By Dr. G. John Mullen, Swimming World Contributor
Swimmers need a complete team around them to be successful in and out of the water. One of the most important players on the team is a personal trainer. Personal trainers aren’t people who know a few exercises and teach them to swimmers; they are skilled professionals who studied all aspects of fitness and health, and continue to improve their education. Personal trainers know the abilities of the athletes, they understand the limitations of training, and they have the expertise to develop individualized plans that promote optimal physical and performance results.
Here are 15 reasons why swimmers need a personal trainer on their team.
1. Spot areas of concern
Personal trainers have keen insight into the body – how it moves, why it moves, what its limitation are – that allow personal trainers to identify areas of concern or training deficiencies. The areas of concern and swimmer’s needs take top priority in training.
2. Understand the physical demands of the sport
Ideally, swimmers should work with personal trainers who have experience in the pool and working with swimmers. A knowledgeable personal trainer knows the dangers of overhead movements and shoulder stretching, understands the force in the water and dangers of repetitive movements, as well as other grueling physical demands.
3. Workouts are targeted
Because personal trainers understand the physical demands and potential risks of swimming, they target workouts accordingly. Personal trainers shape dryland workouts for swimmers to address the needs of the swimmer. Effective dryland training maximizes performance for a specific outcome; it doesn’t promote excessive strength and cardio to bulk up swimmers.
4. Prevent injuries
Personal trainers work closely with swimmers to improve balance, flexibility, strength, and core strength, which prevent injuries while training in the gym or in the pool.
5. Learn proper technique
When athletes do any type of strength training on their own or through a digital or online coach, they open themselves up to a host of safety issues and training concerns. In addition to excessive weight and ineffective workouts, athletes adopt poor and improper technique. Poor technique leads to injury, imbalance, exhaustion, and reduced performance. Personal trainers watch swimmers closely to ensure every workout is done properly and safely.
6. Promote accountability
Personal trainers hold swimmers accountable for their success in a dryland program. Swimmers are paying money to develop their skills and to meet their goals, and that is something personal trainers take seriously. They hold accountability in high regard and push athletes passed the negativity and distraction that holds them back from optimal performance. The expectations of a trainer are no less valuable or important as the expectations of the coach.
7. Training is solid and consistent
When swimmers work one-on-one with personal trainers, they can expect a solid and consistent workout that is tailored to their needs and sport. Unlike large, commercial outfits with staff on rotation, personal trainers who work with swimmers build consistency and accountability. Together, the personal trainer and swimmer develop a routine and establish expectations that help swimmers meet their goals.
8. Maximizes workout time
Workouts must never waste the swimmer’s time. If athletes perform over-prescribed workouts repeatedly, they are not effective and everyone will have wasted their time. Personal trainers don’t mess around with workout time. Every move has a purpose, every minute counts, and every workout session is effective, efficient, and productive.
9. Provides guidance and motivation
When swimmers set performance goals, motivation is key to reach the goals. Personal trainers provide swimmers with the guidance and motivation to keep pushing through the discomfort, to tackle complicated physical and mental hurdles, and to transform the workout. Even when swimmers feel defeated and at their lowest point in training, personal trainers never give up on them.
10. Well-rounded fitness regimen
Swimmers who train their own or work with unqualified “trainers” do not have the education or insight necessary to create a well-rounded fitness regimen that tackles all the needs of the swimmer and the sport. Personal trainers go beyond jumping jacks for cardio; they create comprehensive fitness plans that focus on the swimmer. Personal trainers know how and when to work on resistance training, strength training, balance and flexibility, and injury prevention.
11. Increases stamina and endurance
Swimmers who work with a personal trainer can focus on improving effectively increase stamina and endurance with the complete fitness regimens I just mentioned. Personal trainers focus on strength and conditioning to improve propulsion in the pool, to prevent mental and physical exhaustion, and safely endure competition and training.
12. Compliments medical and rehabilitation methods
Personal training is the perfect addition to medical, therapy, coaching and rehabilitation methods. Physical concerns, limitations, injuries, and recovery are all addressed in a well-balanced elite personal training session. If the swimmer suffers a setback or needs to adjust training, the personal trainer can do so effectively and safely.
13. Can accommodate a swimmer’s schedule
Swimmers have complicated schedules, with practice as the focal point. Personal trainers get that and work around the increasing demands of swimmer’s schedules. Personal trainers know when it is safe to train, when to back off of certain exercises, what to work on before and after competition, and when the best time is for a swimmer to get to the gym.
14. Improves strength, power, and mobility
Personal training is not all about strength training. For swimmers, having a personal trainer improves their strength, power, and mobility for a successful swim and injury-free performance. Comprehensive and targeted dryland programs safely do all three without exhausting the swimmer.
15. It’s personal
Swimmers develop close relationships with their personal trainers. The one-on-one relationship and understanding improves the effectiveness of the training. The trainer works on personal and professional goals with the swimmer, notices and addresses issues, understands troubles and obstacles, and has a deeply intimate knowledge of the swimmer. The mutual understanding of one another translates to more successful and targeted sessions, as well as an informed understanding of the swimmer as a whole. Like a swim coach, the trainer provides another outlet for youth athletes, helping mold them for long-term academic, sport and life success.