Specific Swimming

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It's great to compete in multiple sports, but there usually comes a time when you have to choose which one to pursue for the rest of your athletic career. When that clock strikes, you'll most likely go with the one you excel at and enjoy the most. But if you're a swimmer, you'll have to take your decision one step further.

If your best athletic skill is flowing through the water at the speed of light, you still have to choose an event to dominate. And once you do that, you need to attack your training with that event in mind. That's why two-time Olympian Mark Gangloff trains the way he moves for the breaststroke.

Chris Ritter, Mecklenburg Aquatic Club strength and conditioning coach and Gangloff's current strength coach, says breaststrokers have a tendency to develop rounded shoulders and poor posture because of the technique used to perform the stroke.

To counter this tendency, one of the exercises Ritter prescribes is the Cobra with Dumbbells, which works the middle trapezius muscles. If you're looking to perfect the breaststroke, perform this drill twice a week during the off-season.

Cobra with Dumbbells
•    Lie face down on ground with arms extended in front of head
•    Hold dumbbell in each hand with palms facing down
•    Slowly raise chest off ground while bringing arms out and back
•    Hold for one second and return to start position
•    Repeat for specified reps

Sets/Reps/Rest: 3/8-12/30 seconds
Ritter's Rave: Make sure you pinch your shoulder blades together at the top of the movement // Keep your head down and think about your spine getting longer // Your back will arch a little, but concentrate on squeezing your shoulder blades


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