Category: Articles

Why Learn Several Different Swimming Strokes?

Are you wondering if learning all the different swimming strokes makes sense? Or if sticking to your favorite swim stroke is enough?

Three children practicing breaststroke movements on dry land
Learning several different swimming strokes requires patience but has its rewards.

For example, you may be a beginner triathlete being able to swim breaststroke. But you’d like to be able to swim much faster for an upcoming event next summer, and need to learn freestyle.

Or you may be a long-time swimmer that can swim the breaststroke or freestyle stroke well. But now you are wondering if being able to swim the butterfly stroke or the backstroke will bring any advantages?

The Benefits Of Swimming Several Strokes

Well, I think that besides a more significant time investment, there are only benefits to know several different swimming strokes.

  • When you swim several strokes, you use more muscles, and your body gets a better workout.
  • The risk of a swimming injury is decreased because you don’t always stress the body with the same movements, and the musculature is more balanced.
  • Your swimming fun is increased because your workouts are more varied when you can choose from several swim strokes.
  • The skills that you learn in one stroke can often be transferred to another swim stroke. For example, the balance skills that you learn for the front crawl are also needed in the backstroke. Or the body undulation that you need for the butterfly stroke is also an asset while swimming breaststroke.
  • Knowing several types of swimming strokes can also be a significant advantage in triathlons. Obviously, if you know freestyle, you will swim faster and tire less than if you only swim breaststroke during the event. Switching to breaststroke, in turn, can be interesting when you need orient yourself, as you have better visibility than when you are swimming front crawl. And if you know backstroke, you can roll on your back when you are tired and take a few strokes in that position to recover.

In conclusion

So my recommendation is that if you aren’t in a big hurry and need to learn how to swim one particular swim stroke as soon as possible, it pays off to learn how to swimthe four competitive strokes.

The Different Swimming Strokes / Styles

The most common swimming strokes or styles are the freestyle stroke, the breaststroke, the backstroke and the butterfly stroke. They are well-known because they are used in swimming competitions.

collage showing the four competitive swim strokes
The swim strokes used in competitions

Besides these common strokes, other styles of swim strokes exist like the sidestroke, the trudgen, the combat swimmer stroke, etc. They are used less often but can also be fun to learn.

Let’s have a quick overview of these popular swimming strokes now.

The Freestyle Stroke

The Freestyle Stroke or front crawl is often the preferred stroke of seasoned swimmers. It uses alternating arm movements with an above water recovery. The legs execute a flutter kick.

Freestyle is fast and efficient. In fact, it is the fastest of all swimming strokes. That’s why it is used in freestyle competitions and in the swimming leg of triathlons.

Breaststroke

Breaststroke is the most popular swim stroke of all. In breaststroke, both arms execute half-circular arm movements at the same time underwater in front of the swimmer. The arm recovery also occurs under water. The legs simultaneously perform a whip kick.

A young man swimming breaststroke
Breaststroke

Breaststroke is often the first swimming stroke taught to beginners. In fact, many casual swimmers can only swim this stroke.

The advantage of breaststroke is that beginners can keep their head above the water. This avoids breathing and orientation issues. More experienced swimmers, however, submerge their head during the stroke cycle to improve efficiency.

Breaststroke is the slowest of the competitive strokes.

Butterfly Stroke

The butterfly stroke stands out among the competitive strokes because of it’s unique and spectacular technique. It uses a symmetrical arm stroke with an above water recovery. It also uses a wave-like body undulation and a dolphin kick.

A man swimming the butterfly stroke
The Butterfly Stroke

The butterfly is the second fastest swim stroke after freestyle. It has a reputation of being hard to learn and is quickly exhausting. But once you have mastered it, swimming a few lengths of butterfly can be a lot of fun!

Backstroke

As its name suggests, backstroke is swum on the back. It uses alternating circular arm movements and an above water recovery. The legs execute a flutter kick similar to the one used in freestyle.

A woman swimming backstroke with arm extended overhead
Backstroke

In competition, backstroke is faster than breaststroke but slower than butterfly. Physicians often prescribe backstroke swimming to people experiencing back problems because it gives the back an excellent workout.

Sidestroke

The sidestroke is an old swim stroke swum on the side that uses a scissor kick and asymmetrical underwater arm movements.

A man swimming sidestroke
Sidestroke

Sidestroke is not used in swimming competitions and is therefore swum less often nowadays. Nevertheless, it is easy to learn and can be an interesting alternative to the popular swim strokes. It is also used by lifeguards to rescue victims.

Overcoming Fear of Water and Swimming

Lots of people experience fear of water (aquaphobia). This article discusses this fear and proposes a few basic exercises in the water to help you overcome this fear.

ear of Water – Causes

Fear of water can have lots of different causes:

  • It often exists as an instinctive fear related to the fear of drowning.
  • It can be caused by the fear of the unknown, of what might be lurking below the water surface in deep, cloudy or muddy waters.
  • It may be related to a bad experience that occurred in childhood.
  • It may have been transmitted to a child by parents that were themselves afraid of water.
  • It may have been ingrained by swim instructors that used inadequate or stressful methods to teach swimming.

Putting Things Into Perspective

You don’t need to feel bad if you are subject to fear of water because everyone has a different level of water confidence and this level of water confidence can change depending on circumstances.

For example, I acquired basic swimming skills as a child, and those skills have evolved with practice over the last few years since I took up swimming again. Nowadays I’m not afraid of swimming in a pool or in small to medium ponds. However, if I do swim in a lake or the ocean, I still have a certain level of anxiety before starting, and especially so if it’s in an unfamiliar location.

The point I want to make is that even experienced swimmers can sometimes experience fear of water or at least have a certain level of anxiety.

Basic Exercises – Instructions

Let’s now try to address your fear of water by doing a few basic exercises in the water. To give you the maximum level of comfort while doing these exercises, I suggest the following:

  1. All the exercises can and should be done in shallow water. There is no need for the water to go higher than your chest, so you can always feel safe.
  2. Doing the exercises in a swimming pool with clean water is best because you can see what is (or more precisely isn’t) in the water and so you will be more relaxed than if you did the exercises in opaque water.
  3. For the same reason, it’s advisable to wear swimming goggles while doing the exercises. This way water won’t get into your eyes, and you will be able to keep them open all the time, which will help you to relax.
  4. A supportive person being at your side while doing the exercises can be of great help, and especially so if he/she is an experienced swimmer that is comfortable in the water.
  5. If you can’t get the help of a supportive person, I recommend that you do the exercises in a swimming pool supervised by a lifeguard which knows what you are trying to accomplish and can keep an eye on you.
  6. Ideally, you should do the exercises when the swimming pool isn’t crowded, to avoid getting stressed out by people that splash or trash water around you.

There is no need to rush through the exercises. The primary goal is always to stay comfortable. Even if you only manage to do one exercise per session at the pool, it doesn’t matter as long as you are comfortable. Slow down if you start stressing. Even if it takes several weeks or months for you to get through all the exercises and overcome your fear of water, so be it. Think baby steps.

Acclimating To Water

To get started, we will do a few exercises for you to get comfortable being in contact with water and then to enter the water:

  1. At the shallow end of the pool, sit across the pool edge and let your legs dangle in the water, sweeping back and forth. Take your time to enjoy the sensation of the water flowing around your legs.
  2. Scoop up water with your hands and apply it to your face, as if to wash it. This is to get used to having your face being in contact with water.
  3. Scoop up water with your hands again, hold your breath and then splash the water into your face. As you are wearing swim goggles, your eyes are protected, and you can try to keep them open. As you are holding your breath and sitting upright, you should notice that the water can’t get into your nose and mouth. Enjoy the refreshing sensation of the water on your face.
  4. Slowly get into the water via the steps or ladder in the shallow area of the pool. Make sure that the water doesn’t get above your chest. Walk around for some time, staying in the shallow area of the pool. Enjoy the sensation of the water flowing around your body.

    Submerging Your Head

    The next few exercises will let you progressively lower your head into the water until you are comfortable having your head under water. We are still (and stay) in shallow water.

    1. Hold your breath. Slowly crouch down until your lips are just above the water surface. How does it feel? See if you can get comfortable with having the water so close to your lips. Then stand up.
    2. Hold your breath. Slowly crouch down (with mouth closed) and see if you can get your mouth underwater, having the water surface being between your mouth and your nose. Notice that water can’t get into your mouth.
    3. After a while, notice that your nose is still above the water surface. If the water is calm and there are no waves, try to breathe through your nose while still having your mouth under water. Notice that you can breathe through your nose even though your mouth is under water. Then stand up. Repeat this often to get comfortable breathing with your nose being so close to the water surface.
    4. Hold your breath. Slowly crouch down until your mouth touches the water surface, then goes under water. Crouch some more until your nostrils touch the water surface. If possible, hold this position for a few seconds, then stand up to breathe.

    What you need to know at this point is that it is entirely ok to have water touching your nostrils or even having some water getting into your nostrils, as long as you are holding your breath and your head is upright. Because of the way the nose connects with the head, water can’t rise high enough in your nose to get into sinuses in that position. It’s only when the water gets into the sinuses that it becomes unpleasant. In fact, once you’ll have become an experienced swimmer, you will have water flowing into and out of your nostrils each stroke cycle, without ever having water getting into your sinuses and with you barely noticing.

    Now let’s get back to our exercises:

    1. Again hold your breath, then crouch down until your nose is under water, the water surface being between your nose and your eyes. Your ears should not be underwater, so slightly tilt your head forward. Again, notice how some water gets into your nostrils, but at the same time notice that it doesn’t rise very high in your nose and that because of this it doesn’t hurt. Try to hold this position a few seconds, then stand up to breathe.
    2. Hold your breath. Slowly crouch down as before. Now tilt your head slightly backward. Slowly move down until your nose, and your ears are below the water surface, but your eyes are still above the water surface. Because you are holding your breath no water can get into your mouth and only a little bit of water gets into your nose. Notice how water gets into your ears, and your hearing becomes muffled. Again try to hold this position a few seconds before standing up.
    3. Now what you need to know at this point is that some water will get into your ears. But this is also ok because the water will be prevented from going further by the eardrum and will flow out of the ear as soon as you leave the water. So you can’t get hurt.
    4. Hold your breath. Now slowly crouch down and let the water cover your mouth, nose, ears and move further down up to the point where your eyes move below the water surface. As you are wearing swim goggles (hopefully good ones), water can’t get into your eyes. Try to hold this position a few seconds, then stand up again and breathe. Once you are comfortable with your eyes below the water surface and can keep your eyes open, take the time to observe this strange world below the water surface that opens up to you.
    5. Once you are comfortable doing the previous exercise, you can add up the ante a little bit and make a bobbing motion, where you rhythmically submerge and emerge your head. This will get you used to have your head being regularly submerged, which will be useful later on when learning how to swimthe popular swimming strokes.

      Blowing Bubbles

      Once you are comfortable having your head under water, the next step to overcome your fear of water is to learn that it is possible to exhale in the water without getting water into your nose and mouth. The best exercise for this is to learn how to blow bubbles.

      1. Breathe in while standing in the shallow area of the pool and hold your breath. Then crouch down so that your mouth is below the water surface, but your nose is still above the water surface. Slowly exhale through your mouth, blowing bubbles in the water. You will realize that as long as you do exhale, water can’t get into your mouth. The same is true if you do hold your breath. Stand up again to breathe in.
      2. Repeat the previous exercise but now crouch down so far that only your eyes are above the water surface while your nose and mouth are below the water surface. Keep your mouth shut and now slowly blow bubbles through your nose. Again you will notice that water can’t get into your nose as long as you hold your breath or exhale. Stand up to breathe.
      3. Repeat the previous exercise but now blow bubbles in the water through both your nose and mouth.
      4. Finally, repeat the previous exercise but with your head completely under water.

      The Human Body Floats Well

      So far, we have practiced a few basic exercises to overcome the fear of water and to get used to being in the water. Now we will see that it is, in fact, easy to float in the water without much effort.

      If you get anxious around bodies of water, you may believe that in the water you would sink to the ground like a stone. If this is the case, it may come as a surprise to you that water, in fact, supports the human body very well. In most cases, people can float effortlessly without using their limbs as long as their lungs are filled with air.

      This is because your body, being made of 60% of water, is slightly less dense than water provided that your lungs are filled with air.

Swimming Pool Etiquette – Rules of Conduct for Lap Swimmers

Swimming pool etiquette (also known as lap swimming etiquette) is a set of informal rules of conduct that ensure a smooth swimming experience when several swimmers share a lane.

As a new (lap) swimmer you are often unaware of the existence of a swimming pool etiquette. Nevertheless, over time you’ll notice that the more experienced swimmers follow specific informal rules when they share a lane. So if you want to appear as a well-mannered swimmer and get along with other swimmers, it is important to get educated about lap swimming etiquette too.

Swimming Etiquette Rules

So let’s enumerate the rules you should follow while swimming in a lane:

Gauge the speeds of each lane and join the lane where the swimmers swim at your pace. This is because it is distracting for experienced swimmers to have to pass slower swimmers constantly.

If you are alone in a lane, you can swim following the middle line.

If there are two swimmers in the lane, it can be split into halves, and each swimmer swims on his side of the lane. Or the swimmers use the “circle” format described hereafter.

If there are more than two swimmers in the lane, they should circle in the lane. This is most often done by swimming counterclockwise.

When joining a lane, slowly enter the water and wait on the side during one lap until all swimmers have noticed that you will join the lane.

If you are the second swimmer to join a lane, discuss with the other one how you will share the lane.

Don’t dive into the lane from the starting blocks when you join a lane. This can be distracting or even frightening for swimmers who are concentrated on swimming their laps and don’t know what is happening. Normally, diving from the starting blocks should only be done during practice under the supervision of a coach and when lap swimmers don’t use the lane.

If you want to pass a slower swimmer, tap him on the foot so that he knows your intention. He will then stop at the end of the lane and move to the right corner so that you can pass. Do the same if you are the person being passed.

Don’t push off the wall right in front of a faster swimmer, especially if he’s going to do a flip turn. Let him/her pass first.

Likewise, don’t push off right behind a slower swimmer to directly pass him by. Leave him some room before pushing off.

Some swimmers, often breaststrokers, swim stubbornly in a straight line and never make way to other swimmers. However, it is more challenging for front crawl or backstroke swimmers to see other swimmers. So make way and swim around other swimmers if possible.

If you chat with a fellow swimmer, do it on the sides of the lane to not obstruct the lane end for the lap swimmers. Do the same if you need to rest.

Don’t cross the pool right in front of a swimmer.

Don’t use a whole lane for walking, aqua jogging or some random exercise when the pool is busy.

Don’t “borrow” a piece of swimming equipment that you haven’t brought yourself and seems abandoned. It may well be needed by one of your fellow swimmers very soon.

5 Fun Facts About Swimmers and Sleep

Getting more sleep is the easiest way to swim faster this season. Here are some fun factoids about sleep and swimmers.

Competitive swimmers understand how important it is to work hard in practice, crush it in the gym, and to eat well.

You spend an endless amount of time drilling your technique, working your core strength, and developing the conditioning and strength to become a faster swimmer.

And yet, for way too many of us, we pass on one of the easiest ways to supercharge our performance in and out of the water. Getting lots of sleep is the easiest and dare I say it—most enjoyable—thing you can do to become a faster swimmer.

Quality time between the sheets is the ultimate performance booster: it helps you to recover faster, improves your mood profile (we all get a little cranky when short-rested), and yes, will help you swim faster over the long run.

Here are some fun facts about swimmers and sleep:

1. We don’t get enough of it (duh).

Swimmers have a gong-show schedule. During high school it looked like I was going on holidays each morning as I shuffled out the door for morning practice. With an overflowing bag for my swim gear, a bag for school books, and a bag full of food for the day, it looked like I was getting ready to conquer Everest.

By the time I got home I was generally exhausted, but still had to push through and get homework done before doing it all over again the following day. The days were never long enough for everything I needed to do.

As a result, when I needed more time to catch up with friends, finish homework, or whatever, it meant that sleep was the first thing to go.

While sleep deprivation isn’t particularly unique to competitive swimmers, we are particularly bad at getting anywhere near 7-8 hours a night.

When researchers followed a group of elite Australian swimmers during preparation for the Beijing Olympics, they found that the athletes averaged only 7.1 hours of sleep on rest days, and a paltry 5.4 hours when there was a morning workout the next day.

2. The harder you train, the more sleep you need.

The amount of sleep our body requires scales with how hard you are exerting yourself while you are awake. The harder the training, the more sleep you need to recover and bounce back.

Some nights your body will need ten hours, others you will feel great after seven. Shooting for an exact number of hours of sleep per night isn’t realistic as your sleep demands will be different depending on how training is going. The amount of sleep your body requires after a 1,500m loosen up swim is going to be different than the recovery needed after doing 20x400s best average.

Knowing this, plan naps and earlier bed times during particularly aggressive phases of training (Hell Week, or your holiday training camp, for instance).

Olympic champion Nathan Adrian focuses on getting 10-12 hours of sleep when training at altitude at the Olympic Training Center. It’s 8-10 hours at night, with a solid nap between workouts to help recover from the daily thrashings in the water.

3. The more intense your workouts, the harder it will be to sleep.

The inability to get good sleep after a high-intensity thrashing at the pool is one of the odd experiences of being a high-performance swimmer.

It doesn’t make sense on the surface of it: You go to the pool, sprint your brains out for a couple hours to the point that you are crumpled up on the pool deck, and then when you get home you have a hard time falling asleep.

Those super intense workouts stress the body in a big way. As you limp out of the aquatic center there is a lot going on inside of you: cortisol (the stress hormone) and norepinephrine (adrenaline) are spiking. It takes a while for your body to return to normal, with norepinephrine taking up to 48 hours to level out after all-out exercise.

This is another great reason to make sure you tack on a generous amount of active recovery to the end of those speed and power workouts.

In my own experience I’ve found that getting to sleep after those brutal speed-and-power workouts is much easier if I allow time for a 15-20 minute warm-down.

4. More sleep makes you mentally tougher.

Think back to the last time you were running on low sleep. What was your mood like? Probably not awesome, right? Sleep deprivation makes us grumpy. No big surprise there.

Restless nights of sleep also makes training feel harder than it would when regularly rested. Study after study has shown that perceived effort—how hard you feel you are working—spikes from sleep deprivation.

Which means that we are less likely to push ourselves when groggy and tired.

The dryland and swim workouts are hard enough already, no need to make them feel more difficult than necessary. In this way, being properly rested makes you mentally tougher.

5. And yes, more sleep means faster swimming.

Being rested is a great feeling. We feel fresh, energized, and ready to rock and roll. This translates into faster swimming.

When a group of varsity swimmers were told to increase their nightly diet of sleep by an hour they experienced significant drops in times in the water in just six weeks.

The study, done with swimmers at Stanford, found that reaction time off the blocks improved, turn time improved, and most impressively of all, the swimmers shaved an average of half a second on their time to 15m.

That’s an absurd amount of improvement for something as simple as getting a little more shut-eye each night.

The Next Step

Knowing you need more sleep isn’t the issue swimmers face—it’s managing your time and making it a priority to get into bed earlier that is the challenge.

There are some simple things swimmers can do to get more sleep:

  • Turn off the smartphone at night. Laying in bed while scrolling through your social feeds will keep ya perked up. Power down the screen in bed and put the phone across the room to remove the urge to check it.
  • Plan out naps. If you can’t get more sleep at night work on getting a power nap somewhere in the middle of your day. A 30-minute nap is enough to help boost mental and physical performance after a 4-hour night of sleep.
  • Time management. At the end of the day this is the biggie—you need to prioritize sleep by wrangling the rest of your schedule. Stay on top of your schedule by working to get ahead of your schoolwork, planning and prepping meals, and creating a cut-off time each night for you to begin preparing for bed.

10 Things Swimmers Can Do for Exceptional Team Culture

A swim team’s culture can boost your chances of success in the water just as easily as it can hold you back. Here’s how you, the elite-minded swimmer, can do your part to create exceptional team culture.

Great team culture is one of those things that everyone wants, is fun to lob around as a goal for the club, and yet, is hard to pin down or measure.

But you know it when you see it.

Great culture is unmistakable: success is sustained no matter who swims there. The team performs consistently well. Athletes are motivated to be there.

Bad culture is hilariously easy to spot as well: The bad group body language. The inconsistent performances. The low motivation and lack of direction.

Culture is easy to talk about in the abstract. We all want it, after all. But intentions are not good enough. Great team culture isn’t something you talk about, what you think or what you plan on doing. Great team culture is what you do.

Here are ten things swimmers can do to their part in creating a culture where they and the whole swim team are successful.

1. It starts with ownership.

It can be easy to look at the coach as the be-all and end-all for team culture, but at some point, athletes need to step up as well.

The reality is this: an environment that encourages risk-tolerance, is psychologically safe and promotes excellence benefits you just as much as it benefits anyone else.

Don’t wait for other swimmers to be the ones to step up. Yes, it can feel scary stepping up and taking the lead. It takes a lot to be the one to suggest to do one more rep above and beyond what is expected.

It can feel like you are the odd swimmer out by doing the workout properly and not complaining. This is okay—being excellent isn’t normal.

While your coach lays out the workouts and sets a standard for what is expected, it’s still on you to deliver on those expectations.

2. Embrace the newbies.

When a swimmer first joins your group or lane they are most receptive to the tone and attitude of the group. It’s your chance to make a great first impression and set the standard of what is expected.

Welcoming the new swimmers to the group also gives you a chance to remind yourself what kind of expectations you would like to have of the team and group.

3. Work with the younger swimmers. 

Many of my favorite memories as a young age grouper were when the older swimmers—who I idolized—took a few moments of their practice to ask how my workout was going, to give me a quick pointer, or to encourage me to try a harder interval.

You don’t need to be a world record holder to have a serious impact on other swimmers in the pool.

4. Struggle together.

Getting through it together matters. Some of my favorite memories from my age group days have nothing to do with personal best times or records. They stem from the times where as a lane or as a group we persevered through a set or a workout.

It felt like it was us against coach or us against the workout. We didn’t always win, but on the times we did it brought us together.

Struggling through stuff together encourages cohesion. There’s no faking the bond that comes from throwing down on Hell Week together and coming through mostly unscathed.

5. Put the backstroke flags away.

When practice ends do you scurry to the locker room or are you helping put the lane ropes away? The backstroke flags? The yard sale of equipment behind the blocks?

You shouldn’t have to wait for anyone to ask you to help with this stuff.

The New Zealand All-Black rugby team, arguably one of the most dominant teams on the planet, clean their own locker room after games. Not assistants, or a janitor, or stadium staff—these revered professional athletes take it upon themselves to “sweep the sheds.”

Stepping up and taking care of your training and competition environment isn’t a chore—it’s showing that you care enough about the culture and the environment to spend a sliver of your time looking after it.

When you care for your environment you develop team-building pride for your crew.

6. Stand for your teammates.

Here’s a simple goal statement for you and your group: On this team we cheer for each other like crazy.

Get your cold, water-logged shorts off those chilly metal bleachers and stand up for your teammates when they are on the block. We’ve all experienced the chills and goosebumps before a big race when your squad gets up and does a banger of a cheer for you right before the whistle.

Make that the standard for your team. Not only will you swim hilariously well, but you’ll have every other team looking over in envy.

7. Get on board with the buddy system.

Accountability can work from a host of different directions. Here are some of the examples you are most familiar with: your parents getting on your case about working hard, and your coach on your case for showing up to practice.

But accountability seems to take on a different shade when it’s coming from one of your peers. After all, you are in the chlorinated trenches together. So there’s a kinship and an understanding there.

Partner up with a teammate who has similar goals as you (maybe not the exact same event) and work together to be more consistent in training.

8. Address what’s hurting the team quickly and together.

Problems happen to every club, good or bad, tiny or super. It’s how quickly and in what manner they are addressed that makes all the difference.

Here are some ways to stay on top of adversity and use it to help propel the group further:

Team captains. Weekly team meetings can help keep the ship on course through the season. Captains also manage some of the intra-personal stuff that can bubble up into real problems. They can help mediate issues and provide an added layer of accountability within the team.

Evaluation. Where can we improve as a group? What are we doing that is totally working? Quick evaluations done regularly can help the group from drifting off mission and stay focused.

Peer help. How can you help someone else in the group to be successful? We don’t need to go this alone—when a group of swimmers gets together and supports each other some insanely awesome stuff starts to happen. Risk tolerance goes up (you feel more comfortable going all out on your goals when you know you have people behind you).

9. Effort is always louder than talk.

At the end of the day, all the rousing speeches, the pep talks and the fancy championship banners don’t matter a chlorinated lick if you aren’t leading by effort.

This point is particularly applicable to swimmers who aren’t naturally extroverts. Generally we view leaders in the pool as being really vocal: but words don’t mean much if they don’t match up to the effort that is being put forth in the water.

In fact, it’s your actions that are the true barometer of your leadership abilities. You can rah-rah your teammates until you’re blue in the face, and talk about having a high expectation of excellence, but without the matching effort it’s got the opposite intended effect.

Look, no one is perfect. No disputing that. You’re human, which means that you are indebted the same amount of off days as every other swimmer on the team. But if you are leading, and the expectation is that you want an all-in effort from other swimmers in the group, you better be bringing the noise in the pool as well.

10. Leadership is found in the quiet moments.

Listening to a teammate who is having a rough day or a bad practice. Giving another teammate a reassuring pat on the back after a bad race. Pushing a teammate to a breakthrough performance in training even though your workout isn’t going as great as you’d like.

Leadership is found just as much, if not more so, beyond the rah-rah speeches and the boisterous cheers. It’s in the countless little moments where success and failure happen on your way to championship season.

This is great news for the quiet swimmer who prefers to lead by example. You can be a world-class introvert and still lead like a champion.

PowerLung Review: How to Breathe Stronger and Swim Faster

Want to significantly increase your breathing power and speed in the water? Here’s a breakdown of how the PowerLung can help you do just that.

Swimmers face a unique problem in the water.

Unlike runners, ball players or cyclists, swimmers need to time and manage their breathing. For the competitive swimmer the way we breathe is something we have to think about (although for many swimmers—it’s a bit of an afterthought).

Sprinters need to train themselves to not breathe at all during 50s. Swimmers of other distances need to plan and judge how many breaths they are going to take in and out of the wall. There is the consideration of what side to breathe on, how many strokes to take off the start without breathing, and so on.

For the elite-minded swimmer, training our breathing muscles means that we use our breathing as a weapon.

A more powerful breath allows us to choose when and how to breathe. It allows us to slurp down more oxygen with each breath. We become tactical with our breathing.

Compare that to the swimmer who breathes by the seat of their Speedo, forever lurching their heads from side to side, breathlessly and sloppily trying to get more oxygen down to their lungs and muscles.

Here’s how you can—using the PowerLung in particular—learn to breathe better and swim faster.

How Swimmers Can Train the Respiratory Muscles

Weak breathing and lung muscles are easy to spot: we gasp and scramble for oxygen early in the main set or during our races. We huff and puff mightily, racing to catch our breath at the end of hard efforts. And weak breathing muscles means our technique goes to hell because we are having to breathe every stroke to keep our muscles supplied with oxygen.

Being the swimmer that is always hanging onto the gutter for dear life trying to catch their breath sucks.

That’s where training your respiratory muscles comes in.

There are different approaches you can take to increasing breathing power. One you may be familiar with is using breathing patterns. Breathing every 3, 5, or 7 strokes for instance. Or performing progressively more dolphin kicks off of each on of your push-offs and turns. Or we use aerobic training in the water to boost our lung capacity and endurance.

For you swimmers who love to look for dryland ways to get faster in the water (and there’s a lot of you judging by the contents of my inbox) and aren’t a huge fan of trying to improve lung capacity solely through breath-holding (I’m there with ya if that’s the case), there’s another way to get stronger breathing muscles.

It’s to use a device, in this case a PowerLung, like a set of weights to strengthen your ability to inhale and exhale.

What is the Power Lung?

The PowerLung is a little plastic tube, about 6-7 inches long with a mouth piece and two dials that increase or decrease the resistance of your inhalation and exhalation.

PowerLung Review for Swimming

You inhale against resistance, you exhale against resistance. The stronger you get, the more you dial up the resistance.

It’s weight lifting for your breathing muscles.

That simple.

Sounds kinda kooky—weights for my lungs?—but does using a PowerLung actually help you swim faster?

One study had a group of 16 age group swimmers and had them do thirty reps (one inhale + one exhale = one rep), twice a day, over six weeks. At the beginning and at the end of the training period the swimmers did time trials in distances of 100, 200 and 400m.

The swimmers who performed the breath training improved significantly faster than the control group, with the breath training especially boosting performance in the shorter distances. The improvement was highest in the 100s (1.7% fasterthan the control group) followed by the 200s (1.5%), with a smaller rate of improvement in the 400 (0.6%).

To put that level of improvement into context, if your best time for the 100 is 56 seconds, this study would suggest that on average you could expect a 0.95 second improvement after just six weeks. That kind of drop is legit given that it takes a few minutes a day and doesn’t require you to swim an additional meter.

My Own Experience Using the PowerLung

For a hunk of plastic the PowerLung was surprisingly expensive. Well over $100. So I had my doubts when I picked up the PowerLung Sport (there are a couple different versions of the PowerLung—the Sport is the hardest one).

The device is simple enough: a mouth-piece to blow into and two dials to adjust resistance on the inhalation (1-6) and exhalation (1-3).

Although it looks simple, this device is really difficult. After three weeks of semi-regular use I still cannot inhale on level 2, it’s that “heavy.” Which I suppose is also great news—lots of room for improvement!

Some of the key things I noticed using the PowerLung after three weeks:

The portability factor is killer.

Off day from the pool? Use the PowerLung. Going away for the weekend and don’t have access to a pool? Throw it in the little plastic carry pouch and take it with you. I keep it in my office on my desk so that it’s always there, ready for action.

You can train your lungs anytime, anywhere, so there’s no excuse not to make use of this bad boy.

My ability to suck in air improved. Big time.

This is a hard one to describe, but breathing simply feels easier. The rush of air going in feels almost effortless. Whether I am at the pool or at home, taking a big breath just feels better.

Beyond what the PowerLung can do for my swimming it’s pretty neat to be able to say that I am breathing stronger.

I am not nearly as winded after all-out efforts.

Here’s the big benefit, and the one you are likely most interested in. How well did the PowerLung help me recover during super hard sets and workouts?

Like a dream.

While there were still times I was huffing and puffing, it was far more controlled than in the past. My muscles will run out of gas before my breath gets away from me. Which is a new and entirely awesome thing.

Breathing patterns and walls are more manageable.

Another big benefit when it comes directly to swim performance is that by being able to suck in more when breathing, I need to breathe less.

How cool is that?

Whereas before sprinting long course 50s I would need to be breathing every four strokes, over the past couple weeks I’ve been jumping up to 6 and 8-stroke breathing.

My underwater dolphin kick work has benefited as well: by being able to slurp down more oxygen into the walls and before pushing off I am getting extra distance off the walls without running out of oxygen.

It’s more enjoyable and safer than traditional hypoxic work.

I am not a fan of hypoxic work in the pool. Not even because of the dangers associated with it (hello there, shallow water blackout) but because I just don’t enjoy it.

In a lot of ways, using a PowerLung is a much safer alternative to the breath holding work swimmers do in training.

Breathing with more force—and seeing your improvement over the days and weeks on the resistance dials is more fun than traditional hypoxic training. In my opinion.

Do it before practice and your races to supercharge your warm-ups.

Warming up your respiratory muscles is probably not something you have ever really thought about. After all, we spend all of our time thinking about getting the blood flowing, our technique dialed in, and our muscles nice and loose.

But your lungs—those hilariously important and underappreciated muscles that they are—need to get warmed up too. It’s why those first few laps of practice it can feel a little struggley to breathe every 3 strokes, compared to the end of the practice when you can swim half the pool without breathing. Your breathing muscles are fully warmed up by that point.

Before heading to the pool I would bang out a dozen or so pulls on the PowerLung: this way my lungs were loose and primed by the time I got into the water.

Using the PowerLung before training and competition can help you swim faster, and that’s the whole point, right?

Where to Buy the PowerLung

The PowerLung comes in a handful of different versions.

The Sport, the one I picked up, has the most resistance to it, and is “designed for elite athletes and strenuous, competitive training activities.” That said, my girlfriend—who isn’t an athlete—was able to use the device on its lowest settings relatively easily.

There is also the PowerLung Trainer, which is their middle of the road device. It’s still effective and recommended for those looking to improve sport performance (or even musical performance, for that matter).

They both retail at around $120 each. A bit pricey, but you can’t really put a price tag on being able to breathe better!

How to Prevent Swimmer’s Shoulder

If you’ve invested even a moderate amount of time training up and down and around the black line you have become intimately familiar with the term ‘swimmer’s shoulder.’

Given that swimmers annually perform hundreds of thousands of arm rotations it should be of little shock to learn that this type of work and frequency places a lot stress on the shoulder musculature and joint.

As a result, the shoulders are the most commonly injured body part as a result of competitive swimming.

Studies have shown a large number of swimmers will experience injury to their shoulders over the course of their swimming careers:

How to Prevent Swimmers Shoulder

  • One study showed 47% of collegiate swimmers having experienced shoulder pain that lasted 3 weeks or longer (with the same study reporting 48% of masters swimmers experiencing it as well despite half the workouts of the collegiate swimmers).
  • A study of over 1,200 American club swimmers found swimmers presently experiencing shoulder pain ranging between 10% in the younger age groups, and 26% of national team swimmers experiencing pain at the time they were surveyed. Using a kick-board and swim paddles were also reported to aggravate shoulder pain.
  • Another study done in Australia on 80 of their elite swimmers aged 13-25 found that 91% of them were experiencing shoulder pain. When given an MRI, 69% of the swimmers showed inflammation of the tendon of the supraspinatus muscle. (This bad boy helps to keep your shoulder stable and helps lift the arm sideways—which is why when you have tendonitis in this spot that it hurts when you recover the arm.)

These studies and stats tell us what most swimmers and those around the sport already intuitively know—that swimmer’s shoulder is frighteningly common.

In this little guide we are going to tackle it.

Preventing Swimmer’s Shoulder – It Starts with Posture

At the end of the day, when you take off your swim goggles and call it a day at the pool, shoulder related injuries are generally as a result of poor posture and sloppy mechanics in the water.

Yes, overuse and the seemingly endless repetition of arm rotations seems like an unstoppable prescription for shoulder agony, but when you have proper alignment and posture you minimize the chances of injury.

It starts with building better posture, both in the pool and out of it.

It’s easy to see how the battle for good posture is a hard one—we are a culture of banana-shaped sitters.

From being slumped over our desks, on the couch, in bed, or during our countless staring matches with our mobile device, the posture we carry for the 22 hours of the day we aren’t in the pool inevitably bleeds into our swimming.

And when we have bad posture in the water we are creating the ideal circumstances for the inevitable shoulder injury.

Besides avoiding the time missed and misery that comes with being chronically injured, think about this…

When we have poor posture, we not only limit the mobility of our limbs but we also dramatically short-change the amount of power we can exert.

In order to correct our not-so-great posture, we’ll start where we spend the most of our time…

In bed.

1. Sleep on your back.

Having sore shoulders is inevitable over the course of our swimming careers.

It’s bad enough that they are tired and sore after a tough workout, but it’s even worse when sleeping improperly on them at night ends up causing even more pain.

I cannot count how many times I woke myself up at night from a streaking pain in my shoulder, flashing all the way down to my elbow because I was splashed across my bed on my front with my bad shoulder wrapped up under my head.

Whether you go full blown fetal, semi-prone while giving sweet cuddles to a pillow, or in any other variation of side sleeping, the default setting for most of us is on the side.

The problem for swimmers (and their sore shoulders) is what happens when they place their arm above their head, or roll their shoulders forward. Placing your shoulder out of alignment tends to exacerbate the pain, causing you to wake up in the middle of the night with your shoulder on fire.

The answer?

Lay on your back while you sleep to take the pressure off your shoulder, and to put your neck and shoulders in alignment.

To further place your arms and shoulders back into their socket—where they are supposed to be—place your hand across your chest. If your shoulders still aren’t rolling back far enough place a pillow under your elbow in order to elevate the hand a little bit.

You’ll find this position is especially helpful if you are presently experiencing shoulder pain.

(Shout-out to Kelly Starrett at MobilityWOD for this tip.)

2. Improve your t-spine mobility.

As swimmers we know all about the importance of having flexible shoulders, pecs, ankles and hips. It’s drilled into us from day one with the myriad of stretches and arm and leg swings we do from our age group days and up.

But if I told you that something called your thoracic spine played a major role in your swimming, would you have the faintest idea what I was talking about?

The thoracic spine refers to the part of your spine located in the upper and middle back.

This bad boy is built for rotation, it’s built for flexion, and it’s built for extension.

When swimmers have poor t-spine mobility it affects a whole bunch of things, not just how likely you are to spend the last half of the workout doing vertical kick in the dive tank instead of completing the workout with your teammates.

You can’t rotate as well to breathe, causing over-rotation of the hips. Your shoulders and chest roll forward and inwards. And it also restricts your undulation, hindering your dolphin kicking.

Here is a two pack of simple exercises to incorporate into your warm-up to boost your t-spine range of motion:

Foam roller thoracic spine extension.  8 deep breaths. You will find yourself extending further back. Suck belly button in. Roll up another vertebrae or two and repeat. Support your head with your hands to avoid undue strain on your neck.

Swimmers Shoulder Prevention

Quadruped t-spine rotation. On all fours put a hand behind your head and dip below your opposing shoulder, leading with your elbow. Keeping your head straight and hips stable—don’t twist your hips, in other words—leading with your elbow, rotate your shoulders so that your elbow ends pointing at the ceiling.

How to Prevent Shoulder Injuries from Swimming

3. Improve scapular stability.

What are your scaps? And why are they important? And more importantly, why is it so fun to say “scaps”?

During my day they were neglected in favor of more rotator cuff work. Over the past decade or so research has begun to show just how critical a role they play, with swimmers with less than awesome scaps generally suffering from added stress to the anterior shoulder capsule, a rise in the likelihood of rotator cuff compression, and decreased neuromuscular performance in the shoulder.

Okay, so those were some sciencey words.

To break it down, the scaps provide a solid base from which your shoulder joint can exert additional force and power.

Stable, strong scaps = more power and speed in the water. (And less likelihood of injury.)

An easy way to develop scap stability is to throw a basic standing row into your warm-routine. You can use an elastic band, cable machine, or my favorite, TRX.

Keep your elbows tight, feel the squeeze in your scaps at the end of each rep, and perform the movement with control.

how to prevent swimmers shoulder

4. Strengthen your rotator cuffs.

For as long as I can remember I have watched swimmers do internal and external rotators with bands on deck.

I’ve banged out a large number of them myself, and continue to do so to this day as part of my daily warm-up. It’s been so intertwined with the term shoulder injury that it has turned most swimmers and coaches into armchair physiotherapists.

“Aww yeah, shoulder is acting up. Gotta get back on the internal and external rotators.”

A word of caution with doing endless sets of rotator cuff strengthening exercises, however.

Performing work on the rotator cuff isn’t a cure all for shoulder issues. It should be used as a preventative tool, and one that is lower on the totem pole than having overall mobility in your t-spine and stability.

Dr. Erik DeRoche, USA Swimming’s team chiropractor on the 2012 and 2014 World Championship teams as well as the University of Michigan’s team chiropractor at NCAA’s in 2012, backs this up:

“Commonly, I see swimmers performing rotator cuff strengthening exercises as a fix for shoulder pain.

This, while a part of therapy, is one of the last things I do on the continuum of care.

Establishing mechanical deficits is primary…”

Which transitions into probably the most critical preventative measure you can take against shoulder injury

5. Swim with perfect technique.

Having great posture outside of the water is fantastic, and will serve you well.

But if you forgo any thought of maintaining solid posture in the water, than you are still leaving yourself open to taking on shoulder injuries in the future.

Remember that swimming is a resistance exercise, just like weight lifting or any other kind of resistance training, and that achieving proper technique and form should be your over-riding objective before adding any kind of load (intensity and/or volume) in the water.

On top of the risk that you are putting your shoulders at, swimming with stinky posture means you are losing out on substantial power in the water.

Don’t believe me?

For a moment round your shoulders forward, and try to simulate your stroke. Are you getting a good range of motion? Nope. Are you using your core, back and arms to the best of their capability? Certainly not.

In other words, having excellent technique and mechanics in the water is absolutely critical to both swimming fast and staying clear of nagging shoulder injuries.

Dr. DeRoche:

“Poor swimming mechanics is what I see most commonly creating shoulder ‘issues’ in any swimmer.

The primary factor which contributes to impingement syndromes that I see in my office is a thumb first hand entry in the crawl/freestyle stroke.

What this hand entry creates is internal rotation of the arm/hand and ‘closes’ off/pinches the soft tissues on the inside (medial) arm and disallows for adequate reach and therefore a less than optimal catch.”

Russell Mark, high performance consultant to USA Swimming, agrees (emphasis mine):

“Repetition alone isn’t enough to injure your shoulder. Repetition of bad technique is. It’s so easy – and incorrect – to swing your arm behind your body when you swim.

  • In freestyle, a wide hand recovery is more natural and easier on your shoulder than a recovery with your hand close to your body. Swing your hand and arm around to the side.
  • During the pull phase, make sure your hand doesn’t scull wide at the same time your body is rotated.

If you have shoulder pain, talk to your coach and see a physician. Try and identify exactly what part of the stroke the pain occurs and make an adjustment! Pain is when your body tells you you’re not doing something right for it and you need to listen.”

Brent Hayden, Olympic bronze medalist in the 100m freestyle in 2012, and winner of the 100m freestyle at the 2007 FINA World Championships, had this to add for all you freestylers out there:

“…eliminate zipper drill and over-emphasis of high elbow freestyle, which often involves shrugging (therefore impinging the shoulder) the arm through the recovery. Instead aim to come around naturally like an arm swing with a soft elbow.”

6. Make pre-hab routine.

Swimming is a big investment of time.

I get it—between all of the two-a-days, 4-day meets, and more meters and yards than you could possibly count—the sport demands much from us.

In addition to school, work, and what passes for a social life it is hard to put together the extra time to insure the health and well-being of our shoulders.

But you can avoid having to put out the fires of chronic or sudden shoulder injuries by spending just a handful of minutes per day before your workout priming your body and shoulders for not only high performance swimming, but movement that is less likely to result in injury.

This means making your pre-hab work habitual.

Routine.

Simply a part of your training. As essential as your goggles and suit.

Travis Dodds of Vancouver based InSync Physiotherapy notes that most shoulder injuries are avoidable:

“My view is that this injury is almost entirely preventable.

If an athlete is starting to feel stiffness or mild shoulder pain they should focus more on prehab.

If it lasts more than a few days or becomes severe enough to limit their stroke or range of motion they should seek treatment, even if pain doesn’t seem that bad. Swimming through pain simply limits your technique.”

Make your pre-hab a part of your daily warm-up routine, something that you don’t even have to think about—just something you do—and you will be well on your way to swimming injury-freer this season.

In Summary

Start with solid mechanics in the water. Have killer posture in and out of the pool. Seek the advice of your coach and a qualified therapist to deal with your specific condition.

And go forth with less pain in your shoulders my chlorinated homies.

THANK YOU

The dive watch – a history

The oceans have always held a powerful fascination for mankind, accounting for the fact that the history of diving may have started as early as 5,000 B.C., making it as old as human civilization itself. Even today, the sea holds so many secrets and it is doubtful that we will ever fully understand it.

“More people have walked on the moon than have been to the deepest place in the ocean.”

This statement by explorer Don Walsh describes perfectly how little we know about the sea – but as is the spirit of mankind, humans always try to satisfy their curiosity. In order to further explore the marvellous beauty of the sea, all those people who are brave enough to do so, share the need for reliable devices as without them, there would be no diving as we know it today. One of these devices is the diving watch.

Confronted with today’s overwhelming choice of dive watches, we might sometimes forget about the progress this special timepiece had to go through before it arrived at the point where it is today.

Compared to the time span that comprises the history of diving, the history of the diver’s watch seems ridiculously short. But being a mere hundred years in the making, the dive watch underwent an astonishing development, bringing it from a fragile novelty to a robust and reliable companion.

The very first diving watch

Nowadays, several big names of the watch industry claim to have been the first to develop a dive watch and so far no agreement has been reached. Rolex insists on having invented “the first waterproof and dustproof wristwatch [which] marked a major step forward” while Blancpain declares the year 1953 the “creation of the first modern diver’s watch” thanks to its Fifty Fathoms and Omega boasts about having “created the first true dive watch.

But let us have a look at the facts:
Although the first efforts to waterproof watches were already made in the 17th century, no real progress was made until three centuries later. In the beginning of the 20th century, water was still one of the biggest enemies of the watch (together with dust, shock, magnetic fields, and general abrasion).

Then Hans Wilsdorf appeared on the scene of the watch industry – the founder of Rolex, who would play a remarkable role in the development of the dive watch – and changed the course of history – it could be called the genesis of the modern diving watch. In 1926, the ambitious genius developed a wristwatch that was waterproof as well as dustproof thanks to its winding crown, bezel, and case back that could be screwed down against the middle case, heralding a new era: a century of unstoppable development that finally lead to the wide range of watches that accompany divers to the most spectacular and mysterious parts of the oceans.

This watch named Oyster – the forefather of today’s famous Rolex Oyster collection – was put to the test on 7 October 1927 when British endurance swimmer Mercedes Gleitze who attempted to cross the English Channel. During this daring swim, she wore the Rolex Oyster on a chain around her neck. The public was certainly surprised when the watch not only survived more than 10 hours in the freezing water, but still worked with a precision and accuracy that was astonishing, making it the first water-resistant watch in history.

Great minds think alike: Omega, Panerai, and Blancpain

Omega SA was the first company to industrially produce and commercially distribute a diving watch in 1932. Being the predecessor of today’s successful Seamaster collection, the Omega Marine was tested on the wrist of Charles William Beebe, a famous naturalist and explorer, and survived a water depth of 14 metres.

In 1935, at request of the Royal Italian Navy, Officine Panerai joins the ranks of those who dedicated themselves to creating the perfect dive watch and starts developing its own waterproof watch – the Panerai Radiomir. Its name derives from the radium-based powder that gives the numerals and markers of this watch its luminosity. Back then, only ten prototypes of the watch were made – all of them equipped with a Rolex movement that was protected from water with a case back and winding crown that could be both screwed down.

Two years after equipping the Royal Italian Navy with this water-resistant watch, Officine Panerai started mass-producing the Panerai Radiomir, which is today considered to be the first underwater military watch worldwide.

The well-established watch manufacturer Blancpain was not one to be left out in this race for the best water-resistant watch. In 1953, a watch was launched at the request of the French Navy: the Fifty Fathoms. This watch – one of the first timepieces waterproof up to 100 metres – can also be seen on the wrists of Jacques Cousteau and his team in the famous underwater film “Le monde du silence” (“The Silent World”).

The success story continues: Rolex dive watches in the 20th century

Rolex took another step forward when the Rolex Submariner was presented in 1953 – the first watch impressing with a water-resistance of up to 100 metres. This number would later increase to 200 metres and finally to 300 metres. Additionally, the Submariner is equipped with a uni-directional rotatable bezel, making it ideal and safe for measuring diving time.

The Rolex Submariner collection rose to fame, when it was featured in a number of James Bond movies, e.g. on the wrist of Sean Connery in “Dr. No”, the very first film about the British Secret Service agent. Ian Fleming, the author of the James Bond book series, stated about the spy: “He could not just wear a watch. It had to be a Rolex.”

The French company COMEX (Compagnie Maritime d’Expertises) – a pioneer in saturation diving – let Rolex equip its divers with the Rolex Submariner. From 1963 onwards, the Rolex Sea-Dweller was the company’s dive watch of choice because of its innovative case with the imperative helium escape valve and its waterproofness of up to 610 metres – or 2,000 feet, earning the watch the name Sea-Dweller 2000.

From this point, the development continues with an unprecedented speed:
In 1978, Rolex develops the Sea-Dweller 4000 with a water-resistance of 4,000 feet (1,220 metres). 30 years later, the Rolex Deepsea is created: a watch that can survive 3,900 metres (12,800 feet) under the surface – 100 deeper than the human body.

Rolex’ diving adventures

Only seven years after the launch of the Submariner, Rolex entered unknown territory. Aboard the submersible bathyscaphe “Trieste”, the aforementioned Don Walsh and the oceanographer Jacques Piccard set out in 1960 with the intention of exploring uncharted waters: they traveled to the deepest point of the ocean, the Challenger Deep at the southern end of the Mariana Trench. On their way to the ocean floor – to a terrifying depth of 10,916 metres (35,800 feet) – the two pioneers were accompanied by the Rolex Deep Sea Special strapped to the outside of the bathyscaphe. Having successfully completed the adventure, Jacques Piccard sent a telegram to the Rolex headquarters that read: “Happy to announce that your watch works as well at 11,000 metres as it does on the surface.”

Half a century later, the next expedition gets under way, making 26 March 2012 a historic day for the world of diving: James Cameron sets out for the world first solo dive to the Mariana Trench – the first manned dive since the adventure of Don Walsh and Jacques Piccard. All alone in the submersible Deepsea Challenger, the famous film director is only accompanied by the experimental watch Rolex Deepsea Challenge on the outside of the boat. Reaching an incredible depth of 12,000 metres, Cameron and the Rolex watch go down in the annals of history.

Dive computers: the future is now

Dive computers (personal decompression computers, decompression meters) first arose in 1957 and have since then partly replaced the separate equipment needed for dives.
In the development of this device, the Finnish company Suunto holds a special position: founded in 1936, it started its success story with the distribution of liquid-filled compasses and half a century later, the first dive computer was launched: the Suunto SME-ML. Merely a decade passed until these essential devices reached the size we know today.

However, the dive computer has not superseded the diving watch – nor will it in the foreseeable future. Today, the diver’s watch is as reliable and popular as never before and the innovative drive of the watch manufacturers is in full swing. Their accuracy and functionality as well as their elegance is ever increasing, making the diving watch the ideal companion both under water and on land.

Top 6 dive watches today

The Rolex Submariner is probably the best-known dive watch – and not only for being worn by James Bond. The iconic design combined with the extraordinary quality that made Rolex famous makes for a reliable wristwatch water-resistant to 300 metres.
But the “Sub” is not the only celebrated dive watch by Rolex: the Sea-Dweller and its more expensive sister model, the Rolex Deepsea, are every bit as reliable and precise as the Submariner.

Having created the first modern dive watch, Blancpain has outdone itself with every Fifty Fathoms watch it has launched since presenting the first model in 1953. This collection of dive watches features a wide range of different designs, offering the right watch for everyone.

Paying tribute to the original Breitling Superocean, the Superocean Héritage is a popular choice for divers. The choice of different models – all of them equipped with a COSC-certified movement – of this collections satisfies every taste.

Its angular case makes the legendary Panerai Radiomir collection easily recognisable. But Officine Panerai has another ace up its sleeve: the dive watch Panerai Luminor is younger than the Radiomir, but that does not take away from its continuous success – especially after being seen on Sylvester “Sly” Stallone’s wrist in the movie “The Expendables”.

Introduced in 1967, the IWC Aquatimer has been reinvented numerous times and several special editions have been launched. The innovative IWC SafeDive System as well as a separate internal and external bezel make diving even safer.

Finally, the Oris ProDiver must not be forgotten. The version Oris ProDiver Date outperforms all watches for amateurs and aims directly at professional divers. Equipped with the Oris Rotation Safety System, this dive watch will never let its wearer down.

An honorable mention goes to: Suunto. Even though the Finnish company does not technically produce dive watches, no such list would be complete without a word about Suunto – especially as there is a whole range of watch-sized dive computers.

Le Clos doesn’t feel pressure ahead of World Cup defence

Chad le Clos (Getty Images)
Cape Town – South Africa’s Chad Le Clos insists there is no pressure on him to defend his FINA Swimming World Cup title this season.

This year’s World Cup promises once again to be a fierce battle between the sport’s biggest names.

“No pressure at all, the World Cups are always a good time, of course I always want to win any competition I race in but I feel the World Cups are always special for me,” said a very confident and relaxed Le Clos, who currently trains in Antalya in Turkey for about 30 hours per week.

Discussing the format of the series, Le Clos admits that although it can be difficult to train in between the events, he loves the ability to challenge himself.

“For me personally, I think short course swimming is more exciting when it is over a series of events. I’ve always enjoyed the concept of a circuit with many stops around the world, although sometimes the structure around the events makes it difficult to train in between, especially when travelling through time zones,” said the Olympic champion.

“The World Cup is an opportunity for me to work on my skills throughout the year with short course racing and I challenge myself to win the overall series. There are many great champions that have come through and will challenge, and I have huge respect for all of them.”

Positive thinking and winning attitude is definitely two ways to describe Le Clos – although the best advice he ever received was from his father Bert Le Clos.

“I have received a lot of great advice from numerous mentors but the best advice has usually come from my Dad, he is the greatest. He has always said to me to never give up in any race no matter how far behind or ahead you are, that’s why I’m always able to push through during tough wins or losses,” he said.

Le Clos also confirmed that he will attend the FINA World Swimming Championships 2018 in Hangzhou, China, in December this year with the objective to establish new world records

European Championships 2018: Adam Peaty wins 100m breaststroke in world record time

Great Britain’s Adam Peaty broke his own 100m breaststroke world record to retain his European title in Glasgow.

The 23-year-old Olympic and world champion finished in 57.00 seconds – 0.13secs quicker than his previous best time – as team-mate James Wilby grabbed silver following a late surge.

Peaty took a huge lead on the first 50m before pulling away further to win by 1.54secs from fellow Englishman Wilby.

“I can’t believe I beat what I did at the Olympics,” said Peaty.

“I was in perfect shape then – I’m not even in that good shape now. I didn’t try to be in that good shape.”

Britain then won a bronze in the mixed 4x200m freestyle relay after a stunning final leg from Freya Anderson, 17, who moved up from sixth to third.

Elsewhere on day three of the inaugural multi-sport championships, cyclist Ethan Hayter, 19, won omnium gold, defending champion Katie Archibald took silver in the 3,000m individual pursuit and the men’s four and women’s eights both won silver in the rowing.

Hayter’s gold in the final event of the day moved Britain up to third in the medal table with three golds, five silvers and three bronzes.

5 MOTIVATIONAL SWIMMING POSTERS TO GET YOU FIRED UP

1. UNLEASH GREATNESS.

Whatever greatness in the pool means for you, whether it is making your first sectionals or provincials cut, this poster will remind you to unleash your inner greatness every single day.

Swimming Motivational Poster 02 - Copy

It is produced on glossy, high quality paper, and comes in at 2 feet by 3 feet, which means it can not only remind you to be great, but also cover up any unfortunate holes or otherwise unsightly portions of your wall.

“Be not afraid of greatness.” — William Shakespeare


2. I ONLY FEAR NOT TRYING.

It’s shocking how many swimmers are more afraid of the hardship of the journey than of the regret they would face if they don’t try at all.

Don’t be that swimmer.

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Be the athlete who gives it their all, and who can walk away from the pool knowing that they gave it their absolute best, and can do so without regrets or fear.

“In the end, we only regret the chances we didn’t take.”


3. CHALLENGES ARE THE DOORWAYS TO EXCELLENCE.

How often have you stopped cold after a setback? Or been demoralized by a defeat? If you are like me, more than a couple times.

This poster is designed to remind you that all too often success is just on the other side of the struggle and grind.

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In other words, if you want excellence, you gotta be willing to punch through a few challenges on the way.

“We don’t grow when things are easy. We grow when we face challenges.”


4. DREAM BIGGER.

It can be hard to create big goals when we are surrounded by small-minded friends, family, and swimmers. For every athlete that accomplished something worthwhile there was someone who told them it couldn’t be done.

That they should think smaller, and dream smaller. This is your reminder to think big. To dream big. And to act big.

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“…with hard work, with belief, with confidence and trust in yourself and those around you, there are no limits.” –Michael Phelps


5. DECIDE WHAT YOU WANT.

The most freeing moment is making a firm and unwavering decision to after a goal. To have the end goal specified, a plan to get there, and the determination to see it through.

After all, it all begins with a decision. Once made, everything else seems to fall into place.

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This poster is designed to remind you to live up to your decision on a daily basis.

 “Once you make a decision, the universe conspires to make it happen.” –Ralph Waldo Emerson