We have been riding our bikes since childhood. We ran to play tag and many other PE games in school. Swimming? We just had to get to the raft safely. There wasn’t much of a stroke involved. Hence the muscle memory is not as strong. Many triathletes feel that the swim training does not come naturally compared to bike and run training. It is pretty tough to just hop right in the pool and start swimming. The freestyle stroke has many important aspects to make it efficient…entry, catch, pull, recovery. Woah…that is a lot of things to think about.
The best way to start practicing swim technique is actually out of the pool. Stretch cords are a key way for your brain and muscles to work together to repeat good swim form. Practicing out of the water allows you to not worry about sinking in the water or just getting a good breath. It is so hard to turn your head to get that breath AND think about your hand position to start the pull. Also it is particularly difficult to isolate different phases of the swim stroke in the water without sinking or barely moving. With the stretch cords you can use a mirror to watch your elbow, hand, or shoulder position and correct it quickly. Don’t waste those repetitions on bad form!
Your brain will use your nervous system to tell your muscles how to move properly through the freestyle swim pattern. Therefore your muscles will get stronger in that pattern and be able to perform it properly in the pool. Okay so which exercises should you do? Here are some great exercises that separate the swim stroke into each phase and strengthens the key swim muscles.
Perform 10-15 repetitions of each of these exercises 4-5 times each week and you will be a more efficient swimmer and prevent shoulder injury in the pool.