To pick up speed for a date at the awards podium, swimmers need to do more than just splash on some chlorine cologne. Trey Zepeda, strength and conditioning coach for the men's swimming squad at the University of Texas, offers an anti-goggle, dry-land routine that improves flexibility and increases speed in the water.
"A key flexibility component for swimmers is ankle mobility, because it produces more forward thrust while kicking," says Zepeda, who herded the Longhorns to a second-place finish at the 2008 NCAA Championships.
Below, Zepeda quenches your thirst for flexibility with three stretchesPlantar/ Dorsiflexion Ankle Stretch, Scorpion Stretch, and Seated Ankle Stretch. Altogether, they take less time than shaving your legs.
Note: Perform each stretch four or five times per week, but only when muscles are warm after a pool or gym workout.
Plantar/Dorsiflexion Ankle Stretch
Sit with legs extended straight out in front and feet together
Point toes away from body as far as possible for five seconds (plantar flexion)
Bring toes toward body as much as possible for five seconds (dorsiflexion)
Repeat movements and five-second holds for 10 reps
Coaching Points: Do not bend knees // Curl toes forward and down in plantar flexion // Spread toes apart in dorsiflexion // Maintain upright seated position // Move only your ankles during stretch
Lie face down with legs straight
Place arms at 45-degree angle from waist
Lift right foot to left hand
Return to start position
Lift left foot to right hand
Repeat for 8-10 reps with each foot
Adaptation: For an advanced stretch, place arms to side of body in "T" position so feet must travel a longer distance
Coaching Points: Keep chest flat and shoulders parallel to ground // Avoid arching back // Do not use arms to help rotate hips
Seated Ankle Stretch
Kneel with feet together and toes pointing away from body
Sit back until glutes touch heels; hold position for 10 to 15 seconds
Return to start position and repeat for three or four reps
Coaching Points: Squeeze ankles while sitting down // Avoid leaning back with torso when sitting down // Rest arms in a neutral position
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