Friday, February 4, 2011

How To Improve Your Swimming Core Stability Without Lots Of Sit Ups!

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A quick tip this week to help you develop your core stability when you swim:

Imagine a string of elastic or licorice that is attached at the top to your rib cage and at the bottom to your pelvis. As you swim keep that elastic stretched by lifting your chest up and away from your pelvis as much as possible:


Swimming in a tall stretched position uses your core muscles in the right way as you swim, keeping you aligned and straight in the water. You don't have to be super-strong through the core to do this well, it's more about using your core muscles in the right way than outright strength. Ironically it's often the swimmers who spend a long time on dry land core-conditioning who flex the most through the middle when they swim!

Try and get in the habit of adopting this stretched position when you push-off from the wall at the beginning of every lap. Adopt a strong torpedo, stretch through your core and as you start your stroke maintain the stretch all the way down the pool.

A stable core will have you tracking straighter through the water and also develop your body rotation - both very important for an efficient freestyle stroke. It will also rotate your hips forward slightly, lifting your bum and legs higher in the water - great if you suffer from 'sinky legs syndrome'.

Stretch that elastic the next time you swim, we're confident you'll notice the difference straight away!

Swim Smooth!

13 comments:

Anonymous said...

Sometimes it’s like you are watching my training and targeting my weak spots. On several occasions the newsletter is addressing things that have problems with the same week.
Or is it perhaps so, that my weak spots are so many that it would be impossible not hitting any of them?

Anonymous said...

As a prior competitive swimmer and now an active USA Swimming Coach, it frustrates me that you don't call this "torpedo" position what it is- a streamline. We make our swimmers do this for a variety of reasons, including but not limited to the ones you've discussed above. Bravo for recognizing some of the less talked about benefits of streamlining, but your readers deserve to know the correct terms if they are going to become avid lap swimmers. It's not as though you are the first group of coaches to realize this technique!

Adam Young said...

Yes we are actually psychic!! But seriously nearly any non-elite swimmer benefits from brushing up in these areas. I very much doubt it's just you!

Hi USA Swim Coach, you're right, language is very important. Actually we know from the feedback that most of our readers are already avid lap swimmers although the majority aren't coached to a high level.

We do put a lot of thought into the language and presentation of our posts. Maybe this is a difference between North American English and UK/Australian English but we find the torpedo idea more memorable and kinaesthetic than streamlining. People aren't forced to listen to us or read our posts like in a traditional coach / squad swimmer relationship so what we say must make immediate sense.

A good point you raise though and something we'll bear in mind in the future.

Cheers!

Anonymous said...

I think people don´t like "torpedo" because it brings to memory Ian Thorpe, the australian torpedo. I bet the comment came from an non-australian. What´s the difference, if you convey the message ?

Anonymous said...

Hey there, USA Swim coach...if you don't have anything nice to say, don't say anything at all. If you don't like the tips, maybe you should take yourself off the distro list.

Anonymous said...

The last 2 comments were well said! I'm an avid swimmer (with many weak points), always seeking for the latest tip that can improve my technique and I don't care for what name techniques are called as long as they can better help me to make a clear picture of it. In fact this one "torpedo" better illustrates what we are referring at.

Teri said...

I agree with the last two. I remember "Torpedo" as a word given to learner swimmers to kick off from the wall. I live in the UK and like that term. (I don't know enough about swimming to be afraid of the 'The Thorpedo' - a FB friend mentioned him the other day and I didn't know what she was talking about! :)

Anonymous said...

I don't quite get the elastic thing - isn't this the same as arching the back?

Adam Young said...

Hi there, compared to arching your back it's slightly different. It's more of a stretch upwards than a bend backwards.

Saying that, if you do lack a little flexibility in your lower back muscles then it could feel like a stretch to this region.

Have you tried it in the pool? How did it feel?

John said...

Nothing better than lots of dolphin kick to help strengthen your core, especially if it is done without any aids.
I get my athletes to torpedo (we do call it streamline though) feet past the flags on every pushoff. Takes around 3-4 weeks for them to get it right.

Mike A said...

I've always instinctively swum with a stretched core like this - just feels natural to me. As someone with appalling technique in just about every other area, it's nice to discover I've been doing something right all along!

Anonymous said...

Whenever I do this type of stretch I instinctively breathe in a little-is this right?

Adam Young said...

It does make sense that you inhale a little when you stretch out as you're expanding your lungs with the stretch!