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  • Technique and Training

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  • Gear
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by Terry Heggy

June 4, 2018

Four Alternative Accessories You Should Have

Think outside the gear bag with these things important to your swimming

Swimsuit, cap, and goggles? Check. Kickboard, pull buoy, paddles? Check. Towel, shampoo, and lotion? Check. Throw in some goggle goo, ear/nose plugs, emergency info card, and post-workout recovery fuel, and you are ready to swim! Right?

Absolutely! But don’t stop there; here are four other ideas for swimming accessories you may want to consider.

Get on a Roll

Your day includes numerous activities that tighten you up, including sitting at a desk, driving, and yes, even exercising. Set aside time each day to reverse the damage those activities do.

  • Foam roller—Rolling can feel good and loosen tight muscles, and any sort of break from sitting provides health benefits. A foam roller also provides a great stretching platform when you lie on your back with the roller in line with your spine. Spread your arms out to your side and let gravity gently pull your hands toward the floor as you relax your chest and loosen your shoulders.
  • Other round things—Tennis balls, softballs, and commercial tension-release devices can be used to target kinks, knots, and sore spots. Put the ball between your muscle and a wall (or floor) and roll around the knotted area. The important thing is to develop awareness of your range of motion and act to eliminate chronic tension.
  • The rack—Swimming is a fantastic way to relieve spinal disc compression caused by prolonged standing and sitting. Other methods include inversion tables, yoga, and hanging from a horizontal bar. Minimize alignment problems by consistently paying attention to your posture.

Mix it Up

Enhance the nutritional aspect of your training by investing in a blender. Even if you’re not a big fan of salads, you can gain the health benefits of fruits and vegetables by consuming a green smoothie as a meal each day. Just mix together some greens (spinach, kale, etc.) with reds, whites, and blues (berries, bananas, etc.) and a few other healthy elements (nuts, grains, protein powder, etc.) and flip the switch. Use frozen ingredients for better blending and texture, and you’ll almost think you’re eating ice cream!

Use Your Words

Whether you manage your life with a smartphone, an erasable white board on your fridge, or zillions of yellow sticky notes, you should use those tools to improve your life as a swimmer.

  • Goals—Use notes to remind yourself of your goals, positive affirmation statements to focus on improvement, and a list of benefits you’ll accrue from your efforts.
  • Network—Make a list of the people who contribute to your swimming success and remind yourself to cultivate those relationships. Surround yourself with good coaches and role models (including professionals such as physicians, physical therapists, nutritionists, etc.). Thank those who help you and take time to mentor others. Encourage teammates to show up for practice and urge them to hold you accountable, as well. And don’t forget to socialize and have fun with your swimming pals outside of the pool.

One for the Road

Make an inventory of everything that interferes with your enjoyment of swimming and take steps to mitigate that interference. Such solutions might include switching to a more challenging workout lane or preparing your clothing and swim bag (and breakfast?) the night before. Here are some accessories I’ve found helpful over the years:

  • Car dehydrator—Because I leave some of my swim gear in the car overnight, my windows would fog up when I drove to practice in the morning. Absorb that moisture with a reusable commercial dehumidifier or a simple sock full of kitty litter.
  • Spare workout suit—My workout suit won’t dry in my pool locker, so I bring a dry suit each day and take the wet one home to air out.
  • Prescription goggles—I wasn’t a candidate for Lasik but still needed to see the pace clock.
  • Clippers—In the 80s, I had a full head of “Magnum P.I.” hair. It made me a chick magnet, of course, but, honestly, I much prefer swimming with a crewcut.
  • Speaking up—“Hey, coach, can we do more 2K swims in practice? I’m tired of sprinting.” For you, it might be, “Hey, boss, can I come in later, so I can finish swim practice first?” or “Hey, honey, let’s plan our vacation around USMS Nationals!”
In short, thinking outside the bag means that you look at how everything in your life affects your swimming. Choose the right accessories and let the fun begin.