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If a swimsuit is something you wear only to sit by the pool, it may be time to get it wet. Swimming is a great way to recover after a hard strength day or to get in some fat-burning cardio. In fact, a study in the International Journal of Sports Medicine found that athletes who hit the pool for a moderate workout on a recovery day were able to subsequently work out longer than those who took it easy. “Getting into the pool can help start that active recovery process,” explains Hannah Caldas, a coach with CrossFit Anywhere in Folsom, CA, and a former member of the Portuguese national swim team. “You’re flushing out some of the lactic acid while helping your muscle fibers recover.” Water is low impact and provides active stretching in every direction. And the faster you move, the harder you’ll work. Hydrostatic pressure also circulates blood flow back to the heart, keeping your heart rate 10 to 15 beats lower per minute than on land.
Even the best-conditioned athletes can struggle in the pool because of poor technique. Follow a few of these form fixes to develop a smoother stroke and be more efficient in the water.
Breathing evenly not only keeps you calm and relaxed, it also changes the position of your diaphragm, so you stay tight through the core and can move more efficiently. Don’t hold your breath: Exhale while your head is still underwater, so when you turn to inhale, you can draw in more air. Practice by breathing out air bubbles underwater.
In freestyle, fully extend your arm in front of you, then pivot hips slightly down on the side that’s reaching forward; pivot the opposite hip as you switch positions on the next stroke. “Think about grabbing the water and pulling your arm toward your body, not just windmilling your arms in the water,” says Caldas.
Kick with your entire leg, moving from the hip down with a slight bend in the knee. And don’t let your legs just float back to the top. “When you kick both down and up, you’ll move forward a lot more easily,” adds Caldas.
To do this workout, you should be able to swim at least 100 yards (four lengths in a 25-yard pool) without stopping. If not, work up to 100 yards and go from there.
Swim 400 yards (eight laps), taking breaks as needed.
Rest 20 to 30 seconds between intervals.
Rest 20 to 30 seconds between intervals
Take 30 seconds rest between each interval. (Or Do 20 x 50s, Taking 15 Seconds Rest.)
Swim four laps at an easy, relaxed pace.
*Based on a 25-yard pool
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