Leg Strength With Hoosier Swimming

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At the 2008 NCAA Swimming and Diving Championships, both the men's and women's Indiana University swimming squads placed in the top 10 for the first time in school history. According to Mike Basgier, assistant S&C coach, building leg power was the foundation for the Hoosiers' success.

STACK: Why is leg power important for swimmers?
Mike Basgier:
So you can achieve explosive starts and turns. If you talk to any college coach or swimmer, [he or she] will tell you that every race is won or lost off the blocks and wall.

STACK: How can a lack of leg power hinder a swimmer?
Not only will it compromise your starts and turns, but it will negatively affect your kick. As you lose your kick, you lose your core; and as you lose your core, you lose your stroke.

STACK: How do you improve leg power?
We perform between 3 and 4 sets of 3 to 5 reps of Dumbbell Snatches for three to four weeks before we progress to the Barbell Snatch. Performing the DB Snatch makes the athlete's transition to the Barbell that much easier.

STACK: Why do you perform the DB Snatch?
This exercise helps with the fast twitch capabilities and power explosion of the hips, which is essential for swimmers.

STACK: How do you perform the DB Snatch?
Beginning in an athletic stance with feet shoulder-width apart, hold a dumbbell in one hand between your knees. Squat slightly, then press off the ground quickly with a jumping movement. Extend your ankles, knees and hips while pulling the dumbbell out and up. Allow momentum to carry the dumbbell up and over your shoulder. Hold the fully extended position for one second, then lower.

STACK: What do you look for in technique?
I'm looking for speed. Their hips need to be fast during the movement; and once the dumbbell gets overhead, they need a solid base with their feet and hips. Since we use the DB Snatch as a progression to the Barbell, I want the weight to be light, but challenging.

STACK: What kind of sets, reps and rest do you use?
We do anywhere between 3 and 4 sets of 3 to 5 reps. The rest time is self-selective. Perform the next set when your breathing returns to normal and you feel recovered.


Photo Credit: Getty Images // Thinkstock