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Swimming Secrets For Fitness

Apr 13, 2008
Swimming is a fantastic cardio exercise. It is very easy on your joints, it works your whole body practically, it's fun, and you don't really get sweaty in the same way as jogging or working on a stair stepper.

Plus, if you have a heated pool and are lucky enough to live a warm part of the country (like Southern California) you can experience the benefits of swimming year round. Unfortunately, even swimmers who are experienced with the classic front stroke swim with bad technique, which cheats them out of some of the benefits.

Here we will give you a few tips to improve your form and speed in the pool.

The first thing you should pay attention to is body position. Since water is much more dense than water, how streamlined your body is will have a big impact on your speed. While swimming, make sure to keep your lower body lifted up by tightening your abs.

When you actually perform the stroke, don't slap the water with your hand. Your hands should slice into the water at an angle. Once your hand is in the water, make sure to fully extend your arm. During the "pull" phase of the stroke use your flat hand and your forearm to push your body forward.

Make sure to keep your head down and straight. Keeping your head up will cause the rest of your body to drop downwards, which will increase drag and make you go slower. It helps to pretend you are looking at the very bottom of the pool.

Your torso should rotate almost forty-five degrees on every stroke. This will give you a bigger reach, and a bigger reach means more speed. (Because of this, male professional swimmers are typically very tall, usually over six foot two.) Ideally, you should travel as far as you can in as few strokes as possible.

While kicking, you legs should be firm, but your feet should be loose. This will better allow your feet to act as fins and give you a bit of extra propulsion.

Despite what your swimming teacher may have once told you, you don't have to catch a breath on every stroke. If you watch professional swimmers, you'll notice that they certainly don't. If you feel you need the air, it's fine to catch a breath on every stroke, but as you become more advanced, try and increase this to every two or three strokes. This will put less strain on your neck and make every stroke more powerful and efficient.

And as always, be safe while you are swimming. Even if you are an experienced swimmer, have someone else there with you in case something goes wrong. If you are swimming in the ocean, make sure you are clear of boats and surfers. It might also be advisable to invest in a wetsuit.

They not only keep you more comfortable, but also more buoyant and more likely to make it back to shore in an emergency.
About the Author
Chris McCombs is a Santa Ana personal trainer in California with specialty in fat loss and muscle toning. His website www.socalworkout.com contains valuable tips on fitness and "how to" style exercise videos.
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