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ISSUE NO. 5 MAY 2018













Starting Block Magazine is used as a marketing and advertising venture, published by The Lifeguard Store, All American Swim, and Swim Shops of the Southwest. Cover Image: Becca Meyers - Richard Phibbs for Speedo USA starting block magazine | p. 3

ALL AMERICAN SWIM STAFF WRITER Swimming is a solid aerobic workout for the entire body, making it one of the most beneficial types of workouts you can do. Water provides resistance to boost the quality of your workout, while immersion lightens your body weight, so there’s no impact on your joints. Swimming improves cardiovascular health, increases weight loss and encourages strength and flexibility.

at risk of injury: Up to 80 percent of competitive swimmers will suffer from shoulder pain at some point in their careers, due to faulty stroke mechanics, training errors, overuse of certain muscles and imbalances in muscle use. How can a swimmer get more flexible? The best way is to dive head first into a regular regimen of safe, effective exercises.

However, the fact that swimming is low impact and actually promotes flexibility means swimmers may overlook the importance of flexibility-enhancing exercises outside the pool. By nature, swimmers tend to be flexible and have loose connective tissues. Nevertheless, regularly performing dry-land warmups and stretches will help swimmers to become more flexible. Doing so is essential in preventing injury, improving performance in the water and lengthening your muscles. The Importance of Flexibility for Swimming

OUCH! The Dangers of Stretching the Wrong Way

Think of your muscles as a stick of gum. When you pull a piece out of the pack on a cold day, it’s brittle and inflexible. But when it’s warm, the gum becomes pliable and soft. When your muscles are stretched, the individual fibers lengthen, creating more force when they contract. More force equals more powerful strokes in the pool.

Overstretching is a common mistake that swimmers and non-swimmers alike make. The knees and hips are particularly vulnerable to this. A stretch should pull and require some effort, but it should never hurt. Never force your body to stretch into a painful position.

Additionally, improved flexibility leads to smoother, more fluid motion in the pool. When you are swimming, your body’s side-to-side movement creates turbulence in the water, which slows you down. Flexibility training increases your range of motion, so that you can move your joints, not your whole body. This smoother movement means less turbulence and greater speed. Like with any strenuous physical activity, stretching exercises help to warm up and cool down muscles, keeping injuries at bay. For swimmers, certain areas of the body need more stretching — especially the shoulders and ankles. The shoulders are particularly

Also, never have another person pull your arms backward or forward or force a stretch further. That second person can’t feel what you feel, and by the time you say “stop,” it may be too late to prevent serious damage. You should also avoid bouncing and jerking movements as well, because they can cause painful damage to the muscles and joints. Many competitive swimmers — even medal winners — can be seen stretching poolside in positions that look familiar and that we assume are useful. They particularly include static stretches to the shoulder stabilizers. Those stretches can put swimmers at serious risk for long-term injury. These inappropriate stretches focus more on tendons and ligaments than

connective tissue, which is potentially damaging to joints.

called “overheads,” this exercise involves sitting in a chair and grasping the seat with one hand. Reach your other hand over the top of your head to the opposite ear and pull down gently while looking straight ahead, so that you are giving the side of your neck a full, elongating stretch. Repeat on the other side. You can also turn your head so that your nose goes down toward the armpit as you pull. •

Shin/quadriceps stretch: For most swim strokes, you point your toes to create a long, sleek line as you glide through the water. In order to achieve the longest line, your shins must be in top form, which is why this stretch is great for swimmers. For this position, stand next to a wall for support. Lift one foot behind you and grasp it with the same-side hand. Pull up on the leg behind you while keeping your body upright, holding the wall with your other hand if necessary. You should be able to feel this stretch on the top of your foot and along the front of your shin. Repeat on the other side. The quad stretch is similar, except that instead of grasping your toes, you grasp your shin. This raises the stretch to the thigh, and you should feel it from the hip all the way down to the knee, lengthening and pulling that quad muscle, which in a swimmer is often tight.

Calf stretch: Standing facing a wall, about three feet away from it, and step your right foot back, toes facing forward. Work to keep your heel down as you lean forward toward the wall, keeping your right knee straight. Rotate the toes outward slightly in order to target your stretch toward the medial and lateral parts of this muscle. Hold each stretch for 20-30 seconds, and repeat on the other side.

Hamstring stretches: Your hamstrings, along with your glutes, provides you with propulsion through the water, so it’s important that they be flexible.

Recommended Exercises to Improve Swimmers’ Flexibility Serious swimmers should integrate a few basic stretches into their daily repertoire. The following is a good flexibility-enhancing routine doable anywhere in 15-20 minutes, without any special equipment. This routine involves all important muscle groups for swimmers: •

Door frame stretch for pectorals: Recommended by U.S. Masters Swimming, this exercise involves standing next to a door frame or other vertical surface (a post will also work) and placing your forearm vertically against it. Bend your elbow 6090 degrees and step forward with the opposite leg, as if stepping through the door. This should give you a good stretch in the chest while protecting the shoulder joint. You can vary the angle of your arm in order to stretch different parts of the pectoral group. Two-part lats stretch: This stretch is also known as the “cat pose” in yoga. To achieve this pose, get on your hands and knees and round your back like an angry cat, tucking the tailbone and head down to create full roundness from head to tail. Reach your hands out straight ahead and sit your bottom back toward your heels, stretching the top of your back — much as a cat might stretch its back by reaching its paws out forward with its tail in the air. Once you’re in this position, move your hands to the right or left to stretch each side’s latissimus dorsi. Or try this lats stretch at the pool: Stand on the upper rung of the pool ladder or edge of the pool (Be careful, it’s slippery!), and grasp your hands on the ladder rails. Bend forward and lean back, dropping your head between your arms, so that your arms are reaching straight ahead. You’ll feel this stretch through the length of your arms, down the back of your shoulders and along your latissimus dorsi muscles.

Upper trapezius/levator scapulae stretch: Also

1. To perform the first stretch, sit on the floor with your right leg straight out in front of you and the left leg bent outward, toes pointed in toward your right leg. The bent leg should be relaxed. Lean forward and try to touch the toes on the extended right leg with your right hand, using your left hand to push down on the right knee to keep that leg straight. It’s OK if you can’t reach your toes; just stretch out as far as you can, always trying to reach them but placing the right hand on the top of the foot, the ankle or the shin. Repeat this stretch on the left side, with the right leg bent. 2. Alternatively, try the chair stretch. Stand facing a chair or table, and put your foot up on it. Keep your chest up and back straight. Bend forward at the hips, keeping your leg straight, and stretch the back of your thigh as much as you starting block magazine | p. 5

can. Hold this for about 30 seconds, and then repeat on the other side. •

Hip adductor stretch: This is also known as the “butterfly pose” in yoga because the legs resemble fluttering wings. This is a marvelous stretch for the groin muscles, which provide power for kicks, particularly in the breast stroke. Sit on the floor and bend the legs, pulling the feet inward toward the groin. Hold your ankles and use your elbows to push the knees down toward the floor as you lean slightly forward with a straight back.

to encourage each other to move. For example, why not plan mini-walks around the building a few times a day? •

Just breathe. Believe it or not, this bears repeating. It’s common to be caught up in daily stresses and forget to breathe deeply, which is essential for oxygenating the blood. Not only that but sitting at a desk can cause you to hunch forward, compressing the chest cavity and limiting your oxygen supply. Remind yourself (set an alarm for this, too!) to lift your head occasionally and take a deep breath, getting the full range of motion in your diaphragm to ensure a good supply of air and increased lung function. Spend five minutes a day focusing on belly breaths, moving the belly button in and out as you breathe.

Use a lightweight resistance band. A resistance band, like those available at All American Swim, can aid in stretching by enhancing the stretch in a gentle way that you control — much more preferable to involving a second person. Resistance bands are particularly helpful in addressing the hard-to-stretch muscles in the chest.

Eat well. For exercise-friendly meals, you’ll want to maintain a carbohydrate-protein ratio of 60:40. Examples might include a baked potato filled with beans, chili, or pasta meals filled with vegetables or tuna. Plan to include small, healthy snacks between meals, to sustain fuel throughout the day and pack in more energy. These may include fruits or vegetables (fresh or dried), nuts, energy bars, whole-grain cereal, yogurt or smoothies. It’s important to keep your blood sugar levels constant throughout the day.

Hydrate your muscles. Because water is a primary component of your muscles, they must be hydrated to improve their flexibility. Dehydration hinders performance, so focus on drinking plenty of water. A good recommended amount of water for athletes is about seven to 10 ounces of fluid every 10-20 minutes.

Visualize success. Mental preparation is as important as physical preparation. Give yourself mental breaks to visualize your perfect technique, to set goals for your next workout or race or establish strategies.

Two-part hip flexor stretches: 1. Static stretch: For this stretch, get into a high kneeling position, with your left leg bent about two feet in front of your right knee. Your core should be in a neutral posture. Tense your right glute, and hold this position, driving your right knee slightly forward and raising your right arm up while leaning to your left side. Hold this position for 30-45 seconds, and then repeat on the other side. 2. Dynamic scorpion stretch: This is a great example of a mobility drill that warms and stretches the hip flexors. Lie face down on the ground with the arms outstretched in line with the shoulders. Bend your right leg and bring it up toward the ceiling, then sweep it toward the left hand, getting it as close as possible without your right hand and forearm losing contact with the ground. Bring the leg back down and repeat on the other side. Do 10-12 repetitions.

More Tips for How to Improve Flexibility for Swimming Your poolside routine is only part of a healthy commitment to overall fitness. In order to preserve your muscles for swimming, enhance your ability to glide effortlessly through the water and prolong your endurance for the duration of a swim, integrate the following tips from USMS into your daily life, in combination with gym workouts: •

Keep moving! Being sedentary is the enemy of swimmer conditioning. If you use a computer, it’s easy to forget how much time has passed as you sit, staring and motionless. In fact, research shows that sitting for long stretches of the day can increase your chances for obesity, cancer and diabetes. Consider a stand-up desk (Tip: The offices of USMS use these!), to keep your blood flowing. Other methods for staving off sedentary habits include setting an alarm to remind you to get up and walk around every half hour or so (many fitness trackers do this automatically), placing drinks or snacks across the room to force yourself to get up and get them and arranging with coworkers

All American Swim wants to remind you that you should consult your physician before starting any exercise regimen. Keep checking this site for more tips for swimmers, the best in gear and the latest news in the industry.

Becca Meyers is a Paralympic swimmer of the United States. She won three gold and one silver medals in Rio 2016. She was also a member of the 2012 Paralympic Team, and won a silver and bronze in London.

Becca has also competed at the 2009 Summer Deaflympics which was held in Taiwan, which is also her only appearance at the Deaflympics. She also clinched a bronze medal in the 4Ă—200m freestyle relay event in the 2009 Summer Deaflympics.



STARTING BLOCK MAGAZINE: How did you begin swimming? Who got you started? BECCA MEYERS: From the time I was 3 years old, I always loved the water. My mom put me in swim lessons at age five, for water safety. I joined summer league the following year and then club that fall. When I was little, I tried every sport there was from soccer to tennis to softball and I felt most comfortable in the pool. With my two disabilities (deaf and legally blind), seeing the ball was tough and most of the time. I wouldn’t see the ball coming and it always ended up hitting me in the face. I have balance issues as well and it was always challenging running down the soccer field or tennis court without tripping over any obstacles in my way. The pool did not have any obstacles (except the occasional run in with the lane line) or any balls that would hit me, I felt most free in the water.

My parents and local swim team and club team encouraged me to come to practice despite my disabilities and encouraged me to work harder. They didn’t view my disabilities as limitations, they just treated me like a normal swimmer which made me forget I had disabilities while swimming and I loved that, being treated like one of the kids. SBM: What makes swimming a passion of yours? Why does it stand out? BM: Swimming is a passion of mine because it is my happy place. Having multiple disabilities always made me work twice as hard as anyone else in the classroom at school. I would go to school all day, listen twice as hard as well as navigating the school building, be exhausted by the time I got to the pool. I would take my Cochlear Implants off, dive in the water and feel free. I would forget that I

BIOGRAPHY AND STATISTICS (COURTESY OF TEAMUSA.ORG) Name: Rebecca Meyers Sport: Swimming Event(s): 50m Freestyle, 100m Freestyle, 400m Freestyle, 100m Butterfly, 200m IM Classification: S13, SB13, SM13 Height: 5-3 Weight: 124 DOB: 11/20/1994 Birthplace: Baltimore, Md. Hometown: Baltimore, Md. High School: Notre Dame Preparatory (Towson, Md.) ‘13 College: Franklin and Marshall ’18, History Team/Club: North Baltimore Aquatic Club Coach(es): Erik Posegay Paralympic Experience • Two-time Paralympian (2012, 2016); Six-time medalist (3 gold, 2 silver, 1 bronze) • Rio 2016 Paralympic Games, gold (100m fly, 200m IM, 400m free), silver (100m free), 6th (50m free) • London 2012 Paralympic Games, silver (200m IM), bronze (100m free), 5th (50m free) • Enters Rio as the current world record holder in seven events (S13 200m free – 2:08.28, S13 400m free – 4:21.66, S13 800m free – 9:32.05, S13 1,500m free – 17:53.90, S13 50m fly – 29.81, SM13 200m IM – 2:24.60, SM13 400m IM – 5:23.60) World Championship Experience • Most recent: 2015 – gold (400m free, 200m IM), silver (100m fly), 4th (50m free, 100m breast, 100m free) • Years of Participation: 2013, 2015 • Medals: 7 (4 gold, 3 silver) • Gold – 2013 (400m free, 200m IM), 2015 (400m free, 200m IM) • Silver – 2013 (100m fly, 100m free), 2015 (100m fly) starting block magazine | p. 9

was disabled for a while and just swim. Now, swimming has a special meaning because it gave me my identity growing up. I was always Becca the swimmer, not Becca the deaf blind kid. I want to show kids today that just because you have a disability doesn’t mean you are limited, you just have to find that one thing that makes you feel free and go for it! Swimming gave me my safe haven and that’s why it is a passion of mine. SBM: What are some things you are looking forward to in the near future? BM: 2018 looks to be an exciting year for swimming! I have meets in Venice, Italy and Cairns, Australia, two places that I have never been before! My sponsor, Speedo, is helping me build my platform to share my passion of swimming with younger kids. I can’t wait to show the world that swimming is truly a great sport. I am excited to train for the 2018 Para Pan Pacific Championships in Australia later this year. I’m also training hard to hopefully make the 2020 Tokyo Paralympic team. SBM: What are some other things that drive you both personally and professionally? BM: Being a member of the US Paralympic National team has given me opportunities to meet a lot of young kids with disabilities. It really is a passion of mine to show them that they can achieve great things through hard work no matter what’s standing in their way. Also, I’m always on the go and like trying out new things. My personality is one that never sits still. Since I am always on the go, time management is crucial because I put my best effort into every workout ( pool or weight room). I am determined to do my best and I believe that is what drives me both personally and professionally. SBM: What is something you cannot live without, and how does it help push you forward in your career? BM: I cant live without my guide dog, Birdie, she helps me navigate this world. Without Birdie keeping me safe, I wouldn’t be able to get to the places (pool, gym, etc) I need to get to achieve my goals. Also, I have a

great support system. I believe that without my support system that I would not be where I am today without their knowledge, courage, encouragement and unconditional support and love for me and for my goals that I set myself up to achieve. Their cheering and support helps me to stay focused on swimming and reminds me that life is good but sometimes can be a roller coaster ride. They keep me grounded which allows me to always regroup and go forward. RICHARD PHIBBS FOR SPEEDO USA

SBM: What is something you get excited to do daily? BM: I get excited daily to go on a walk with my guide dog, Birdie. This is exciting because Birdie gives me my independence, the freedom to walk outside by myself. Birdie is also an athlete and everyday we are both in training to conquer the world! SBM: Tell me about a time when you were

challenged from swimming and you learned a great lesson from it. BM: As a deaf swimmer, when I take off my Cochlear implants (they allow me to hear) I can’t hear anything when I start a race. I use a strobe light or a hand signal that alert me to dive in the pool. Over the years, there have been many mishaps with my starts, the strobe light doesn’t work, the official messes up the simple hand start, and so on. I used to get easily frustrated and not perform well because I was so mad at the situation. I have had races where I missed a Sectional cut because of my start and that was very hard to overcome. Now that I am older, I have learned that I can’t control what happens at the start. I have learned to let it go and hope that I have a great start. If I am behind, I just swim faster to catch up. The lesson from my starts that I have taken away is that you can’t control everything in life or in the pool and that you have to go with the flow and hope it works out in your favor, Yes, you work hard for what you want but sometimes it doesn’t work out. That is what swimming has taught me. SBM: Do you have any nutritional or fitness recommendations for other swimmers? BM: Eat smart. I try to have balanced meals. I eat spinach, kale, and so on. But I also believe that you can treat yourself every once in a while to a tasty snack after an intense training session. I find that helpful to have a treat once in awhile because by rewarding yourself, you don’t feel deprived of life’s wonderful tasty treats. Fitness, train smart. Don’t push yourself to injuries. If you are coming back from an injury, have patience. I have come back from injuries and jumped back in too soon, and it sidelined me even longer. Have patience with yourself. Trust yourself and your coach. You know yourself the best, if something isn’t working, change it. SBM: If you had any advice for aspiring athletes, what would it be? BM: “Just because you are feeling limited or maybe even have a disability that doesn’t

mean you are limited.You just have to find that one thing in life that makes you feel free and go for it!” “Work hard, go to practice every day, stay focused, and good things will come” SBM: Where do you see your future going right now and what are your plans? BM: I am hopeful to keep swimming competitively for at least 6 more years or so. I am just taking it one day at a time and having a great time as a Professional swimmer with Speedo! RICHARD PHIBBS FOR SPEEDO USA


SPEEDO TEAMSTER DUFFLE The Speedo Teamster Duffle is perfect for carrying all your swim gear to and from the pool, travel meets or an easy weekend getaway. FEATURES • Padded shoulder strap. • Perfect for carrying all your swim gear to and from the pool, travel meets or easy weekend getaway. • Offset raised laptop sleeve to protect corners. • Durable exterior shell is built tough with abrasion resistance for demanding athletes. • Primary zips are highest quality YKK zippers. • Front zip organizer. Mesh water bottle holder. Water resistant bottom. • Dimensions: 23” x 10” x 10”

“I’m impressed so far!” My 9 year old loves this bag. She swims regularly and she needed a lot of space. The bag itself it’s big for her, but she doesn’t mind. She keeps all her stuff organized, clean and dry. Alaina Gauen 2/27/2018


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© Steven Frink

By Abbie Fish Guest Contributor Technique Swim Coach Ritter Sports Performance


Abbie has been in the competitive swimming realm for over 20 years. From qualifying for the Olympic Trials to working at USA Swimming’s headquarters, Abbie has been on all sides of the sport. She is a University of Georgia “Double Dawg”–where she swam and graduated with M.S. and B.S. degrees. Abbie now spends her time in the Florida Keys, where she coaches a local swim club and manages a pool. She continues to further her knowledge about stroke mechanics and analyzing swimming technique with an array of different software programs. She has worked with clients as young as 5 and up to 90 years old. Abbie believes anyone with the heart to train can benefit from technical advice!

Welcome back to Part III of our starts series! Month, we discussed what the BEST possible “take your mark” position a swimmer could get in. This month, we are going to dive deeper into the differences between a “butterfly” and a “sling-shot” start—that way you can decide which starting technique (in relation to the arm swing) is best for YOU! If you missed Part II of this series, CLICK HERE to catch up. Otherwise, let’s get started! The reason I chose to talk about the “butterfly” versus a “sling-shot” start is in reality—these two starts are NOT that different. The setup, leg orientation, and “take your mark” position are the same between these two starts—the only difference is what happens with your arms after the “beep” goes off. Here’s a video to better understand what I mean:

Brad Tandy in Lane 6 performs a butterfly VERSUS Nathan Adrian in Lane 7 with a “slingshot.” As you can see from the video, the main difference between these two starts is the amount of arm swing involved. Brad takes his arms and swings them behind his body and then throws them forward into a streamline with no elbow bend throughout the entire arm swing. Following us a sickkkk progression of Brad’s “butterfly” start:

Nathan, on the other hand, bends his elbows and brings his hands around the back of his head before reaching into a streamline and hitting the water

So which is better– “butterfly” or “slingshot”? Well it really depends on who you are talking to. Most stroke technician’s agree at this point it is necessary to activate and utilize the arm muscles for a faster start. Some, more than others, agree it’s necessary to utilize your entire length of your arms to achieve the highest amount of kinetic energy possible before a swimmer hits the water. My opinion is that it really depends on what you are looking for from the start. Let’s look deeper into the pro’s and con’s of each arm starting technique! 1.) The “Butterfly” start:

With a “butterfly” start a swimmer will need to left their body up HIGHER off the blocks to ensure they are getting through an entire butterfly stroke before their hands hit the water. Reminder: there’s anywhere from 0.9 to 1.1 seconds from the “beep” and when a swimmer’s hands enter the water. This means a swimmer who is performing a “butterfly” start needs to throw their arms through an

entire revolution of butterfly at a stroke rate of 60 strokes per minute or more—60 strokes per minute is actually MUCH faster than what we normally see for stroke rates in fly for nonelite athletes. So in reality, this start is really hard to execute well with the limited amount of time provided for anybody not on the elite level.

streamline’s in-flight.

Also, many younger swimmers who perform a “butterfly” start will not get into their streamline quick enough and/or may overshoot and miss locking their top hand into their bottom–which leads them to entering the water at an array of different angles. Lastly, because a swimmer has more vertical displacement during a “butterfly” start, this extra increase in height has a tendency to make a swimmer enter and breakout very DEEP under the surface of the water. Swimmers who don’t have strong underwater dolphin kicks will want to avoid a “butterfly” start, because they won’t be able to carry their speed they generated off the blocks through their longer breakout–which is created by diving deeper from a “butterfly” start. Overall, a “butterfly” start is really hard to do and to do well—that’s why we don’t see that many of them. While this start may produce the MOST amount of kinetic energy—it also requires a swimmer to have a quick reaction time, move at a butterfly stroke rate of 60 strokes per minute or higher, and have phenomenal dolphin kicks all in one. If you have all 3 of these technical aspects down, and/or have the natural ability to do a “butterfly” start–definitely, GO for it. If not, let’s look into a “sling-shot” start instead! 2.) The “Sling-Shot” Start: In a “sling-shot” start, a swimmer is able to get off the blocks quicker and with less vertical displacement, because it requires less arm movement. Also, a swimmer has more ability to guarantee their entry point and depth, because they have more time to setup their

What is also great about a “sling-shot” start is you can setup your weight balance either neutrally, back-foot weighted, or front-foot weighted. There are 3 options on how you can distribute your weight in a “sling-shot” start versus a “butterfly” start. Your only option in the “butterfly” start is back foot weighted, so you ensure that you have enough time between the “beep” and entry. I really like the “sling-shot” start, because it does allow a swimmer to customize their weight distribution, while guaranteeing more consistent entry points. Also, it is applicable to more ages and ability levels (as you don’t have to be an expert at underwater dolphin kicking to do this start well). Lastly, the “slingshot” start still does increase a swimmer’s kinetic energy, because they are engaging their arms during the start–it’s just NOT as starting block magazine | p. 15

much as you would doing a “butterfly” start. All in all, it seems like a good compromise: a little less speed for a little more accuracy. After all, if you get better at your dolphin kicking and have perfected your “slingshot” starts–you can always transition into “butterfly” starts later!because they have more time to setup their streamline’s in-flight. What is also great about a “sling-shot” start is you can setup your weight balance either neutrally, back-foot weighted, or front-foot weighted. There are 3 options on how you can distribute your weight in a “sling-shot” start versus a “butterfly” start. Your only option in the “butterfly” start is back foot weighted, so you ensure that you have enough time between the “beep” and entry. I really like the “sling-shot” start, because it does allow a swimmer to customize their weight distribution, while guaranteeing more consistent entry points. Also, it is applicable to more ages and ability levels (as you don’t have to be an expert at underwater dolphin kicking to do this start well). Lastly, the “slingshot” start still does increase a swimmer’s kinetic energy, because they are engaging their arms during the start–it’s just NOT as much as you would doing a “butterfly” start. All in all, it seems like a good compromise: a little less speed for a little more accuracy. After all, if you get better at your dolphin kicking and have perfected your “slingshot” starts–you can always transition into “butterfly” starts later!


Starting Block Magazine - May 2018  
Starting Block Magazine - May 2018  

May 2018 Issue of Starting Block Magazine features SPEEDO USA athlete Becca Meyers, a great article on flexibility for swimming and the fina...