Sunday, September 6, 2015

About Face

One of the best aerobic activities that provides minimal impact to the joints is swimming. While running is hard on the body and cycling is not as physically demanding as running, swimming is an ideal activity that people can use to stay in shape late into their golden years.

Ironically, swimming is one activity that many people avoid for many reasons including a fear of the water. What I have found to be one of the main reasons people avoid swimming is their inability to swim correctly. Poor form is horribly inefficient and can easily tire out the athlete. 

When swimming form is everything.  A good efficient swimmer can move through the water with easy and feel refreshed after swimming 1800 yards. An inefficient swimmer can cover that same distance and feel like they have expended the energy running a marathon.

One of the main forms of inefficiency in the water is the inability of a new swimmer to put their face in the water.  When your face is not in the water and your head is raised to breath, your swim stroke is choppy and your feet and legs will sink.  This horrible swim position is anything but streamlined and causes more friction against the water. Instead of working with a streamlined approach, you end up fighting the water more than necessary.

When I was learning to swim I too struggled with having to keep my face in the water. While it didn’t bother me to have the feeling of water on my face, the struggle for me, and for many new swimmers, is the ability to exhale under water.  This one element, if learned, will allow you to work on improving other aspects of your swim stroke.

So how do you overcome the discomfort from or inability to put your face in the water? What sounds easy enough to do can be a daunting task for even the most determined new swimmers.  Here are some easy drills to help you improve your swim stroke and become comfortable having your face in the water.

First, get in the shallow end of the pool and submerse yourself to get your body wet.  This will help you get comfortable with experiencing water over your entire body.

Next, simply bend over and slowly pace your face in the water. You want to have the water to just cover your face.  Doing this for 10 seconds at a time will get your comfortable with the sensation of having water on your face.

Now we will add breathing.  Exhaling under water is critical to swim success and this drill helped me overcome my inability to exhale.  Get your face close to the water and turn it to the left.  Not take a deep breath and begin to exhale out of your mouth and nose and you slowly rotate your face to the right, easing your face into the water, ending your rotation to the right.

This easy to do drill will help you gain comfort with having your face in the water while helping your work on your breathing at the same time.

HERE’S TO BEING FIT FOR LIFE! Chris is a Certified Personal Trainer, USA Triathlon Level 1 Coach, Group Exercise Instructor, exercise and endurance enthusiast.  He competes yearly in numerous running races, marathons, ultra-marathons, triathlons and other endurance events.  He is a member of the 2015 QT2 Systems Advanced Team.