Leanna Heiman did the 30-minute swim after reading tips in SWIMMER magazine
Oregon Masters member Leanna Heiman wanted to complete all of the SmartyPants Vitamins USMS Fitness Series events in the fall of 2019. But after doing the Fall Fitness Challenge that November, she began experiencing pain in both of her shoulders and feared that her attempt to do the other two events in 2020 might be dashed.
Fortunately, the freestyle technique tips in SWIMMER magazine came to the rescue.
“I was frustrated with myself and felt helpless through much of December, thinking that I might not be able to swim for a while,” says Heiman, 41. “The turning point for me was trying some strength training exercises outside of the pool and surprisingly, some of the straight-arm freestyle techniques that I learned from the November-December 2019 issue of SWIMMER magazine. I didn’t try these techniques to increase my speed but rather to focus on body rotation and moving my arms in a different way since the high bent elbow on the recovery was where I felt the most pain.”
The technique adjustment led to her shoulder pain beginning to subside immediately. Four months later, she received the March-April 2020 issue of SWIMMER magazine, which provided another critical technique tip that would all but eliminate her shoulder pain.
“When the March-April 2020 issue came in the mail, I was very excited that it focused mostly on open water swimming, and the article ‘Freestyle for the Pool and Open Water’ by Linda Irish Bostic with demonstrations by Brian Goodell was exactly the motivation I needed,” she says.
The article’s emphasis on avoiding a thumb-first entry in freestyle and simulating reaching over a barrel during the freestyle catch were exactly the corrections Heiman needed to eliminate her shoulder pain.
“I realized that I have always tilted my arm so that my hand enters the water thumb-first,” she says. “Now I really pay attention to ensure that my fingertips are entering the water first followed by the catch. I immediately noticed an improvement in my feel for the water by making these small, but critically important, freestyle technique adjustments.”
After doing the 1-mile Fall Fitness Challenge last year, Heiman completed the Winter Fitness Challenge, a 30-minute swim, in February and posted about her success on the SmartyPants Vitamins USMS Fitness Series Facebook page. With improved stroke technique and soaring confidence, she’s excited to take part in the Summer Fitness Challenge, a 2K swim during the second half of July, and do the Fall Fitness Challenge again in November.
“My favorite part of the USMS Fitness Series is the camaraderie that I feel with other swimmers all over the U.S. as we share our success stories,” she says. “My goal is to use some of the training plans and workouts from SWIMMER magazine, so that I can swim 2 miles nonstop in an hour.”