7 tips to optimize your swimming performance

Hamburg/Mainz. Swimming improves blood circulation, increases endurance and strengthens muscles. If you exercise in water, you push your body.

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If you want to improve your swimming performance or compete, there are many things you can do. 7 tips to adapt and optimize training.

1. Train endurance and muscles regularly

Athletes protect their joints during water endurance training. © Andrea Warnecke

If you want to become a good swimmer and increase your endurance, regular training is important.

Andreas Bieder of the Cologne Sports University recommends swimming at least twice a week.

“Then you can expect muscle growth,” says the sports scientist. Reason: “Muscle growth requires a certain density of stimulus.”

There is a rule: the shorter the time between workouts, the better for building muscles.

If you also want to improve your endurance and performance – also in other sports – you can train in water as a supplement.

Because swimming is easy on the joints. An advantage that many high-performance athletes have also recognized.

It is not uncommon for them to train in the pool instead of on the treadmill. For example, tennis or basketball professionals can avoid additional stress on the knee joints. They protect your joints, which are already heavily loaded during jumps, sprints, sudden stops or throwing a ball.

2. Promote muscle building with the help of additional strength training

During swimming, we need a lot of muscles to overcome the resistance of the water – this is the most demanding

  • pectoral muscles,
  • broad muscle of the back and
  • triceps

However, it is difficult to achieve the same effect and muscle growth with swimming as with strength training, says Bieder. The resistance and tension in the water is not high enough for this.

Beginners can feel the effect of muscle building, but not at the stage of advanced training. So, swimming is not suitable for building large muscles.

But: You can increase your level as a swimmer if you also strengthen your core muscles with strength training.

This is due to two things – strength training:

  • You gain more muscle mass and can create more drive in your legs, for example.
  • you can strengthen the counter muscles of the back and thus stabilize the muscles of the trunk.
Proper breathing technique is also important when crawling. © Inga Kjer

Strength training recommendations

Exercises in which you train with your own body weight are suitable for building muscles.

Andreas Bieder recommends classics like

  • push upwhich work out the chest and elbow extensors – important muscles for swimmers.
  • pull the UPSwhich strengthen the latissimus dorsi and arm flexors.
  • bench press or rowing – to build good core muscles.

But every body is different and needs individual strength training, explains sports scientist Robert Collette from the Johann Gutenberg University in Mainz. Therefore, it is worth consulting with a professional trainer and drawing up an individual training plan.

Advice: A lot can go wrong when lifting dumbbells. Be sure to ask a trained trainer to show you the correct movements for strength training!

3. Use less energy with good technology

“You often see triathletes start swimming with a big girth and can build more strength as their technique improves,” notes Collette.

The problem: many people did not learn to swim correctly and sufficiently in childhood. In addition, many adults lack a swimming routine.

Tip I: If you want to take up swimming as a competitive sport or compete, you should also work on your technique. Otherwise, he or she loses strength unnecessarily – and achieving sports goals is much more difficult.

“If you’re creating more eddies in the water than you’re creating propulsion, or if you’re constantly being overtaken, it could be related to the technology,” Bieder says. However, it is difficult to determine for yourself whether your own swimming style is wrong.

Tip II: Take a swimming or technique class or hire a coach, recommends a sports scientist. Almost all swimming clubs also offer courses for adults.

Alternatively, you can watch or film yourself as you swim, Bieder advises. This way you can learn more about your movements and correct them.

But be careful: you need permission from the pool to shoot.

With proper technique, swimmers save energy. © Benjamin Nolte

You can pay attention to the following aspects when it comes to your posture:

  • Front crawl and breaststroke the body in the water should be as horizontal as possible. If the buttocks are too deep in the water, the body part is creating too much resistance.
  • In breaststroke swimming it is also important to put your head in the water. Otherwise, the neck will be overstressed, which can lead to pain there.
  • While crawling the head moves out of the water to the side only when breathing. It is also important to cover your head with your hand while crawling. Dip your fingers in the water first. Then push the water back out. Then you should bring your hand up to your hips and take it out of the water again near the crest of the iliac bone.

Advice: Make sure that your arms do not cross the axis of the body. When diving, do not reach for the opposite side of the body.

By the way: Athletes can primarily acquire and develop endurance while running and make better use of time in the water for technique training. If you get your swimming technique right, you can transfer your endurance training into the water, says Collette.

4. Pace and distance change

Get out of your comfort zone: Your body needs stimulation to improve your fitness. That’s why it’s important to vary the speed, advises Bieder.

Advice: Don’t swim the same distance over and over in the same amount of time, but vary the distance and pace. This means:

  • Swim a shorter distance in significantly less time or a longer distance in twice the time. In this way, the body learns what result it achieves with the help of which movement.
  • “High intensity makes sense for muscle stimulation, low intensity makes sense for metabolic stimulation,” Bieder says. The stimulus allows muscles to grow, and the body burns fat faster.

In addition to the fact that the state stagnates at a constant pace, the constant pace is also “very boring”.

5. Find the correct breathing rate

Runners know the rule: if you can still talk while running, you’re at a relaxed pace. How about swimming?

“That doesn’t exist in swimming, and that’s what makes it so difficult in the beginning,” Bieder says. Breathing has to adapt to swimming technique, and many beginners are not yet fully developed.

When the swimming technique is performed correctly, the swimmer completely exhales air into the water. In the time window when your head comes out of the water, you are only inhaling, not exhaling.

By the way: Anyone who also exhales during this phase is under time pressure and cannot inhale enough oxygen to perform. “Swimming is all about exhaling properly in the water,” says Bieder. For this, regular breathing that adapts to the swimming technique is important.

Good training is especially important in triathlon. © Daniel Reinhardt

Therefore, if you want to succeed faster, you should focus not only on swimming technique, but also on breathing – and maybe afford a lesson with a swimming instructor.

Advice: Beginners should take a break after each track and shorten the breaks after a while. Only when you feel fit should you increase the number of bands.

6. Pay attention to the diet

Do not bathe on a full stomach! Swimming rules apply at all times. Because if you eat a lot and fill up, you can quickly get sick in the horizontal position that a swimmer is in, explains Bieder.

So Collette advises that there should be at least an hour between a large meal and a bath. This gives the stomach enough time to digest.

for amateur swimmer or – Swimmer According to Bieder, a healthy and balanced diet is ideal. The Consumer Center advises

  • 400 grams of vegetables and
  • Eat 250 grams of fruit to get enough vitamins, minerals and fiber.
  • And drink enough water.

The German Nutrition Society (DGE) also recommends avoiding excessive amounts of sugar, salt and fat, as well as ready-made foods and confectionery.

Snacks before training:

But in order to work, the body needs additional nutrients. A small snack, such as a banana or a candy bar, is a good idea right before your workout.

But be careful: too many carbs raise your insulin levels and therefore your body’s sugar levels. You should avoid it. Because it causes the body to demand more carbohydrates.

Nutrition after training:

who is at the top performance level swimmers must also provide their bodies with proteins, carbohydrates and proteins after training. For swimmers, training intervals are usually shorter and the body has to regenerate more quickly, Bieder explains.

Healthy food then includes, for example:

  • whole grain pasta with vegetables,
  • salad with meat or fish,
  • Quark with colorful vegetables such as peppers, potatoes, broccoli.

7. Preparation for the competition: Know different reservoirs

If you want to compete, you should prepare well – ideally with the help of a coach. You can not only improve your performance by doing additional strength and endurance training and optimizing your swimming technique.

It is also important to adapt to the relevant competition conditions. Because: “What you do in the pool, you can’t just transfer to the open water,” says Collette.

Importantly: If you want to compete in triathlons or other outdoor events, you should gain experience in open water before competing.

“You can swallow water when you inhale even light waves,” says Collette. “The position of the body in the water also changes because of the salt water, you are higher on the water.” Therefore, you should adapt your technique and breathing to such changed conditions and possible currents.

Good to know: Swimming in open water can be very dangerous. Currents can drag swimmers under water, temperature changes can cause convulsions. Rocks and tree trunks that are not visible in the water can cause serious injury.

It is especially dangerous to swim in water bodies that are not protected. “We always recommend having someone watch you,” says Robert Collett. Then you can call for help in an emergency.

DGE: complete nutrition

Nutrition tips from the Consumer Center

Calculate the repulsive force of the body

© dpa-infocom, dpa:211123-99-109686/67

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