It’s been said that swimming is one of the best, low-impact methods of exercise (plus, it targets your whole body). While working on areas from your core to your back muscles, you are also gaining flexibility and endurance.
Although, just like any other activity, how we perform the exercise is crucial. Here are some common mistakes swimmers make when working out:
The Problem: Incorrect head position is one of the most common mistakes for swimmers. As humans, we instinctively want to be looking ahead of us, making sure there’s nothing in our way. However, while swimming, that peaking of the head slows down the entire movement. When your eyes are above the waterline, your neck moves in a way that forces the rest of your body to move as well. Your hips drop and resistance against the water is increased, slowing you down.
The Fix: While this is a common mistake, it is an easy one to fix. Most swimming pools have a line along the bottom from one end to the other. Focusing on that line can help you build a habit of keeping your head down. It may take a while to get used to, but, with time and practice, it will become second nature.
Timing of Breath
The Problem: Incorrect breath timing is the next common mistake for swimmers. Just like other types of exercise, when and how you breathe is important for your physical health and athletic performance. When swimming, the obvious goal is to avoid swallowing water when going up for a breath - but when and how to take each breath affects more than just the amount of water you swallow. Instinctively, our body thinks the best time to breathe is when your arm is exiting the water. However, this actually increases the chances of swallowing water, since your arm is in front of your face.
The Fix: The best time to breathe while swimming is when your hand enters the water to begin the start of your stroke. If you have been breathing incorrectly, shifting to this method of breath control simply takes focus. Becoming aware of when you inhale and exhale, and making an effort to breathe at the right time is a good way to change the habit. Concentrate solely on this for a few laps every workout, and you will get there in no time.
Finishing Your Stroke Early.
The Problem: Although swimming is a low-impact exercise, it is still a tiring action. One of the most common and understandable mistakes is made while swimmers are tired - a short stroke. The most efficient arm stroke fully extends the arm so that the hand enters the water in front of the head and exits near the hips. Normally when tired, the hand exits the water far before the arm is fully extended. This decreases the distance of each stroke and forces the swimmer to increase the number of strokes, thus creating more work and tiring them out quicker.
The Fix: Since this often occurs when swimmers are tired, it is simply a matter of paying extra attention to the action. One way to keep yourself from shortening your stroke is to practice counting your strokes. When you notice the number of strokes increasing from one side to the other, check if you are shortening your stroke. Another method of prevention is to slow down and exaggerate your stroke as you move across the pool. Focus on the length of your arm and the power you’re putting into it.
If you are aware of your movements in the pool, and work to avoid these things, you can easily avoid injury and continue to perfect your swimming technique. Want to learn more? Sign up for swim lessons to work on safe swimming techniques with a professional!