By Mike Gustafson//Correspondent
Who said swimming only involves lapping up and down the pool?
One day at an outdoor summer practice, Heartland Aquatics (Lincoln, NE) head coach Erik Wiken showed his swimmers a new part of their dryland routine: Hoisting and flipping a huge, 250-pound tire.
“I’ve experimented with some ways to try to incorporate relatively safe things into our dryland routine,” Wiken said. “Once Lochte came out with strongman stuff, we began trying to connect explosiveness in Saturday morning practices.”
While Lochte uses a mega-big 650-pound tire, Wiken uses two safer, lower-weight tires. One is 250lbs and the other is 175lbs. Swimmers choose the tire based on their strength ability. Only one tire is used at a time. Coach Wiken monitors the tire flipping to ensure it is safely flipped. Wiken says his swimmers absolutely love the new, unorthodox dryland challenge.
“They were really thrilled,” Wilken said. “The experience itself was more of a proving to themselves they could do it. They had self-doubt that they couldn’t flip the tire. Once they did it, it sparked their interest.”
The purpose of the exercise is to help swimmers understand their bodies and transition that aggressiveness and power into starts and turns. Sometimes, swimming can be an isolated, somewhat passive exercise. Imagine the fun (and challenge) to get out of the pool, stand in front of cheering teammates and flip a huge tractor tire. Here are a few safety tips to remember when attempting this exercise:
• Bend to lift the object – don’t stoop
• Keep your back straight by tucking in your chin
• Lift with the strong leg muscles, not the weaker back muscles
• Make sure your balance is good
• Grip with palms and fingers
• Use your body weight to start the load moving then lift by pushing up with legs
• Keep arms and elbows close to the body as much as possible
• Don’t twist your body
• If too heavy use a lighter weight
Wiken claims the exercise enhances specific swimming motions, too.
“These are for my senior group,” Wiken explains. “We did it to learn how to connect the hips and connect movements. To get off the blocks and walls. It was incorporated into a dryland circuit at our outdoor pool.”
He added: “It enhances body awareness, timing, and power through your legs and hips. Some kids were able to apply it to their turns.”
So my question: Where do you get huge, two-hundred pound tires? It’s not like you can run down to the local hardware store and purchase gigantic tractor tires. But Wiken said acquiring the tires is not as difficult as you’d imagine.
“I was able to secure some tractor tires for free from a tire salesperson. If anyone is qualified to do something like that, they can contact the local farm or tire supply store.”
Of course, Wiken makes sure he communicates to his swimmers how to transition this dryland exercise into the pool. And he makes sure that he is present and monitoring that the tire is safely flipped.
“We talk about [its purpose] right away. As they are trying it, I’m standing right there. We only have one tire at a time, regardless if we have two tires. it’s one swimmer at a time. And the rest of the swimmers are watching and learning to optimize safety.”
Got an unusual training technique? Know of a great swimming story? Send ‘em to me at firstname.lastname@example.org!