Six Essential Abilities for Swimming Success
The following summary comes from an article written by coaching-extraordinaire Wayne Goldsmith. I added Endurance-Ability and Belief-Ability.
Q: What does it take to be a successful swimmer?
A: Six different abilities.
Q: What are they?
A: Mobility, stability, flexibility, endurance-ability, adaptability, belief-ability.
Q: What is mobility?
A: It’s the ability to move. Sadly, too many swimmers get bogged down in doing just one thing, swimming. The problem with only swimming (and nothing else) is that your body gets good at stroking down the pool but nothing else. Over time, the total focus on freestyle and the other strokes can lead to tightness, stiffness, and even injury. It’s a great idea to complement your swim training with other activities that enhance mobility. These include dancing, martial arts, gymnastics, dry-land training, rock climbing, boxing, yoga, pilates, aerobic classes, and Zumba. Work at becoming more mobile and your swimming will rise to a whole new level.
Q: What is stability?
A: The ability to keep your body strong and still when training and competing. You want strong arms and legs to pull and kick, but you also want a strong back and abdominals, so you’re able to use your arms and legs at full capacity (the core acts as a foundation). It’s a great idea to complement your swim training with other activities that enhance stability. These include pilates, yoga, strength training, martial arts, boxing, gymnastics, rock climbing, core-stability routines, dance classes, and medicine ball routines.
Q: What is flexibility?
A: The ability to quickly and efficiently get into effective swimming positions without additional effort or energy cost. Swimming is a dynamic activity, so you need dynamic flexibility exercises. Today, physical therapists recommend that swimmers look to more robust ways of increasing their range of motion and flexibility. These include gymnastics, martial arts, rock climbing, yoga, ballet, pilates, cheerleading, soccer, and track and field. “Swimming long” when warming up and down is also recommended, including holding all strokes for three to five seconds in a fully extended position.
Q: What is endurance-ability?
A: The ability to sustain repeated and consistent muscular contractions (arms, legs, and core) against resistance (water) for an extended period (length of race) without a loss of quality or speed. Swimming is the best way to build muscular endurance because each stroke consists of specific movements which are difficult to simulate outside of the water.
Q: What is adaptability?
A: The ability to adapt to every situation, to every challenge, and every race scenario. Swimmers who possess the ability to adapt to every situation master the moment. When racing seems rough, and training is tough. To be adaptable means facing and overcoming obstacles and adversity and embracing difficulty as something to defeat. The best way to develop this ability is to make sure your training (wet and dry) is more challenging and demanding than the upcoming competition.
Q: What is belief-ability?
A: The ability to fully believe in your abilities. It’s great to have mobility, stability, flexibility, endurance-ability, and adaptability, but these traits also require having the belief that you possess them and that you can use them to your advantage in competition. Belief-ability comes from knowing. IF YOU KNOW YOU HAVE THESE TRAITS, THEN YOU KNOW WHEN THE MOMENT COMES, YOU’LL RACE HARD AND PERFORM TO YOUR FULL POTENTIAL.