In the swim of thingsAugust 21, 2010
Both men’s and women’s swimming in this country is looking strong. I really believe that in London 2012 you are going to see a women’s team that is just as incredible as the men’s looked in Beijing. One of the girls I have my eye on is Elizabeth Biesel, who won the 200 yards backstroke last night (and by the way Elizabeth Pelton took second giving the US a 1-2 sweep!). I like Biesel because she’s young, she’s bright, and she’s an ass kicker. Without the cockiness. She seems to understand the responsibility of being a professional athlete and what comes along with it.
My father taught me long ago that when you stand on the top of a podium, it’s what you do off that podium that makes the biggest difference, regardless of the sport and regardless of the level you are on. Think about the top athletes you know….. think of the to age group athletes you know…… do they?
Biesel will be heading off to college this fall to swim at the University of Florida and I am looking to see great things in and out of the pool for this young lady. We’ve had such amazing female swimmers turn into wonderful role models: Jenny Thompson, Janet Evans, Nathalie Coughlin and Dara Torres to name a few. It’s girls like Biesel, Pelton, Chloe Sutton, Dana Volmer…. and their teammates that give me hope that the girls of this decade will have good role models. Lady Gaga….. not.so.much. (my opinion. Sorry M C-L and Beth ).
Keep your eye on women’s swimming. That’s my prediction.
Full results and lots of great footage can be found over on the swim network.
Let’s talk about dryland swimming. In my opinion dryland swim training is an important part of triathlon swim training for the same reasons functional strength training is important for running. It’s really all the same thing. When I create a functional strength program for my athletes I include swim dryland training. My biggest aim in this endeavor is to prevent shoulder…. especially rotator cuff injuries.
The most important muscle groups for swimming are the core and the lats. The smaller muscle groups, the deltoids, rhomboids… even the triceps one of my girls calls “show muscles” but they do play an important part in all of this. Muscles work together, and we are only as strong as our weakest link. We have to work to keep the entire shoulder girdle strong so that not only do we swim better….. but we bike and run balanced as well.
Do you know why we have athletes bilateral breathe in training? This one is one I learned from the Wizard…… often times when a swimmer breathes only to the right or the left they and up running with a shoulder imbalance. So if they only breathe to the right the possibility could exist where they run with a higher right shoulder, possibly upsetting running biomechanics.
I breathe to the right… and I have balanced shoulders. HOORAY!
I was lucky enough a few years ago to nab a Vasa Trainer for a really good price (not the ergometer just the swim bench) A few times a week I run through a few sets on the Vasa and I love the way it supports my swimming. Plus you can do a hundred different things on it.
However you can get many of the same benefits of a vasa trainer by getting yourself a simple set of tubing with handles. These also may be called stretch cords. Pop it around something like a pole or a tree and work on your pull down as shown here, scroll out to 1:37 (led by Dave Scott). The second exercise I like athletes to do….. now remember some of my athletes I have to pull teeth to get them to do any kind of functional strength training….. just saying!!…. is the V sit with pull buoy as demonstrated here. and then lastly….. the most important piece of swimming dryland training os core strength. Here is a great little video called core complex that has a great routine.
In my opinion many triathlon coaches have us work too much on the catch and the reach part of the stroke. Yes it’s important, absolutely. Below is a picture of an Ironman swim. Let me know where you see some space to get a really really good reach and catch here!!
In this article by the Wizard he beautifully illustrates the point of working on the back end of your stroke. Think about this…… stand with your arms out to your side and have some one place their hand under your hand to give you resistance. Try to push their hand down (with your arm straight out to the side or the front). Now….. bend your elbow and bring your hand right below your shoulder. have your friend place their hand under again to give you resistance.
Is it easier to push their hand down when your arm is outstretched… or closer to your body?
Closer to your body. You are strongest closer to your body. Same thing with swimming. Yes you need to have a good reach so you can grab that armful of water. Swimming with 3000 of your friends will prevent you from getting the same reach you do in the pool. So focus where you are strongest. The pull underneath your body and the finish of your stroke. This is where core comes in.
Does that make sense?
It sounds complicated, don’t allow it to be. Incorporate some solid dryland moves into your functional strength training, focus on the back end of your stroke, and watch the Pan Pac games. The last tip is sure to light your fire under the water!