Bells and Skiers For Open Water Swimmers

Bells and Skiers For Open Water Swimmers

Building strong abdominal muscles is key to improving your open water swimming abilities.

A strong core benefits open water swimmers especially when the water is choppy, lumpy and bumpy. Swimmers can remain more streamlined when they sight, their ability to swim straight is enhanced when their core is stronger and their body is not twisting during their breathing or arm rotation. Their ability to maintain a high elbow position is also improve when they face surface chop, their hips do not drop as much and their legs tend not to fishtail as much.

Age or speed should not be a barrier to focusing on your A strong core. 54-year-old channel swimmer Anne Cleveland and 16-year-old world 5K champion Eva Fabian both focus on maintaining their core strength for years, knowing that it helps maintain a good streamlined position in rough water conditions and when they tire during a long or hard swim.

As a coach, one of the major differences I notice between the fast lanes and the slow lanes is core engagement,” said Anne Cleveland. “As a swimmer, you must have a strong core to ‘lean on’ when powering yourself through wind and chop, especially when heading into it. Several of my channel swims were done in force 4-5 conditions and afterward it was my lats and core where I felt worked. After one particularly rough Maui Channel swim I actually felt as though I’d had abdominal surgery.”

We focus a lot on core strength,” said Jack Fabian, Eva’s father who has coached her in numerous rough water conditions. “It is so important and has really helped Eva in the open water.”

Besides land-based exercies, what kind of in-the-water drills can you do to help improve your core strength? Here are three alternatives:

1. Bells: Float on your back with your legs straight out in front of you. Start the drill by being still. Then, move your legs beneath and behind you in one smooth move, without bending your knees, until your legs are behind you and you are on your stomach, lying flat in the water. Repeat this motion in reverse as you move your legs beneath your body, without bending your knees, so your legs are in front of your body and you are lying flat in the water on your back.

Repeat this ‘bell motion’ 25 times or for one minute straight.

2. Skiers: Place your outstretched arms to your side while your legs are straight below you in the vertical position. Quickly bring your knees up to your left elbow and then returns your straightened legs down to the vertical position again. Then quickly bring your knees up to your right elbow and return your straightened legs down to the vertical position again.

Repeat this ‘skier motion’ 25 times or for one minute straight.

3. 6-Pack Ab Work: Do butterfly kick on your back with your arms stretched out above your head.

For example, do 1 x 25 butterfly kick on your back + 1 x 25 head-up freestyle @ 30 or 45 seconds. Then, do 2 x 50 butterfly kick on your back + 2 x 50 head-up freestyle @ 60 or 90 seconds in a ladder set. Wear socks to place additional stress on your core.

Copyright © 2010 by Steven Munatones