Wednesday, December 5, 2012

How in the heck do the best get such an advantage off of the breakout?

How in the heck do the best get such an advantage off of the breakout? The answer is simple and teachable.

1. Push off of the wall with an excellent stream line. 

2. Use your push off and your underwater dolphin kicks to get under the wake created on the surface of the water. 

3. Begin to breakout by pulling with the bottom arm on the second to last dolphin kick. 

4. Continue your arm pull with an additional dolphin kick 

5. When the hand has reached the hip, conclude your dolphin kick and begin your flutter kick.

For any race, the breakout is crucial to maintaining speed during the transition from the underwater to the swimming portion. For backstroke and freestyle, it is also the time when swimmers must change from dolphin kick to flutter kick. Conventional wisdom says that this change should happen when the swimmer initiates his or her first arm stroke. However, many of our best National Team athletes have found great success using a technique we call the “Bonus Kick.”

The bonus kick is an extra dolphin kick used during the first arm pull on either backstroke or freestyle to help the swimmer “pop-up” through the surface of the water before they begin the flutter kick. As seen in the video clip below, the flutter kick does not begin until the first arm pull has finished down at the swimmer’s side

Tuesday, June 12, 2012


The USA Swimming Sports Medicine and Science Committee has recently reviewed the risks and benefits related to energy drinks and is providing information to call attention to the differences between energy drinks and "sports drinks" used for rehydration, to point out the risks associated with such drinks, and to provide suggested alternatives to use of these drinks.

In the coming weeks, the Sports Medicine and Science Committee will publish a series of articles on on the risks of consuming energy drinks. This week, nutritionist Jill Castle covers the basic nutritional facts behind these drinks.

By Jill Castle, MS, RD

Red Bull, Rock Star, Amp, Monster Energy—enticing labels for a tired and thirsty swimmer. Energy drinks are one of the fastest growing segments of drink sales in America and their popularity is growing, especially among youth. Athletes use energy drinks to rehydrate after a workout, boost attention and focus during school, “wake up,” or as a routine beverage at meals. Don’t be misled by something that sounds too good to be true—while an all-in-one drink is tempting, it carries some serious considerations for young athletes. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), children and teens should avoid energy drinks.

Confusion exists about the difference between a sports drink and an energy drink, so let’s clear this up. A sports drink contains a small amount of carbohydrate, minerals, electrolytes and flavorings and is designed to replace those nutrients lost through sweating after exercise. Gatorade is an example of a sports drink.

Energy drinks contain stimulants including caffeine, guarana and yerba mate (herbal stimulants) and taurine (an amino acid). Ginseng, if present, enhances the effects of caffeine. Other elements may be added to energy drinks, but their benefits, safety and side effects are questionable.

An average energy drink contains 70-200 mg caffeine per 16 ounces. Some energy drinks can contain up to 500 mg of caffeine, the equivalent of 14 cans of soda. For children and teens, caffeine consumption should be limited to 1.25 mg per pound of body weight (for a 100-pound swimmer that’s 125 mg caffeine per day). More than 100 mg of caffeine per day in adolescents has been associated with higher blood pressures.

Growing children and teens should avoid excess caffeine consumption. Excess consumption of caffeine is associated with agitation, anxiety, poor sleep, rapid heart rate, increased blood pressure and altered mental states.

Too much caffeine can mask fatigue. Gauging fatigue is important to staying fit, healthy and in the pool. If jacked up on caffeine, swimmers may miss the body’s signal for rest.

Caffeine can alter mood and behavior, resulting in physical dependence or addiction. How do you know if you’re a caffeine-addict? Without caffeine, you experience withdrawal symptoms such as headache, tiredness, depressed mood and nausea.

If that’s not enough to make you re-think your drink, here’s some more food for thought.

Energy drinks contain sugar—up to 30 grams per cup (almost ¼ cup of sugar). Limiting sugar consumption is a healthy practice, for any growing child and teen, whether an athlete or not.

Energy drinks are dehydrating. Due to the concentration of caffeine, energy drinks encourage frequent urination, and energy drinks with higher sugar content can compound the dehydrating effects of caffeine.

Feeling tired, losing focus and struggling with low energy? Rethink your nutrition, hydration and sleep program. No magic bullet replaces a nutritious diet of real, wholesome food, adequate water and other healthy liquids, or a good night’s sleep. And that’s no (red) bull.


Do you ever wonder how much fluid is needed to prevent dehydration? If you’ve experienced dehydration, you know it derails swim performance and causes other effects such as tiredness, headaches and confusion or poor judgment.

Fluid is the overlooked “magic bullet” for swimmers and one of the best ways to optimize swim performance.

Not only is it important to drink, it’s important to drink enough. Experts suggest that 2% dehydration (2 pounds weight loss in a 100-pound child) negatively impacts athletic performance.

According to the Institute of Medicine (IOM), young athlete’s thirst should be the gauge or indicator for how much fluid to drink. Research also suggests, that if youth athletes are given the opportunity to drink during exercise, the thirst mechanism will allow for adequate fluid intake so they meet their hydration needs.

But if you want numbers, here are the latest recommendations for child athletes:

To prevent dehydration, child athletes should drink 6 ml per pound of body weight per hour (100# young swimmer needs 600 ml or 20 oz, per hour). Drink this amount 2-3 hours before jumping into the pool and during exercise.

To replenish fluids after exercise, drink 2 ml per pound of body weight per hour (100-pound child swimmer needs 200 ml per hour or ~7 ounces, per hour). Drink this amount 1-2 hours after exercise—it promotes adequate hydration status for the next exercise session.

Water and other beverages can help satisfy the hydration needs of the swimmer. Many parents already know that it isn’t wise to offer up sugar-sweetened beverages like soda and sugar-added fruit juices routinely throughout the day. These drinks may help keep swimmers hydrated, but they can have a negative impact on overall diet quality.

Most importantly, the choice of fluid should be something the swimmer likes to drink, as drinking adequate amounts is critical.

Sports drinks are perfect for the long workout (greater than 1 hour in duration), and provide sugar, fluid and electrolytes to help beat dehydration. And they are effective! Because they are flavored, they encourage drinking. It’s best to keep their role limited to the pool, though.

Here are a few other beverage guidelines that will help prioritize the young swimmer’s health and swim performance:

GOOD: 100% real fruit juice (maximum of 1 to 1 ½ cups per day). Infrequent use of sugar-sweetened beverages.

BETTER: Milk, or calcium/ Vitamin D- fortified milk substitutes (aim for 3 cups per day).

BEST: Drink water, more than you think! The bulk of beverages should be from water. Use Sports drinks wisely and target their usage around workouts and race day.

It’s a mistake to think that just because swimmers are in the water, they get enough fluid. Coaches and parents have an opportunity to train young swimmers to drink regularly and make good choices. Good hydration habits are learned in and around the pool—maximize this asset for great performance!


Winter brings more than its share of cold and flu viruses. The average young person gets anywhere from 6 to 10 colds a year, and the dry heat of winter air and close proximity to others means it is easier to spread those nasty germs. Instead of heading to the medicine cabinet, try the kitchen cabinet to find foods rich in the nutrients that keep your immune system strong all winter long.
  1. Probiotic foods (those foods that contain good bacteria for a healthy gut) can enhance immunity. Your guts contain 2 to 3 pounds of bacteria and emerging research shows that the type of bacteria that live in your gastro-intestinal tract can prevent disease by acting as a natural antibiotic. Registered dietitian JoAnn Hattner, author of Gut Insight ( points out that 70% of our immune function takes place in the gut so eating foods rich in probiotics is a good idea to stay healthy. Yogurt is the most obvious probiotic food and other foods that contain helpful bacteria are kefir, miso (fermented paste of soybeans used to make miso soup), tempeh (another fermented soybean product) and sauerkraut.
  2. Citrus foods are rich in vitamin C, a nutrient that is often tied to preventing the common cold. Many people load up on vitamin C when they feel a cold coming on but research does not support that supplements can prevent a cold. But, eating vitamin C rich citrus foods contain plant compounds called citrus flavones that also have anti-inflammatory properties. Now is the peak season for oranges and grapefruit and for my favorite, Clementine tangerines. I like their size, ease of peeling and free of pips…the proper term for citrus seeds.
  3. Nuts and seeds are good sources of the fat-soluble vitamin E. In addition to being a potent antioxidant, this nutrient is also important in immune function. Sunflower seeds and almonds have the highest vitamin E content of any seed or nut and they both make great snacks. Make your own immune-boosting trail mix with unsalted mini-almonds, sunflower seeds and dried fruit.
  4. Meat and shellfish are not only good sources of protein but also contain the mineral zinc, important for wound healing and a strong immune system. Choose lean beef or pork and shellfish like lobster and crab to get a good source of zinc. And don’t be afraid of the dark; chicken thigh and drumsticks are higher in zinc than white meat chicken breast.
  5. Carbohydrate-rich foods are not only good for muscle fuel but some researchers think that carbohydrate ingested during exercise can counter the rise in stress hormones that are a natural part of exercise. During hard training, plan to consume carbohydrate-rich snacks like sports drinks, fruit or vegetable juices, fresh or dried fruit and whole grain crackers to help keep you stay strong all winter long.


By Jill Castle, Registered Dietitian and Child Nutrition Expert

My teen grabs a jug of orange juice and guzzles it! Is this bad?

In the nutrition world of hype and hysteria, you may think orange juice is a no-no. But is orange juice really as bad as everyone makes it out to be? Let’s take a look:

Orange juice contains key nutrients, such as vitamin C, folate, potassium, and phosphorus. More and more, you’ll find fortified orange juice, which has these nutrients plus calcium and vitamin D. All of these are important for growing athletes, but a few get honorable mention.

Vitamin C and Potassium

Vitamin C is a protective antioxidant and helps the body absorb iron from meat and non-meat sources of protein. Potassium is important for athletes who lose this nutrient through sweat losses. The 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans (DGA) state vitamin C is a nutrient of concern for children and teens, and potassium is a shortfall nutrient, lacking in the diet of most Americans, mostly due to lack of fruit and vegetable consumption.

A cup of orange juice provides about 90 mg vitamin C, which amply meets the requirements for young swimmers: 4-8 years: 25 mg/day; 9-13 years: 45 mg/day; 14-18 years: 75 mg/day (males) and 65 mg/day (females).

A cup of orange juice offers ~445 mg potassium, which contributes to daily requirements: 4-8 years: 3800 mg; 9-13 years: 4500 mg; 14-18 years: 4700 mg.


Calcium requirements jump to 1300 mg/day for swimmers 9-18 years, yet intake of calcium-containing foods (milk and other dairy products) is decreasing. Why? Soda and sports drinks are taking the lead, crowding out calcium from food sources.

All young swimmers need calcium for bone development. Teens are especially needy due to their rapid growth rate and limited time to reach peak bone mass (by age 20-25 years).

A cup of calcium-fortified orange juice delivers ~500 mg calcium, meeting up to 35% of daily calcium needs for children and teens.

Vitamin D

New recommendations for vitamin D have jumped to 600 IU/day for children over the age of one. Vitamin D is necessary for bone development but also plays a role in immunity, infectious disease, cancer prevention, and cardiovascular disease. While exposure to sunshine helps, sunscreen and other factors can inhibit vitamin D activation in the skin, making food sources an important player in meeting this requirement.

Natural food sources (fatty fish) or fortified sources (dairy products, eggs) can meet this need, but the truth is, consumption of these foods by children and teens may be limited.

A cup of vitamin D-fortified orange juice can provide ~135 IU, helping young swimmers get closer to their daily requirement for vitamin D.

Other Nutrients

Drinking 100% juice in recommended portions (see below) can improve nutrient intakes for several nutrients, including energy, carbohydrates, vitamin C, vitamin B6, potassium, riboflavin, magnesium, iron and folate, according to one study in Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine.

The Juice on Orange Juice

Orange juice can be part of a healthy diet, and its nutrients can help your young swimmer meet critical nutrition requirements, especially calcium and vitamin D.

But with everything nutrition, balancing orange juice in the diet is the trick:
  • For children under 6 years: limit juice to 4-6 ounces per day (1/2 to 2/3 cup).
  • For children over 6 years: limit juice to 8-12 ounces per day (1-1 ½ cups).

Monday, June 4, 2012


Recovery is a hot topic for swimmers and for good reason. A long pool and/or land workout burns muscle fuel and causes muscle protein breakdown. Eating a recovery snack within an hour of a workout speeds needed carbs and amino acids (the building blocks of protein that make up the protein-rich foods you eat) to replenish muscle glycogen and repair and build muscle tissue. Do you need to buy expensive protein shakes? No, because the same amino acids found in shakes can be found in food for less money and more taste. Here are recovery snacks that provide some carbohydrate and about 20 grams of high quality protein…the amount that most researchers agree is the optimal protein dose for recovery.

1. 2Chocolate Milk cups of low-fat chocolate milk provides two important sources of protein: whey and casein. Chocolate milk may truly be nature’s recovery beverage because in addition to high quality protein it contains the natural sugar lactose that stimulates insulin, a hormone that helps feed the amino acids into the muscle. Milk also contains as much calcium and 10 cups of spinach to keep your bones strong.

Cottage Cheese.2. 1 cup low-fat cottage cheese with peaches, pears, or pineapple…or any fruit you like. Cottage cheese is rich the amino acid leucine which is thought to be the trigger for muscle protein synthesis. Although cottage cheese doesn’t taste salty, it has a higher sodium content than other dairy foods and this might be a good thing if you are a salty sweater (if you see white, salty streaks on your clothing or cap after it dries, you are probably a salty sweater.)

3. Turkey Sandwich.3-ounces of turkey breast on a wheat bagel. Meat and fish provide about 7 grams of protein per ounce, so a 3-ounce portion gets to the needed 20 grams of protein. A three-ounce portion of meat is about the size of a deck of playing cards or a computer mouse.

4. Peanut butter sandwich.4 Tablespoons peanut butter and strawberry jam on wheat bread. This is an especially good recovery snack for those who are trying to gain weight. Peanut butter is higher in fat than other protein foods so means higher calories, but not to worry, the fat is the heart-healthy kind of fat.

5. Greek yogurt7-ounces of Greek yogurt with granola or fruit. Greek yogurt is higher in protein than regular yogurt and has a thicker consistency. Because it tastes a bit more like sour cream, sweeten it up with fruit or granola to add the carbs. Greek yogurt also makes a great topping for baked potatoes or cheese nachos as a substitute for higher-fat, lower-protein sour cream.

To get the most out of your training, practice good recovery by eating within the hour after exercise. You will be strong and ready to go for the next workout, which is most likely tomorrow!

Common Swimming Injuries: How To Prevent Them

Even if swimming has the reputation of being a low-impact exercise, swimming injuries can nevertheless occur due to over-demanding workouts or incorrect technique.
By the way, this article assumes that you swim in a responsible way in a safe environment (with supervision). Otherwise more serious injuries or even death could occur. Please don't take risks!

Swimmer's Shoulder

Swimmer's shoulder is the most common injury in swimming. It can be caused by bad technique, excessive or quickly increased workload or the use of swim paddles and pull buoys. I have written a detailed article about swimmer's shoulder here.
A young woman holding her aching shoulder

Breast Stroke Knee

The breast stroke knee or swimmer's knee is an injury that can be generated by the stroke mechanics of the breaststroke kick. Basically, when the legs extend, then are brought back together during the propulsive phase of the kick, the knee is subject to external rotation, for which it isn't designed. The inner ligament of the knee, called the medial collateral ligament, is then put under stress.
To avoid the breast stroke knee, it is advisable to:
  • Alternate the swimming strokes.
  • Have rest periods during the year where you don't swim breast stroke.
  • Properly warm up and do stretching exercises before a swim session.
  • Do strengthening exercises for the hamstrings and quadriceps. for example describes the best leg exercises you can do to strengthen your legs.

Neck Injuries

The neck is very mobile and this is why certain precautions must be taken to avoid swimming-related neck injuries. Neck Injuries are often due to incorrect technique.
While swimming the freestyle stroke, you should keep the head in line with the spine and the eyes should be looking straight down. Avoid looking to the front or lifting the head to breathe. Also avoid over-rotating the head during the inhale. Rotate the body more so that the head doesn't need to rotate so much to clear the water.
While swimming the breast stroke or butterfly stroke, keep the head aligned with the spine at all times. When you breathe in, look rather down than to the front so that the head stays in a neutral position.
Finally, in backstroke, swim distances must be increased gradually so that the anterior neck muscles have time to adapt.

Lower Back Injuries

Lower back swimming injuries are also often due to incorrect technique.
While swimming freestyle, it can happen that you swim with a high head position and/or your hips and legs sink. As a consequence you may be kicking hard to keep the legs up and be overarching the back. If this is the case, you should work on your position and balance so that you can find a relaxed horizontal position.
While swimming butterfly, it may be that you have poor technique and lift your upper body out of the water with the strength of your back. If that's the case, work on your body undulation and dolphin kick so that it's the body wave that lifts your upper body out of the water and not your back. Also warm up and stretch properly before attempting this swim stroke.

Additional Tips To Prevent Swimming Injuries

  • Warm up and stretch before a swim session.
  • Cool down and stretch after a swim session.
  • Follow a general program to develop your functional strength. An exercise ball is an excellent low-cost solution for this. Check out the swim workout exercises at

Swimmers: Common Injuries & Prevention

Engaging in any kind of athletic activity puts an athlete at risk for sustaining an injury. Even so, the benefits of engaging in a sport or other athletic activity far outweigh the risks of sustaining an injury due to athletic participation. Swimmers are no exception to this and just as in any other sport, there are specific injuries that swimmers are more likely to sustain.
Common swimming injuries
It might seem as though swimmers are less at risk for sustaining injuries than athletes who engage in physical activity on land, but that is not the case. Swimmers are susceptible to many different types of injuries. Some of the most common injuries that swimmers sustain include swimmer's shoulder, breast stroke knee, lower back injuries, neck injuries and injuries to the arms and legs.
One of the most commonly sustained injuries among swimmers is that of swimmer's shoulder. Much like the name implies, swimmer's shoulder is an injury to the shoulder. Due to the repetitive use of the arms and shoulders in swimming, excessive strain is often placed on a swimmer's shoulders and arms. Swimmer's shoulder may result from injury to the rotator cuff muscles, and in some cases, may be related to tendinitis of the arms.
Another common injury among swimmers is breast stroke knee, which is also known as swimmer's knee. Breast stroke knee results from the repetitive movements involved in performing the breast stroke. Swimmers that develop breast stroke knee are likely to suffer from pain, soreness and stiffness of the knees, caused by the excessive strain placed on the muscles and tendons surrounding the knees.
Preventing swimming-related injuries
One of the most important things that any athlete of any sport can do to prevent injury is to warm up before engaging in any type of intense physical activity. Swimmers can warm up by stretching for ten 10-15 minutes before entering the pool, or by swimming a few laps around the pool at a leisurely and relaxed pace.
Every swimmer can perform better and prevent injuries by ensuring they are using the correct form and posture when performing specific strokes. Swimmers should observe their peers, as well as seek counsel from their coaches to ensure they are practicing the right techniques when performing a stroke. By using the correct technique, a swimmer is less likely to place unnecessary strain on their body.
Lastly, swimmers may reduce the risk of injury while swimming by alternating activities. As demonstrated in injuries such as the breast stroke knee injury, continually repeated movements can place excessive strain on the body. By alternating activities, swimmers can ensure lesser-used muscles are kept active, as well as making sure that well-used muscles are given the opportunity to recover and rest.


This article will focus on injury prevention of groin injuries specifically for breaststrokers.

If you have sustained a groin injury, your orthopedic physician, physical therapist, or athletic trainer should be consulted. An accurate diagnosis of tissues involved will help develop an appropriate treatment plan. Within this plan, the following discussion of flexibility and strengthening exercises can be incorporated. Determining frequency, duration and intensity of these exercises will vary along the spectrum of injury through to prevention.

Breaststrokers need to have a balance of flexibility and strength between their pelvic and thigh musculature. Your thigh muscles originate off of your pelvic girdle, which is the center of your core stability.

A variety of muscles are constantly working against each other during the breaststroke kick. Flexibility is essential in the following muscles: quadriceps, hamstrings, adductors (inner thigh), abductors (outer thigh) and hip rotators.

Breaststrokers typically perform the “butterfly sit” stretch but should also follow with positioning one leg out straight to the side while the other leg stays bent to isolate each inner thigh/hip.

You should never experience pain when you are stretching. Experiencing pain during stretching or strengthening can be an indication of damage to tissue whether it is muscle, tendon, ligament, fascia, capsule, nerve or bone. A mild soreness is acceptable if it resolves soon after the activity. Breaststrokers should choose both static and dynamic flexibility exercises.

Static stretching should be held 30-60 seconds with a range of 3-6 repetitions. Static stretches are productive following an increase in your core body temperature and can produce benefits in tissue elongation.

Dynamic stretching is helpful in warming up the tissues and stimulating the body for performance. An example of dynamic stretching beneficial to breaststrokers is leg swings.

To stretch and stimulate the inner and outer thigh muscles, swing the leg back and forth through abduction/adduction directions across your body. To stretch the hip flexors and extensors, swing the leg forward and back in front and behind your body. These swings provide an increase in extensibility of the muscles that attach from your pelvis to your thigh and also stimulate the muscles to prepare for activity in the water.

The leg swings can also be useful as an actual strengthening exercise for breaststrokers who need an increase in strength and range of motion in their hip muscles. This exercise helps address the concentric (shortening) and eccentric (lengthening) demands of the inner and outer thigh muscles.

A swimmer can perform these swings through different angles for an increased amount of time to build range of motion and strength. Imperative to hip strength is a balance of lower abdominal strength.

Core training includes abdominal and low back strengthening. There are many ways to increase strength utilizing medicine balls, swiss balls, body blade, ab rollers or just your own body weight.

Hamstring strength is involved in appropriate groin strength. The adductor magnus muscle is an example of the inner thigh’s coordination with the hamstrings as it works to do both muscle actions. Hamstring curls can be incorporated with core training when using swiss balls and maintaining a “bridge” position with feet on the ball and pulling the ball up underneath you with your feet.

Often there is an imbalance between the power of the quadriceps being much stronger than the hamstrings. The weaker hamstrings get overloaded and strained and can lead to a groin injury. A weakness in gluteal and outer thigh muscles can be present as an imbalance with tightness of the inner thigh muscles.

Exercises to increase outer thigh strength can be traditional leg lifts lying down, leg pulls against resistance in standing or become more sport specific by adding hip external rotation as you abduct your leg. You can utilize a band around your thighs in sidelying position and lift one leg up and away from the other while keeping your feet together.

The Slide board is another excellent concentric/eccentric exercise for thigh/hip strengthening. Lunges front and side stepping directions should also be included.

The breaststroke kick involves multiple joints moving through rotation angles at the same time while abducting and adducting the legs. An exercise that I have found successful for breaststrokers is “standing hip rotations."

External Hip Rotation

START - External Hip Rotation
START - External Hip Rotation
FINISH - External Hip  Rotation
FINISH - External Hip Rotation
Begin with the standing leg firmly planted, the free leg bent to approximately 90 degrees and hip internally rotated with the knee facing the floor, and the arms reaching toward the lateral (outer) side of the standing foot. This reach of the arms and torso internally rotates the standing hip slightly. (see START - External Hip Rotation)

To complete the movement, open the arms and torso toward the free leg, opening the hips to externally rotate the free leg. The arms and free leg knee should now be facing the ceiling. This movement also externally rotates the standing leg from the hip. (see FINISH - External Hip Rotation)
Internal Hip Rotation
START - Internal Hip Rotation
START - Internal Hip Rotation
FINISH - Internal Hip Rotation
FINISH - Internal Hip Rotation

Begin with the standing leg firmly planted, the free leg bent to approximately 90 degrees and the hip in a neutral position with the knee facing the floor. Reach with the arms and torso toward the medial (inner) side of the standing foot. This externally rotates the standing hip slightly. (see START - Internal Hip Rotation)

To complete the movement, transfer the arms and torso inward, closing the hips to internally rotate the free leg. The arms and free leg knee should now be facing the ceiling. This movement also internally rotates the standing leg from the hip. (see FINISH - Internal Hip Rotation)

In each of the exercises above, the standing leg is rotating while balancing and the free leg is actively rotating through a plane of motion. Hip and knee rotation are involved in both legs and ankle rotations are included in the weight bearing leg. Core stabilization is included with abdominal and erector spinae (back) co-contractions during trunk rotation motions. The swimmer should perform as large an excursion of diagonal motion as he/she can control the technique of all the combined rotation motions. Perform as many repetitions until “burn” is felt in the weight bearing leg and then switch legs.

With all exercises, the swimmer can increase the speed of the exercises to increase sport specific demands. Once the technique is mastered, increasing speed will advance strength and stability through hip and pelvic musculature. Preventing groin injuries is possible if you maintain the proper balance of flexibility among different muscle groups as well as a balance of flexibility and strength throughout the hip and pelvis muscles.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012


By Dan McCarthy//National Team High Performance Consultant

The burpee can be performed just about anywhere, and requires no equipment. Of course it can be more difficult by incorporating weighted-vests, pull-up bars or gymnastic rings, but the basic motion is very athletic and incorporates muscle groups from head to toe. (For a demonstration of the exercise, visit the CrossFit Burpee Demo).

Joan Jett music aside, the linked demonstration is excellent. The traditional burpee is demonstrated, as well as an easier modified version, a higher-rep version, and an advanced burpee incorporating gymnastic rings.

Done with proper instruction and adequate supervision the burpee is a safe, body-weight exercise. It incorporates a wide-range of muscle groups, requires some coordination and entails the working muscles performing synergistically to complete the exercise correctly. After learning the proper technique, complete 3 x 10 burpees on :30 rest. Add repetitions or increase the speed as long as the proper form is maintained.

For more tips from the National Team High Performance staff, visit the National Team High Performance Tips archive.


By Dan McCarthy//National Team High Performance Consultant

The last training cycle before taper is the most important one to take care of yourself. It represents either one of the hardest training cycles of the year, or the culmination of months and months of hard training and competing without a break. The physical stress of such training raises the cortisol levels in the body and suppresses the immune system. In addition, the human body does not differentiate between one type of stress or another; so the combination of the physical, mental and emotional toll of day-to-day living can all really pound the immune system into the ground. Illnesses and infections seem more prominent during taper because the immune system is at its weakest, not because of the taper. If the athlete is worrying about the upcoming competition during taper, then not only is their immune system vulnerable, but they are continuing to suppress it as well.

Luckily there are some measures that can be taken during the last training cycle and taper cycle to help the immune system stay strong and effectively combat illness.
  1. Eat fruits and vegetables: Add fruits and vegetables to your diet if they aren’t already there, or eat more of them; and eat them with every meal. The vitamins and minerals in fruits and vegetables have antioxidants which combat the by-products of training. Additionally, they are absorbed much better from food sources than multivitamins.
  2. Avoid alcohol! Alcohol reduces the white blood cell count in your body, which are the cells which combat disease in your body. Alcohol prevents nutrients from feeding the immune system, weakening it instead, and alcohol calories are worthless to an athlete. Excessive drinking will create a nutritional deficiency.
  3. Sleep! Try to find some time during the day for a nap, and go to bed earlier than normal (or wake up later).
  4. Use some common sense. Wash your hands often, don’t share water bottles and keep your hands away from your face when they are not clean.


During hard training cycles, like Christmas training, it is imperative for athletes not only to eat promptly (within a half-hour) following a hard training session, but eat the right amount of carbohydrates and protein as well. A sound recovery plan will be based on an athlete’s body weight.
  • Athletes should eat .5 grams of carbohydrates for every pound of body weight
  • Athletes should eat 15-20 grams of protein
  • Athletes should drink 24 ounces of water for every pound lost
  • Athletes should include electrolytes (sodium, potassium) from food with salt or a sports drink
The dieticians at the USOC have compiled some suggested recovery meals based on body weight:

110-132 Pound Athlete
  • 16 ounces of chocolate milk and water, or
  • 6 ounces of non-fat Greek yogurt, fresh fruit, and water, or
  • A natural ingredient sport bar (fruit/nut), a glass of skim milk, and water
154-176 Pound Athlete
  • 24 ounces of chocolate milk and water, or
  • Sport bar (45-50 grams of carbs/15-20 grams of protein) and 16 ounces of sport drink, or
  • 12 ounces of non-fat Greek yogurt, one cup of fruit juice, and water
198-220 Pound Athlete
  • 24 ounces of chocolate milk, water and a banana, or
  • Sport bar (50 grams of carbs/15-20 grams of protein) and 24 ounces of sport drink
Not only must an athlete eat their recovery snack within a half hour of completing practice, but they must also have a meal within an hour of eating their recovery snack, and add another snack an hour after the meal. Obviously this is not a recovery plan for every day of the year, but it will certainly make a difference when the coach pulls out their special New Year’s 10,000-yard set to cap off an intense week of holiday training.



Anyone who has never used or heard the excuse, “I’m a swimmer, so I’m awkward on land,” has never been part of competitive swimming. This idea that swimmers are only athletic in the water has been around for as long as I can remember.

For a long time, swimmers and coaches perpetuated this stereotype by avoiding a lot of dryland activities that were viewed as “too risky.” However, in recent years, many of these same coaches and athletes have started to incorporate more dryland aimed at improving overall fitness and athleticism.

The best athletes (and coaches) understand that a high level of fitness is the foundation upon which optimal performance is built.

As part of the High Performance staff, I am often asked about dryland programs for our National Team athletes. What are they doing? What should they be doing? What should they avoid?

Because every athlete is different, there are a large number of options to consider when designing a training plan.

Programs like CrossFit, Insanity and P90X are great for improving overall fitness and increasing speed, power and agility. With some combination of cardio, weights, plyometrics and stretching, elements from any of these programs can be used as part of a swimmer’s training routine. These programs are also easily adapted to meet the unique needs of individual athletes.

One thing to keep in mind when implementing any of the above programs is to limit the amount of overhead stress placed on an athlete. Because swimming focuses so heavily on repetitive overhead movements, it is important to monitor this stress level to avoid overuse injuries.

Monday, May 21, 2012


What do you pack to eat on race day? What’s your nutrition prescription?

Everybody has a different approach when it comes to eating on race day. Having a strategy and an execution plan can remove doubt and worry about hunger, energy levels, digestive problems, and keep you focused on the race at hand.

Here are a few guidelines for smart eating and packing up the cooler:
  • Don’t DQ your day. Breakfast at home or on the road is the metabolism boost every swimmer needs. Instant oatmeal made with skim or low fat milk, toast with nut butter, dry cereal, yogurt and fruit are all light options that rev up the body. If you are competing in the morning, be sure to keep it light. Opt for a heavier breakfast if competition is in the afternoon.
  • Pack variety. A few options of fruit, vegetables, grain and high quality protein sources should cover the variable appetite and tummy tolerance you may experience on race day. It’s better to have more food options than a large quantity of only two or three foods. Don’t make the mistake of relying on a single food or energy bars to get you through the day. While they can do the job of fueling your body, they may not rate in appetite satisfaction. Having a variety of food sources increases the odds of proper fueling and healthy eating.
  • Pack enough. You don’t want to run out of food, and you may want to share with other swimmers (well-fueled swimmers help the whole team, right?).
  • Pay attention to temperature. If you are packing perishables, be sure to add an ice pack. It’s no fun to get tummy cramps before a race because something has spoiled.
  • Pack in the protein. Protein will be an ally in keeping your blood sugar stable, thus keeping hunger, energy and mood in check. Nibble on cheese sticks or slices, nuts, peanut or nut butters, deli meat slices, yogurt or yogurt drinks, boxes of low fat milk, hummus, hard-boiled eggs or edamame.
  • Don’t forget the Carbohydrate. Your muscles rely on carbs for fuel. Pack easily digestible sources such as 100% juice, fruit leather, applesauce, fresh or dried fruit, or veggie sticks. Don’t forget the more complex carbohydrate foods too, such as crackers, unsweetened dry cereal, pita or other breads, pretzels and graham crackers. Stay away from refined sugars such as soda, candy and desserts on race day.
  • Nosh or Nibble? Save “meals” or large quantities of food for big breaks between events. Nibble small amounts of food before and after events that are closely scheduled. At a minimum, you should be nibbling to stay energized and keep your muscles fueled on race day.
  • Think your drink. Water, 100% fruit juice and sports drinks are appropriate at a swim meet. Plain and flavored milk are great recovery drink choices after the meet; they provide protein for muscle repair and carbohydrate to re-fuel muscles.
  • Know your eating style on race day. If it is counter-productive to racing, follow these guidelines as a strategy for optimal eating. Don’t tempt yourself by packing foods or making concession purchases that you (really) don’t want to be eating.
  • Fiber Facts. Fiber can be a problem on race day, or not. Fiber is a food component to which each swimmer has an individual tolerance. Don’t experiment with high fiber foods on race day; sort this out during training season and avoid tummy trouble when it matters most.


V is for Visualization

You’ve all been told to imagine yourself swimming your best race. You’ve undoubtedly sat up before a big meet and thought about how you were going to do and tried to “see” yourself winning. This article will discuss how to make the most of your imagination and how to visualize correctly so that you’ll reap the performance benefits.

It Really Works
Without going into the science or citing a bunch of research, there is a lot of evidence on the power of visualization in sport as well as many other domains. Basically, there are various theories as to why it works, some claim it strengthens neuropathways while others think it is effective because it bolsters psychological skills. Regardless of WHY it works, the majority of the research does show performance is enhanced through visualization, provided the athlete does it correctly.

The Keys
I should really stop calling it visualization because technically the correct term is “imagery.” The reason it’s not “visualization” is because when doing it correctly, you are using more than just your visual sense. The first key to proper imagery is to incorporate all of your senses. Not only should you see yourself swimming well, but you should feel your hands pulling through the water, smell the chlorine, hear the crowd, and maybe even taste the Gatorade you drank as you were preparing for your race. Vivid details are essential for imagery to be effective.

Another important aspect is to try to imagine your race in real time. I know a few coaches who give out stopwatches to their swimmers and have them imagine their race as close to their goal time as possible. Along with this is the need for controllability and positivity-you must dictate where your imagination takes you and you should ensure you are always imagining a desired outcome and correct technique.

For added benefit, include mental cues and positive self-talk. You can create a CD/Mp3 that you listen to that will guide you through the race. Such guided imagery should include positive statements to program your race-day thoughts (ex: “As I pull through the water I feel how strong and powerful I am” or “As you stand on the blocks you focus on only your lane and feel confident in your preparation and are ready to race your best”).

Do it often, don’t wait until right before your meet to imagine the race you want. When you wake up every morning you can imagine performing well in your upcoming events. Before practice you can visualize your goals for the day. Before each set you can quickly imagine how this will help you in a race. It can even be helpful to picture something not going as planned (ex: goggles snap, a bad race, etc.), but imaging an appropriate and effective reaction (though I suggest keeping everything positive the night before/day of a race).

Déjà Vu
The purpose of imagery is to mentally prepare you for various situations. You want to have vividly imagined every aspect of race day so that when you arrive at the pool, your mind thinks it has already been there, done that. Your mind can’t always tell the difference between what’s real and what it’s created, so by convincing it that you’ve already successfully swam this race you’ll be calmer, more confident, and appropriately focused—a state of mind that in and of itself will help you to perform your best. Also, the more you feel yourself swimming (rather than imagining your race like you’re watching a video of yourself), the easier it will be to create this Déjà vu experience. So go start mentally rehearsing your future success now!

Make it Great!
Dr. Aimee


Keys to Success

Keys to Success with National Teamer Haley Anderson

1. Have fun. Don’t take things too seriously. Swimming is too stressful if you do. If you aren’t having fun with it, you won’t be successful. Having fun makes practices a lot easier to get through, especially with open water workouts.

2. Consider all your options. At first I didn’t have an open mind about open water swimming. I was like, “Why would I do that?” Once I thought about it, I decided, “I might as well.” Though there are a lot of differences, in the end it was really just like adding another event.

3. Make the most of each experience. When you go on trips for meets, you can meet a lot of people. In the open-water community, everyone knows each other. One of the big differences between pool and open water is that in open water we all talk about the race afterward. There’s a lot more dialogue among the athletes than when we go to pool events. And with the courses, water temperature, and crowded fields, there is a lot to talk about. So it’s a lot more exciting after each race sitting down with a big group and catching up on it all.

4. Always take care of your body. I am not always the healthiest eater, but as an athlete I have to constantly be aware of taking care of my body as much as I can. This includes knowing that during the season I have to get a lot of sleep, especially if I have hard classes that carry a huge workload. Actually, when you are at your busiest, that’s when it’s most important to pay attention to what your body needs, because the shape you are in can easily unravel.

5. Swimming is awesome, but so is the rest of your life. Keep some balance in your life. Going to college and getting an education is important to me. Being part of a college team has helped me develop skills as a teammate that will help me long after I am done competing. Stay close to the people who you care about, especially your family and friends, because when you see them again, knowing them so well you will be able to see how you have changed. Keeping that balance in your life, and realizing that swimming, school and friendships all work hand-in-hand is important so you don’t lose perspective.

Monday, May 7, 2012

INSIDE THE WORKOUT - Learn to Build Your Races

There are countless ways strategize the perfect race. Each athlete is a bit different, so there are varying theories depending upon how you race. Some swimmers go out really fast and try to hold on, others try to negative split, and some just try to stay the same pace throughout.

Here at the University of Texas, coach Eddie Reese teaches us to build our races. Although we still believe in the concept of going out fast, it is critical to be controlled and increase the intensity along the way.

One of the ways we take this theory and put it into practical application is by creating sets around the concept. Here’s a set we recently swam in order to help us build the back end of our races.
25-meter pool:

4x100 on 1:40
  • The first 100 you go fast on the last 25.
  • The second 100 you go fast on the last 50.
  • The third 100 you go fast on the last 75.
  • The fourth 100 you go fast on the entire 100.

We did this entire set two rounds swim, one round pull, and two rounds kick. Between each round we took a 2-minute break.

Exploding on parts of the 100 that started from the end allowed us to build up the entire swim so that at the finish we were really firing, as if we were really in a race. Just like in a race we realized that it was important to build up each ‘fast’ part so that we had gas at the end. For instance, really only the last 15 to 25 meters of a race is completely ‘all out’.

I swam in the group that did 100s, however, we did have some athletes who did the set going 200s. The group that did 4x200 started with the last 50 being fast, and added a 50 on each repeat. This is a much different set physically and will be much harder to get the same type of top-end speed from. If you’re not as much of a speed demon, the 200’s set might be better for you.

Work with your coach to figure out what part of this set will benefit you most. Remember, in order to execute the perfect race strategy in the race, we must practice it in workout. Keep working hard and having fun.


Popeye the Sailor Man got it right. By focusing on iron (spinach), he transformed himself into a strongman, ready to save the day. He knew that iron was an important nutrient to health. While the swimmer won’t experience Popeye’s immediate transformation into a muscle wielding superhuman, he will strengthen his immune system and energy level.

Where iron is and what it does
There are two sources of iron in our food supply: heme iron (from meats and fish) and non-heme iron (from plant foods). While both are absorbed and utilized by the body, heme iron sources are better absorbed than non-heme iron foods.

Iron helps the body transport oxygen to cells. This is important for the swimmer, as a deficiency in iron will limit oxygen delivery to all cells, including the all-important muscles.

How iron needs change and what they are
As swimmers grow, iron needs increase because blood volume expands naturally. Iron requirements are as follows:

Male Female
9-13 years: 8 mg per day
14-18 years 11 mg per day

9-13 years: 8 mg per day
14-18 years: 15 mg per day
The female swimmer almost doubles her iron needs when puberty hits, this is due to blood volume increases, and blood losses (menstruation).

Signs of not getting enough
Fatigue or lack of energy, paleness, low body temperature, chronic infections/colds, and reduced academic performance are indicators of a potential problem. Iron deficiency is caused by too little iron in the diet and can lead to iron-deficiency anemia. Swimmers who are lacking iron in their diet will need to focus on getting more. Swimmers who have anemia may be prescribed an iron supplement to rejuvenate their iron stores, in addition to an iron-rich diet.

At-risk populations
Swimmers and other endurance athletes are at higher risk for iron deficiency anemia. This is due to blood cell breakdown during exercise, making iron more of a concern. Children and teens who are picky eaters, dieters, meal skippers or who have a poor quality diet (heavy on junk, light on nutritious options) are at risk for iron deficiency. Lastly, female swimmers have a double-whammy—greater iron needs with growth and blood loss due to menstruation.

Iron-Rich foods
Popeye was strong because he ate his spinach, but other foods offer the swimmer a punch of iron too. Organ meats (liver), red meats, poultry and fish are the richest sources of heme iron and best absorbed by the body. Non-heme iron sources such as beans, tofu, dark leafy vegetables (spinach, kale), fruits (raisins), iron-fortified cereals, quinoa, iron-fortified breads, bagels and muffins, edamame (soy), almonds and cashews require a little help from Vitamin C to boost the iron absorption.

Tips for getting more

• Plan to include iron-rich foods at each meal.

• Vitamin C promotes iron absorption of non-heme sources. Pair citrus juices, fruits such as strawberries and mango, and other sources of vitamin C with plant-based iron-rich foods.

Example: iron-fortified cereal with raisins and a glass of orange juice

• Protein helps iron absorption. When meat is combined with iron sources (the “meat factor,”), absorption of iron increases 2-3 times!

Example: Enchiladas with lean ground beef and beans; steak and spinach

• Worried your swimmer is not getting enough? Try this!

Iron-Rich Smoothie:
4-6 ounces of orange juice
½ - 1 cup of baby spinach leaves (or kale)
1 cup of frozen berries (raspberries, blueberries, or other)
¼ cup plain Greek yogurt or iron-fortified tofu

Positively Contagious

The Swine Flu is not the only thing you catch at work. Turns out you are just as likely to catch someone’s bad mood and negative attitude. Yes, the latest research demonstrates what we’ve all known to be true, emotions are contagious. Researchers call them emotional contagions and they impact our work environments, productivity, teamwork, service and performance in significant and profound ways.

As we know all too well, one negative employee can pollute an entire team and create a toxic work environment. One negative leader can make work miserable for his/her team. An employee in a bad mood can scare away countless customers. Complaining can act like a cancer and spread throughout the entire organization and eventually destroy your vision and goals. And pervasive negative attitudes can sabotage the morale and performance of teams with great talent and potential.

That’s the bad news… but there’s also good news.

Positive emotions are just as contagious as negative emotions. One positive leader can rally a group of willing people to accomplish amazing things. One Chief Energy Officer who sits at the welcome desk can positively infect every person who walks in your business/school/workplace. One positive team member can slowly but surely improve the mood and moral of her team. And pervasive positive attitudes and emotions at work can fuel the morale and performance of your organization.

Emotional contagions are the reason why when I speak to businesses, schools and sports teams I say that everyone in the organization contributes to the culture of it. You are not just a creation of your culture but rather you are creating it every day through your thoughts, beliefs and actions. What you think matters. How you feel matters. And the energy you share with others, whether it’s positive or negative, really matters.

You can be a germ and attack your organization’s immune system or you can act like a dose of Vitamin C and strengthen it.

So the next time you head into work with a bad mood you might want to stop before you walk in the door and consider what your boss would say if you had the Swine Flu. She would tell you to stay home until you are healthy and not contagious. And in that moment, as you stand at the door you have choice: You can go home so you don’t infect anyone with your bad mood, or you can choose to get healthy right there, change your attitude, and decide to be positively contagious.

Monday, April 30, 2012

Words Of Wisdom From One Of Sport’s Greatest Coaches

Pat Summitt’s Tennessee Lady Vols 12 Principles:

1. Respect yourself and others
2. Take full responsibility
3. Develop and demonstrate loyalty
4. Learn to be a great communicator
5. Discipline yourself so no one else has to
6. Make hard work your passion
7. Don't just work hard, work smart
8. Put the team before yourself
9. Make winning an attitude
10. Be a competitor
11. Change is a must
12. Handle success like you handle failure

Who Am I?

I am your constant companion.
I am your greatest asset or heaviest burden.
I will push you up to success or down to disappointment.
I am at your command.
Half the things you do might just as well be turned over to me,
For I can do them quickly, correctly, and profitably.
I am easily managed, just be firm with me.
Those who are great, I have made great.
Those who are failures, I have made failures.
I am not a machine, though I work with the precision of a machine and the intelligence of a person.
You can run me for a profit, or you can run me for ruin.
Show me how you want it done. Educate me. Train me.
Lead me. Reward me.
And I will then…do it automatically.
I am your servant.
Who am I?

I am a habit.


All kinds of pre-workout supplements are being marketed to athletes claiming to boost energy, enhance performance, and improve endurance. Do you need to eat before a workout? If so, what should you eat or drink? Let’s look at who might need a pre-workout snack and the best choices.

If your workout lasts longer than 45 minutes (and what swimmer’s workout doesn’t?) you should fuel up before exercise. What you should eat and how much you should eat depends on how much time you have before a workout.

Ideally, you will have time for a healthy meal 3-4 hours before exercise, so that there is time for the food to be digested and absorbed. But when reality strikes and you don’t have time to eat before swim practice, you should at least eat 30 grams of carbohydrate. Carbs that are easily digested and eaten 15 minutes before exercise can improve your performance when compared to exercising with no carbohydrate.

Here are my top picks for snacks with 30 grams of carbohydrate. These foods also provide other benefits, such as extra vitamins and minerals needed for optimum performance.
  • 6-ounce container of low-fat fruit yogurt has 30 grams of carbs with the added benefit of calcium (as much as a glass of milk), protein, potassium, vitamin A and riboflavin.
  • 2 mini-bagels with a piece of low-fat string cheese provide 30 grams of carbs, protein and B-vitamins needed for energy.
  • 1 medium to large sized banana has 30 grams of carbs. A banana is the original fast food – easy to pack and eat, and requires no refrigeration. Bananas are also a powerhouse for potassium, an electrolyte lost in sweat.
  • Banana-strawberry fruit smoothie (8-12 ounces depending on product). Liquids, like smoothies, are easy to digest and most contain calcium and vitamin C.
  • 10 mini-pretzels and ½ cup apple juice contain easy to digest carbs along with some sodium for those who are salty sweaters.
Eating before a workout doesn’t have to be complicated or expensive. All it takes is some planning to have nourishing snacks available to power you through a workout

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Stretches for Swimming

Stretches for Swimming

Swimming workouts utilize almost your entire body. In order to prevent injury, stretching is very important. When stretching, you should make sure you cycle through all parts of your body. This guide covers the main stretches that you should use for your arms, back, and legs. For each stretch, hold the position for 30 seconds, and repeat for both sides.

Arms & Shoulders

It’s pretty clear why competitive swimmers have strong, broad shoulders. No matter what stroke you swim, you can’t avoid using your arms and shoulders. That’s why it is so important to focus on them while stretching.

Elbow Pull for Your Arm Pit

In swimming, you’re constantly using the muscles that surround your arm pit. Every pull you take — for all four strokes — uses these muscles which include your triceps, lats, and various shoulder muscles. Make sure you stretch them out really well. Here’s how:
1. Place your right hand behind your head, and point your elbow straight up.
2. Take your left hand and place it on your right elbow.
3. Pull your right elbow inward with your left hand.
4. Hold this position. Then switch arms, and repeat.

Wall Press for Your Front Shoulder

The front of your shoulder is always a hard place to stretch. The wall press is a great way to access those hard to reach muscles. Follow these steps for a good wall press:
1. Place your right hand on a wall at shoulder height. Place your palm on the wall so your thumb is facing upward.
2. Slightly bend your right elbow.
3. Twist your body to your left — away from the wall.
4. Hold this position. Then switch arms, and repeat.

Legs & Buttocks

Since the kick propels you through the water, you will likely rely on your legs and buttocks muscles extensively. Make sure you spend some time stretching out these muscles.

Wall Lean for Your Calves

This stretch is great after long kicking sets. After you feel that burning sensation in your calves, wall leans are a great way to loosen them up. Here’s how to do a wall lean:
1. Place your hands on a wall at about shoulder-height. Keep your hands shoulder-width apart. Lean against the wall while facing toward it.
2. Scoot your right foot back as far as it can reach without straining it.
3. Place your right heel on the ground.
4. Keep your right leg straight.
5. Hold this position. Then switch legs and repeat.

Pretzel Stretch for Your Buttocks

Believe it or not, you use your buttocks a lot in swimming. You use it while you kick. You also use it every single time you push off the wall. Think about how many turns you do in every practice! You’ll soon realize how much these muscles are utilized when you begin this pretzel stretch. Follow these steps for a good pretzel stretch:
1. Sit down on the ground.
2. Bend your right leg, and place the sole of your foot flat on the ground.
3. Lift your left leg up, and place your left ankle on your right thigh.
4. Push your left knee away from you. If you’re not feeling the stretch, scoot your right foot in closer to your buttocks.
5. Hold this position. Then switch legs, and repeat.

Butterfly Stretch for Your Inner Thighs & Groin

There are a fair amount of groin injuries that occur in swimming: Especially in breaststroke. To help prevent inner thigh and groin injuries, make sure you stretch them out really well.
1. Sit up tall on the floor.
2. Bend your knees and relax your calves against the floor.
3. Press the soles of your feet together.
4. Hold your feet so that they remain touching. For a deeper stretch, press down on your knees.


In freestyle and backstroke, you constantly rotate from side-to-side. This uses your laterals and lower back constantly. Spend some time stretching out your back to get your muscles feeling loose.

Model Pose for Your Laterals

Swimmers tend to have very defined laterals for a reason. You are constantly overworking these muscles in practice. The model pose is a fantastic stretch to loosen up your overused laterals.
1. Sit on the floor.
2. Bend your left leg, and place your left foot flat on the ground.
3. Straighten your right leg.
4. Cross your left foot over your right leg.
5. Take your right elbow and press it diagonally against the outside of your left leg.
6. Push against your leg, and twist your torso.
7. Hold this position. Then switch sides and repeat.

Child’s Pose for Your Lower Back & Hips

The child’s pose will feel so good after practice! Your lower back can feel increasingly sore after practice. This stretch does a great job of accessing those lower back and hip muscles. Follow these steps for a good child’s pose:
1. Kneel down so that your whole shin is touching the floor.
2. Touch your legs together.
3. Rest your thighs on your calves.
4. Lean over your thighs so your belly touches your legs.
5. Lay your forehead on the ground. 6. Stretch your arms out in front of you with your palms facing downward.

After Practice

Although many swimmers stretch before practice, it’s even more important to stretch afterward. When you’re done with your workout, take just a few minutes to stretch out your muscles. Think about it as a warm-down. Stretching after practice will help you loosen up, and let your body repair for your next workout. You’ll feel great for your next practice!

Monday, February 6, 2012

Start the Day with a Positive Attitude

When you open your eyes in the morning, you set the tone for the day. Think of the words “alarm clock.” Alarm has a negative connotation. What do you think of when you hear fire, theft, smoke or police alarms? So, why would you want to wake up in the morning to an “alarm clock?”

Change the name to an “opportunity” clock. It may seem like a small change, but when you wake up, you’ll start your attitude off right by thinking, “what a great day!”

What happens instead is that some people love another five minutes in an unconscious state by hitting the snooze button. Then, they drag themselves to the window, open the drapes and say, “Good Lord, it’s morning again.”

Will that day be positive and filled with opportunities? With that attitude, one has already made a choice about what kind of day it will be. Why is all of this important to success in your life?