19 New Habits to Improve Your Swimming In 2019

Photo Courtesy: Kalina DiMarco

By Devin Javens, Swimming World College Intern.

Forming new habits through New Year’s resolutions are the perfect way to hold yourself accountable for your goals throughout each new year. Swimmers can apply these resolutions to their swimming and focus on habits that maybe have slipped from their grasps during past seasons. The following 19 habits are helpful goals that swimmers should apply to their practices each day to become the best they can be in 2019.

1. Sleep.

hawaii-sleep

Photo Courtesy: Sophie Allen

It’s extremely important for athletes to get the recommended seven to eight hours of sleep per night. Not only will this leave you feeling well-rested, but it also maximizes your recovery so you can attack your next practice.

2. Eating healthy.

It’s a common misconception that swimmers are able to eat whatever they want because of their high amount of physical activity, which is thought to cancel out the calories and harmful effects of unhealthy foods. Proper nutrition is essential for athletes, because it allows the body to use key nutrients to perform, practice, and recover to its best ability. To learn more about what an athlete’s diet should consist of, read Swimming World’s article on 10 Foods for Faster Swimming.

3. Hydrate.

Not only should you hydrate during practice but also throughout the day. This helps prevent certain limiting factors of dehydration, such as muscle cramps and nausea. Additionally, make sure to drink fluids during and after workouts to replace the sweat lost during a swim practices or a lift.

4. Dynamic warm up.

katie-meili-jump-rope-

Photo Courtesy: Peter H. Bick

It’s better to warm up to swim rather than swimming to warm up. Dynamic warm up is extremely important, because it prepares the body for full-body movement and jump-starts the nervous system prior to hopping in the pool. Not only will it make you feel more efficient during those first couple of laps, but it also warms the muscles and the entire body. Dynamic warm ups better prepare you for a great practice right from the start.

5. Turns.

Practice doesn’t make perfect, but perfect practice does. The more you become lazy with your turns, the more likely this will transfer over to competition. By not gliding into or breathing in and out of turns during practice, you’re more sure to have fast and efficient turns come race day.

6. Tight streamline.

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Photo Courtesy: Agence France-Presse

This seems like a given, but sometimes when things become so routine, it’s easy to not be attentive towards it. A tight streamline is important for keeping a swimmer hydrodynamic to maintain maximum speed coming out of a turn. Focusing on little things, like a tight streamline, can contribute to a faster and more productive practice or race.

7. Underwaters.

Underwaters are known as the fifth stroke and can drastically improve your races. But of course, this fifth stroke is learned and perfected in practice. Yes, your lungs might be burning and your legs completely numb, but no matter how grueling the practice, executing perfect underwaters are a sure way to be sharp and confident come race day.

8. Technique.

Sloppy technique can and will transfer over to races. It’s not just when you’re well-rested and energetic that you need to maintain technique – it’s when you’re exhausted and fighting through the last part of your race when these habits truly cement. Keep correct technique in mind during each practice to perfect your stroke.

9. Post practice fuel.

Post practice nutrition is extremely important to held rebuild and fuel tired muscles. Carbohydrates and certain proteins are the best way to do so, because they allow for the body to easily digest and more quickly rebuild muscles. However, post practice fuel is needed much sooner than the time it takes to prepare a meal. Recovery shakes are able to prevent the loss of muscle tissue during a workout by suppressing the release of the hormone cortisol. Cortisol essentially eats up a muscles tissue in order to restore energy lost during a workout. However, a recovery shake immediately following a workout prevents this from happening and allows you to maintain muscle and energy, best preparing you for upcoming practices.

10. Stretching.

louisville -cardinal-team stretch-

Photo Courtesy: Peter H. Bick

Stretching after each practice is extremely important and is the key to attacking each practice, despite grueling workouts. By doing so, the body is able to stay loose and muscles replenished for the next practice rather than swimming with sore and tight muscles.

11. Recovery.

In addition to stretching and sleep, using other methods to speed up the recovery process can best help heal sore and tired muscles. Some methods include ice baths, rolling out, massage, heat, compression boots and cupping.

12. Be positive.

Instead of dreading each practice, think of it as an opportunity to work towards your goals. Of course this is more easily said than done, but trying to find a positive angle on everything can greatly improve your mood and contribute to your practice and meet performance.

13. Give 100%.

neale-exhaustion-tired-lay-lie-down-post-race

Photo Courtesy: Delly Carr / Swimming Australia Ltd.

It’s easy to get stuck in the mindset of wanting to give up when it comes to a hard set or practice. Finding some way to dig deep and push through each day will show results not only at the end of the season but also throughout the duration of the season.

14. Cheer on teammates.

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Photo Courtesy: Peter H. Back

Not only does this apply to meets but also in practice. Cheering each other on throughout a set can contribute to a positive team environment and motivate yourself and your teammates to swim faster.

15. Have fun.

Sometimes putting too much pressure on yourself can make you lose sight of your love for the sport. Finding some way to have fun at each practice can help you stay loose and remind you of why you love swimming in the first place.

16. Dream big.

Special-Olympics-Gold-Medal

Photo Courtesy: Special Olympics USA Games

Dreaming big and setting long term goals for yourself can help motivate you to work towards a big goal. Sometimes, thinking “in the now” during the middle of a hard phase of training can make you lose focus of what’s ahead; however, dreaming big reinforces that your hard work now will pay off later.

17. Set daily goals.

In addition to setting long term goals, daily goals can be beneficial to a swimmer. By making a goal to work on something each practice, an athlete is no longer mindlessly swimming yards but rather working on a specific thing to perfect their performance.

18. Don’t cheat yourself.

Maybe you can get away with not doing the whole warm down or leaving early during a set, but cutting corners eventually adds up. Make sure you’re putting in all the work necessary for success.

19. Don’t settle.

Be sure not to limit yourself once you reach your goals. Celebrate for a moment, and then put your head back down and keep working toward something better.

All commentaries and research are completed by the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Swimming World Magazine nor its staff.

10 comments

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