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by Bo Hickey

October 21, 2019

Get creative and utilize these tips to unlock unique ways to improve your swimming performance

It’s easy to get accustomed to your daily routine and miss some simple ways that you can help your swimming without being in the pool. You put a start and end time to your training, whether it’s a swim practice or a dryland training session. But why limit the potential for progress?

Here are some nonswimming ways to help improve your performance.

Track Your Steps

Next time you approach a curb or set of stairs while walking, make note of which foot you lead with to initiate the step up. Then, as you’re taking the first step down, make note of which leg you use as a base to stabilize the movement. More times than not, this turns out to be the same leg.

What’s the big deal?

This repetitive pattern is helping form an imbalance between your two legs. This imbalance plays a role in you being more efficient with one side of your stroke compared to the other. Once you’re aware of this imbalance, it’s simple to fix. Each time you approach a curb or a set of stairs, force yourself to lead with the nondominant leg. This will seem a little awkward at first, but you’ll adapt quickly. Without adding another appointment to your calendar, this simple adjustment will help balance your stroke.

Schedule Movement Breaks

If you must spend a substantial amount of time at a desk or in a relatively stagnant position, use this tip I learned from performance psychologist David Weiman. He uses a simple sticky note on his computer to remind him to get up and move around every 20 minutes. For him, this movement break allows him to remain focused on a single project for longer.

For a Masters swimmer, these movement breaks provide benefit with recovery and range of motion. Sitting in a chair for a majority of your day starts to unravel all of your hard work in the pool or gym. Range of motion decreases and blood flow is slowed to certain areas of your body. Scheduling movement breaks will help you keep blood flowing, which aids in recovery. The movement breaks can help you maintain your range of motion and keep nagging aches and pains away.

Optimize TV Time

My wife and I enjoy sitting down at the end of the day and watching one of our go-to TV shows together. Instead of just sitting on the couch, you’ll find me on the floor working through some light mobility drills. This works out well because I get to spend quality time with my family while taking care of mobility issues that could result in injury if not addressed. It is a win-win situation. And, as I mentioned in a previous article, this process also helps my sleep patterns.

Don’t know where to start? I like beginning each nightly mobility session with the hip crossover movement. I call this a roadmap movement. Why? Based on the stressors of the day, you’ll feel the movement affect different areas of your body. One day it might be more hip-focused. The next day it could shift to be more shoulder-focused. With this information, you can plot your course for your next movements.

Pick a few of the movements from the menu below and customize a routine to fit your needs. I recommend selecting four or five movements and completing two or three sets of each. Pick the repetitions based on how you feel. If a movement feels super tense, complete a few more repetitions to work through that tension (between 10 and 20 repetitions). If a movement feels fluid, complete a few maintenance repetitions and move on (between 5 and 10 repetitions).

Upper-Body Mobility

Lower-Body Mobility

By implementing one or all of these steps, you’ll be on your way to increasing the value of some everyday movements, which will support what you’re trying to accomplish in the pool.


  • Technique and Training


  • Drylands