Slim Down With a Swim

STORY BY XALLY SALGADO

PHOTOS BY GUSTAVO ORTEGA

Need to reduce body fat or tone all major muscles? Buddy, what you need is a swim in your life, and it’s never too late to start swimming as a workout. Swimming is said to be one of the best exercises as it works out the whole body and has a low impact on joints, but like any other physical activity when improper techniques are practiced, there are consequences.

Krista Spina, CSULB, Fitness Instructor and Personal Trainer sat down with me to discuss proper swim techniques. Freestyle stroke, also known as Front Crawl, is the fastest and most efficient swim style for beginners in swim conditioning.

The most critical component for efficient  swimming is the body position which is dictated by the head position.

Eyesight

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There’s a reason why swimmers look down. Spina explained how looking up while swimming hurts your neck and decreases body rotation, which also reduces speed.

“You could look down and slightly forward,” Spina said. “I always follow the line, you don’t want to look up because then you have that bend on your neck. You want to have the water coming over your cap.”

Arms

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The arm movements are going to perform like a constant propeller.  

“Elbow up, reach as far forward as you can,” said Spina. “You’re going to get that slight rotation in your upper body. Then you pull the water back to about your hip and then that elbow comes back up. Meanwhile, the other arm is extended."

Breathing

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Spina recommends taking a breath after every third pull.

“Pretend that your chin and shoulder are attached,” says Spina. “Your chin follows your shoulder, take that breath and then your chin goes back in.”

Kicks

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In freestyle swimming, flutter kick is the leg technique used. With legs extended and feet pointed, you will alternate kicking downward with one leg while moving the other leg upward.

Mastering these techniques shall get you a step closer to becoming the next Michael Phelps. You need to swim two to three times a week for 30 to 40 minutes, more is fine. “What you want to do is increase the heart rate; intervals are most efficient,” she said.  

“When warming up you just want to get the blood flow,” Spina said. “You want to get the oxygen flowing. Kicking and pulling a couple of laps is how I make my classes start their workouts.”

Don’t forget to cool down when ending a workout; the purpose is to drop your heart rate, do an easy 50 meters of kick and pull.

Quick Swim Workout

Warm up: 50 meter swim, kick, pull, swim

Four sets of:

  • 75 meters at 1:45 minutes 

  • 50 meters at 1:15 minutes

  • 25 meters at 45 seconds

Two sets of each exercise on a 25 meter:

  • No. 1: Take only seven breaths

  • No. 2: Take only six breaths

  • No. 3: Take only five breaths

  • No. 4: Take only four breaths

  • No. 5: Take only three breaths

  • No. 6: Take only two breaths

  • No. 7: Take only one breath

  • No. 8: Take zero breaths

Cool down: 50 meter swim, kick, pull, swim