Tag: performance

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

Cross-training: Top 5 Activities for Swimmers

Cross-training is an important part of any training plan, especially for swimmers. Spending too much time in the water can actually do more harm than good.
One of the major benefits of exercise is increased bone density from impact and gravity. This leads to healthier bones for your whole life. When you swim, there’s no impact and less gravity, so your bones don’t get this benefit and may actually decrease in density (much like an astronaut’s).
So what can you do outside the pool to improve your swimming? Here are the top 5 sports that will improve your swimming performance the most.

5. Running

Distance, interval, or hill training is a great way to train for mental and aerobic stamina.
Runners tend to have lean, muscular bodies with a low body-fat percentage.  This is ideal for swimming as well, since both sports require efficiency over bulky muscle mass.

runner running silhouette

Running also fosters mental stamina, since it is physically grueling and repetitive, much like swimming.
Building mental strength and choosing to keep going after exhaustion will generate discipline in the pool.
Caution: Running can also decrease ankle flexibility, which is essential to kicking well in the water.  If you feel like your ankles are getting less flexible due to running (or cycling), it may be time to explore other options since this will mess up your swimming!

4. Soccer

Soccer provides a great full-body workout, focusing especially on lower body strength. Lower body strength is the key to a powerful kick in the water.

soccer football

It also helps develop quick reflexes, since you are constantly shifting and adjusting position to follow the ball. Quick reaction time is important in swimming for the start of a race, as well as performing efficient flip turns. A slow reaction time off the diving board can cost you the race!
One huge benefit of using soccer to cross-train is that it puts no strain on your shoulders. Swimming strains the shoulders because of the constant arm rotation, so giving your arms a break while you train is an added bonus of soccer.

3. Yoga

While I personally don’t enjoy yoga, athletes from any sport will benefit from trying it!
There are yoga poses and exercises designated specifically for swimmers (to increase flexibility in ankles, shoulders, etc.).  But more broadly, practicing yoga a few times a week consistently will increase overall flexibility, bone density, and body alignment.

yoga wateside

Bone density and body alignment can become disrupted if you spend too much time in the pool.
There’s no gravity impacting your bones (which lets them get weak), and you use your pectoral muscles way more than your back (and legs), so your body is thrown off balance.
Backstroke helps even it out a little bit, but yoga can be the key to developing overall body symmetry and restoring that natural balance that you’ve been missing.  Skeptical?
What about breathing?  A huge part of yoga is learning to breath rhythmically.  Sound familiar?  It’s important in swimming too!  Like swimming, yoga teaches you to breathe deeply and regularly even when your body is contorted or moving in unnatural positions.
Sound useful now?

2. Water Polo

An obvious addition to swimming, water polo is one of the few sports played in a pool.

water polo
Neon Tommy Photo via Flickr

Aside from treading water and having to swim from position to position, water polo has hidden benefits to swimmers that may not be as obviously related to swimming.
One benefit is just spending time in the pool. Swimming, unlike any other form of exercise, is performed under altered atmospheric conditions.
In the water we feel lighter, less dense, but also completely enveloped in another substance which slows our movements.
Getting used to the feel of the water and how our bodies react differently in it takes time, and can come as a shock if you’ve been out of a pool for the entire off-season.
Maintaining contact with a pool without having to swim laps can be a huge benefit and can also help you associate the pool with fun activities, not just monotony.

1. Gymnastics

Believe it or not, gymnastics is the #1 sport/activity that benefits swimmers.  Like distance runners and dancers, gymnasts tend to have a low body-fat percentage and have lean, muscular frames.

gymnast gymnastics

Gymnasts have amazing core strength from twisting and flipping, which is essential for rotation through the water.  Not to mention amazing ankle and shoulder flexibility, both very important for stroke power.
Core strength also helps with flip turns, which can slow you down more than any part of the lap but also give you a speed boost if done well.
The most important skill that gymnastics (or dance) can teach, however, is body awareness.  The tiniest change in body position can make all the difference in a jump or vault.
Wouldn’t it be great if your coach said, “Raise your hips and rotate them 20 degrees more with each stroke”, and you could just tell your body to DO it?
Try gymnastics or dance to get a better feel for where each part of your body really is, versus where you think it is. Your coach will thank you!

From: UnderwaterAudio.com