I’ve been coaching for some time now, and I’ve had great success taking existing athletes and creating great swimmers within six weeks. This is predominantly true with triathlon hopefuls. I’ve also had success in cross training athletes for their primary sports, examples are high elevation climbers, and fighters. My greatest accomplishments are helping the non-swimmers become swimmers, make their goals, and thrive in a lifetime sport. I’m at a place with my class where I have all of the above, and although it’s challenging to design a multifaceted board, I’ve learned a couple of tricks over the years. These tricks also increase the validity of pool training for open water swimming and are integral to my personal training program. Some of these are mainstays in the swimming world such as interval training, but I’m going to share with you some of my shortcuts. Then the hard part, IE motivation is up to you, but as a coach, I can provide that.
Pressure the lungs
So much of this comes down to breathing, and swimming is one sport where taking breathing for granted is impossible. Fact, in any given breath the human body is functioning on 17% of the oxygen in our lungs. This is great news for a swimmer because air is buoyancy. Getting to a point where you can retain 80% of the buoyancy in your lungs, and only cycle off the top 20% of the air in your lungs to obtain the oxygen that you actually use is a great advantage. In doing this, you increase your O2 saturation, VO2 max, and increase your ATP regeneration real time. If there is one thing you do in the off season to make an impact on your Open Water Swim season it’s to pressure your lungs.
Keep your full length
A lot of people hit the weight room in the off season, and this is exactly what you want to do if you’re are in an anaerobic sport. Swimming is an aerobic sport, and one where muscle mass makes you prone to drowning IE (fat floats, muscle sinks). The down side to the weight room is your body often tightens up via your facia, and you loose stretch. This can take a couple of weeks to loosen up while getting back into to the pool. I’m proposing that you increase the resistance in the pool, and gain your muscle there. That way you are still keeping pressure on the lungs, and staying loose, or at least packing muscle in the pool environment.
Both of the next two focus on building up the minor muscles necessary for swimming.
Up the resistance – Banding
This last year I introduced fitness bands into my personal workouts. I’ve used them in two primary ways; ankle banding in kick sets in place of fins. Cutting propulsion while creating resistance in the ankles has proven itself formidable in leg, and kick strength. Banding in the center of your quads does a couple of things, it pressures your IT Band shortening your reach. This causes you to overreach, and pull a little higher. The other piece is it forces rotation in your hips, making your breathing line more efficient over time. Once the band is removed the reach and rotation remain, and you become more efficient.
Pressure the core – Sculling
Sculling looks like the easiest thing to do in the water, but is also known as lifting weights in the water due to its aerobic qualities. My base is called bathtub, and you sit in the water; toes, and head are the only parts of you out of the water. You then move head first towards the opposite side of the pool. Most new students will move their arms flapping them somewhat like a chicken, because they are still fighting buoyancy (See pressure the lungs). Once things begin to come together the buoyancy becomes more automatic, and the movement required to scull gets more efficient.
Swim with waves – Masters
Swim with a group that makes waves. If you don’t’ have a group, share a lane. You can also swim sets near your local Butterflier. Finding a wave, and trying to breath keeps you ready for open water.
Spot the clock
If there is a deck clock available in your facility, spotting the clock while swimming is a good way to keep track of your pace, and also preparing for spotting buoys and corners. If you can read a clock while swimming, you can spot a buoy.
Change it up
You can also get most of this section with a Masters group. Change it up: Mix up your intervals between distance and sprint sets. Add in kicks and sculling.
Learn to kick
So many open water hopefuls are in a three beat or wide scissor kick. This is a challenge because those kick lines give you little for propulsion, and are generally outside of your natural streamline creating resistance. Taking the off season to grab a board, band your ankles and get the strength and rhythm necessary to kick in open water gives you great advantage in the regular season.
These will all make your off season training that much more impactful when you get back to the lake river or ocean. Happy swimming, and if you are looking for an open water race check out the Midwest Marathons. We have many options, including SwamThat, Cornhusker State Games, End Wet, and Minnetonka Challenge.
I wanted to write an article dedicated to the New Years resolution crowd. Since I’ve been a member of the swim community, I have witnesses so many individuals change their life. Many of you know that water changed my life, and created stability, both physically and mentally where there was instability. My story is readily available. I don’t want to focus on me but rather the larger picture, and I want to start this article with someone who inspired me.
In my early twenties my wife and I lived in Kansas City. While there we membered at a local YMCA. As I was trying to put in a little distance I became witness to a one legged individual who would swim on a pretty regular basis. He was solid in the water, had great streamline, and good endurance. One day he volunteered the information that he was training to become a lifeguard. From everything that I’d seen I would trust my life to him. Sure enough a couple of weeks later I saw him test out, shortly after that he took the stand, and my life was indeed in his hands. I found this to be inspirational, and of great quality.
Years later I’m again at a YMCA and run across an older man that had had multiple heart attacks. Proudly weaning his scars, he would scull for two hours daily. Due to limited accommodations, and my focus on becoming the swimmer I am today we would often share a lane. I continue to be in awe at his ability, and the core strength necessary to perform this daily feat.
Over the years, I’ve come across swimmers who have changed their lives. Two have traded out two packs of cigarettes daily for a daily 5K, and have become channel swimmers. I’ve seen amputees swim great distance, including channels with more grace than most people could with a fully able body. I’ve seen people battling their weight find athleticism and comfort with their bodies trading obesity for muscle through their daily triage. I’ve seen people who are struggling to get out of their head to find themselves, be it depression, loss, even anger find the calm of water. I’ve seen people come from a place of addiction to pain killers activate their own bodies natural systems to defeat pain. I’ve seen people who would never consider themselves an athlete, become just that regardless of the disadvantage they may face. I’ve seen athletes of other sports begin swimming to increase their strength and VO2 max gaining ability, and advantage in their primary sport.
What is this magic? It’s the birthplace of all life, the water. We the swimmers and future swimmers of this world call it home, and for good reason. For instance all of the reasons listed above and more. I consider water to be the great giver, but above that, the great equalizer for those that are looking for more. You can swim without arms and legs, not only is this possible, but proven. In addition, and in general swimmers are good natured, positive people. It’s hard to find a angry swimmer, it’s hard to find a swimmer that is not good natured, and honest. Let’s face it we are all running from or toward something, but it seams that many of us find peace in the water.
Yes it’s hard, anything worth doing will take effort, tenacity, and consistency. In my coaching I always tell new students, the uphill climb is to establish your lungs. Six weeks in the water three hours a week and you’ll have them built. Four weeks, four hours a week in the water and you’ll be close. Through that time you begin to feel your body respond through Serotonin, Endorphin and Dopamine release. You also get the efficiency that comes along with a higher level of oxygen saturation. Some people report clarity of mind, lower levels of pain, and a more level mood. Fact, it takes 31 days to create a positive habit, but only three days to break it. Additionally, you spend three weeks out of the water, and that lung capacity you once enjoyed has taken a hit. It’s important to be consistent, and stick with it for a lifetime of benefit.
The point, water is the great equalizer, and is a gentle starting place for everyone regardless of skill or ability. As a wise friend of mine has said; “There is no injury that can be caused by swimming, that can’t be healed through more swimming.” I’d like to expand on this to say, there is no injury, mental or physical that can not be balanced and strengthened through swimming. I’ll see you out there friend! As another friend of mine said; “Let’s go out for a short 4 or 5 miler someday”. I’ll go shorter, slower or longer for anyone. Faster? Well we all have limitations, I just want to see you out there. In the meantime, let us (the swimmers of the world) know what you need. I can confidently speak for us all, we want you amongst us!
With a swimmers love,
This is a topic that I get fired up about, because I see it as a subject of safety for our youth swimmers. I was recently involved in a spirited discussion amongst youth swim coaches who insisted on an outward sweep at the top of the key within the swim stroke. They claim that this assists propulsion by widening reach, and allowing the swimmer to engage the pectorals. This is indeed true, and youth swimmers are often core weak because they are being literally stretched to their limits due to continuous growth. This means that they don’t swim core reliant, and when there is weakness in the core there is a much greater chance of stroke flaws as we compensate for imbalance by widening the stroke pattern.
The coaches made valid points, and in return I made the following because I’m generally working with a Masters swimmer. Much of the time the older swimmer will be in the same stroke pattern, or worse had previously dropped out of swimming in High school or College. When I ask those who dropped out why they quit, they all say the same thing. “I had a shoulder injury that I just could not recover from”, or worse, “I had a shoulder injury, and my coach couldn’t help”. I then follow-up with a question about what stroke pattern they used, and they all make the same motion. An “S curve” with their hand, with an outward sweep starting at the top of their key. I’ve said it at least a thousand times, an “S curve” is dangerous, and will lead to injury. When speaking with the coaches this was all summarized and I ended with; “If the goal is to create a lifetime swimmer, then we should not be teaching an “S curve stroke”.
Here’s the trouble: humans are poorly designed for swimming to say the least. We are lanky, weak, and generally don’t balance on a strong core. To walk around and sit we don’t really need a strong core, so it goes unnoticed until we make a change, and need it. In swimming it’s absolutely necessary. As mentioned before, when weak in the core, we get wide in the water. This is because it helps us balance. As juniors we are left with little choice and since the name of the game is speed, we are for the most part unchecked if fast. This allows us to build strength around flaws in a wide stroke pattern, and little is done to focus on strong core, because if a shoulder or leg driven swimmer you can be fast without it. If we are able to maintain a high turnover rate, and stay atop the water speed is not a problem. This all goes on just fine, until the inevitable shoulder injury.
Why is the shoulder injury inevitable?
Primarily for the reason that we are poorly designed for the task of swimming. When I do get a chance to coach kids and see a lanky kick, I’ll get them thinking by asking; “Have you ever seen a fish with knees?”. Insert giggles; “A fish with Arms”?, no response… Most aquatic animals that we can think of move from center, from core. Our dominant muscles are also in the core of our body. So why are we so reliant on an outside movement for swimming, when we are the only ones in the water that think it’s a good way? Because we consider what is fast in our youth to be appropriate? It’s doesn’t make sense in any other sport, poor form that will lead to injury is squashed in all other youth sports. For example youth football coaches take specialized training to teach their children appropriate ways to tackle. Furthermore the intent behind pads, and tape in general as used in other sports is to prevent injury. So why is poor form ok in swimming? Poor form lead to injury, and swimming with poor form for the sake of speed is not sustainable, and irresponsible.
The solution is to build a youth swimmer on a strong core that maintains through the inevitable growth that the student is subject to. This can be done through swimming in correct form.
There are also a series of kick drills that I’ve utilized with a smaller board (as an adult use a larger board), that they can utilize under the water. The base drill I call wedge: submerge the board about six inches under water, slightly in front of you and exert equal pressure on either side of the board with both hands to keep it submerged. If you are unable to keep pressure well enough wrap your thumbs over the top of the board to keep it submerged until you can. Utilizing the board in this fashion and kicking behind it puts pressure on the core, and pectoral muscles primarily but also engages the deltoids and lats. This is a great and easy drill to use to develop a balanced and strong swimmer, and is also good for a junior swimmer with a smaller than standard board.
Another tool that will assist in developing a strong core is sculling. I’ve heard sculling referred to lifting weights in the water and I think that is accurate. The point of sculling is not to go fast but rather shape the water for maximum gain in strength. Another by product is that you are holding frame, and this frame is controlled by your core. There are many sculls, but the most basic is called Bathtub. It is what it sounds like. Think about yourself laying in a small bathtub, where your legs need to be at the same level as your head and your butt is submerged. Now tread water so that you are moving backwards, head first. Keep this position so that your toes and head are the only things out of the water. This scull works hand position, shoulder driven propulsion, and core.
A third and a dryland option is planks. Planks are a yoga position where you position yourself balanced on your toes and arms like a bridge keeping your core and buttock tight. This puts pressure on your core, lower back pectorals.
As you can see these are drills that focus on core strength, balance, and stability. Weakness in any of these three areas are the cause for nearly all stroke flaws. If we are no diligent with teaching and building our youth swimmer along the push to become a faster swimmer we inevitably put them at risk for injury. These are the most basic tools that I’ve used to encourage a strong junior swimmer to become not only fast, but also have a lifetime of swimming ahead of them. I thank you for your consideration of this article if you are of the belief that an (S) curve stroke is a positive for a junior swimmer. I truly believe that if the goal is to build a lifetime swimmer, then an (S) curve stoke is dangerous. Much love, and happy swimming!
Hello swimmers and volunteers,
We are upon the backside of our fifth annual and most successful SwamThat Race ever. First off, a really big thank you goes out to all of our supporters, family and friends are instrumental in making this happen year after year. My wife Sarah is my life saver.
The dinner was a great success, and I believe that I’ll be making the pizza cookies in future years because you all polished off about 12 pounds worth of cookies in an hour. They were highly acclaimed, but all thanks should go to two parties, first the ICOWS for their sponsorship of the dinner. The cookies were a way to thank them for the continued and unwavering support of the race. Secondly, thank my lovely grandmother to having the patience to endure my squirrely childhood self in teaching me how to make a delicious cookie. Thank you! Hy-Vee catering provided the food, and it’s wonderful. Additionally Hy-Vee donated all of the race day recovery for the athletes.
Another point to the dinner was thanking the kayak volunteers, they are an incredible group of individuals and we could not do it without them. They are all humble and gracious individuals with rich and fulfilling stories. If you happen to get a chance in future years, have a conversation with one or all of them, you’ll not regret it. In the name of safety they give their time for a piece of lasagna and a smile, this should give you an idea of the quality of individuals we are talking about. Additionally the positive and supportive feedback from the swimmers has been overwhelming. If you were a volunteer kayaker this year, thank you and be proud. It’s easily apparent that you made great impressions on the swimmers.
Camp Foster for the last two years has allowed us to borrow 4 kayaks. If the last two years are an indicator, as long as there are boats sitting around a person will be willing to pilot them. Thank you to Camp Foster YMCA, and the impromptu volunteers for adding an additional layer of safety to the event.
Feedback has indicated that you also like the course report that I put out. I’m happy to swim and write anytime, so I’ll try to keep this up. With the water volume increase this year the current was really running, and this made for an interesting race. It was shared that having this information, and the temperature information ahead of time was greatly appreciated.
The morning of the race went extremely well, and although I’ve still not figured out how to drop buoys from a small boat, in the dark while maintaining a straight line I know my corners are right. Ryan and I make a great team, and despite an issue with the blower not wanting to turn over for about ten minutes we prevailed. A new addition this year was headlamps with a red light setting. This was great because it did not flair our eyes, and we could sight a bit better. Ryan is an all-star, and we have a system that is still maturing. Ryan is also our lead safety kayak, and a best friend amongst best friends. Thank you Ryan! Ryan’s wife Jill is all hands on beach and our professional photographer. Once we receive them we’ll put all of the photos out. Most of the photos from 2017 were also Jill, her skills are impressive and appreciated!
The course swam pretty true, just a bit long. Dive and Rescue requires thanks anyway, but they corrected the course a little by moving a couple of buoys which helped everyone sight a little better. With the course set, and ahead of schedule we rolled up on beach. Sarah (tolerant and loving wife) was already on beach, and have everything unloaded from her car (one of four necessary vehicles to run this thing). Tony and Ellie (best friends amongst best friends were also there) helping with check in, carrying bricks with line, and assisting in setting up all things including generators, clocks, and signage. They would stay on beach all morning assisting with questions, sales, and other details. Tony positions himself as a personal assistant, and literally takes care of every detail. I don’t want him to go unnoticed, a best friend since high school, he’s had my back for 25 years now, and never fails to be there.
Still ahead of schedule we had time for a mass group picture will all of the adult swimmers and volunteers, then the safety briefing. I was thrilled to have extra radios on beach this year, enough to provide one to all of the 10K, and 5K dedicated spotters as well as all of the volunteers and Dive and Rescue. The radios are the most important part of the event, and after the loss of a couple last year, we purchased another 10 pack providing additional communication. Real time correspondence is necessary in the name of safety.
With that the 10K swimmers were off, and the race was started. Conditions were ideal! We had an extremely talented group in the 10K this year, each one strong and capable. One of them is Arron Cook, the only swimmer who has swam all five years so far. We awarded a couple of new Marathon swimmers this year; Melissa Chamberlin and Nick Klein both from Aimes, Iowa. Nick contacted me about three months back considering upgrading from a 7.5K attempt to a 10K. I offered to coach him in exchange for marketing support (some program details may be found through www.theswimgenius.com, feel free to contact me), it was a deal, and with some phone conversation, workouts, and a whole bunch of hard swimming on his part (all of the actual work), he made it! Lastly but certainly not least Sandra Frimerman-Bergquist with the Women’s overall win set our new course record with a time of 2:27:10. Our Men’s overall win went to Christopher Hansen with a time of 2:48:10. A big congratulations to all our Marathon swimmers!
Ten minutes later the 5K swimmers took off for our half marathon distance. This was a fairly large group made up of very strong swimmers. One of these swimmers was Kathleen Guyer (2014 Honu’s Hero recipient). She holds a special place in SwamThat history as she was the very first registration for the very first SwamThat race. She made it then, and she made it this time too. Women’s overall win goes to Carrie Morton with a time of 1:39:25. Men’s overall win goes to John Blumer with a time of 1:31:12. 5K in open water is a great challenge, and everyone who completed this distance should be extremely proud.
Another ten minutes go by, and we send off the 2.5K group. By this time some of the 10K swimmers are on the backside of the course, and riding the signature current (Spirit of Honu) towards corner two. It deserves mention that 10-year-old Ashley Husmoe competed, and became our youngest 2.5K finisher since the inception of the race. In addition, John Hood II, who just began swimming in May completed the 2.5K distance, and has been named with 2018 Honu’s Hero. The Women’s overall win goes to 14-year-old Amanda Husmoe with a time of 47:00. Men’s overall win William Morton 47:15. William would go on to say that Amanda made this a really good race for him.
The SwamThat Race youth races had good numbers, and fast swimmers this year. Both course records were set, and fun was had by all. Arron Cook was our high five finish line this year, an honor bestowed after his second 10K finish, and 5 years of participation. Josiya O'Kane won our 150M Boy’s division with a new course record of 3:10. Evelyn Lorenz won the girls division at 4:40. Alex Gutierrez won the 300M Boy’s division with a time of 5:20. Madeline Hansen earned the win, and set a new course record in the Girl’s 300M with a time of 4:48.
The 150M, and the 300M are core to the SwamThat Race. It’s important to provide these opportunities to the children to build the future of the sport.
The feedback is in and being taken into consideration. Certain aspects we cannot adjust, such as limitations provided by DNR such as when we are allowed to hold the event, and drop the buoys. Otherwise, we will be making continuous improvements. We are also (temporarily) bound by having a small craft, and daylight hours to draw a straight line with the buoys. We are lighting them, and this does help to get them in line despite constantly changing conditions. Thank you for this feedback, we’ll continue to get better. One suggestion was to have other speakers at the dinner, this has been a plan for some time now, and prior attempts have been made that just didn’t pan out. Overall, people seam to enjoy the dinner, and I believe that it’s important to have the safety briefing at this time, and on the beach. We are always trying to make safety the priority.
As we have gobs of shirts from past years, I have this thought that we could save the money and have a “Left overs” race concerning the T-shirts for 2019. The reason that we have this problem, is the cost on 100 shirts, is literally the same as the cost on 75 shirts due to a price break that our printer gets. I order the shirts in advance, because we get a lot of late signups, and am always hedging my bets on marketing and week of sign up’s. I would really like your feedback on this, I know that it would be a bummer for some of you that have swam the last four or five years. The monitory savings would allow us build the race even more. Please send your thoughts to firstname.lastname@example.org. I’d like to take an informal vote on this. I don’t want to lose participants, and I don’t consider it a trivial matter, but the idea was brought to my attention, and I appreciate that.
Next year’s race date is 09/08/2019.
I big thank you to everyone that has come out to the 2018 SwamThat Race. It was a great year!
I’ve been getting more contacts these days about becoming a marathon swimmer, and I think the idea in the Midwest is catching on as we have a couple of more options for the sport. I wanted to provide a how to manual based on my experience for the logistics of it all, because it can be really fun! There are a couple of tough spots, and a little knowledge can go a long way. I feel like I’m providing a lot of information here, it’s like four articles all in one. I may break this up a bit in future postings, but with SwamThat Race right around the corner, I wanted to get the information out to our swimmers with enough time to truly prepare for their day.
Let’s start with sighting because everyone swim in a straight line in the pool, but no one swims in a straight line once that line disappears and they are in open water. There are multiple ways to sight outside of dropping your feet and lifting your head which is basically a full stop. One option that most people don’t think of is going into another stroke pattern. People that do this generally convert to a Breast stroke, I’m also fond of sighting in a Butterfly stroke. Both of these patterns have opportunity within your breath to sight the course directly in front of you. If you are sighting while in Freestyle, I teach this as part of a bilateral breath pattern. Take for example you are coming up on a right side breath and want to sight the course. When you left hand is extended, lean on it slightly and pull your head up while making your breath attempt. Look quick to try and sight a buoy, get your breath in the process and close the stroke normally. If you are going to sight in a single side breathing pattern it’s not quite as efficient, but ultimately the same, lean on the opposite side hand, pull the head and sight within the breathing motion.
I mentioned Breast Stroke, and there is an important safety element to this stroke. If you are ever off balance for some reason, examples are: hit by and unknown object, goggles are leaking, kicked or hit by another competitor, or you’re off course. I teach students to go into Breast Stroke because you square up, and spread out while protecting the head and gaining a sight line. Practice this in the pool, so that it’s automatic for you. It’s a nice skill to have.
If you need help, a lifejacket or extra flotation is not available, and are being approached by Kayak assistance paddler, don’t pull on the side of the boat. You will want to mount the front tip of the boat by wrapping your arms tight around the bow. This centers the kayak and gives you a rest. Also if you need to be taken into shore, this is also a safe way to transport you without putting a safety crew member in jeopardy. They are there to help, but if they are incapacitated, then two people need saving.
Getting someone’s attention is easily done by taking off your swim cap and waiving it in the air as high as you can. Safety personnel are always scanning the water, and this is easily sighted.
Timing waves is a skill, and trying to breathe through a whitecap is unwise. In the waves you’ll probably have abandoned any hope of a bilateral so this is predominantly a single side breath exercise. You will want to breathe on the opposite side of your body from the direction of the wave, and you’ll want to breathe in the trough of the wave. So the logical question is how to time this? I slow my stroke pattern and extend my long hand as discussed above in sighting. With your long hand you can feel the rise and fall of the wave if you are keeping your shoulder high in the water. Your hand will operate as a bobber. Once you feel the wave lower or your hand pass through the whitecap, you’ll be in the trough the very next moment and have a window to get a breath. You may find a pretty consistent rhythm, but I recommend maintaining awareness and you high bobber, because the waves can be inconsistent and provide little or no warning. It’s better to miss a breath, than inhale a wave. This situation is also why I encourage all swimmers to be bilateral breathers, it’s a really long day if you can only breathe on one side, and there’s a straight line wind coming from that direction.
Sighting in waves is best completed in a Breast Stroke, so that you can pick your head up through the crest of the wave. Stopping motion, and dropping your feet may leave you prone to cramping, and although you can swim with a cramp, it is best prevented with continual motion and appropriate feedings.
I’ve taken in multiple types of feedings, one of which I take a lot of crap for (Squeeze Cheese), but I’m going to break down the basics for you. First I must defend the brilliance of Squeeze Cheese, (PS Nabisco if you are reading this, I totally deserve sponsorship). It’s pressurized cheese in a can, this means 1) Protein, 2) Fat, 3) Salt, and I’m Keto so it’s everything a distance swimmer needs! Also it never goes bad, and is basically self-sealing. It floats, can be tied to a line with a duct tape loop, and it’s easily thrown in the direction of your nearby kayak support, but I digress.
Gels: Gels, and all things made by the endurance sports industry. Gels are great because you can tuck them into your suit. If you are swimming something that does not require a support paddler, but is long enough that you want extra nutrition gels are the way to go. They are simple to use; 1) retrieve gel from stash, 2) bite off top, and put it back into stash, 3) consume gel, and put empty pack back into stash. I want to make sure no one is littering. I will warn that chocolate can leave a suspicious brown stain, when not stashed appropriately. Yeah for gels!
Liquids: Liquids are necessary, and make great feedings especially for the glucose fueled athlete because you can pack them with sugar. I like to take in liquids from Camelbacks tied to the deck of a kayak. They usually have about a three foot hose, and that’s plenty of distance between myself and the boat to not touch. They close easy, there’s plenty of liquid so running out is unlikely, and there is nothing to toss, or reel in making it easier on your paddle support. If you using bottles I recommend a duct tape loop, and a squeeze bottle. Wrap the bottle with duct tape a couple of times, make a strand that is larger than the bottle (to tie onto), and then tape back onto the bottle once more. Scrunch up the part that’s not taped to the bottle, and tie on a line. The line should be long enough for your paddler to toss to you, and reel back in with ease.
Balls: I make a nutrition ball that will hold me in keto, but also pack in some sugar. I call them my salty nut balls, because that’s what they are. My nut balls are absolutely delicious and a delightful nutritional source.
Here’s the recipe:
Equal parts: Peanut butter, Nutella, and Marshmallow Cream (about a half of a cup)
1 scoop favorite protein powder
1 scoop favorite collagen powder
A couple of spoon or MTC Oil (keto)
Beat until blended, I put a Gas X in every other ball, and bag them by two’s as a feeding.
Roll in desired coating to keep them from getting too sticky. This can also be a nutritional source so be creative. I’ll use coconut flour, chia seed, and a bit of salt. See; Salty Nut Balls.
Feeding on these takes the patience of your paddler, but ultimately they retrieve on from a feeding bag, and drop it in your mouth. I developed these as they don’t require chewing, and when sized appropriately will dissolve while tucked away in your cheek allowing for unobstructed breathing.
Here is a general instruction on how to take a line, ball, or gel feeding in:
1) I Get my feeding ready, open the gel pack, get the bottle from your kayak spotter etc...
2) Take a really big breath and hold it
3) I flip over on your back
4) I Let your feet fall, OR start up a slow kick... This is a comfort thing, if I'm tired I may let my feet fall, if I feel like I may cramp, I'll kick them to keep active.
5) Take in the feeding quickly, trying to hold your breath in to maintain buoyancy. "This is important, if you let your breath out, you'll have to tread water, this increases the chance of cramps, panic, and nutrition loss"
6) I then throw the bottle back to my spotter, or tuck the gel pack away, flip and go.
This all happens in 20 seconds or less...
Note: Some people will tie their bottles to the kayak so that their spotter can reel them in without having to chase them down.
Now for the pits, and chafing trouble spots:
Next to breathing, and feeding this is the most important part of your day, because bleeding can just ruin everything. I’ve tried everything because no matter how clean, or what kind of water you are in, there is a goober that trying to get after you. Things just rub! I would say the single most important item in your swim bag on race day is Zinc Oxide. You can leave all others at home if you have it, with that said I take a multilayer approach. Aquafor works well as a base coat, I’ve also used Lanolin oil, or Vaseline. These will all wear off over time, but if you put a healthy layer of Zinc Oxide over the top it’ll hold up all day, even in extreme or dirty conditions.
One last note about acclimation; there’s this crazy little nerve in your face that controls your gasp reflex. It’s good to dip your toes in the water, and splash some water on your face to begin the acclimation process. This will allow you to jump in for your start, and with no surprises to your body be able to gain confront as you start your swim.
That’s a lot of information, but more of a quick hit on the big subjects. I may break all of this apart and provide more details in future articles. If you were to have any questions please write me, and I’ll do my best to give you a Swim Genius answer. Thank you Swimmy People, Much love!
The Mysterious / Miraculous Swimmer Muscle; The Psoas
Why is the Psoas the most important swimming muscle that you’ve never even heard of?
First the why. My experience was a locked Psoas within the course of an ultra-marathon swim. I finally got it unlocked after about 8 miles of excruciating pain. Since I’ve had some personal experience with the Psoas, I of course did the research and figured out how to work with it. Since then I’ve had multiple personal swim students, and an online acquaintance both suffer from a Psoas related injury, both of which I was able to assist in diagnosis. It’s sad but Western Medicine practitioners often miss this one, or diagnose it as a sciatic nerve issue, as the Psoas is not as clearly understood from an athletic community perspective.
So what’s a Psoas: It’s the deepest muscle in your core, and the only muscle to connect your spine to your leg. A stabilizer muscle that connects your torso in the thoracic section of your spine, to your femur in your leg. This means that a weak Psoas muscle could be the cause of your pelvic, or lower back pain.
It’s important because it helps in controlling your core rotation, stability of the spine and leg flexibility. In other words, every single swim stroke rotational movement is affected. Even your shoulders are affected as you’re not able to gain full extension and rotation of your spine to gain maximum propulsion. The Psoas moves your legs forward, and are involved in everything from getting out of bed in the morning to running the marathon segment of your Ironman. They stabilize your ability to go up the stairs to picking up that item you dropped this morning. As they are central in your body they also interplay with your organs as they are a muscle formation that your organs sit on. They are directly next to your colon, and your core circulatory system of Aorta and Inferior Vena Cava. They are also directly connected to your diaphragm through ligaments and fascia, so they also affect your ability to breath. Now that you know all of that I’m sure you’ll agree that the Psoas, is the most important swimmers muscle.
You may be damaging / tightening your Psoas if you:
Sit for long periods of time.
Engage in excessive running or walking.
Sleep in the fetal position.
Do a lot of sit-ups (the Psoas completes the top portion of the motion).
What to look for in your freestyle swim stroke.
You’ll see a staunch swimmer center over their core. This is generally seen as a good thing.
You’ll see little movement in their hips from side to side. This is also generally considered a good thing.
You’ll see a centered shoulder line, with tightness in their hips, so inability to engage their obliques in the finish of their stroke, and minimal (short) shoulder rotation emanating from rotation in the spine.
You’ll see their quads dragging a bit low in the water.
You’ll see minimal kick movement from the hip, and if asked to do the butterfly the kick will only emanate from the knees.
Similarly this will affect the ability to operate in Breast-stroke as the kick width suffers.
Finally, let’s not forget, that they may seem out of breath.
As I coach a lot of triathletes looking to improve their swim, I see a lot of runners who are tight through their ankles to their lower back, when they are struggling with establishing a kick, the Psoas is often a part of a larger issue.
What to look for in your every day:
Pain in your lower back or hips.
Sudden difference in the length of your legs.
Problems with posture.
Now how do we take care of it?
Try not to sit so much.
Flexibility work / massage.
My favorite way to get at my Psoas is with a foam roller. I’ll place it lengthwise down my leg, with the top part just to the side of and under my belly button. I lay on it allowing the foam roller to sink in between my pelvis and pubic bone. Once that becomes comfortable then bend the leg at the knee and roll to the side on the foam roller. You can also get to them from the back, by laying on the foam roller in the thoracic region of your spine and rolling up and down while tilted to the side.
Another way that is less painful, and a good starting point is to lay down on the floor and extend your legs vertically up a wall. Hold this for ten minutes and then try the foam roller. If you are unsure, and may think it’s your sciatic nerve, lay flat on the floor and touch your opposite ankle to your opposite knee to stretch the affected area. If this does not help, it may be your Psoas.
Cadence is a term that swimmers use to summarize balance, tempo, turnover, breathing rate and propulsion. Basically cadence is to swimming, what concentration is to meditation, and perfecting it is just as personal, and illusive. Many people think that reducing turnover rate and creating glide increases cadence, on the other hand, increasing turnover rate attempting to gain speed can lead to inconsistency in the stoke and little accumulative strength. There are so many variables that there is no simple way to explain it but I'm going to attempt to provide you real world advice that can help. Keep in mind everyone is going to have a different stroke, and much of this depends on the individual's strength. If this does not apply to you just yet, get into the pool and put in more laps while consistently testing your core, kick and keeping pressure on your hands, the strength will come.
It’s my belief that cadence is achieved through the combination of efficiency, strength, and balance. A byproduct of the combination of these is speed. Efficiency can be pursued with the use of the efficiency calculator that is included in this website. This tool may also assist in building strength and as a result of the factors that the calculator encourages to achieve a maximum point value. Balance is built by turning your hips, timing your stroke, kick and breathing rates so that it remains fluid and in sync. This may also be pursued in dryland training by working on an instable surface. The theory in dryland training is that training on an imbalanced surface, causes the bodies reaction / correction and this increases balance related strength. Strength comes in time, resistance, and laps focusing on the core. I don’t personally, but many swimmers engage in lifting. Be careful here, because being too bulky or locking up your fascia may harm your cadence and decrease your stretch / swimming strength. In short, muscle sinks. With that said, while avoiding a swim injury weight lifting can be a great asset.
Now let’s highlight the cadence stroke for the distance swimmer. Body position should be settled over the core, keeping a long line in the water, clean stroke, head down, feet up. This allows you to create propulsion through resistance, and cut resistance through a long frame. Propulsion is necessary to create cadence, in fact the more propulsion you create the easier it is to create cadence. Play with stroke depth, paddles, refer to previous articles within this board that focus on stroke “Kayak”. The basic idea is to use your hand, wrist, and forearm to create maximum pull resistance that moves you forward.
Now the counterpart, cadence for sprint. A high stroke rate while keeping consistent pull pressure on the paddle (hand through elbow), consistent high body position, with a rise and fall in your hips along with an aggressive six beat kick to create additional kick propulsion and glide “Motorboat”.
Concerning turnover rate, yes more strokes can create speed but if you are not creating resistance with those strokes you will not reach your potential. Likewise less strokes creating more pull with little for turnover rate will result in greater length, but may glide too much to create speed. It's about balance, think of these terms in Yin / Yang, and getting the most out of your body’s current ability in effort to build future ability. Again think of the importance of concentration to meditation.
My three primary tips - 1) Bilateral breathing, breathing on threes is great but if this is too tough try doubling up, for example Right, Right, 123, Left, Left, 123, Right, Right, etc... I've made this my standard because you can feel the pull within the 123, and you are always practicing bilateral breathing which keeps you balanced. Once balanced and efficient, If your stroke breaks down, you have a wind wave, or boat wake to deal with you can choose your breath side and remain comfortable without panic.
2) A 25 meter or yard pool is not ideal to learn cadence because you have to stop or flip often. Break out of the pool, get into open water where you can stretch out and find your comfort zone. Try to find calm water that is wind sheltered and put in a straight 300 before changing direction. Feel your turnover rate, kick, turn your hips and find that balance, then churn for more power in your arm paddle while maintaining rhythm. Hold that for an extended period of time and you have found cadence.
3) Hand position, I once had a student that increased their turnover rate, but rotated their hand open to slice the water, cutting resistance to manage the energy necessary. The result: they moved slower. We actually slowed this individuals turnover rate, rotated the hand back to create pull and they quickened up. Once their strength profile could accommodate the resistance, and a higher turnover rate: we let the shoulders fly while being cognizant of hand position and resistance, and that’s when the magic happened.
There is one last piece to cadence, and the rhythm of a stroke. Every once in a while you’ll see someone talk about a cadence / tempo trainer, which is basically a metronome for a swim stroke. I use the comparison to a metronome purposefully because they are used to regulate the beat of music. My point is, if music is regulated and through a variety of waterproof MPS players readily available, then why not use music as a tempo trainer. I personally like songs in 4 / 4 time. On a side note, Finis makes a cadence trainer which is good so if you need extra help try that. My preference remains strength training through laps, and if tempo is a concern find your beat through music, it works.
I feel like I’ve been focusing all of the things that as swimmers we should not do. Fins and Pull buoys are things that take pressure off the core and put a swimmer in a bad position, but enough about that. Let’s instead talk about training aids that really do make you a better swimmer. Firstly, I’m a true believer, the better the core, the better the swimmer. It’s about positioning over time on two planes of axis, top to bottom (Head down, butt up), and side to side (rotating shoulders, core, and tight legs / feet). When this is all put together and balanced on the core a swimmer can glide through the water. The hinge point for the entire exercise is the core. These are the items that can be used that will pressure the core to get stronger. Bands, Boards, and Paddles.
First we’ll focus on the kick:
Bands: This is a simple but effective tool, and as I coach a lot of triathletes the most common solution is a blown inner tube tied tightly. Place the band around your middle thigh. This will limit your movement from side to side, compressing your hop flexion outside of your shoulder line where your quads create drag. If you’ve read my prior posts, this is one way to train through “the pretty”. You don’t want it to be so tight that you limit all movement, just tight enough that it limits side to side movement. You should still have some rise and fall in your hips, but, (butt) you should work for it (I love a good pun). This will assist you in getting a tight kick progression through your feet. Be mindful if you have a tendency to over kick (mass knee flexion), your feet will tend to fall in this format, because you need to have kick speed (consistent pressure), to remain afloat.
With the band in place attempt to swim in a straight and compact format with good shoulder rotation, rolling on the hips for your breath. If you are accustomed to balancing your stroke by side to side flexion in your legs this will feel very difficult, as it places a lot of pressure on your core, specifically your obliques. You may also feel pressure in your glutes, quads, and hamstrings. Banding your legs is good for both sprints, and distance work dependent on goal. Note, if you are looking to develop a bilateral breathing setup, this format can shorten the bodies learning curve by forcing the necessary muscle accommodation to become core balanced.
Boards: A brilliant training aid to bolster core and stability when used correctly. I’ve provided a drill that I can Wedge in the past. Most of the drills that I do, and recommend with a kickboard start with submerging the board. Here’s Wedge: Grab a kick board, and begin to work with it submerged in the water so that you engage your core, and raise your feet. Put the board in-between your hands vertically, like it’s obstructing you clapping your hands, squeeze the board together with your pectoral muscles. Place it out in front of you about a foot, and submerged about six inches under water (keep it in this position). Begin to kick behind the board. You’ll feel this through your pecs, shoulders, and center core. If you are used to laying on the board, this will feel very difficult.
I’ll give you a second level drill that I call One Hand Down. Take the board, submerge it with one hand. The board will be in similar position as to wedge (about a foot in front, and six inches down). Put your opposite hand on your hip, and begin kicking, you’ll feel this in your obliques, center core, and shoulders. When one hand / arm gets tired, bring the opposite hand forward, make the switch with the board still submerged, place the tired hand on your hip and continue kicking.
Ok, now for the hand / shoulder pull
Paddles: Growing muscle to strengthen your pull, in combination with turnover rate can be a substantial boost to your speed. One without the other does not equal fast, but together you can fly. Paddles are a great training aid to get there. I prefer the agility paddle by Finis because they require you to operate with a fairly clean hand entry. This paddle trains technique as well as builds strength. There is one caveat to paddles that I’m not able to stress enough; you will be more prone to injury with them if you are operating in a flawed stroke pattern. Paddles should be predominantly used in a stroke pattern driven by primary muscle groups, Delts, Pecs, and Lats. The recommended pattern is pulling under the body line without a swing in the stoke. With paddles, if you are going to swing, swing in, swinging out is the number one way to cause a shoulder injury, most commonly a rotator cuff tear.
Paddles in short assist you in creating greater pull through resistance in the water. The result of this is speed and greater pressure on your muscles leading to growth. Through a greater side to side pull under the body, they also engage the core. I recommend building them into your routine in alternating segments to create muscle confusion causing a greater reaction in the body.
Most swimmers are shoulder driven, if you can harness that, add a strong kick and hold core strength you will exceed your own expectations. Some can do this over distance, and are incredible swimmers, most can do this in short bursts and are great sprinters. Either way the core is the pivot point of a strong swim stroke.
Now that you are through the bulk of the article, you may be thinking that this was written for an advanced swim audience. In this case I would agree, however that is not what this board is about. In no way to I want to cater to the elite, there is plenty of that out there. I am finding that the material that I’m writing is becoming more specific as I’ve covered many of the broad stroke topics. If you are looking for advice on a particular subject send me and email. I could use the ideas, and I’d be happy to address anything swim related in an editorial fashion. Thank you in advance!
Happy swimming, much love, The Swim Genius.
I coach a lot of triathletes, Runner and Bicyclists are often culprits of a poor kick. Truth is we do what we are used to doing, and have the built muscle for, the bikers are still trying to ride a bike, but this motion cuts propulsion through drag and a reduction of length. The runners are still trying to work in heal toe without flexion in their ankles.
People make the mistake of thinking that kicking is about the legs, when it’s really about your core, hips, and feet. It’s also about keeping the kick inside of the shoulder line to maintain efficiency through the water. This means keeping it high, and tight. Working with fins is the number one mistake I see practicing swimmers make. Swimming efficiently is about maintaining two planes of axis. Head to toe, and side to side. The lower your head, and higher your feet, the better. Swimming with a good side to side axis allows you to knife through the water cutting drag. Swimming with fins on, takes away both planes as fins create squared shoulders due to the oscillating resistance, and work best lower in the water. As this is the case the head comes up, and regardless of the intent to strengthen your legs and kick in the process, you’ll be a weaker swimmer for the effort. You will have a weaker overall kick, core, and foot position. Now, I will stipulate, that if you have perfect form, are kicking from the core, and hip, and not creating drag outside of your body line, they may assist in strengthening your lower abs, glutes, and related hip muscles. For the thousands of swimmers I’ve seen use fins, I can count these individuals on one hand, so be honest with yourself,
What’s the question?
When I get a chance to coach the kiddo’s I’ll always ask: Have you ever seen a fish with knees? They will smile at the thought because they know better. When you ask an adult the same question, in place of a smile, you receive a grimace that is followed with a blank stare, and a look away upon the realization that they need to work on it.
Consider this: look at all of the “swimming” aquatic animals. None of them have knees, so I’m going to side with evolution on this one. Furthermore, we are the only Ape species that even tries, and to be honest, we are poorly designed for the task. The only way we make that better is by trying to use what we have, to move like aquatic animals move. This is all derived from core strength, and the following argument will break down why fins don’t build the core as well as swimming without them, and they put swimmers in poor position to create the necessary strength. The same thing goes for a pull buoy.
Here’s how that all breaks down:
The kick is the number one flaw in most swimmers, it’s neglected, and in some cases non-existent. So why is it that swimmers with little, no, or terrible kick patterns love to work with fins? The primary reason that I see is locked ankles. I’ve had many students, primarily lifelong runners, knees are now hurting, and they come in for swim coaching. When you give them a kick board they move backwards. This is usually because they have worked in heal/toe for so long that their ankles have lost flexibility. When they kick without fins, in place of a flipper motion, they create a pick ax motion in the water and this pulls them backwards. Ideally, ankles are flexible, and allow full flexion of the foot providing length to the swimmer, “ballerina toes”. There are multiple stretches for this, I’ve seen people sit on their feet, I also recommend the old physical therapy regiment of spelling out the capital ABC’s with your ankles twice nightly prior to bed. Without assistance, and additional effort most people in this situation grab a pair of fins, and voila, they can kick. This is great until their big day comes along (triathlon, masters meet), and they can’t use fins. In other words, they’ve got no kick, and in extreme cases have to work against additional self-created resistance (pick ax) due to the effort provided.
The second reason I see often and be summarized by something a scuba dive instructor once told me, “No one has ever successfully ridden a bicycle under water”. Again, people will try to kick harder through mass flexion in their knees “over kicking”. I primarily see this in the bicyclist crowd, and this movement does not achieve propulsion, that outweighs the resistance created by the motion. You’re thighs are acting as an anchor in the water, they are the heaviest, and most dense muscle in the human body. Having them low and flexing creates drag. You may move forward, but are far from streamlined. But hey, if you put on a pair of fins, you can move forward, at least a little more, until the big day that is.
The remainder of my students, if not in a six beat kick, are in a three beat kick that swings outside of their shoulder line. I call this the “pretty”, as may be referenced in prior article (Your Stroke Flaw has Purpose). This is generally due to a lack of core strength on the weak side of their stroke pattern. Again this beckons to kicking being more about the core, than the legs, and fins are not a solution for core weakness, poor flexibility, or poor body position.
So how can this be fixed?
1) Put the fins on the shelf, and let the collect dust unless you are a scuba diver, then they have value, but should still be used appropriately (no one has ever successfully ridden a bicycle under water). 2) Begin to pay attention to your ankle flexibility, and if this is a problem begin to actively flex your ankles. 3) Every time you get in the pool, think: have I ever seen a fish with knees? 4) Grab a kick board and begin to work with it submerged in the water so that you engage your core, and raise your feet. My base board drill is called Wedge: Put the board in-between your hands vertically, like it’s obstructing you clapping your hands, squeeze the board together with your pectoral muscles. Place it out in front of you, about six inches under water (keep it in this position), and begin to kick behind the board. Repeat until you have desired results or need something harder. This is the easiest board drill I prescribe so if you reach out, be ready.
This post also beckons back to a prior post of mine concerning cramps (Cramps, yep prevention is the way to go!). The swim genius posts are beginning to overlay in a tapestry of sorts. Feel free to read past articles as topics overlap, I’ll try to point this out when it happens.
Much love, and happy swimming,
The Swim Genius
Do you look like an Airplane?
There is no greater way to stir the pot in swimming than to start a discussion on stroke progression. If you look through the strokes of old, in the 70’s, and 80’s there was a propeller motion or what I’ll refer to as an “S” curve, or propeller. The propeller is identified due to a wide swing in your arm motion as it comes through its progression. The thought is that the more time, and motion that your stroke completes the greater the efficiency and pull of the stroke. This progression was actively taught in the 70’s and early 80's. With that said, very few people are able to maintain this stroke without injury, and many of those former competitive swimmers sustained injury. The pattern makes the swimmer venerable in the outward position to rotator cuff injury, and due to this few trained swimmers practice this stroke, and I won’t teach it. In most swimmers that I coach I’ll notice a swing, it’s natural if you are a bit core weak to lighten the load at the half way point of the pull, and swing your hand. If you are going to swing, swing in, not out. Swinging outside of your body line increase the risk of injury utilizing minor muscle groups. Swimming inside of your body line utilizes major muscle groups and core.
Today, the big swimming machine, (The national swim programs) are primarily teaching what I call the Speed Boat. It's a stroke that is currently being taught to sprinters (age group swimmers), and because it’s taught to sprinters it’s become the most taught stroke pattern, and often referenced as the correct stroke pattern. I often see non-sprinters trying to utilize this stroke pattern, and I would argue, for them it’s harmful and inefficient. We will cover this in a moment.
Do you look like a Speed Boat?
The arm stays slightly bent nearly at a 90 degree angle, and your stroke line is predominantly outside of your body line. Your underwater form hinges at the shoulder, nearly creating a 90 degree axis at the elbow. It’s a bit like a windmill (paddle wheel) using your hand as your primary mechanism of propulsion. Your hand rising through the stroke toward the hip, creating pull through a circular motion, and quick catch while your opposite hand is holding up frame. It finishes through pulling the tips of your fingers out of the water last. This paired with an extremely aggressive turnover rate allows you to swim on top of the water. It’s good for a sprinter, but if you can’t manage a sub 30 second 50 in meters, in my humble opinion, it’s not for you.
Do you look like a Rowboat?
Ultimately the same stroke as the Speed Boat, but not on top of the water. Here is what happens: Squared shoulders creating arm, shoulder, and chest resistance, little for kick with your quads dragging in the water like a flat bottom boat. If the feet are not active, they are working like an anchor. It’s a common site, and terribly inefficient, but you put an outboard motor on it with a crap ton of propulsion, you can propel it atop the water just fine. The biggest difference for those of us that are not an age group or collegiate sprinter is we can’t function in this stroke (for long unless trained to do so). We don’t have unlimited ATM stores like we did in our youth. Additionally because it’s predominantly outside of your shoulder line, you’re squared creating drag.
The worst part is you are extremely prone to injury in this stroke; outside your shoulder line, in hinging motion, if you hit a lane line or another swimmer there is an increased chance of a rotator cuff tear. As we age, this probability only increases. It’s fine for a young swimmer who wants to win a medal or two, but for the rest of us, it’s downright dangerous. I’ve grown extremely weary of most publications touting it as the correct swimming stroke. I believe this is because adult swimming programs take the direction of youth swimming programs without the consideration of the age, and or ability of their average consumer. Being a coach: Here are the questions I ask; which is faster a kayak, or rowboat? Which is more efficient, a kayak or a rowboat? Which one do you look like? If I ask the question, it’s rowboat.
Do you look like a Kayak?
This is the stroke I teach, and in all cases (so far) the swimmer increases stroke length, strength, efficiency, and speed. It’s a matter of pulling efficiently, and utilizing your paddle (elbow to finger tips) over the entire length of your stroke. Long reach working in side to side rotation from the core, slicing through the water like a knife. Feet, just active enough in a 6 beat kick to stay approximately level with the head, although the higher the feet, the more efficient the stroke. Kayak stroke forms a line straight down your body line with a top of head entry point, centerline reach, and tipped finger for maximum catch and propulsion. Fully extend so that your hand is just under the water surface, your shoulder may touch your chin, tip your fingers a bit to start catching the water at the top of your key. Begin to pull directly down your body line like you are throwing a fastball at your foot or opposite knee, while trying to engage your core to utilize your forearm to pull more water. When you get to your chest a good check is to see if your thumb is directly below your nipple. Then push low past your hip without turning your hand into an S curve. It sounds simple but is quite difficult, it requires loose shoulders, good lats, pecs, and delts, a strong core, and good hip rotation. Your breathing window should naturally open due to hip rotation without the need to pull your head, and drop your feet. This is a stroke that is good for long distance swimmers because it creates glide, (like a kayak) through efficiency when paired with a six beat kick and high feet.
Every stroke is different, and is as individual as the person performing it. Strength and stability will build your efficiency, then will come the speed. At that point you can choose your stroke pattern, until then you may not have much of a choice because your body is simply surviving what you are putting it through. Starting out, time with your face in the water and distance are the important things.
I’m a promoter of the kayak for one primary reason, it uses primary muscle groups and due to this it’s difficult to injure yourself. A lot of those people who were taught the S curve are no longer swimming because of damage cause to their rotator cuffs. I teach my swimmers the kayak as a form of injury prevention. As a side effect I’ve found that as their stabilizers strengthen they become more efficient and gain speed making them competitive swimmers through strength, regardless of age.
Safe Swimming, and remember when in a safe stroke; there is no injury that can be caused by swimming, that can not be fixed with more swimming.
The Swim Genius
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