Elevate Your Hips for a Faster Freestyle
Improve your body position and move up a lane
It’s easy to spot the swimmers at Masters practice who grew up swimming: their hips seem to ride on the water’s surface, their body rotation is fluid and effortless, and their arms, legs, and core work together in perfect harmony. They can often be found in the fast lane, churning out intervals that are 10-20 seconds faster per 100 than those who didn’t grow up in the water.
Without a doubt, body position and awareness are critical to becoming faster and more efficient in the water. They can also be the most challenging for developing swimmers, who often feel the best way to move faster is to simply kick harder or turn their arms over as quickly as possible. Once swimmers learn to swim with their hips riding high on the water’s surface, they can begin to work on the other crucial aspects of good technique, such as the timing of the breath and kick, achieving full, connected body rotation, and developing swim-specific strength.
Many swimmers use pull buoys to help elevate their hips and isolate and practice their strokes. Fins are also used and recommended by coaches as fins can assist with balance and support, not just propulsion. However, many swimmers find that pull buoys and fins don’t allow for a natural feeling while swimming—they can feel bulky, reinforce poor technique, and create an overreliance on gear. Fortunately, there’s now a solution.
A new category of swim training gear has recently emerged with wetsuit-material shorts, which are worn over a swimsuit to increase buoyancy at the hips and help swimmers achieve an ideal body position while they train. The shorts act as a replacement for a pull buoy, allowing athletes to achieve a more natural stroke and continue to kick while they practice swimming with high hips. This is especially valuable for developing swimmers, who have yet to perfect the proper body position and connection between the upper and lower body.
In 2014, ROKA debuted the SIM Shorts, which were designed by two former NCAA All-American swimmers after they began competing in triathlons and studying the science of buoyancy in the water. SIM Shorts quickly gained acclaim from triathletes and open water swimmers because they allowed them to mimic the unique feel of swimming with a wetsuit while they trained in the pool. But SIM Shorts aren’t just for open water athletes. Swimmers of all levels can benefit from the improved body position the SIM Shorts provide and take their swimming to the next level (or lane).
For 2016, ROKA has introduced a second generation of SIM Shorts with the SIM Pro II and SIM Elite II. The improved design features a new waistband specifically engineered to seal out water and provide a snugger fit. The SIM PRO II features reduced buoyancy along the sides to promote proper body rotation, while the SIM Elite II is designed to maximize buoyancy at the hips. Both are available in men’s and women’s versions, furthering the company’s commitment to precise fit across its entire product line.
“It’s about enhancing technique and making every swim a race-specific training workout. ROKA SIM Shorts were born from the quest to train like you race,” says ROKA co-founder Rob Canales. “They are part of our commitment to provide athletes with the best in gear—not just for race day but for the dedicated, specific training that earns athletes their shot at the next level, no matter how they define it.”
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