You know what they say, there’s always room for improvement. Whether you are 4 years old or 40, following these tips will help you become a better swimmer.
With swimmers ruling the pool at the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janiero, many viewers are starting to wonder: “what makes these athletes such outstanding superstars?” You might be surprised to learn that the habits of many of the world’s top swimmers transcend country or ethnicity. Instead, these habits simply reflect the distinct, eccentric lifestyle that only those who swim competitively can truly understand.
However, by highlighting 10 of these common trends amongst world-renowned swimmers, you’ll be able to gain a behind the scenes look into what quirky habits make these super-athletes so unique.
One noticeable habit of Olympic swimmers is the amount of daily food consumption. While the average adult should consume around 2,000 calories daily, professional athletes – and swimmers in particular – need significantly more than that. Decorated Olympians Michael Phelps and Ryan Lochte both claim to eat around 10,000 calories each day during training season and rave about the much talked-about “carbo-loading” before big competitions.
Olympic swimmers have more practices than there are days in the week, typically logging at least 10 workouts throughout seven days. Many of these practices are held in the wee hours of the morning. Take 19-year-old superstar Katie Ledecky, for example; on a daily basis she wakes up at 4 a.m. in order to be in the water and ready for practice which runs from 5 a.m. to 7 a.m. Like Ledecky, most Olympic swimmers wake up long before the sun, which makes it nearly impossible to sleep in – even on the rare days-off.
Unlike many of their Olympic constituents, swimmers typically don’t have the time – or energy – to dry their hair. With just mere hours between practices, most swimmers don’t find purpose in drying their hair regardless of freezing temperatures or daily demands. Furthermore, after hours of training, weightlifting, and dryland exercises, the idea of lifting and holding a hair dryer for several minutes seems virtually impossible.
In the pool, Ryan Lochte and Michael Phelps are each other’s greatest competitors. Outside of the pool, however, the two thrive as friends of more than 12 years. Like Lochte and Phelps, competitive swimmer stick together. Just as dolphins and whales travel in pods, swimmers frequently hang in groups making mealtime, workout time, and even downtime a team event.
During training season, Olympic swimmers can often be seen creating as much drag as possible. To them, the equation is simple: stroke length, combined with stroke rate, results in faster speed. In order to capitalize on every single stroke, swimmers train with things like water parachutes and bungee cords to add resistance and help improve the overall effectiveness of their stroke.
For Olympic swimmers, being clean-shaven is a luxury that only exists once or twice a year. As previously mentioned, swimmers strive to create drag in every aspect of their training, and that includes even the most microscopic hairs that cover the body. Men grow beards that could make lumberjacks cry and girls frequently sport “leg-sweaters.” Olympic swimmers typically shed their “training layer” the night before Olympic Trials to reduce drag and capitalize on speed.
Watch Olympic swimmers file out before a race and you might assume you’re about to watch a skiing competition rather than a swimming event. With multiple winter coats, hoods, hats, and even gloves, these swimmers look like they’re preparing for a pending blizzard. However, these warm layers are donned to keep swimmers warm and muscles loose. What television doesn’t broadcast is that these Olympic athletes have already swam thousands of meters to warm up and get their muscles ready to race. By bundling up, swimmers can avoid cold, stiff muscles which ultimately result in slow swimming.
Often times before racing, many swimmers squat by the edge of the pool and violently splash themselves with that cold, chlorine-y goodness. This habit might seem odd considering their excessive efforts to keep themselves warm prior to race time and the reasoning behind the tradition varies. Some professionals claim it’s a measure they take to keep their suit in place, while others say it’s simply part of their pre-race routine. Others splash themselves in an effort to “wake up” their muscles and jolt themselves into race-mode.
Non-swimmers are quick to point out the unique fragrance that seems to encompass competitive swimmers: chlorine. But after spending nearly 40 hours a week in the pool, soaking in the chlorine chemicals, this scent is seemingly impossible for Olympic swimmers to thwart. Furthermore, many professional swimmers don’t admit to showering as frequently as they should during training season simply because they find no point in wasting time (that could be spent eating or sleeping) washing off the same pool water that they’ll be back in in less than 12 hours.
After spending four hours a day in a restricting, skin-tight swimsuit, the last thing Olympic swimmers want to do is don tight-fitting clothing. Perhaps this is why many swimmers can be seen wearing sweatpants, sweatshirts, and other comfortable clothing. In fact, many professional swimmers admit that “dressing up” means wearing leggings. Furthermore, these fit, muscular swimmers also have an unnatural ability to know what clothing will fit their broad shoulders and strong arms, and what items won’t.
Learn how to swim like an Olympic athlete and adopt these quirky habits for yourself by clicking HERE.
I am Gilbert Guppy and I am here to talk to you about Safer Response. As you’ve already heard from my buddy Sammy the Starfish, you know that it is impossible to eliminate all the dangers in the water, so what do you do if the unexpected does happen?
Before you go swimming, it is vitally important to have a water safety response plan in place. Some important steps for a water safety plan include:
Don’t forget: Reach or Throw, Don’t Go. Let Someone Know! This is behavior that anyone can practice for a safer response if there is an emergency in the water. Emphasis that you should find help first. You can help the person in trouble by finding a long stick, noodle, rope or shepherds hook, lay on your stomach and try to reach for them so that you can safely pull them to safety, or throw any sort of water flotation device to them to grab on. It is important that you do not try jumping in to help the person in the water. Even if you can swim! Rescues should be left to people trained in water to do so.
It is never too late to learn lifesaving water safety skills. Please follow the link below to the American Red Cross to find opportunities to take classes on things like CPR and first aid.
The American Red Cross: redcross.org
Thank you for taking the time to talk with me about Safer Response!
Allow me to introduce myself! I am Sammy the Starfish and I am stuck on Safer Water!
For water dwelling folks like me, it’s wonderful that we live in a world so abundant with water, but for you land living fellows, water can be dangerous! Just like the my danger out of water cannot be totally eliminated, for you, the dangers in the water can never be totally eliminated, but we can make the water safer.
I am sure some of you are thinking, how can I make water safer? Well, just consider and follow the steps below and you too can be a star of Safer Water!
Step one is to identify a safety issue. Take a moment, find some nice wall to stick to and think about all the places water can be found around you. Oceans and pools to be sure, but also bath tubs, sinks, even buckets can provide a danger to some of you little humans. Once you can identify the risk, you can also take steps to minimize the danger.
Be sure to provide barriers, fences, and restricted access to the larger bodies of water. It is very important to stick to these rules. It is difficult to remain vigilant all the time. As someone can drown in as little as 5 minutes, limiting access to the water can mean the difference between life and death.
There is more to identifying dangers than simply recognizing areas of water that could pose a risk. You must also determine what risks are specific to that body of water.
As you can imagine, I spend a lot of time in the ocean, so I am well aware of rip tides, strong surf, and currents. Being familiar with how water can behave in the ocean is something every SwimKid should know. Did you know: The best way to deal with a rip tide is not to swim directly back to shore, but to swim parallel to the shore, gradually swimming diagonally back towards the beach?
Last but not least, let me bring up another star you should know; your water watcher or life guard! Always make sure to swim in a supervised area. As I said, not all of us are lucky enough to be a fish let alone also a star. Even the best swimmers are not free of the dangers of the water. Having someone educated in water safety on hand, watching the water and ready to help is an absolute must. But Safer Response is not really my area of expertise. For that, I will turn you over the the capable fins of Gilbert Guppy!
As always, I am Sammy Starfish reminding you that for Safer Water, look to the Star!
Winter is coming to a close, which means spring break is right around the corner! Going to the pool is always a great spring break activity, and these fun water games will boost the fun!
Swimming games are a fun way to get active in the pool, but it is important to stay safer in the water as well. Be aware of the swimming skills of each child involved and be sure to have at least 1 adult in the water for every 5 kids playing. Most games can be modified to accommodate less experience swimmers if you stay in a shallow area of the pool where they can touch the bottom. Pay close attention to the kids during these games, especially if they involve holding their breath! Remember, water can never be “safe,” only “safer.” Practice the Safer 3: safer water, safer kids, and safer response.
To keep children safer in the water, designate an adult “water watcher” to enforce swimming only in supervised areas and watch the children with no distractions until relieved by another adult. The water watcher should also know how to use the available rescue equipment and be prepared to call 911 if necessary.
Treasure Hunt – Put some money on a diving game by throwing spare change into the water. Let players dive for the coins. The winner could come out a bit richer!
Scavenger Hunt – Find pairs of items that will sink in the water and drop them into the pool. See who can find one of each item first!
Pirates – For this game, select an odd number of diving toys and toss them into the pool. The players are divided into two teams and whichever team comes back with the most pool toys wins!
Invisibottle – Fill a clear plastic water bottle with water and try to find it in the pool. You’ll be surprised how easily it camouflages!
Marco Polo – This is a classic swimming game known for having lots of cheaters, so make sure to keep everyone honest! One player closes their eyes in the pool and when he/she calls out “Marco,” the rest of the players have to call back “Polo!” Whoever is “it” has to try and find someone to tag and once they do, that person becomes “it”. Just remember, whoever is “it” has to keep their eyes closed and the rest of the players have to answer when he/she calls “Marco”. Don’t let the person who is “it” wander into any walls or the deep end!
Belly Flop Contest – An old classic and always good for a laugh! Just make sure the water is deep enough.
Handstand Contest – This game is simple. One player is the “judge” and the rest do an underwater handstand and see who can hold it the longest. The judge determines the winner. Just make sure nobody holds their breath too long!
Jump/Dive/Twist – This is best off of a diving board and should only be played in water 6 feet deep or greater. One player goes to the diving board and as soon as they are just about to jump, friends below yell either “jump,” “dive,” or “twist”. The diver then has to react quickly to be able to complete the correct action.
Cannonball contest – Need we say more? Again, just make sure the water is deep enough and go for the biggest splash!
Mermaid/ Dolphin/Submarine Races – A game with lots of names, just hold your breath and see who can swim the furthest. Just be careful that nobody holds their breath too long!
Sharks and Minnows – a swim team favorite, one player starts off as the “shark” and the rest of the players line up at one end of the pool. When the shark says “go,” the “minnows” try to swim past him/her to the other side of the pool. If a minnow is tagged, they become a shark until there are no minnows left!
Categories – One player stands outside of the pool, right at the edge, and names a category such as colors, breakfast cereal, etc. The rest of the players are in the water, lined up at the end of the pool and they each think of an item within the selected category. The person who is it turns around and starts listing items from that category (blue, red, green etc.). When the players in the water hear their selection called out, they have to try to swim to the other side of the pool as quickly and quietly as possible. If the person who is it hears them, they turn around, jump into the water, and try to catch them before they reach the other side of the pool. If they catch them, that player becomes “it”.
Dolphins and Sharks – Designate half of the players as dolphins and the other half as sharks. One end of the pool will be a “safe spot” for the dolphins, and the other end for the sharks. Have both teams start out in the middle of the pool and have a third party yell either “dolphins attack” or “sharks attack!”. Whoever is called has to try and tag as many players from the other team as they try to swim quickly back to their safe spot. The game ends when all of the players are on the same team.
Duck Push – This game is good for a laugh! Take a few floating rubber ducks and have players race to push them across the pool with their noses. Whoever’s duck makes it to the finish line first wins! This game is great for children who may not be the strongest swimmers. Just remember to stay close!
Chicken Fight – This game is better for teens or adults. Make sure to stay away from the sides of the pool so no one gets hurt! Create two-person teams where one person is on the bottom and the other sits on their shoulders. The goal is to knock the other team’s top person off of the bottom person. Be careful with this one, it can get crazy!
Greased Watermelon Football – This is just as fun to watch as it is to play! Grease a watermelon with Vaseline or something similar and throw it into a pool. Two teams duke it out to see who can get the watermelon out of the pool first. It is tricky to hang on to that watermelon!
Atomic whirlpool – This game works best with a large group of people. While in the water, run or walk as fast as you can around the outer edge of the pool. This will create a current that will gently carry everyone like a “whirlpool”.
Noodle Joust – Go medieval with this fun pool game! Every player can choose a mighty steed (pool floaty) and a soft pool noodle to have a joust. First player to knock the other off their floaty wins!
Bobbing heads – This game resembles the carnival game “Whack-A-Mole.” One player takes a soft object, like a pool noodle, and tries to tap other players on the head when they come up for air. The rest of the players are “safe” when they are underneath the water, but can be tapped when they bob their heads up. This game works great for kids who aren’t super strong swimmers, just stay where they can touch the pool floor!
Number Crunch – This game requires a little bit of preparation, but is very fun! Write numbers (for point values) on about 25 ping-pong balls and toss them around the pool. Have a race for teams to retrieve all the balls from the pool and put them into their team’s bucket. Here’s the catch, players can only get one ball at a time. Once all of the balls have been collected, teams add up their point total. Whichever team ends up with the highest point value wins!
Piranha Ball – 3 or more players hold hands to make a circle around a floating beach ball. The point of the game is you do NOT want to touch the ball or else you are out! Players can try to blow the ball or pull other players so that they touch the ball, but you can’t let the ball out of the circle! For larger groups, you can add more than one ball! This game is fun for kids who aren’t very strong swimmers as long as you stay where they can touch the bottom!
Popsicle – This fun game is like freeze tag in the water. One person is “it” and they try to tag and “freeze” all the other players until there is nobody left. Players can be “unfrozen” by another player swimming between their legs.
Octopus – If you’ve ever played Red Rover, you have a pretty good idea of how to play octopus. Players divide into two teams and each team joins hands. The teams take turns inviting another player from the opposing team to try and swim through their chain. If the swimmer makes it through, they get to bring a swimmer from that team back with them to their own team. If the swimmer doesn’t make it through, they switch to the opposing team. This game works well for younger swimmers if it is played in shallow water!
F-I-S-H – If you have a poolside basketball net, this game is for you! Players take turns trying to make a basket or a stunt shot. If they don’t make it, they get a letter. Once a player spells out “fish” they are out. The winner is the last player standing!
Rob the Nest – This game is similar to capture the flag. Have a couple of pool toys at the end of each side of the pool and divide into two teams. The first team to retrieve the items from the opposing team’s “nest” wins the game!
Did we miss your favorite pool game? Be sure to leave it in a comment below!
With spring break just around the corner, most kids are excited to get back into the pool. This excitement is natural, but in order to keep pools, oceans, and lakes a fun place, it is important to keep them safer. The reason we use the word, “safer” and not “safe” is because water is a hazard and is never entirely safe. While you may not have been swimming or even thinking about water over the winter, the hazards did not go away. However, these tips can help you and your family have fun and stay safer in and around the water this spring break.
Take a CPR class and/or swim lessons before you go. It is much better to know CPR and not have to use it than the alternative. Water can be unpredictable and it is always a good idea to be prepared for any scenario. Being prepared also entails teaching your child to swim. Formal swimming lessons reduce the risk of drowning by 88% among children ages 1-4. Babies can even start swimming lessons as young as 2 months old. While swimming lessons are never a guarantee, they can make a huge difference in protecting your child from water dangers.
With the spring and summer approaching, it’s time to start thinking about your little one swimming. Whether you swim indoors or outdoors, there are multiple hazards that can be unsafe for children. In the graphic below we show the different hazards and how to stay safe around them.