5 Reasons Swimmers Should CrossFit

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Written by Coach Anthony

Over the past year, I’ve been fortunate enough to work along side some of the best aquatics coaches in the country teaching Navy SEAL candidates to swim – preparing them for BUD/S training in Coronado, California. Prior to that I volunteered at the prestigious Walter Schroeder Aquatic Center coaching and learning from some of the best club coaches in Wisconsin. My professional aquatic training began in 2006 when I was an Amphibious Reconnaissance Marine for the following 8 years. Similar to Navy BUD/S, Recon Marines spend a great portion of their career in and around the water, specifically in the surf zone with full combat equipment. You have to be a very strong swimmer to accomplish your mission while being slammed by waves and not be exhausted by the time you got to the beach. Here is a list I put together about why you should pick up CrossFit to become a better and stronger swimmer.

1. Longevity

Similar to astronauts, a swimmer spends a great deal of their time training in a “weightless” environment. Although the pull of gravity and your body weight are the exact same in the water as they are on land, the downward acceleration of your body mass is greatly reduced while in the pool. Over time this can have adverse effects on your skeleton and may even lead to decreased bone density or an early onset of conditions such as osteoporosis. At Moro Performance, our CrossFit classes focus on one Olympic lift and one strength lift three times per week to ensure our members are durable enough to tackle all other obstacles life throws at them. For a swimmer, loading the skeleton with weight during exercises such as front and back squats, overhead presses, and dead lifts will help to reduce the potential for lost bone density over time and keep you healthy enough to keep swimming for years to come!

2. Performance

What swimmer wouldn’t like to shave a few tenths of a second off of his or her 100 free, or get a PR in a 400 IM? Coming to CrossFit classes at Moro Performance can help you accomplish that. As mentioned above, strength lifts, especially when conducted on deliberate timing intervals, can increase a swimmer’s rate of force production, meaning faster starts and more powerful flip turns! In our conditioning “WODs” we regularly program gymnastics exercises such as pull-ups and muscle-ups which will aid in the pull phase of your stroke and underwater pull-outs. Often, we program workouts specifically for the core muscles and use exercise like toes-to-bar, planks, and GHD sit-ups. A strong core will give swimmers the ability to maintain a great streamlined position longer, especially for the distance guys and gals!

3. Competitive Advantage

Common physical adaptions that have been reported when regularly attending CrossFit classes at Moro Performance include decreases in body fat and an increase of lean body mass. A common response I get to that is: “I’m a swimmer; I don’t have any body fat to lose.” That may be true, but what about adding some lean mass to your skeleton then? With increased surface areas in the upper chest, back, and shoulders, swimmers have the ability to “grab” more water, pulling them faster to the next wall or finish line. Exercises that will help with that are any of the Olympic lifts (snatches and cleans for those unfamiliar with lifting), overhead presses and jerks, rowing, and as stated above – pull-ups and muscle ups.

4. Injury Prevention

It’s going to be a lot harder to win the gold medal you’ve been training years for when you’re hurt. Regular CrossFit training at Moro Performance will make you stronger. Stronger bodies are less susceptible to injury, especially when weak areas are targeted for a specific sport or event. CrossFit won’t just make your muscles stronger, but even more importantly, it will strengthen your connective tissue. Stronger tendons and ligaments obtained from regular full range of motion exercise will help to cut down on overuse injuries and those minor aches and pains you used to think were something serious. Members at Moro Performance have also noted that they have become mentally stronger. Gutting through a grueling WOD a few times a week will make that set of repeats in the pool seem a lot more manageable!

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5. Social Aspects

When you walk into Moro Performance, everyone will know your name, and if it’s your first class, I’d bet that you’ll be asked before you even set your bag down in one of the cubbies. One of the great things about our CrossFit community is that EVERYONE has a great time and gets along. Members frequently hang out together outside of class and strangers have become friends while working out here! Grab your buddies that you usually share a lane with at the pool and come to class together! After training with those people for a while, you know each other’s training habits and will be able to push yourself harder in a WOD with them there to hold you accountable. Bring the guy you’re always trying to catch in the pool, or the girl who is just a little bit faster than you. CrossFit is another great avenue to get that competitive spirit out and accomplish some things you never thought possible, in the pool and on land!

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