slightly bent elbow all the way to the side of your upper thigh. Advanced swimmers can do a S-pull which maximizes the pulling phase.
  • Recovery – With your hand close to your upper thigh, lift one arm out of the water with a bent elbow. Reach forward over the water with a bent elbow and enter the water with your finger tips.

Both hands should alternate between these two movements and be moving simultaneously.

swimming freestyle arm movement

Step 3: Breathing Technique

Choosing a side to breathe will depend on being right or left handed. Whilst your hand is early in the recovery phase, turn your head sideways for a quick breath (one second). The trick is to time the roll of your head with your arm movement.

A very common mistake is to lift your head upwards instead of turning it sideways to avoid the water for breath. This is actually counter-productive as it disrupts your body positioning and causes you to dip further into the water.

Step 4: Leg Action

With ankles relaxed and flexible, point your toes behind you and kick up-and-down in a continuous motion from your thighs. Kicking from the calves is not as effective and a simple way to correct this is to make sure your legs are straightened out whilst kicking. For more details on this, refer to exercises you can do in the pool to improve your swimming.

Notes on Coordination

  • Your arms and legs should move simultaneously in cycles
  • A breath should be taken on one side with each stroke of that arm
  • A breath is taken when that arm is back. Exhale as the same arms enter the water

Helpful Tips

  • Stretch your arms as far as they can go to make a longer stroke. A large arm stroke is essential to speed and efficient swimming
  • Keep a straight body to reduce drag and make swimming easier
  • Take short quick breaths instead of long ones

TOP 10 SWIMMING BEACHES IN SOUTH AFRICA

Warm days of jumping around in the rolling turquoise waves, skipping on white sands and licking ice-cold soft-serves are the secrets to getting the most out of South Africa as a holiday destination. This country’s coastline stretches for more than 2500 kilometres (or over 1500 miles).

Its beaches include trendy hotspots for the brownest babes, the exquisite Wild Coast, or simple stretches of unspoilt sand and sea.

THE TOP 10 SWIMMING BEACHES IN SOUTH AFRICA:

1. Port St John’s, Wild Coast

The sheer magnificence of the Wild Coast is breath-taking, and Port St John’s is the perfect place to immerse yourself in this beauty. This is a tropical beach that is famous for its awesome surfing waves, and is situated at the mouth of the Umzimvubu River. This area enjoys hot, humid summers that are best spent frolicking in the warm

2. Hobie Beach, Port Elizabeth

Although not the biggest beach in Port Elizabeth, this is certainly one of its prettiest and most popular. It lies at the foot of the iconic Shark Rock Pier that extends into the temperate waters of Algoa Bay. It is situated just next to Humewood Beach, which is the only Blue Flag beach in the city, and both are close to a host of restaurants and the popular Boardwalk.

3. Umhlanga Rocks, Durban

The tidal pools and rock pools of this beach make it ideal for families with little ones and school groups. Every year, Umhlanga Rocks attracts people from all over the country for swimming, surfing, body surfing and sunbathing. The holiday resort village of Umhlanga makes this a beach vacation to remember.

4. Camps Bay, Cape Town

If you’re in the mood for beautiful people on beaches lined with palm trees and trendy champagne bars, Camps Bay is the answer. This spectacular beach lies at the foot of Table Mountain, with the Twelve Apostles looming over it. Smoothed boulders and the broad beaches of pure white sands are unforgettable.

5. Llandudno, Cape Town

Llandudno is a small beach, acclaimed as one of Cape Town’s most beautiful. The homes that perch on the mountains around the beach are some of the most expensive in the country, and keep this beach completely isolated from the bustle of city life.

6. Clifton, Cape Town

Clifton’s beaches are popular filming sites for movies and adverts because of their picturesque white sands, grey boulders and azure waters. This means that days spent on Clifton are sure to yield some celebrity sightings. If not, you are assured of spending time in absolute beauty.

7. Noetzie, Knysna

Noetzie is, actually, just outside Knysna on the Garden Route, and is known for the three mysterious castles right on the beach. It is also known for its variety of wildlife and gorgeous flora. Forested hills and red rock faces make this beach truly special.

8. Plettenberg Bay

Plett, as this area is often known, is a popular tourist destination, particularly during summer. Its two beaches, Robberg and Lookout, are fabulous for swimming, surfing and whale watching, and the miles of sandy shores are ideal for little ones.

9. Cape Vidal, St Lucia

The stunning St Lucia Wetlands Park, now known as the Isimangaliso Wetland Park is recognised as a UNESCO World Heritage Site for its abundance in flora and fauna. Cape Vidal is part of this area and is most beautiful for its being completely cut off from “the real world”.

10. Willard Beach, Ballito

One of the most popular and acclaimed beached of KwaZulu Natal, Willard Beach is particularly loved for the many attractions and accommodation providers nearby. The long sandy beaches and warm waters make this an ideal option for families and a romantic beach destination for couples.

This list is by no means exhaustive. There are hundreds more beaches that dot the coastline and invite families and outdoor-lovers from all over the world to sunbathe, swim and enjoy the natural splendour of South Africa.

10 of the best swimming holidays around the world

Whether it’s wild swimming in lakes and fjords, a sea ‘safari’ in Crete, or a 6km swim in the warm waters of Mexico’s Baja peninsula, this selection of swims (and stays) is a stroke of genius

Arch at Land’s End, on the tip of Baja penisula, Cabo San Lucas, Mexico.
Arch at Land’s End, on the tip of Baja penisula, Cabo San Lucas, Mexico. Photograph: Alamy

Exploring the Baja peninsula, Mexico

With water temperatures of 27C, the Sea of Cortez is so warm that, as SwimTrek puts it, “you’ll feel like you’re swimming in the bath”. Expect to feel comfortable out of the water too, spending a week sleeping in glamping-style bell tents with solar-heated showers, and enjoying fresh local food and cocktails rustled up by your team chef. Each day the swim covers 6km, passing the cliff faces and beaches of this Unesco-protected area, with plenty of opportunity to borrow sea kayaks, paddleboards or snorkels and immerse yourself in the diverse marine life.
Seven days from £1,170, swimtrek.com

The Minoan Trail, Crete

Female swimmer jumps from a boat in the swim, as part of the Minoan Trail swimming trip, in Crete

The Big Blue Swim spent two years planning this series of swims that involves a six-day sea safari along the wild coastline of south Crete: a landscape that forms the backdrop to well-known myths and history. Starting in the village of Sfakia the journey is eastwards along rugged coastline, exploring caves and remote beaches and passing ancient ruins and churches – loading up on energy with delicious meals at local tavernas. There’s also the option of receiving filmed swimming analysis and coaching sessions, as well as the chance to hone your breathing technique with the help of a yoga specialist.
Six days, £660, thebigblueswim.com

Snorkelling in Sri Lanka

Nilaveli beach, Trincomalee, Sri Lanka
Pinterest
Nilaveli beach, Trincomalee. Photograph: Alamy

Diveworld’s 10-day “liveaboard” tour offers the chance to swim in Sri Lanka’s tropical waters and get a close-up view of sea life, including whales and dolphins. The trips, which begin in September, use the newly built Sri Lanka Aggressor, a 44-metre yacht that has air-conditioned cabins, a dive-deck lounge, barbecue area and swim deck. The inaugural whale and dolphin snorkelling trip will set sail from the historic port of Trincomalee in eastern Sri Lanka and sea-life spotting will be under the watchful gaze of renowned naturalist Howard Martenstyn.
10 days from £2,455pp, including return flights from the UK, accommodation, transfers and diving, 01962, 302087, diveworldwide.com

Swim camp holiday, Poros Island, Greece

Fishing boat in the waters of Poros, Greece
Pinterest
The waters off Poros. Photograph: Alamy

Casual dippers need not apply because one of the main rules of this swim camp is that it’s about putting in the hard lengths. Actually, this trip is aimed at those training for events and those new to open-water swimming who want try it in the warmer ripples of the Mediterranean. The seven-night break is based on the Saronic island of Poros, 50km south-west of Athens, and includes seven swims under the guidance of a professional trainer, as well as two video analysis sessions focusing on technique. Daily breakfasts are provided, as well as five lunches and four evening meals. Don’t worry about not enjoying the island’s scenic splendours as the sessions start from Askeli beach or, after a water taxi trip, from the uninhabited islands of Modi and Castle Island.
Seven nights from £950pp (excluding flights, transfers and ferry to Poros), 020-3750 2455, vidados.com

Weekend swim trip in Lago d’Orta, Italy

The island of Orta San Giulio, Lago d'Orta, northern Italy.
Pinterest
The island of Orta San Giulio. Photograph: Alamy

The motto of this weekend break – based at the Locanda Riviere hotel on the shores of Lago d’Orta in northern Italy – is “good food, beautiful surroundings and glorious, relaxed swimming”. It sounds a perfect mix. The swimming aspect comes with one-to-one coaching, video analysis, plus guides (and a safety boat) on hand. Swimming distances are increased over the duration of the trip, from 800m up to 2km and the weekend finishes with a swim around the island of Orta San Giulio: the Basilica di San Giulio and the mid-19th century seminary on the island were transformed into a Benedictine monastery in 1976.
7-10 October 2016, £670pp including B&B accommodation, swimquest.uk.com

Swimming adventures in Oman fjords

Tourists onboard and around the dhow as part of the Oman fjords swimming holiday
Pinterest
Tourists onboard, and around, the dhow used as part of the Oman fjords swimming break

The Musandam peninsula in the Persian Gulf is a glorious wilderness, with dramatic red rock formations and dark blue waters, and has earned the nickname “the Norway of Arabia”. This adventurous tour explores that wilderness, with its many sea inlets, where you’re more likely to run into a dolphin than a fellow tourist. And how many swim tours come with your own dhow to have lunch on?
Six days from £1,140, swimtrek.com

Wild swimming, north Wales

Lake Cregennen, Wales
Pinterest
Lake Cregennen. Photograph: Alamy

Anglesey, the lakes of Snowdon, or “anywhere in north Wales” might be the location for your time with Gone Swimming, a small company with big ambitions for tailoring its outdoor swimming holidays and day trips to your ability level and interests. Spaces are still available on its Wet Weekend three-day swimming break from 19-21 August (£250pp including expert guides, accommodation and food) but the company also offers group days out and private booking options. The first of these, open to anyone and branded Adventure Together, is aimed at groups of no more than seven, and the £60pp covers transport, a guided swim, changing robe, wetsuit hire, lunch, snacks and hot drinks. The Just Us private booking allows you to decide as much or as little of the excursion and costs £275 for up to four, then £65 per additional person.
07547 652821, goneswimming.co.uk

Fjord and cove swimming, Montenegro

Fjord and cove swimming, Montenegro
Pinterest

The coastline of Montenegro is stunning and this tour takes in the Unesco-protected Gulf of Kotor, the clear waters of the Blue Grotto cave and Mamula island, known as the Montenegrin Alcatraz. There are also visits to picturesque towns found among the mountains on this week-long trip, which offers 4km of swimming a day and accommodation in a four-star hotel. Non-swimmers can join in a kayak, and beginners can combine shorter swims with walking and sightseeing. With this in mind, it’s a great compromise if you or your partner is less keen to commit to a holiday that’s completely swim-focused.
Seven days from £786, strel-swimming.com

Lake swims and relaxing stays, Great Yarmouth, Norfolk

Fritton Lake Outdoor Centre, Norfolk
Pinterest
Fritton Lake

Plunge into Fritton Lake and the choice is yours: have a fun dip or challenge yourself to put in proper distances, like some of the swimmers who use it to prepare for triathlons or swimming the Channel. Fritton Lake Outdoor Centreis in the grounds of Fritton Lake country park, itself part of the 5,000-acre Somerleyton Hall estate, and hosts weekly swim sessions – year-round, for those who want a winter swim. Pay-as-you-go swim sessions cost £6 once you’ve paid a £10 registration fee (which includes one free swim), but pre-pay for multiple sessions and the price drops. Effort expended, it may be a tempting book into the Fritton Arms at the lakeside (doubles from £130 B&B). The hotel has nine bedrooms, is surrounded by parkland, and holds out the promise of an Italian wood-fired oven, which the kitchen says can roast anything from fresh pizza to Porterhouse steaks.

Glacial lake challenge, Annecy, France

Lake Annecy, France
Pinterest

Swimquest has a range of indulgent swimming holidays, including six days swimming around islets in Thailand and a swim tour around the coral reefs of the Maldives with a 32-metre yacht as a base. A bit more accessible, with perhaps a chance to meet more like-minded people, is its trip to Lake Annecy in France, where on this four-day trip you’ll take on the 14.6km swim across the huge glacial lake, either as a solo swimmer or in a relay, depending on your ability. And there’s time to relax in the tranquil Alpine surroundings either side of the marathon swim.

If You Wanna Train Better, Swim with Faster Swimmers

The people you train with have a strong effect on what kind of effort you are going to give at practice today. Here’s some interesting research on why you should choose to swim with the faster swimmers on your team.

Going up and down the black line we can forget about the other swimmers in the lane.

But they are there, sometimes leaving a little earlier than they should, sometimes causing an unnecessary amount of waves, quietly and largely unintentionally influencing our own effort in the water.

The way that our teammates influence us can be so subtle that you don’t even notice.

There are occasions where this can greatly benefit you:

  • When someone in your lane is pushing through the main set, you might be tempted to hop on and push the pace too.
  • When the swimmer in the next lane is looking at you, clearly racing you, it fires up your competitive spirit.
  • When the other swimmers in the lane don’t complain about how hard the set is, it makes you not want to complain too.

If it is greatness you want

There are moments where it can be detrimental to your swimming:

  • The teammate that cheats through the main set, making you think that skimping on a section of the main set maybe isn’t that big of a deal.
  • The swimmer who pulls into the wall from 10m out on kick sets, making you think you need to do the same in order to keep up.
  • The athlete who eats overly-processed garbage after practice, leading you to think, “If they are doing it, why can’t I?”

There’s a popular saying attributed to personal development guru Jim Rohn that asserts that you are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.

Looking around at the swimmers and people you fill your life with, can you say that they are bringing out the best in you?

Are you bringing out the best in them?

Choose Your Lane with Performance in Mind

Here’s an example of just how much of an effect the performance others have on what we do.

One fun little research experiment looked to see how our effort is influenced by the people we work out with.

A group of about 90 college students did a 20-minute workout and were told to keep it at 60-70% of max intensity. The students were split into three groups: one group worked out with someone very fit, one group did their session alongside someone not very fit, and the third did their workout solo.

Could something as simple as working out with someone who was in better shape influence how we hard we go?

You bet your water-logged butt.

When participants worked out near “fit” people, they stomped the gas on their effort, with their average heart rate far higher compared to those worked out near less fit people, with the difference particularly profound in the men: (133 BPM vs 119 BPM for the ladies, 124 BPM vs 99 BPM for the men).

The study fits into what we know (even if it’s just superficially)—that our effort tends to go up or down depending on who is next to us. Even when instructed to hold a specific level of intensity the participants ended up trying to mimic and match what the exercise partner was doing.

Side note: Those who worked out alone reported feeling calmer and more relaxed compared to the those who got partnered up—regardless of intensity. Maybe something to think about when you need a chill session at practice, or maybe even during your taper.

The study showed that if you want to get more from your workouts, surrounding yourself with people who are crushing is going to help push you to bigger heights.

What lane are you going choose at practice today?

At swim practice the lane we end up in is often chosen with less-than-ideal reasons:

There’s a lot of value in swimming with athletes who are faster than you. They are more likely to bring the best out of you. These are the moments where your limits and perceived notions of what you are capable of get redrawn.

Don’t avoid them. Chase them fervently.

If it’s improvement you want, choose to spend more training time with the swimmers who are going to push you and make you better.

Source: YourSwimBook

Author: Olivier Poirier-Leroy

Swim Fins: Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Training with Flippers

Here’s the swimmer’s guide to swim fins: when to use them, how to pick out a pair that matches your goals in the water, and reviews of some the best swim fins available. 

Training with fins is simply the best.

You get to experience speeds that your heroes swim at (or faster). Being able to power through the water at a velocity that you can only dream about doing with regular swimming is intoxicating, and a top reason why we all scramble for them the moment coach scrawls “w. fins” on the whiteboard.

But training with fins is more than just going really, really fast.

It can also help us become better swimmers sans fins as well, help improve ankle flexibility, and improve the weakest part of our kick–the upkick.

In this guide to swim fins we are going to cover a whole bunch of stuff, like:

  • The research showing what happens when we kick with fins on;
  • The reasons they can be so effective at helping us become better swimmers;
  • The potential pitfalls of relying on them too much;
  • The only things that matter when choosing what kind of swim fins you are going to rock out with;
  • And a roundup of the best fins for competitive swimmers.

Let’s do this!

Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Swim Fins

The Effects of Training with Fins

You already know the general effect of strapping the equivalent of a jetpack to your feet:

You go absurdly fast.

Grant Hackett and Michael Phelps, when engaging in a week of going head-to-head in training strapped on fins at the end of a practice and swam :21 seconds low for a 50m free. Long course.

Beyond going quick, according to some research (and our experience) using fins in practice does the following:

  • They drastically lowered kick frequency, an average of 40%.
  • There is also a decrease in work expenditure, with reduced energy cost of 40% at comparable swimming speeds (meaning you can match your top swimming speeds with much less effort).

Swim Fins: The Benefits

1. They can help ease the pounding that your shoulders take every day at practice.

One of my favorite pieces of advice I got from a coach was to use fins during warm-up. Strapping them on at the beginning of the workout helped avoid some unnecessary strain on those all-important shoulders.

Whenever I was fighting off a fresh case of swimmers shoulder during my late teenage and university years I was often instructed to strap on the fins to help ease the strain on my upper body. This ranged from swimming with fins to doing straight kick, but the premise was simple—remove the load from the shoulders and onto the hips and legs.

Fins can be a great training aid for when your upper body is either injured, or you want to ease into your swim workout.

2. Increases overall strength and endurance in your legs.

Fins are tools of resistance. Your legs contain the biggest muscles in your body–that added work means that they are getting a harder workout, something that is perfect for increasing overall power and conditioning.

If you wanna go next level with your power and strength work combine your fins with a pair DragSox. It gives you a strange mix of added speed and resistance at the same time compared to your regular kicking speed. Your legs won’t know what hit them.

And lastly, for swimmers who prefer to dangle their legs limply behind them like kelp as they swim along, fins generally help boost the cardio/aerobic nature of their work. Not kicking when you have fins on your feet generally leads them to sinking, so by nature of maintaining any kind of forward propulsion you have to kick.

3. Easier to hit the upkick.

Our coaches are always telling us to work on the upwards phase of our kick, but it can often feel a little weird. We’ve become so accustomed to kicking downwards—which is a much more natural kicking motion—than kicking up, which leaves us feeling disjointed and awkward.

The added surface area of fins helps you really feel out the up-kick.

If you really want to work on your up-kick throw some vertical kicking into your practices—you’ll come to appreciate how important it is when kicking vertically, especially with dolphin kick.

4. Uh, using them is really fun?

Swimming with fins is fast and fun. Flying under and across the water, whether dolphin kicking or swimming, at lightspeed is quite pleasurable.

The speeds we attain are higher, the wakes we create are massive (sorry-not-sorry swimmers in the next lane!), and we get to swim at paces we rarely are able to when straight swimming.

Simple as that.

5. They help improve ankle flexibility.

The importance of ankle flexibility for swimmers is hard to understate, and is one the most important factors in having a deadly kick. A low range of motion in your feet means that you are kicking water downwards, as opposed to kicking water backwards.

A reason a lot of triathletes and newbie swimmers have such horrendous kick is because they have next to no range of motion in their ankles.

When we are wearing fins you come to understand this—the extra surface area extending to the tip of them provides additional ankle extension and surface area to plant into the water to push you forward.

Fins put your feet into a position where your ankles are largely forced to be pointed/extend, which will help improve overall flexibility in your feet.

6. Improved body position.

If you are using the fins to kick, and not simply dangle behind you, your body will ride higher in the water. It gives you that amazing feeling of skimming across the surface of the pool.

This effect is especially noticed in swimmer’s whose kick isn’t very strong, and therefore tend to sag and bulldoze their way through the water.

Fin-powered swimming shows you the body position you want to attain during your regular swimming and reminds you how crucial it is to work on your kick.

Swim Fins: The Downsides

1. They can become a crutch.

The swimmers who scramble for fins the fastest are usually the ones with the worst kicks. They become dependent on the tool, and can hide their shoddy ankle flexibility behind the raw quad and hamstring power we rely on with fins.

You will never catch up to your fast-kicking teammates by always reaching for the fins every time a kick set comes up.

2. You can’t use them during meet warm-ups.

Every competition warm-up I’ve ever experienced or been on deck for, from summer league to Trials to masters meets, don’t allow their use during warm-ups. Which makes sense. Meet warm-up is already a nightmare, last thing we need is people zipping back and forth with flippers.

Don’t make your pre-competition ritual reliant on them whatsoever unless you are planning on sneaking off to the corner of the dive tank to do some vertical kicking.

3. Blisters.

I’ve gone through dozens of pairs of fins over the years, and some of them have left some truly unsightly blisters on my feet.

Not fun.

The first time I used DragSox and fins at the same time I walked off of the pool deck with a set of blisters that made it look like I had spent an afternoon dolphin kicking the bottom of the pool.

How to Choose the Best Swim Fins for You

Picking out a pair of swim fins seems like a no-brainer–pick out the biggest, baddest pair of the bunch!

But if you want to make the most of this piece of swimming equipment, and want to avoid getting bruised heels and blisters, than here is what you need to know about picking out a pair of swim fins for yourself.

1. Length of the fins.

When it comes to training with fins, length is the most important thing.

But probably not for the reason you think.

Fins might all look the same, but they should serve a function beyond just going fast. They should match up to what kind of training you are doing. While we all scramble for the long fins because in our minds long = much faster, this isn’t necessarily the case. The longer your fins, the more difficult it is to kick with any kind of turnover.

If you take one thing away from this guide, remember this: long fins will collapse your kick frequency, and short fins are border-line pointless for longer, distance-oriented swimming.

In sum–

Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Swim Fins

2. Open heel vs Closed Heel.

Until recently almost all swim fins designed for competitive swimmers had closed heels. More and more now we are seeing fins that have the open heel, with a strap going around the ankle to keep the fin in place.

Personally I much prefer the open heel fins, as it will usually provide you with a fuller range of motion.

The problem with really rigid fins that have closed heels is that if you have decent ankle flexibility the top of the heel will dig into your Achilles when you are kicking.

In my experience these type of fins also stay on the foot much better, which comes in handy when you are kicking all out, or pushing off the wall.

3. Stiffness of the fin.

Another important thing to consider when buying a new pair of fins is how rigid they are. For this reason, I would recommend that you either get your hands on a pair you are thinking of buying to assess the stiffness for yourself.

Zoomers, for instance, one of the most popular set of fins you will find in a swimmer’s bag, are quite rigid and unforgiving. Most diving fins are similarly rigid, made of a hard plastic.

The more stiff the fins, the harder it will be to kick.

While a stiff fin may be useful for getting fit, or getting a harder workout out of your legs, they promote a slower tempo kick, which doesn’t benefit swimmers who are trying to get faster.

Additionally, really stiff fins tend to dig into the top of your heels as mentioned in the previous point.

4. Sock or not to sock.

One of the things that drive me nuts about using fins is the blisters that sometimes come with their usage. To combat this as an age grouper our coaches had us bring old cotton socks to put on to help mitigate some of the rubbing.

Nowadays there are all types of socks designed specifically for this purpose.

If you are using a more rigid, rubber fin I would recommend getting a pair of socks if you are going to be doing substantial training with your fins on.

5. Silicone vs. rubber.

More and more high performance fins are being made with silicone these days, and thankfully so.

Silicone rubs and blisters your feet a whole lot less than rubber, which means that you can kick to your heart’s delight without worrying about destroying the skin on your feet. The suppleness of silicone also promotes a more fluid and natural kicking motion.

 

Source: Yourswimbook

Author: Olivier Poireir-Leroy

Featuring: Swim Tots

About Swim Tots:

Originally AQUATOTS Morningside, this swim school became known as SWIM TOTS in 2014 – a Swim School focusing on babies, toddlers and special needs children

It is run by Leanne Mc Laren, a physiotherapist and mom, who studied under the pioneer of infant swimming – Nell White – for 12 years.

SWIM TOTS swim school keeps up to date with research in the Paediatric and swimming world. SWIM TOTS proves that learning to swim is therapy and therapy is learning to swim.

 

Contact details: 

Address: Rivonia Sports Centre

Cellphone: 082 572 4809

Email:  saswimtots@gmail.com