Category Archives: Swimming

How to Use a Pull Buoy Effectively

How to Use a Pull Buoy Effectively

A pull buoy is a flotation device used in swimming. It is inserted between the thighs near the crotch area. It is generally made from closed cell foam, and comes in two forms – single piece and two-piece. The former is designed as a single solid piece in the shape of the ‘number 8’. The latter is made with two separate cylindrical pieces of foam which are joined together by a rope or band. The swimmer can adjust it so it fits between his/her legs properly. The single piece is not adjustable, though once placed, it does not slide easily between the legs.

A pull buoy is primarily used to develop strong arms which can provide good upper body strength. Holding it between the thighs helps keep the swimmer’s legs and lower half of the body afloat, and he/she can then use all his/her strength and concentrate on building the upper body muscles.

How to Make Effective Use of a Pull Buoy

Once you are in the pool and ready to swim, take the buoy and slide it between your thighs. In case you have a two-piece pull buoy or leg float, adjust the bands or straps so that the two foam pieces are placed properly. Make sure they are not placed very close, nor too apart from each other. To start swimming, cross your ankles and let the float do its job by propelling your legs upwards. Once your legs are afloat, swim by pulling with your arms. Be sure to keep your legs pressed together in a straight line, with the toes pointing outward in the same fashion.

Benefits of Using a Pull Buoy

Using a buoy in your everyday swimming workout improves form and technique. A swimmer can attain a good posture by keeping the lower limbs afloat near the top of water, which assists in achieving the correct body posture, which is one of the most important aspects of swimming. Buoyancy causes a shift in body position, and this drives swimmers to maintain their bodies in line. If you are swimming without a wetsuit, buoys or leg floats will come in handy, since they impart a similar buoyant feeling of wearing a wetsuit. People with heavy legs will find it easier to swim with a float, or if you are exhausted and feel your legs are dragging you down, a buoy can come to your rescue. If you really want to gain that upper body strength, try this – along with a pull buoy, tie elastic straps around your ankles when you swim. This will severely restrict the free movement of the lower half of your body and prevent you from kicking freely, and in turn, you will have to make optimal use of your arms and torso to propel yourself through the water.

Individuals with hip and leg injuries are often advised to undertake swimming, since it is also one of the best sports for rehab and conditioning. Such sports persons should ideally make use of the leg float or buoy, especially since using it will definitely make the lower half of the body feel much lighter. A word of caution here – people who have suffered shoulder or neck injuries should abstain from using a buoy, since exerting force on your arms and upper torso can aggravate the condition.

Using the buoy will help you float on your stomach and focus on using your arms efficiently, since it isolates your arms and legs, and forces you to use your arms which is the key in training parts of your body individually.

As with any new swimming device and technique, it is recommended that you consult with your trainer or swimming coach for the best practices you can implement. Incorrect use can put unnecessary strain on the back and shoulders. If you have never used a buoy or float before, try using one during your daily swimming session to improve endurance, muscle strength, and swimming techniques. Experiment with a different swimming technique so your workouts don’t become a drag. Try out new drills and shake up your workouts.

Is it Safe to Swim while Youre Pregnant

Is it Safe to Swim while Youre Pregnant

For all those who want to know whether it’s safe to swim while you’re pregnant, the answer is; YES! Expectant mothers can definitely pursue swimming if they wish to do so. A pregnant woman is guided to work out to maintain good health. There are separate exercises and planned schedule for the expectant mom in her daily routine. Some doctors do recommend swimming as one of the exercises but, a lot of people have their doubts, whether swimming can be a good exercise during pregnancy or not. In fact, many of them believe and have a firm opinion that swimming during pregnancy is harmful for the unborn baby. They do not want to give a second thought to their opinion and see if it can work positively. Fortunately, it is a good form of exercise even during pregnancy. The benefits obtained through swimming are equal to those gained from other exercises during pregnancy. You only have to take a few precautions for ensuring safety. The following part will tell you the benefits of swimming during pregnancy followed by the precautions to be taken.

Benefits

Swimming during pregnancy does not put an additional stress on the body parts like other forms of exercises do, rather, water supports your body and makes you feel lighter in weight in spite of the heavy weight in the lower abdomen.
It increases your body’s ability to produce and use more oxygen, improves blood circulation, and tones the body muscles.
According to the American Pregnancy Association, it is the safest exercise during pregnancy as it has lesser chances of injury.
Many expectant ladies have a problem of nausea during morning, which can be reduced with swimming.
Swelling is also a major problem in most of the pregnant women and it makes them feel uncomfortable at times. Swimming helps reduce swelling.

Precautions to be Taken

It is safe for a healthy pregnant woman to swim, but, those with health problems like constipation, heart problems, lung problems, etc., need to consult the doctor before taking up the activity, because in such cases, bed rest is highly recommended.
You will need a maternity swimsuit at the third trimester, till then you can use a normal swimsuit.
If you were used to swimming before pregnancy, you can continue it without any major change in your routine.
Even if you are not a regular swimmer, you can swim during pregnancy after consulting your health care provider.
You should remember that you cannot dive in, but, start off slowly and gradually.
Don’t forget to stretch and warm up the body before swimming.
If you are good at swimming, you can stay for at least 30-40 minutes in the water to provide sufficient workout to your body.

There are many other issues related to swimming during pregnancy, like its safety in a chlorinated pool, in a lake, etc. You ought to know that there is no research, which says that it is unsafe to swim in a chlorinated pool. Instead, experts say that it is beneficial for the mother as well as the baby. The only thing is to check whether the pool is disinfected, to get rid of the pathogens. The expectant mom should shower before swimming to remove loose organic matter because the organic matter like skin cells come into contact with chlorine and form its by products which is harmful.

The problem with lake for many people is ‘water temperature’. The ideal water temperature recommended by USA Swimming Association is 74 to 84º F and swimming in warmer waters can be harmful. However, while swimming in a lake, care should be taken only with regards to entry and exit in the lake because of your growing body structure. Though you are familiar with the lake before pregnancy, it might get difficult during pregnancy. Avoid stepping onto the slippery edges so as to prevent yourself from slipping.

Thus, scrap out any misconceptions about swimming during pregnancy as it’s one of the best exercises to keep yourself as well as your baby healthy. Do not forget to consult your doctor before including swimming as a part of your exercise regime.

Back Crawl Swimming Technique

Back Crawl Swimming Technique

The back crawl is a swimming technique commonly referred to by the name back stroke. It is the swimming technique which allows to move at the fastest speed while in a backward motion. It is the only standard technique approved by Fédération Internationale de Natation (FINA) for moving backwards. A similar technique which makes use of back stroke is the ‘upside down butterfly’. In this form of butterfly technique, both hands move together unlike the alternating motion of back stroke. Let us understand more about back crawl, one of the basic swimming strokes through this article.

Technique for Back Crawl Swimming

The breast stroke also is one of the important swimming techniques along with the backstroke, front crawl and freestyle. In back crawl swimming, the swimmer faces the side of swimming pool. One should hold on to the sides with both hands. Legs need to be bent at the knees and curled up. The feet have to be placed on the side wall.

The swimmer should start the back crawl movement by thrusting the body into the water and keeping it parallel to the surface. The head should be submerged in water up to the level that reaches corners of eyes.
The first few meters should be covered without moving the hands. A flutter kick helps in covering this short distance after which the back crawl swimming strokes need to be used. The flutter kick is performed without bending knees.
The arm strokes are divided into two phases i.e. the power phase and recovery phase. The power phase in turn is formed of ‘catch’ and ‘mid-pull’ phase. Let us understand more about these phases through following instructions.
At the beginning of power phase, arms need to be kept at the side of our body. The movement is initiated by raising one of the arms and taking it behind until you touch the water surface; the little finger/pinky should first touch the water surface.
Hand needs to be pushed forward with a cupped palm. As the hand is thrust forward, it takes a semi-circular path; this movement gets completed when palm reaches the side of the body. This whole activity is known as the catch phase.
Mid-pull phase is the latter part/second half of power phase. In the mid-pull phase, arm is pushed downward in the water. The mid-pull phase ends at the point when palm reaches a depth of 45 cm in the water. The power phase is followed by the recovery phase.
In the recovery phase, hand is pulled above the water surface with fingers pointing upwards. Path of movement of arm in the recovery phase is semi-circular. At the end of recovery phase the arm is submerged in water from where the power phase begins.
Movement of arms in the backstroke swimming technique resembles that of a windmill; the arms are rotated alternately. During the alternating movement of arms, one is above surface of water, while the other is under water; it means that one hand is in the power phase and other in recovery phase.

Back Crawl Swimming Tips
There a few key points which need to be kept in mind for moving with ease in water. Let us have a look at these tips one-by-one.

The body should be kept firm while swimming as it helps in moving with speed. Drag experienced by the body increases if it sinks too much in water. It is therefore, necessary to keep the body straight.
The use of proper breathing technique holds great importance in the swimming activity. One should breathe in through the mouth; while breathing out, both the mouth and nose have to be used. Recovery phase of one of the arms is the time at which one should breath in. One has breath out when this arm exits the recovery phase and enters the power phase.
The number of kicks per arm cycle ranges from 2-6. Movement of legs in a flutter should be conducted in a manner that the surface of water is churned. Splashing the water by raising the legs too high is not recommended; in short, the leg movement should be carried out smoothly.
In back crawl swimming, one cannot see the direction in which he is heading towards; therefore, it becomes difficult to decide when to turn. The solution to this problem is counting the arm strokes required to complete a single lap.

Balancing the movement of arm strokes with that of flutter kicks is an important aspect of back stroke swimming. The breathing technique described in the article above should prove to useful from the point of increasing the stamina. The process of learning the back crawl swimming technique should become a bit easier with all the instructions presented above.

How to do Negative Split Swimming

How to do Negative Split Swimming

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Swimming enhances endurance and offers numerous health benefits. It is a good source of exercise for all age groups. Various styles of swimming provide a complete body workout and increases the strength in bones and tones the muscles. It works towards strengthening the overall body fitness.

Negative split is one such swimming technique that helps one to make the maximum use of the energy in the second half of the swimming race. Often swimmers swim faster in the beginning and lose stamina towards the end of the race. This leads the swimmer to lose the race as he has little energy to deliver the punch at the finish. The reason for this is that anaerobic metabolism which gives you speed, uses carbohydrates and not oxygen and it makes you to produce huge amounts of lactic acid. After certain levels, lactic acid starts fighting the hormones that break down the carbohydrates leaving the swimmer fatigued. At this time, this swimming technique comes handy. There are certain athletes that learn the skill of this swimming technique, by which they can suddenly increase their speed towards the end of the swimming race. This is a technique that enables the athlete to hold back the energy i.e. delaying the occurrence of peak lactic acid level, and suddenly bring out their energy at the end of the competition. It is not easy to master this swimming technique, but it has some good physical and psychological benefits too. There are many swimming techniques that a swimmer can learn to enhance his performance during the competitions.

Many swimmers may not even use the method during the competition, but it helps in enhancing endurance and strength. It also helps in gaining control over stamina throughout the competition. It even allows the swimmer to be patient and confident during the race. The purpose of this swimming technique is to stay unpredictable and keep the competitors uncertain about your swimming pace.

Negative Split Swimming Style

Every set in negative split must be faster than the previous. It is not an easy skill to develop and requires patience and tremendous practice. At the onset of the race, many swimmers tend to swim fast to take the lead, but as they reach the end of the race, they lose momentum and seemed to be fatigued. To avoid the situation of being overtaken by competitors and losing the race, using this swimming technique always helps. However, when this technique is used with correct judgment of time and speed, you are likely to even win the race.

It is difficult to determine the swimming speed without a clock. Therefore, always time your swimming pace. A coach will always call out the time once you are half way through. In case the coach is absent in your training then use a wrist watch or make sure you can have a clock in your sight to check the time at half way point.
If the swimming pool is 200 meters in length, then at half way point (100 m) check the time that you have taken to cover it.
Continue swimming and when you reach the end of the pool again check the time.
Ideally according to this technique, the time taken to cover the second half should be less than the first. You may finish the first half in 2:06 minutes then aim to finish the second half in 2:04 minutes.
It takes time and practice to get the right judgment of the length of the pool and swimming pace.
After you cover the first half and feel tired towards the end of the second half then, it is not considered as negative split swimming.
Do not feel disappointed if you cannot get the technique right. It is a difficult method to learn and only practice can make you the master of negative splits.

The idea of this negative split is to start slow at the onset of the race and suddenly increase the tempo of your swimming strokes to win the race. A swimmer must develop the skill of controlling and storing the energy at the beginning and raise the tempo of strokes in the second half of the competition. Once you gain stability and improve in negative split performance, it will gradually boost your confidence and even keep you mentally and physically tough and healthy.