Improve Your Core By Fred Vergnoux
Core stability helps us to maintain the optimum streamlined body position in the water, so that we can swim faster and more efficiently.
Why is core strength so important to swimmers?
Core stability helps us to maintain the optimum streamlined body position in the water, so that we can swim faster and more efficiently. You need strength to power through the resistance of water, and a strong core can help. It’s so important it’s one of the things my athletes dedicate time to every single day.
Make core work part of your weekly routine
Let’s say that you swim four times a week – in this case you should also work on your core stability four times a week, every time you go to the pool. It’s actually a very good idea to do your core exercises before your swim and mix your warm-up with core exercises – this is basically what we do every night with my athletes.
When to do it
As above, always try and work on your core before you get into the pool. We know from a scientific point of view that it’s better to activate your muscles before exercise, so make core work part of your swimming warm-up, instead of stretching. It will make you more aware of your muscles in the water. Plus on land it’s easier to get right. So the sequence is: core, then swim.
What to do
For core, there’s so much you can do – planks, crunches, work with medicine or physio balls and even doing some squats with your arms in the swimming position. The key is to ensure you don’t focus solely on static core work (like planks), which is a big mistake. You need to work on your core within the full range of movement to allow you to be as tall as you can in the water and be really strong from within.
Try this core strengthening exercise
If you’d like to incorporate a static core strengthening exercise into your routine, try this side plank:
Lie on your side, with one elbow on the floor supporting your weight, legs together in a straight line. Lift your hips high off the floor and hold.
Start by holding the position for 15 seconds, then rest for 15, then repeat between six and eight times. Finally, switch sides. As you progress, slowly increase the challenge – so spend one week holding for 15 seconds and then the following week hold for 20 seconds and so on, so you’re gradually improving.