Learning to swim is not only a valuable life skill but also an enjoyable and beneficial activity for people of all ages. However, there are several obstacles that adults often encounter while embarking on their swimming journey. These obstacles can range from physical and psychological challenges to environmental factors that impede progress.
1. Fear and Anxiety:
One of the most significant obstacles in learning to swim is fear and anxiety. Many adults experience a natural apprehension when first entering the water, especially if they have had previous negative experiences as a child or lacked exposure to swimming. Fear of water, also known as aquaphobia, can be a significant barrier to learning, as it triggers a strong emotional response that hinders progress.
Strategies to overcome fear and anxiety:
2. Lack of Confidence:
A lack of confidence can hinder progress in learning to swim. Individuals and adults who doubt their abilities or have a fear of failure may struggle to overcome obstacles and take risks necessary for skill development. This lack of confidence often stems from self-imposed pressure or comparison to others.
Strategies to boost confidence:
3. Water Discomfort and Buoyancy:
Water discomfort and understanding buoyancy can be significant obstacles for beginners. The sensation of water on the skin, the resistance it creates, and the unfamiliarity of being buoyant can cause discomfort and unease.
Strategies to overcome water discomfort and understand buoyancy:
4. Learning Coordination and Technique:
Learning the coordination and technique required for swimming can be challenging, particularly for those new to the sport. Coordinating arm and leg movements, breathing rhythmically, and maintaining proper body alignment require practice and focus.
Strategies to improve coordination and technique:
5. Environmental Factors:
Environmental factors such as crowded pools, strong currents, or deep water can pose additional challenges for beginners. Even as an adult, navigating these environments while learning to swim can create anxiety and disrupt the learning process.
Strategies to overcome environmental challenges:
Learning to swim as an adult can be a transformative and empowering experience, but it is not without obstacles. Overcoming fear and anxiety, building confidence, understanding water discomfort and buoyancy, mastering coordination, and technique, and navigating environmental challenges are essential steps on the path to becoming a proficient swimmer. By embracing patience, persistence, and a positive mindset, individuals can overcome these obstacles, ultimately building confidence, skill, and enjoyment in the water. Remember, the journey to becoming a confident swimmer is as rewarding as the destination itself.
Our Strictly Swimming London coaches can tailor your adult swimming lessons to develop relaxation in the water and overcome your fears with practice.
Swimming is a highly technical sport that requires precise movements and efficient propulsion through the water. To enhance performance and build strength, swimmers often incorporate various training aids into their workouts. Hand paddles are one such tool that has gained popularity among swimmers of all levels. But how can you effectively incorporate them into your swimming training routine.
These specialized paddles, typically made of plastic or fiberglass, are worn on the hands and increase resistance as swimmers pull through the water, thereby providing a challenging workout. Hand paddles come in various shapes and sizes, catering to swimmers of different skill levels and training objectives.
The primary purpose of using hand paddles is to improve stroke mechanics. By amplifying the surface area of the hand, paddles encourage a more powerful catch and pull phase during the swim stroke. This increased resistance forces swimmers to engage more muscles, particularly the shoulders, back, and core, leading to improved strength and endurance over time. Additionally, hand paddles promote a heightened awareness of hand positioning and water feel, allowing swimmers to develop a more efficient and streamlined stroke technique.
Hand paddles are versatile training aids suitable for swimmers of all levels, from beginners to competitive triathletes. Novice swimmers can benefit from using smaller-sized paddles to develop proper stroke mechanics and build strength gradually. Intermediate and advanced swimmers often utilize larger paddles to further enhance their stroke power and refine their technique.
However, it's essential to exercise caution when incorporating hand paddles into training. Overuse or improper usage can lead to strain or injury, particularly in the shoulders and wrists. It is recommended to start with shorter distances and gradually increase intensity and duration as the swimmer adapts to the paddles. At Strictly Swimming London, we encourage our clients and triathletes to purchase some hand paddles, as we can incorporate them into your lessons.
Benefits of Hand Paddles
Using Hand Paddles Effectively
In conclusion, hand paddles are a valuable tool in swim training, offering swimmers the opportunity to refine their technique, build strength, and enhance performance in the water. By incorporating hand paddles appropriately and progressively, swimmers can unlock their full potential and make significant strides toward their swimming goals.
As always, please feel free to discuss these techniques with your Strictly Swimming London coach during your lessons.
Swimming technique plays a crucial role in a swimmer's performance and injury prevention. One aspect that has sparked debate among swimmers and coaches is whether to swim with open fingers or closed fingers. Swimming is a sport that requires precision and technique to excel in the water.
Among the various aspects of swimming technique, the debate between open finger swimming and closed finger swimming has long been a topic of discussion. Open finger swimming involves keeping the fingers relaxed and slightly apart during the stroke, while closed finger swimming requires tightly clenching the fingers together. Both techniques have their proponents and claimed benefits, leading to a fascinating debate in the swimming community. Whether you are training for a triathlon or swimming to gain fitness, we can tailor your Strictly Swimming London lesson to develop the best hand position for you.
Open Finger Swimming
Swimming with open fingers, also known as "relaxed" or "loose" hand technique, involves keeping the fingers slightly apart during the stroke. This technique allows for a more relaxed and natural movement of the hand through the water, reducing fatigue and the risk of injury. One advantage of open finger swimming is the increased range of motion in the hand, wrist, and forearm, leading to greater power and propulsion. Additionally, open fingers can help prevent cramping, a common issue for swimmers using closed fingers. It is worth noting that "open finger swimming" refers to the fingers being slightly apart, not stretched wide apart.
Closed Finger Swimming
Closed finger swimming, also known as "tight" or "firm" hand technique, involves keeping the fingers tightly clenched during the stroke. This technique is often debated, with some swimmers believing it provides more power and control in the water. Closed fingers create a streamlined hand position, reducing drag and increasing speed and efficiency. The technique can also improve grip for sudden turns or maneuvers.
Benefits of Open Finger Swimming
Benefits of Closed Finger Swimming
A study published in the Journal of Sports Science and Medicine compared elite swimmers using both open and closed finger techniques. The study found that closed-finger technique resulted in greater peak force and propulsion, while open-finger technique resulted in less finger muscle activity and more activity in the upper arm and shoulder, potentially reducing fatigue and injury.
Another study in the Journal of Applied Biomechanics found that closed-finger technique produced greater peak force but also higher muscle fatigue. The study observed increased muscle activation in the fingers but also in the upper arm and shoulder.
A 2020 study in the Journal of Sports Science and Medicine found that open-finger technique resulted in greater power output and stroke rate compared to closed-finger technique. However, closed-finger technique led to greater finger muscle activity, potentially enhancing muscle endurance over time.
In conclusion, the choice between open and closed fingers in swimming is highly individual and depends on the swimmer's goals, experience, and physical abilities. Open fingers may be less fatiguing and less prone to injury, while closed fingers may provide more power and control. However, scientific evidence is limited, and swimmers should experiment with both techniques to find what feels most comfortable and effective for them. A combination of a slightly closed finger with a relaxed technique of open fingers may also be an option worth considering.
Please feel free to discuss these techniques with your Strictly Swimming London coach during your lessons.
In the world of swimming, front crawl is the most commonly practiced and fastest swimming stroke. It requires a combination of technique, strength, and efficient breathing to excel in this stroke. While unilateral breathing (breathing to one side only) is the traditional approach for many swimmers, bilateral breathing (alternating breathing to both sides) has gained popularity due to its numerous benefits. So let's dive in.
Technique of Bilateral Breathing
Bilateral breathing involves alternating your breathing pattern from one side to the other during front crawl swimming. The key is to establish a rhythmic pattern where you consistently breathe on both sides. Here is a step-by-step guide to performing bilateral breathing:
Examples of Bilateral Breathing:
Bilateral breathing can be practiced at various paces and distances to improve your comfort level and efficiency. Here are a few examples of incorporating bilateral breathing into your front crawl swimming:
Benefits of Bilateral Breathing:
Mastering the timing of your breathing in bilateral frontcrawl
Timing inhalation and exhalation correctly is crucial for effective bilateral breathing in swimming. By coordinating the breath with the stroke and body rotation, swimmers can optimize their technique and maximize efficiency in the water. It's important to maintain a smooth and continuous stroke while breathing, avoiding any disruptions to the rhythm. The exhalation should occur underwater as the opposite arm begins the pulling motion, ensuring a seamless transition between breaths. By mastering the timing of breathing, swimmers can maintain their momentum and efficiency throughout the stroke cycle (without any pauses or interruption to the stroke or the breathing pattern).
Here are some key considerations and techniques for timing inhalation and exhalation during bilateral swimming:
Practice and Feedback: Improving the timing of inhalation and exhalation in bilateral breathing requires practice and feedback. Work with your Strictly Swimming London coach or a knowledgeable swimming partner who can observe your technique and provide guidance. We can offer insights during your lessons on your stroke timing, body rotation, and breath coordination, helping you make necessary adjustments to achieve optimal timing. Regular practice and lessons will refine your bilateral breathing skills and improve your overall swimming performance.
Remember that finding the right timing may require some experimentation and adjustment. Each swimmer has unique characteristics, so it's essential to focus on what works best for you. With practice and attention to timing, you can refine your bilateral breathing technique and experience the benefits of enhanced efficiency, improved oxygen intake, and better overall performance in the water.
If you would like to master this technique, please contact Strictly Swimming London and we will tailor your lessons and develop bilateral breathing for you.
Strength and power are essential in swim training, swim competitions and triathlon events, according to sports scientists and swimming coaches. They play crucial roles in improving performance and achieving fast swimming. Strength refers to the ability to exert force against resistance, while power combines strength and speed for fast movements. Adding strength and power to swimming techniques improves performance and overall speed in the water. In freestyle, for instance, strength is important during the pull phase, while power is essential during the catch and pull-through for faster and more efficient arm movement.
Strength in swimming involves muscular strength, core strength, and endurance strength. Muscular strength allows swimmers to generate greater force, while core strength helps maintain proper body alignment and stability. Endurance strength enables swimmers to sustain powerful strokes over longer periods.
Power in swimming is crucial for explosive movements, such as starts, turns, and sprints. It involves muscle power, rate of force development, and reactive power, which allow swimmers to generate quick bursts of force and propulsion.
The Role of Strength in Swimming:
Strength refers to the ability of our muscles to exert force against resistance. In swimming, strength plays a pivotal role in executing powerful strokes, maintaining proper body alignment, and generating propulsion through the water. Key aspects of strength in swimming include:
Muscular Strength: Swimmers with well-developed muscles can generate greater force and maintain it over longer distances.
Core Strength: A strong core helps swimmers achieve optimal body alignment, reducing drag and increasing efficiency.
Endurance Strength: Endurance strength allows swimmers to maintain muscular strength and sustain powerful strokes throughout a race or training session. Endurance strength training involves high-volume workouts, interval training, and long-distance swimming to enhance the muscles' resistance to fatigue.
The Role of Power in Swimming:
While strength forms the foundation, power amplifies swimming performance by enabling swimmers to generate explosive movements and quick bursts of speed. Power is a combination of strength and speed i.e. it’s your capacity to generate real strength at high speed!
Muscle Power: executing explosive movements such as swimming starts, turns, and sprinting. It allows swimmers to generate quick bursts of force, propelling them forward with maximum acceleration.
Rate of Force Development: refers to the ability to produce force rapidly. In swimming, RFD is essential for quick catch and pull-through movements in strokes, enabling swimmers to generate immediate propulsion.
Reactive Power: Reactive power involves the ability to absorb and generate force quickly, making it crucial for starts, turns, and changes of direction in swimming.
Strength vs Power
Finding the right balance between strength and power is important for optimal performance in swimming. Stroke-specific training and periodization help target the specific demands of each stroke and optimize the development of strength and power. Upper body power is crucial for strong and efficient arm strokes, while leg power helps maintain balance, stability, and kick strength. Developing both arm and leg strength is essential for optimal power and efficiency.
Swimmers with a strength and power imbalance may experience challenges in their performance and technique. If there is an excessive focus on strength development without adequate power training, swimmers may struggle with generating explosive movements and quick bursts of speed and have slow stroke rate. Conversely, if there is an emphasis on power development without sufficient strength, swimmers may lack the necessary force production for effective strokes and propulsion. Striking a balance between strength and power training is crucial for swimmers to optimize their performance and achieve a harmonious combination of force, speed, and efficiency in the water. Please discuss this with your Strictly Swimming London coach during your lesson and we can focus on these elements.
Stroke-Specific Training: Different swimming strokes require varying degrees of strength and power. Tailoring training programs to the specific demands of each stroke can help swimmers develop the necessary attributes for success. For example, sprint swimmers may prioritize power development, while distance swimmers may focus more on strength-endurance.
Periodization: involves structuring training cycles to optimize strength and power. These periods vary in intensity, volume, and exercise selection. This periodized approach allows swimmers to build a solid strength foundation and then focus on enhancing power and explosiveness to maximize their swimming performance. These can be trained at different times of a week or a month.
Strength and Power of Arm Pull and Leg Kick
Having strength and power in arm pulls and leg kicks is crucial for swimming performance. Power in the upper body enables swimmers to generate strong and efficient arm strokes, propelling them with force and speed through the water. This propulsion is essential for maintaining a consistent stroke throughout the race. Leg power is important for balance, stability, and powerful kicks, aiding in forward movement and a streamlined body position. Both upper body and leg power are integral for swimmers to excel and achieve optimal performance in the water.
Strength and power during the arm pull allow swimmers to exert force against the water, propelling themselves forward. A strong arm pull maximizes stroke length, generating greater propulsion and speed. Similarly, powerful leg kicks provide additional propulsion and help maintain a streamlined body position. Strong leg muscles enable forceful and efficient kicks, resulting in increased speed and improved performance. Developing strength in both the arms and legs is essential for swimmers to achieve optimal power and efficiency in their strokes and kicks.
Strength and power in Starts and Turns
The benefits of strength and power during swimming starts and turns are significant. Having strong muscles in the core, paraspinal muscles, gluteal muscles, hamstrings, hip flexors, and quadriceps enables swimmers to generate explosive power off the starting block and the wall. This power allows for a quick and efficient push-off, maximizing the initial momentum and enhances further distances pushed from the wall and at greater speed. Additionally, strong and powerful muscles contribute to better body alignment and control during turns, facilitating a smooth transition and faster push-offs the wall for the next lap. Incorporating strength and power training specifically for starts and turns can lead to improved performance and competitive advantage in swimming events. All of the above can be trained during your lessons.
Strength Endurance in Distance Events
Strength endurance plays a pivotal role in distance freestyle events, demanding sustained effort and stamina from swimmers. Strong muscles and endurance enable athletes to maintain an efficient and powerful stroke throughout the race, swimming at a consistent pace and resisting fatigue. The repetitive nature of the stroke requires significant muscular strength in the arms, shoulders, and core to maintain proper form and generate force with each stroke, improving efficiency and speed. Strength endurance also helps swimmers endure the physical and mental challenges of a long-distance race, pushing through discomfort and muscle fatigue to maintain a steady rhythm and performance until the finish line. Developing strength endurance involves a combination of specific strength training exercises, resistance training, core workouts, and regular endurance training in the pool. By focusing on strength and endurance, distance freestyle swimmers can excel in their events, maintaining a powerful stroke and achieving their goals over long distances.
In conclusion, strength and power are crucial elements for fast swimming. Strength provides the foundation, while power amplifies performance. Developing both upper body and leg power, focusing on stroke-specific training and periodization, and incorporating power exercises improve performance. In distance events, strength endurance is essential for maintaining a powerful stroke, resisting fatigue, and achieving success. Technique is one of the most important factors in swimming, and adding strength and power to these movements certainly plays a huge role in becoming a faster swimmer.
Our Strictly Swimming London coaches can tailor your lessons to develop strength and power in your swimming, and equally create a programme to develop your strength endurance in your lessons if you are training towards your first triathlon or even your fiftieth triathlon.
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.