Swimming Strength: “But I’m suspended in water!”

In Injury Reduction, Periodization, Resistance-Training by AdminLeave a Comment

We hear it all of the time! Swimmers don’t need strength training because they are in water. The water holds our body up so strength to maintain form is not really needed. 

This is as nice as I can put it. If you’re not doing some form of strength training (aka dryland), you’re missing out on a world of opportunity.  


Look at how detailed the technique side of swimming is. If you need any reference points to this, just read one of Abbie Fish’s blogs. The attention to detail in the sport of swimming is amazing. If you don’t have the physical capability to hold a plank position without your hips shooting forward, your back rounding, etc. while on land and in a stable environment. 

What do you think is happening in the water when you’re doing your best butterfly impression? Adding in undulation, leg drive, and arm drive with an unstable core looks…. well, let’s say “unique.” 

Strength training helps with injuries?

Now let’s talk injuries! By a show of hands, how many of you have had some stoppage in training over the course of your career due to pain or injury? 

Unfortunately, swimmers often see strength training as what causes pain. However, if it is implemented properly, it will PREVENT pain. 

As Kendal Jacobson said on our 2017 Swim Strength Summit, just not getting injured is a 7X MULTIPLIER FOR SUCCESS! 

Proper strength training keeps joints moving through the correct ranges of motion, sets the joints up to handle high volume movement, and keeps that graceful butterfly stroke looking graceful for longer! 

What about speed and power? Chris Ritter used this analogy with me one time and then Rhys Gully reminded me of it during the 2017 Swim Strength Summit. 

Let’s say you’re currently equipped with a 200 horsepower engine. You start a race at 200 horsepower but over the course of the race you drop down 100 horsepower due to fatigue. This puts you at 100 horsepower at the end of the race. 

Now let’s make you a little stronger and more powerful. We elevate your horsepower to 300 horsepower. Over the course of a race you still drop by 100 horsepower due to fatigue. You end the race at 200 horsepower. 

What engine do you want? 

Now does this mean you need to go train like a professional bodybuilder, weightlifter, or powerlifter? No.

There is a balance of strength, power, and size that is super important to swimming. Yes, you can see a change in body size occurring (especially with sprinters). However, they do not resemble full-time weightlifters, bodybuilders, or powerlifters.

Take Siphiwe Baleka for example. Sips is hard at work training for the 2017 FINA World Masters Championships in Budapest. Since the fall, we have added about 10 lbs. to Siphiwe’s frame. This is a small increase compared to increases seen in other sports. Siphiwe always had issues with injuries headed into meets. Too hard of a breaststroke kick resulting in a pulled groin. Shoulders tight and achy. As we have constructed his strength and power, the injuries have gone away! He doesn’t have to deal with a small piece of doubt when he steps up to the blocks due to injury!

Also, he continues to get FASTER! It looks like Kendal’s 7x multiplier really does work! Read about Sip’s journey by clicking the image below! 


So how do you know if you’re strong enough? Well lucky for you, we are getting ready to launch a “swimming combine” that will point you in the right direction! You’ll get to test yourself and see how you stack up to the standards set by the best in the sport! 

Figure out where you are at currently and then we will lead you to how you can progress! 

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Think this is all crazy talk?

I honestly think the future of the sport is less yardage, more technique, more strength and power training. Some coaches see it. Some coaches don’t. I wish there was an example of someone who is already constructing strength as pillar of training. 


Oh wait… I forgot. There is. His name is Caeleb Dressel. Have you ever heard of him? Check out this video from his instagram.  

Congrats on making team USA Caeleb. Thank you for embracing strength and power and showing us all what can happen! 


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