Tag Archives: training

Dryland Exercises for Swimmers

Luckily, after the most recent government announcement which stated that indoor pools can open in England from the 25th of July, there isn’t much longer until we can get back in the water! 

However, if you won’t be returning to the pool straight away, or you wish to keep up your swimming skills outside of the water, take a look at our list of dryland exercises for both children and adults below. Written by one of our vastly experienced teachers, Zoe Liokalou, we can promise that you’ll find a wide variety of movements which will help strengthen cores, overall mobility, hips, shoulders and more.  

Section 1) Dryland Exercises for Children 

  1. Squat Jumps (with Streamline Arm Position) 

Squat jumps help with explosiveness when jumping off diving blocks, alongside effective exits after doing a tumble turn. 

A squat jump works numerous muscles in the lower body, core and even the upper body. The major muscles used are your calves, quads, hamstrings, glutes and abdominals.  

How to perform: start from a standing position with your feet shoulder width apart. Bend your elbows and bring your arms up so that your fists are in front of your face. Drop into a squat whilst making sure your knees don’t pass your toes, and pull your arms back so that your fists are beside your hips. Jump high with an explosive movement and raise your arms straight above your shoulders with your head tucked in, like a push and glide position. Then land softly on your feet in a squat position. Hold the squat for 2-3 seconds and then perform again. 

  1. Plank 

Planking helps with strengthening the core, which allows you to stay properly aligned in the water by keeping your hips up high and reducing resistance and drag. Also, core strength helps build a stronger underwater kick, faster flip turn and makes your technique more fluid.  

A plank strengthens the whole core including all of the abdominal muscles, plus shoulder and upper back muscles. 

How to perform: there are numerous variations when it comes to a plank. However, the easiest and simplest way to help kids build a strong core would be the straight plank with elbows and forearms on the floor. Support yourself on your forearms and toes, keeping your elbows directly below your shoulders. To achieve a straight plank, squeeze the abdominals and glutes, keep your hips aligned and try to avoid an arched back. Hold for 30 seconds or more each time. 

  1. Broomstick Twists 

Broomstick twists help with body and shoulder rotations for front crawl and backstroke. 

This exercise also assists the mobility of your body and allows the appropriate rotation of the body during the front crawl and backstroke reach/catch phase. Swimmers should be able to rotate their body (shoulders) to at least 90 degrees. 

How to perform: stand straight with your legs shoulder width apart and your knees slightly bent. When performing this exercise, try to keep your hips and neck as straight as possible, and look forward at all times. Place your broomstick behind your neck so that it sits on your traps, and roll your hands over it so that your elbows are facing downwards to the floor. Perform a twist to one side, trying to get the end of the broomstick in front of your face. Hold this for 3 seconds and then twist to the other side. 

  1. Alphabet  

This movement helps to strengthen the rotator cuff, whilst working on shoulder stability to avoid future injuries. 

How to perform: stand nice and tall facing a wall at an arms distance from the wall. Place a tennis ball between your palm and the wall and start rolling it around, writing out the alphabet, or any sentences you like. Repeat on the other arm. 

  1. Flutter Kicks 

Flutter kicks help make your front crawl and backstroke kick faster and more effective. They also strengthen your abdominal muscles, hip flexors and your speed in the kick movement. 

How to perform: sit down with your legs straight in front of you and your hands placed on the floor by your hips. Start fluttering your legs up and down, focusing on making small kicks, mimicking your actual kicking action. You can make this more challenging by getting someone to hold a pillow or a yoga ball above your foot (where your shoelaces are) and then you kick that as fast and as hard as you can. 

The same exercise can be performed on your front. Lie down with your arms stretched in a streamline position and your chin tucked in. Start making flutter kicks, downward this time. Use a pillow or a yoga ball to kick onto. 

  1. Swim Mimic  

This helps to improve technique and strengthens your core and muscles for all 4 strokes. 

How to perform: this one is easy. You mimic your swim strokes as if you are in the water. It can be done on the floor but it is more effective if you use a bench, a chair or a large pillow to lie across so that you are not in contact with the ground. Try to mimic the technique as best as you can! 

Section 2) Dryland Exercises for Adults 

  1. Forward Squat Jump 

Forward squat jumps help with your explosiveness when jumping off diving blocks, as well as your push and glides.

This exercise works numerous muscles in the lower body, core and even the upper body. The major muscles used are your calves, quads, hamstrings, glutes and abdominals. 

How to perform: start from a standing position with your feet shoulder width apart. Bend your elbows and bring your arms up so that your fists are in front of your face. Drop into a squat with your knees behind your toes and pull your arms back so that your fists are beside your hips. Jump high and forward with an explosive movement and bring your arms forward in front of your face. Then land softly on your feet in a squat position with your weight on your heels. Hold the squat for 2-3 seconds and then perform again. 

  1. Advanced Burpee to Reverse Burpee 

This move helps with general fitness, increases blood flow to the whole body, strengthens your arms and is a fast movement that is generally required in swimming. 

Burpees are a whole-body workout which specifically use your hamstrings, quads, calves, abdominals, pecs, triceps and deltoids. 

How to perform: start from a standing position and then drop to a horizontal plank position. Form a chest to floor press up, then jump your feet up behind your hands or near your hips from the plank position. Add another jump to lift your body to stand upright and lift your arms up with your head tucked in. You should form a push and glide streamline position and jump in the air as explosively as you can. Land softly with your knees slightly bent, fall onto your bum and then onto your back for the reverse burpee. Lie on your back and tuck your knees to your chest. Use the momentum that is created and try to rock back onto your feet with your legs kept as close together as possible. 

  1. Weighted Alphabet 

This helps to strengthen the rotator cuff and work on shoulder stability to avoid future injuries. 

How to perform: with this exercise you can use a dumbbell, a bottle of water, a tin of baked beans or whatever you like. Stand nice and tall with your back straight. Place the desired weight in your palm and with a straight arm start writing out the alphabet, or any sentences you like. Repeat on the other arm. 

  1. Russian Twists  

This move helps improve your rotational manner by giving flexibility to your upper torso. This is very similar to the rotations in front crawl and backstroke. Being able to rotate with good control in swimming is very important! 

Russian twists strengthen the core and the abdominals which are essential for good streamlined positioning that reduces drag in the water. 

How to perform: sit down on the floor and lift your heels up, whilst leaning back a little bit so you keep your balance. Keeping your hands together, either holding a dumbbell or any weight of your choice, or even without a weight, turn your shoulders to twist your body so that they are now touching the floor near the side of your left hip. Repeat this on the other side. Try to perform this exercise steadily and in control so that your legs and rest of your body do not flop from side to side. 

  1. Commando Plank  

This helps with strengthening the core that will then help you stay properly aligned in the water, as you’ll be able to keep your hips up high which reduces resistance and drag.  Also, core strength helps to build a stronger underwater kick and faster flip turn. 

A plank strengthens the whole core including all of the abdominal, shoulder and upper back muscles. It also gives extra strength to the shoulders, triceps and wrist flexors. 

How to perform: get on the floor into a straight plank with your palms and toes on the floor. Support yourself on your palms and toes, keeping your hands directly below your shoulders. To achieve a straight plank, squeeze the abdominals and glutes, whilst keeping the hips aligned. Try to avoid an arched back. Then, place your right forearm and elbow onto the floor, followed by the left one and hold for 1-2 seconds. After this, lift yourself back onto your palms one arm at a time. Repeat this whilst keeping a tight core. 

  1. Swim Mimic with Bands 

This helps to improve technique, whilst strengthening your core and muscles used for all 4 strokes to prevent injuries. The bands provide a force which your muscles must work against. 

How to perform: all competitive and non-competitive swimmers should have resistance bands at home. However, if you don’t, you can just do the stroke mimic without resistance. Mimic your swim strokes as if you are in the water. This drill is more effective if you use a bench, a chair or remain in a standing position with bent knees as though you are in the water and not in contact with the ground. Try to mimic the technique as best as you can and use an extra push on the push phase of each stroke. 

If you need some help envisioning how to do the above, take a look at our Instagram where Zoe has put together a series of posts which demonstrate some of the movements, like this one here

We hope you’ve enjoyed our post, and we’d love to see you participating in any of our exercises, so feel free to tag us in any photos or videos! Equally, let us know if you have any more suggestions you would add to the list by commenting below. 

Our New Exclusive Partnership with STA

At Swimming Nature, we’re delighted to announce that we have partnered with The Swimming Teacher’s Association (STA), the award-winning international charity who work towards the objective of preserving human life by teaching swimming! 

The basis of our partnership will involve the launch of our brand-new online training programme, which our Founder Eduardo Ferré will be working hard on over the next few months with the help of STA specialists. This new CPD course will encompass the elements of our award-winning teaching programme, alongside our vast experience in personalised and private tuition. 

Eduardo Ferré said: “We are very proud of our pioneering approach to teaching, and as a team, we are looking forward to sharing our knowledge and our passion for swimming with the STA and their members with the launch of this new CPD. Together through education and training, we want to raise standards in this specialist area of the private swim school market and in turn create new professional teaching opportunities.” 

Zoe Cooper, STA’s Commercial Director, said: “We look forward to working with Eduardo and his team over the coming months to develop a unique CPD that will provide swimming teachers all over the world with insight into how Swimming Nature successfully teach learners in a personalised private lesson environment. As an international teaching community, learning about different ideologies is such an important part of our continuous professional development. By sharing the specialist teachings of the Swimming Nature Method, and providing a more in-depth understanding of the alternative approaches they use to teach swimmers of ages and abilities on a 1:1 or 2:1 basis, we want to start conversations and inspire new ways of thinking that can positively enhance our knowledge – and even serve to create new future income opportunities for teachers, especially in the current climate.” 

To find out more about our trademark method, which is endorsed by Olympian Mark Foster, take a look at our website here: www.swimmingnature.com

We will be re-opening for intensive Fast-Track swimming courses from the 3rd August in selected venues, followed by site-wide Autumn Term private swimming lessons from the beginning of September. To book, please visit: https://book.swimmingnature.com

How to Get the Most Out of Bath Time During Lockdown

With our swimming pools having been closed due to lockdown, the opportunity to work on our swimming skills has been somewhat limited. However, the silver lining in this situation is that there is a whole world of practices perfect for the bath, which can have a huge effect on your children’s swimming abilities once they’re back in the pool. So… taps on! 

Breath control is a fundamental component of swimming. It’s one of the first things a swimming teacher will instruct your child on, and they will continue to reinforce it week in, week out, for their entire swimming journey.  

There is more to breathing than most of us think. The most obvious skill is to breathe in above the water, and blow out when submerged. However, the variations of this are endless, and working on this with your child during bath time is an excellent way to build and stay on top of their breathing control whilst the pool is a no-go. Also, if your little one is reluctant to submerge their face or mouth in water, the bath is a great place to work towards achieving this too. 

Children, invariably, will try things when they look fun. I’m sure you would agree that repeatedly asking a child to do something they don’t want to do, doesn’t work! As a rule of thumb, swimming should feel like something we do with our little ones, rather than something they have to do. Where possible, show them what to do, or see if you can get their siblings or your partner to help! 

It should be noted that breathing control practices, at some point, will see your child inhale or snort water. Neither are pleasant feelings, and unfortunately this is part of the journey, just like falling off of a bike. When it happens, the best thing to do is empathise with your child and don’t rush them into trying again until they feel ready. 

The activities below are mostly suitable for 3-5 year olds, and are subject to both bath size and child size. Make sure to never leave your children unattended, and of course, no diving or bombing! 

1) ‘Shopping’ – breathing control and water familiarisation, for beginner to intermediate stages. 

Equipment: Bath, water and anything that floats 

Challenge: Send the floating toy to the shop (the other end of the bath) by blowing bubbles in the water just in front of it, or simply blowing on the water for those who won’t submerge their mouths. If bubbles and blowing don’t move the toy too well, encourage your child to try nudging it with their nose.  

Progression: Challenge your child to blow at different intensities by asking them if they can make the toy move quickly? Or slowly? Can they make it move in short bursts (so short, sharp breaths with gaps in between)? Can they make it move quickly, then slowly, then quickly again? Or slowly, quickly, then slowly again? Challenge your child to move their face closer to the water, perhaps on their front, and dip their chin in the water whilst blowing or see if they can submerge their entire face whilst doing so. 

2) ‘Underwater Animals’ – breathing control, for beginner to intermediate stages. 

Equipment: Goggles 

Challenge: Challenge your child to submerge their face, with goggles, whilst you create an animal shape with your hands under the water for them to see (bird, crocodile, rabbit, lesser spotted woodpecker etc). They should then come to the surface to tell you what they saw. 

Progression: Being able to blow bubbles through their mouth whilst they watch, or blowing through their nose whilst they watch. 

3) ‘Talking to the Fish’ – breathing control, for those at intermediate stage. 

Equipment: Bath and water 

Challenge: Challenge your child to exhale through their nose, a key skill, by humming with their nose in the water (to the fish). Then, to listen to the fish’s response, submerge one of their ears into the water and let your kids tell you what they heard! 

Progression: With face submerged, with both ears submerged (so humming on front then laying back to submerge ears), with face and ears submerged on front – so humming and ‘listening’ at the same time, or any of the listed with the addition of water being poured over their head at the same time by you (this should be enjoyable!). 

4) ‘Time Challenge’ – breathing control, for those at intermediate stage. 

Equipment: Bath and water 

Challenge: Invite your child to blow bubbles for as long as they can, record the time and challenge them to beat it, explaining that making smaller bubbles (blowing out slowly) is how this will be achieved. Please note: time your child rather than inviting your child to beat a time, putting pressure on them to reach, say, 10 seconds, could compromise their control and cause them to inhale at the wrong time which will leave them coughing, spluttering and likely not wanting to try again for a while. 

Progression: Hold breath first, so no bubbles, then exhale for as long as they can thus increasing the overall submersion time. 

5) ‘Nose Mouth Nose’ – breathing control, for those at intermediate stage. 

Equipment: Bath and water 

Challenge: Challenge your child to blow out through their nose, then mouth, then nose again 

Progressions: Create as many variations of this as possible in one breath! 

6) ‘Leg Kick’ – leg kick mechanics, for those at intermediate stage. *Splash warning*! 

Equipment: Bath, water and legs 

Challenge: Challenge your child to flutter kick, whilst sitting up, keeping all of their legs except their tip toes under the water. When done properly we should push the water up with the tops of our feet, like kicking a football or flicking off your shoes. If your children can move their legs up and down rhythmically whilst making a small splash with their toes then that’s a good start. Look for we consistency, and see if they can sustain it for 3, 5, 10 seconds? 

Progressions: Challenge their rhythm. Kick… Kick… Kick… Kick. Kick.Kick.Kick.Kick. Kick……… Kick…….. Kick. Challenge them to kick 3 times with 1 leg and then 3 with the other. 

7) ‘Roll Over’ – core control and balance for those at intermediate stage and over. *Splash and potential banged knees warning*! 

Equipment: Bath (as deep as possible) and water 

Challenge: Challenge you child to roll from front to back, back to front or front to back to front again without using their arms. Ask them to keep their arms by their sides like a pencil (or carrot), so the movement happens from their core. 

Progression: If you bath is long enough or your children are short enough, have them do this with their arms extended over their head like a rocket. Have your kids turn on your command and replace the words ‘roll over’ with something entertaining like ‘coconuts’ and try and trick them with the wrong words. 

If you’ve enjoyed these breathing exercises, please let us know by commenting on this post! We’d also love to see your little ones practicing these activities, so tag us in any photos or videos @swimmingnature on Facebook and Twitter, and @swimmingnatureuk on Instagram.  

Lastly, we will be re-opening for intensive Fast-Track swimming courses from the 3rd August in selected venues, followed by site-wide Autumn Term private swimming lessons from the beginning of September. To book, please visit: https://book.swimmingnature.com.