No pool? No problem. You can still keep your stroke sharp without access to the water
Editor's note: Part 14 of USA TODAY's Working Out From Home (#WOFH) seriesfocuses on getting some creative exercise from a swimmer’s perspective — in the house and smaller pool. Sign up for Good Sports, our weekly newsletter that delivers more home workout tips and all the stories of the good throughout the world of sports:
Training for a triathlon is no easy task.
Training for a triathlon during a global pandemic becomes an even taller task, especially for swimmers who don’t have access to their local pools with most gyms and public pools shut down due to shelter-in-place mandates around the country.
Maurya Couvares, an assistant coach for the Wagner women’s triathlon team in Staten Island, New York, is one of many swimmers who has been forced to get creative in the comfort of her own home while Olympic-sized swimming pools are not an option.
Scenes like this swimming portion of a triathlon won't be seen for a while. (Photo: CHERYL EVANS, Cheryl Evans/The Republic)
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Couvares believes the quarantining period offers an opportunity to put a premium on swimming form without even getting into a pool. That means stretch cords for maintaining stroke, planks for working on body position and squats for focusing on flip turns.
“Without a pool, swimmers can use stretch cords to continue working on swim-specific muscular endurance and fitness,” Couvares said. “Typically stretch cord workouts can be much shorter than a pool workout — anywhere from 5-25 minutes depending on fitness level and experience. Workouts can be structured as a short warm-up followed by a set of 'on' and 'off' intervals (for example, moving your arms as you would in freestyle swim for 30 seconds, taking 30 seconds off, then repeating 10 times). When using stretch cords it's important to remember the key technical part of each swim stroke. For freestyle, keeping a high elbow catch at the front of the stroke is important — so make sure you do that while using stretch cords too.
“Swimmers can also gain a lot from focusing on developing core strength while they are out of the pool. Body position in the water is a key component to fast swimming, so incorporating planks and plank variations into regular workouts can pay dividends when getting back into the pool. Swimmers can make their workouts fun by adding variety. For example, after a set of 30 seconds on, try a 30-second plank or 30 seconds of running in place. Mixing up motions keeps things interesting!”
Couvares noted that creativity can mean FaceTiming friends or having a Zoom team workout, all while listening to music or a podcast. A recent Instagram post on the team’s page featured a team video workout with Beyonce’s “Run the World (Girls)” playing in the background while everyone is pedaling. “Separated by oceans and states but still riding together #virtualteamride,” the caption read.
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Home training! Staying positive and healthy despite pool closures and a lockdown. @usatriathlon @wagnerathletics #athome #nevergiveup #ncaa #wagnertriathlon
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“If you’re on dryland, it can be a bit more interesting than staring at the black line at the bottom of a lap pool,” Couvares said. If a small pool is at someone’s disposal during lockdown, a tether can help with swimming in place to make up for space lost without an Olympic-sized pool, she added. Similar to a stretch-cord workout, Couvares said on-and-off intervals work well.
Of course, for triathletes running and biking are accessible with more opportunity to leave the house for exercise and the fact that treadmills and stationary bikes are often found in a triathlete’s home.
“It's unlikely that most people will get the same aerobic benefit as they would from a swim workout at this time,” Couvares said, “so incorporating regular easy jogs or light spins on the bike is a good way to continue maintaining aerobic fitness.”
Don't forget to check out the rest of our Working Out From Home series to get more ideas and tips on staying active and exercising while social distancing.
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