USA Swimming News

Tuesday, July 12, 2022

Creative Summer Workouts to Build Strength, Resistance and Team Spirit

Creative Summer Workouts to Build Strength, Resistance and Team Spirit

Many competitive swimmers can recall their favorite summer league teams, remembering early morning swims, exciting first-races with teammates, and receiving ribbons for these key accomplishments. Summer workouts with club teams often inspire similar memories, initiating a spark or love for the water that fuels the fire for young swimmers for years and years to follow. 

Below, you will discover strength training, resistance workouts and fun team activities that can add some vigor to your regular summer swim sets. 

Wetland (Strength Training) 
• Wall Pushups – Performed in deep water. Place the hands shoulder-width apart on the deck while the rest of the body is still in the water. Push your body up and out of the water, extending the arms until the elbows are completely straight. Return your body back into the water with your hands still on the deck. Repeat until you have completed 10 – 15 reps. 

• 25’s Sprints with pushups/sit ups at each wall – This wetland exercise is normally combined with freestyle or butterfly sprints. Example: Sprint 20 x 25’s freestyle with different exercises at each wall. At one wall, swimmers must climb out and complete 10 pushups on the deck after sprinting a 25. Sprint another 25, then climb out at the other wall and complete 10 sit ups on the deck. Repeat this until the group has completed the entire set. 
• Treading water with weights – Each swimmer needs to be provided with a 5 or 10 lb. weight based on the coach's judgement. Swimmers must get into the deep end of the pool and place their weights on the deck. Swimmers then grab their weights and tread water with freestyle or dolphin kick, holding the weight, hands and head out of the water while kicking for 30 seconds on/30 seconds off. During the 30 seconds off, swimmers may return their weights to the wall and stop treading. Repeat this set for 5 or 10 minutes.

• Battle ropes combined with 50s sprint set – (200 Freestyle Focus/Choice of Stroke) 
Swimmers race 4 x 50s descending the speed 1-4, and then climb out and complete 15-20 up-and-down arm reps with the battle ropes. Repeat to three or four rounds. 

Resistance Training
• Stretch cord training – Stretch cords can be used both for dryland training and in the pool. The Long Cords (25 meter/yard) are used to improve the power in every stage of your stroke. Make sure to get the correct resistance size and length for your competitive group level. Swimmers attach the stretch cord to their waist and swim against the resistance of the cord, trying to reach the farthest wall. The aim is to improve the catch, power, and out-sweep of the stroke while using max capacity strength to achieve the goal. In addition, swimmers get the joy of being pulled back on the cord by a teammate and “flying” across the water, which helps them with breakouts and the initial push off the wall. 

• Buckets – The resistance produced by using buckets builds strength and speed. Swimming with buckets also helps swimmers improve their pull and catch. Buckets can be attached to a stretch cord and pulled in the water, or attached to a pulley system on the deck that lifts the bucket up as you swim. Both are effective at helping swimmers develop stronger muscles, better endurance, power and an enhanced pull. Buckets can be used to work on underwaters, breakouts, sprint sets, and finding the weak areas within the strokes. 

• Parachutes – Swim parachutes are great for helping swimmers improve the pinnacle stage or “power aspect” of each stroke. Like the stretch cord, the swim parachute is attached to the swimmer by a belt. The parachute comes in various sizes, based on the size, strength and competitive level of the swimmer. While swimming, the parachute drags behind the swimmer and causes resistance which helps build endurance, vigor, and progress with sprinting.  

Fun Activities for Age Group Swimmers
• Zig Zag Swimming – For this activity, start on one end of the pool. As an example, swimmers need a minimum of six lanes to complete a 300 freestyle. Swimmers start swimming in one lane for the first 25 and then complete a flip turn. Instead of coming back in the same lane, however, swimmers go under the lane line and swim back in the next lane over. Swimmers will continue to keep swimming a 25 free in each lane before moving on to the next lane. 

• Caterpillar – Every swimmer chooses a partner. Each of the partner groups are split up in separate lanes. The swimmers will complete a 50 freestyle race, but with a twist: Of the partner groups, one swimmer must grab the other swimmer’s ankles during the first 25 yards/meters of the race. During the race, the swimmer in front does the freestyle arms and the swimmer in back does freestyle kick. At the farthest wall, the partners switch places. The pair to reach the starting wall first, wins. 
• Bottle Rockets – Instruct swimmers to go to the deep end of the pool, but to where they can still touch the bottom if they go under. (5-6 feet) At the same time, all swimmers should go underwater and blast off the bottom into a vertical dolphin kick with arms overhead in streamline. Swimmers must complete 10-15 bottle rockets as a group. 

• Rock, Paper, Scissors Game – Swimmers are separated into two groups. The two groups go to opposite ends of the pool. One swimmer from each group swims out and meets the other swimmer somewhere in the middle of the lane. The two swimmers then partake in the Rock, Paper, Scissors game. The winning swimmer continues on down the lane, and the losing swimmer climbs out or goes back to the wall. The goal for each group is to have as many swimmers as possible win the Rock, Paper, Scissors Game so they can get to the other side of the pool. This game can also be played using kickboards. 

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