Synchronized Swimming Workouts
Synchronized swimming reached its height of popularity during the 1950s and 60s due to the influence of Esther Williams, referred as the "Million Dollar Mermaid" for her TV roles that highlighted her skill as a swimmer and actor. Williams was so fluid and graceful in her movements that few people realize how much of a workout she was getting. Synchronized swimming is a terrific alternative to or supplement for the standard cardio and swimming workouts.
Although few synchro routines last for more than four minutes, any performer would be able to tell you that those four minutes can last a lifetime. According to the LA Synchro Swim Club, serious synchronized swimmers train for up to eight hours a day. Competitive athletes can hold their breath for two minutes. Olympic assistant coach Stephen Sheldrake recommends a simple pool swim workout aiming to build endurance, consisting of alternating 400-meter swims with 50-meter laps with a kickboard. Try to complete six of these.
Because synchro incorporates and adapts so many dance moves, flexibility is key for synchronized swimmers. You should already be stretching before and after each workout, but if your flexibility is lacking, include some mobility drills in your routine. The Scorpion, which opens up the hip flexors and stretches the abs and pectorals, begins with you lying face down with your arms stretched to either. Rotate your right hip as you lift your right leg and bring it over your straightened left leg. Once your right leg crosses the center of your left leg, bend your right knee and try to touch the ground with your toe. Do not let your right hand and forearm lose contact with the floor and keep your head straight. Repeat on the other side.
Plyometric exercises feature heavily in any synchronized swimming workout, helping swimmers to develop explosive strength without building bulky muscles. It might look silly, but hopping and jumping are important parts of a synchro workout. Incorporate high kicks, butt kicks and lunges into a dry-land fitness routine two times per week, not exceeding more than 25 minutes. Begin with two sets of ankle hops consisting of five reps each, followed by two sets of four tuck jumps, one set of four squat jumps, four standing jumps, two sets of four front cone hops and five box jumps. Rest for about 60 to 90 seconds between each exercise.
Land drills ensure that not only are you developing muscle memory for your synchronized swimming routine, but they also help you practice moving in sync with your teammates. Arm strokes are the easiest drill to translate to a dry-land workout; since you no longer have to simultaneously support yourself with your arms, you can focus on perfecting your movements. Individual land drills vary based on your choreography, but certain constants hold true. Always focus on your posture and presentation, make sure the palms of your hands always mirror the position of your foot in the pool and work with your teammate to develop quick, efficient and graceful transitions between choreography sets.
Sarah Koh has been writing for online magazines such as CleverHive, CollegeFashion and MyDiet since 2010, and has recently begun to branch out into technology and video game reviews for BagoGames. She specializes in articles on the three fs: fashion, food, and fitness.