More Power in the Pool
Let’s start with some trivia. Did you know that the sailfish has been clocked swimming at 68 miles an hour? That makes this marine creature the fastest swimming animal on earth.
Now, while human speed and power in the water pales into insignificance compared to these streamlined seafarer’s, there are a number of key features of the swimming method of a sailfish that can be applied to humans, in order to achieve increased power in the pool.
Firstly, not only do sailfish have an incomparably streamlined body, they also make physical adjustments during swimming to reduce any resistance…and you can do the same.
In freestyle, backstroke and breaststroke, it is important to keep your kicks tight in order to reduce resistance. This can be achieved by not bending the knees too much and in breaststroke specifically, keeping the knees inside the hips. It is also important to keep that head down when in motion. Not only does it help keep the body aligned and therefore streamlined, it also reduces surface drag and subsequently allows you to generate more power.
When in full flight, sailfish have a rhythmic frequency with which they beat their tails. This allows them to generate consistency with both the speed and power of their swimming technique. Once again, you can also adapt this into your method.
Not only do you want to kick your legs as quickly as possible, you should also develop a rhythm to the kick. This allows you to generate steady power rather than finding your strength in short bursts.
One key element of improving your power in the water is to focus on key parts of your body when hitting the gym. It is generally assumed that there are five key muscles that you should work on to improve your strength when swimming;
Your core muscles (basically your abdominals) should be strengthened to ensure that you can hold a streamlined position at the top of the water. Weak core muscles can result in an irregular body shape and subsequently, unwanted drag.
Strengthening your latissimus dorsi (more commonly known as ‘lats’; the muscles in the middle of your back) is essential if you are looking to improve your power in the pool. These muscles play a vitally important role in all strokes as you pull the water past you.
By working on improving the strength in your triceps, you will be able to improve the power on your final push as you move your arms from above your head to down by your hips. The same can also be said for the pectoral muscles, which need significant strengthening in order to help stabilise your strokes. By doing this, you will not be using excess energy trying to centre your body in the water.
The final key muscle group that should be worked on to improve power in the pool is your quadriceps, essentially the muscles at the top of your legs. By having strong quads, you can gain extra power when starting a swim and also when turning at the end wall.
While improving your swimming power will require considerable amounts of practice and training, you will soon start to see a difference in your ability. Consider taking to the pool with a partner who can spot you, time you and offer advice from a different perspective – you will be swimming like a sailfish in no time!