The sport of swimming requires a combination of cardiovascular endurance, muscular strength, and flexibility to execute the four swimming strokes effectively. Flexibility is an essential aspect of swimming and triathlon, as it enables swimmers and triathletes to achieve proper technique and reduce the risk of injury.
Requirements of Flexibility in the Four Swimming Strokes:
Flexibility is necessary in all four swimming strokes, but the degree of flexibility required varies:
The freestyle stroke, also known as the front crawl, requires a significant range of motion in the shoulders, back, and hips to perform efficiently. Swimmers who lack flexibility in these areas may struggle to maintain proper form, resulting in slower swim times and an increased risk of injury. Proper freestyle technique requires the swimmer to keep their head down, their hips up, and their arms reaching forward with each stroke.
Breaststroke requires a unique combination of power, speed, and flexibility. It is a slower stroke than freestyle, but it requires more coordination and timing. The stroke requires the swimmer to pull their arms back while simultaneously pushing their hips forward, resulting in a “frog-like” motion. Swimmers must have adequate hip, knee, and ankle flexibility to execute the stroke properly. Without proper flexibility, swimmers may experience discomfort and difficulty achieving the necessary range of motion.
Butterfly is one of the most challenging swimming strokes to master, as it requires significant strength and flexibility. It is a demanding stroke that requires a high degree of coordination and synchronization. The stroke involves a dolphin kick and a simultaneous arm pull that requires extensive shoulder, back, and hip flexibility. Swimmers who lack flexibility in these areas may struggle to execute the stroke correctly and may experience shoulder and back pain.
Backstroke requires the swimmer to maintain a horizontal position while floating on their back. It requires a significant degree of shoulder and back flexibility, as the swimmer must reach their arms above their head and maintain a straight line while kicking. Swimmers who lack flexibility in these areas may struggle to maintain proper form and may experience discomfort in their shoulders and back.
Body Types and Flexibility:
Body type can play a significant role in a swimmer’s flexibility. Individuals with a mesomorphic body type, characterized by muscular and athletic builds, tend to have higher levels of flexibility. These individuals have a higher muscle-to-fat ratio and are often more physically active, which can contribute to greater flexibility.
Individuals with an ectomorphic body type, characterized by a lean and slender build, tend to have lower levels of flexibility. These individuals have less muscle mass and may struggle to maintain proper form in the water, resulting in slower swim times and an increased risk of injury.
Individuals with an endomorphic body type, characterized by a heavier build and higher body fat percentage, may struggle with flexibility. These individuals may carry excess weight in their hips and thighs, making it challenging to achieve the necessary range of motion in certain swimming strokes.
Flexibility is a critical aspect of swimming, and there are several ways to increase flexibility, including stretching, yoga, and Pilates. Regular stretching can improve flexibility and reduce the risk of injury. We can tailor your Strictly Swimming London lessons to help you with flexibility.
By incorporating one or more of these methods into your routine and lessons, you can gradually increase your flexibility. Speak to your Strictly Swimming London coach for a plan to increase your flexibility.
Here are some swimmers who are known for their excellent flexibility:
If you would like to know more or book a lesson with strictly swimming, just get in touch with us.
As most people know, swimming is an excellent form of aerobic exercise. Whether its performing distance training in the pool (or even taking a Strictly Swimming London lesson), it helps strengthen the heart by increasing blood flow and helping it to even increase in size.
Swimming is also one of the best forms of exercise when it comes to increasing efficiency of the heart in pumping blood around the body. This increase of good blood flow has a fantastic impact on reducing bad cholesterol on both men and women adult swimmers.
What is cholesterol?
Cholesterol is a fatty, waxy substance which is vital for your body to function day to day. A small amount of cholesterol is healthy, as it forms part of the cell walls and is also necessary to create hormones.
What are the two different types of cholesterol?
There are two main types of cholesterol – LDL (Low Density Lipoprotein) or ‘bad’ cholesterol and HDL (High Density Lipoprotein) or ‘good’ cholesterol. HDL cholesterol is beneficial to the body. As adults, through our diets and lifestyles, LDL cholesterol can build up and fatty deposits can develop along the walls of arteries. Over time this causes the arteries to become narrow and blocked, reducing blood supply to the heart.
This process is called atherosclerosis and can eventually cause symptoms of angina or even result in a heart attack or stroke. One cause of high LDL cholesterol is a diet high in saturated fat. The fat in the food that we eat is then digested and taken to the liver, where it is metabolised into cholesterol.
HDL cholesterol, however, helps remove other forms of cholesterol from your bloodstream and are associated with a lower risk of heart disease. HDL picks up excess cholesterol in your blood and takes it back to your liver where it's broken down and removed from your body.
Benefits of Swimming on your Cholesterol
If you're already a swimmer or participate in triathlons, you've will have discovered the benefits of swimming already. If you aren't, it's never too late to learn how to swim or to brush up on strokes that you learned as a kid. Our Strictly Swimming London coaches can even tailor your lesson to develop aerobic swim training during your lesson.
As an adult who may be concerned about cholesterol, just remember swimming ultimately prevents heart disease!!!
There is a common misunderstanding that swimmers don’t need to hydrate as much as land-based sports people as we don’t sweat as much in the water. Sure, studies have shown that we sweat less in the pool, however, this does not mean that we do not dehydrate during swim training.
In fact, there are many good reasons why we should maintain hydrating during our workouts, triathlons, and open water swims. You may hear Strictly Swimming coaches consistently harp on the need to hydrate before, during, and after practices. Hydrating is vital to the success of all swimmers.
We need water to survive obviously. Every cell in our bodies needs water to function properly. It helps carry nutrients and boosts energy, flushes waste products and is vital to maintain body temperature during swimming workouts or at rest. In fact, during exercise generally, water is much more important as more energy and fuel is being used. Even though you may feel cool in the pool or open water, there is an actual rise in body temperature, hence the reason to keep hydrating during your swimming lesson.
The cold temperature of the water does cool the body down and sweating is reduced, however, the body will still dehydrate due to high muscle activity. It is very easy to miss that you are dehydrating when swimming due to the cool water temperature, so it is more important to swimmers to keep an eye on their water intake during a workout. Make sure you have your full water bottle at the end of the pool during practice .
Here are some key physiological reasons to maintain hydration:
What to drink when swimming
Water is the best drink to quench thirst and replace fluids lost during exercise. Drink water before you start your swimming lesson. Water boasts a huge list of benefits. It’s natural, free, readily available, contains no calories.
About sports drinks
Some athletes use sports drinks that contain electrolytes and carbohydrates, which have concentrations that allow the body to refuel during exercise. Sports drinks may be useful if your activity is moderate to vigorous in intensity for more than 60 mins, However, sports drinks can be high in sugar, so always check out this out before purchasing. Remember that fruit and vegetables contain a high proportion of water, so a fruit snack (such as oranges) can help your fluid replacement.
What not to drink when exercising
Some fluids are not recommended when exercising:
How much to drink after exercising
To adequately rehydrate after your swimming session, aim to drink one and a half times the fluid you lost while exercising. You will need to drink more fluid than you lost while swimming because you will continue to lose fluid through sweating and urination for some time after you have finished your workout or lesson.
Paul started competing in swimming from the age of 8 and eventually went on to represent his country all over the world. During his time at University, Paul specialised in Aquatics and the Biomechanics of Swimming and produced numerous theses on swimming performance.