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    SwimPath Blog — Training & Technique

    Event Specialisation

    When is the best time for swimmers to specialise in a certain event, stroke or distance? There's a lot of grey area and questions about when to focus on one event, but every individual swimmer is different. 
    Deciding when to specialise is a discussion that all swimmers need with their coaches and together a plan can be made to reach the swimmer's goals. 
    Even when a swimmer has grown to be better at a certain stroke or event, there are many benefits to continue to do some training on all of the strokes and competing in different events:
    • Improves overall general fitness working on more muscle groups rather than the one stroke you are specialising in,
    • Working on other strokes can benefit performance, by helping with recovery and adapting work load,
    • Reduces the pressure of trying to beat the time in one event as the swimmer will have a number of events and Best Times to beat rather than just one,
    • Racing in different events increases race practise and helps improve racing skills and speed,
    • The best type of training is racing! There are lots of top swimmers that still race in a number of events for training purposes, which helps towards their main event,
    • You might surprise yourself with a good time in an event you wouldn't normally do,
    • It keeps training and racing fun!

    From an Olympians' experience- What motivates a swimmer to get out of bed in the morning to go training.

    Looking back on the years of training and dedication that got me to 2 Olympic Games and 3 Olympic Finals, I think about what was it that got me out of bed on those mornings I was so tired and wanted to stay in bed. I often get asked, "Did you ever not want to go training or feel like quitting?" And the answer is yes, and the answer will be the same for the majority of World Class swimmers. Competitive sport is extremely tough and challenging and it's completely normal for us to have feelings of wanting to give up. Here are some motivational ideas/ thoughts that
    pushed me to get out of bed and commit to my training:
    - Ask yourself, Why am I doing this? To do be the best I can be, to beat my personal best, do get under 1min for 100 Fly, to win, I want to be on that Team.
    - Remember how it felt when I missed out on that Final and the time I missed out on making a team?
    - Is going to training going to get me closer to my goal or further away?
    - I don't have to go, but I'm going to feel worse if I don't go training.
    - Put your personal time goals on your bedroom wall, a reminder of what you want to achieve. It was such a good feeling achieving a personal time goal and being able to rip apart the piece of paper with the old time on and create a new goal time.
    - Everyone else will be at training, I'm going to miss out.
    - What will my competitors be doing?
    - If I get up I can have Breakfast!
    - Deep down I want to be doing this and I know I'm not ready to stop swimming.
     
    Everyone will have different goals and different ideas that motivate them to go training. What works for you?
     
    Motivation. Dedication. Goals.

    Strong Shoulder Stability for Faster Swimming

    Over time Swimmers will perform Millions of Shoulder rotations and arm movements, while expecting our Shoulders to deal with it and just power through. Unfortunately our shoulder's are very unlikely to deal with this amount of stress without proper strengthening and stabilising of our Scapulas.

    The majority of Swimmers will experience Shoulder pain during their careers and there's nothing more frustrating then missing out on a competition or only being able to Kick in training due to an injury. 

    Strengthening and stabilising the Scaps will allow swimmers' Training to be more consistent. Stronger Shoulders and Scaps allow swimmers to create more power while pulling and travel faster through the water with less energy! 

    Scapula exercises can easily be done anywhere around training sessions to improve stability:

    Pre- pool workouts- activates the muscles we want to use while swimming to reduce stress on the shoulders, increase Power from our pulling action, decrease chance of injury and missing training.

    Around Pool sessions- Increase strength and stability of the shoulders to maximise performance in the pool and reduce chance of injury and pain.

    Exercises can be done for a small amount of time each day and is definitely worth it for all of those swimmers with goals and who work hard everyday!

    Thera bands are a great tool for training the shoulders and can be found here- Thera bands! Video for exercises to follow!

    The Importance of Core Strength for Swimmers

    Good Core Strength is very beneficial for swimmers and their performance. Core training should be included in all swimming programmes to help swimmers get the best out of their training and become more efficient in the pool.

    The Core Muscles are used in all four strokes, as well as holding streamline position off the turns and the start. Here are some reasons swimmers will benefit from having good Core Strength:

    - A good Core stability allows swimmers to be able to hold the correct body positions while travelling through the water. Holding streamline after pushing off the wall or blocks is essential for travelling faster with less energy.

    - Swimmers will create less drag through the water by being able to hold a good body position and swim faster with less energy. Without the Core muscles being able to control an efficient body position the arms and legs use up high amounts of energy trying to pull and kick through the water resistance.

    - The connection between the Core and the other muscle groups used in swimming such as Arms, Back, Chest and Legs allows swimmers to generate more power while swimming, if the Core muscles are activated.

    - Strong Core muscles help massively with injury prevention and over all body strength. A good Core stability helps support hip, back and shoulder strength especially while training and allows athletes to train at higher intensities and see improvements without injuries.

    The Core can be trained at home and almost anywhere with simple exercises such as the plank, side plank, leg lowers and more! Even for just 10 minutes a day, any swimmer can fit in a bit of core training to help improve their performances in the pool. 

    Check out my demonstration of how you can use an Ab Roller effectively in a core strength exercise routine:

    Check out the Spokey Twin B Ab Roller here