The spring break season has ended, and many people who enjoy participating in open water swims and triathlons are now looking to get back into swimming shape. Anyone who knows swimming, knows that running shape and swimming shape are two different animals. Swimming can be frustrating as getting into shape is often more difficult than in other sports. Aside from the technique needed, the high demand for anaerobic capacity makes practicing several days a week a must to get in shape. The right gear can greatly benefit both your training progress and recovery speed, while the wrong or even old gear can leave you injured or with less results than you wanted. In today’s world of competition, research in nutrition and cutting-edge gear such as compression shorts and sleeves as well as neuromuscular electrical stimulation (NMES), or e-stim for short, can all take any athlete’s high-performance stamina to the next level. All that is now much more accessible, and not just left to the world’s greatest like Lebron James to take advantage of the benefits. Still, something as simple as better paddles can immensely impact your technique and endurance. Even waterproof earphones to jam out can be a great way to crank out some extra yardage.
Keep the below tips in mind while getting back into shape, whether you swim competitively or recreationally.
Workouts That Hit the Same Energy Systems as Swimming
Full body workouts like using a rowing machine or going kayaking, as well as HIIT and general strength training are all good ways to cross-train effectively, either to stay in shape or ease back into it without doing any actual swimming. The grip needed to row efficiently directly correlates with the catch at the beginning of a stroke. You can complement rowing exercises with all kinds of dips and pull ups to activate your triceps, shoulders and lats.
HIIT workouts can emulate the anaerobic state your body experiences near the end of a race. The right gear for you will depend on what type of exercise you’re actually doing, but don’t forget quality compression shorts and a nutrition plan both boost your body’s performance and muscle recovery— both during and after any activity. Compression maintains good blood circulation which not only improves oxygen delivery for energy but also reduces lactic acid build-up. That will help keep you amped at the end of a workout.
Open Water Swimming
Based on your experience, this may or may not be obvious to you: you want to get into the pool a few weeks before you start ocean swimming just to shake out the cobwebs. Taking the lane ropes out and swimming in a circular fashion will give you the feel of open water as you take the walls out of the equation. Practice your gallop stroke to get your rhythm down since that technique is crucial to breathing without breaking stroke in the open water.
Once outside, don’t forget these basics. The sun essentially magnifies off the water so it is vital to use waterproof sunscreen. Similarly, using tinted goggles helps prevent unnecessary strain on your eyes. When swimming a long distance, do not forget to use an oil-based lubricant on your shoulders, neck, and lats. This helps reduce chaffing which at best is very irritating and can lead to bleeding in severe cases. Some kneeskin suits for women and compression shorts for men are designed to prevent chaffing, such as Original Watermen gives a rash-free guarantee on their Watermen Shorts. Find comfortable goggles and suits that still perform to avoid the dreaded chafing without compromising your success.
Don’t Start Out Too Hard When First Getting Back In
Doing too much too quickly is just asking for trouble, especially without proper recovery methods such as icing, compression and stretching! Rapidly escalating intensity without stretching and icing after workouts can spell doom for your hard work. Inflammation can be a huge problem to rid yourself of. Muscular injuries can be temperamental and easy to reaggravate, sometimes it seems to take forever to heal. Some post-workout recovery nutrition and a good pair of compression shorts can make all the difference in your long-term progress.
Just like with any physical work or fitness, it is important to ease your way back into swimming. Gradually work your way up in yardage at a low intensity then start ramping up by lowering intervals. Test yourself monthly to gauge progress and decide if you should make any changes to your workout plans.
Fresh Gear Can Get You Out of a Slump
Sometimes all you have to do is get new gear to find a new sense of motivation. That’s quickly overlooked to focus on training and nutrition, but no matter how long you’ve been swimming or dieting, most of us cannot help but get extra excited for fresh new gear – it’s human nature. It could be as little as a new pair of sleek goggles or fins, or a fun suit pattern to express your personality; or bigger items like a brand-new kayak or workout equipment. Do yourself a solid, get something new at least once a season!
New gear can get you over any kind of slump – physical, mental, emotional – simply by pepping you up and giving you something to look forward to again. Your enjoyment and comfort can certainly lead to improving your performance and health.
The temps are going up! There are plenty of ways to get into your tip-top swimming shape this summer of 2018. Comment below your favorite ways to get back in shape and/or any other recovery techniques you like.
About Original Waterman
Like so many great things in the 70’s, we started in the back of a VW bus. Surfer and lifeguard, Ken Miller and future wife Jen, began making and selling water trunks. The first customers were Carlsbad locals and eventually the State of California lifeguards signed up for 36 red shorts.
Since those early days we have evolved and grown and eventually outfitted over 1700 organizations from local and state agency lifeguards and fire fighters to military special forces. Original Watermen, as a company, was created with a singular vision: provide the best quality, fit, and performance in every garment. Few industries have the opportunity to test their mettle each time a great set rolls in. We’re fortunate; we do. At Original Watermen we measure our success by the performance of our products and the satisfaction of our customers. If you’re new to us, welcome aboard…it’s time to earn your salt.
Courtesy of Original Watermen, a SwimSwam partner.