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Fitness Theory and Practice. CrossFit's rationale & foundations. Who is fit? What is fitness?

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Old 08-12-2009, 08:06 PM   #1
Dan Dumsick
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Swimming

I have always heard that swimming is one of the best if not THE best cardio workout. Also, that it helps with cardio and endurance when it comes to running and biking as well. I was just wondering what you guys thought of it. Do you swim often? Do you feel that it helps with other aspects of cardio? I have been thinking about jumping in the pool and bustin out a lap or two recently and just wanted your opinions.
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Old 08-12-2009, 08:28 PM   #2
David Slate
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Re: Swimming

Swimming is a great cardio workout in a few ways. Obviously it taxes the muscles and the aerobic system to an extent, but it also (depending on what stroke and your style of swimming) forces you into a very mild state of sustained hypoxia, thereby also stressing the anaerobic systems. It is of great benefit if you're trying to increase lung capacity and function, and has the added benefit of no impact, which obviously saves your joints.

This is all from personal experience, so take it with a grain of salt.
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Old 08-12-2009, 09:44 PM   #3
Andrew Thompson
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Re: Swimming

I love swimming. I suck at it, but I love it.

I did a few off-road triathlons (swim in a lake, mountain bike, and trail run). I had been mtn. biking, and trail running for awhile and thought "how hard would it be to add a swim?"

So I went to the pool at the gym...and was very quickly humbled.

Swimming is different (from running) in that it takes fitness, and a tremendous amount of technique. I enjoyed the challenge very much.

I could not swim more than 100 meters without stopping at first (told you I sucked ). I found a workout to build to 500 meters non-stop (I know 500 meters is not very far, but it was a start).

Anyway, this was the workout -

Swim as far as you can without stopping. Then swim one length of the pool at a time until you have doubled your original non-stop distance for the day. You keep doing this 3 days a week until you hit 500 meters non-stop.

Swimming also gives my body a great feeling the rest of the day. It is just somehow different than any other exercise, to me anyway.
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Old 08-12-2009, 10:12 PM   #4
Lincoln Brigham
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Re: Swimming

Swimming is great in a lot of ways. 75% of the world is covered in water. I spent a lot of time in the pool as a kid and I'm pretty fast for someone who never competed. Right now I'm going through a 2x/week swimming phase but I'm going to cut back soon. However, I think for Crossfit swimming shouldn't be used as a major portion of the training. The reason is simple -- swimmers usually suck as all-round athletes. Their balance, coordination, and ability to pick up new sports is usually poor. Swimming doesn't translate as well to other athletic endeavors as something like gymnastics for example.
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Old 08-13-2009, 06:09 AM   #5
Robert D Taylor Jr
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Re: Swimming

I love swimming. Right now I can't run and swim all the pure running WODs using a 1 to 4 ratio. I'm not as convinced about the carry over between swimming and running. I know that running allowed me to maintain some swimming proficiency with longer absenses from the water, but I don't find the reverse to be true. I think swimming is a great active rest/recovery workout, especially since I can ramp up the intensity without the worn down feeling I get from excessive MetCon WODs. Swimming is also meditational for me and I love it in that sense. I swim 2x week, one steady state and one interval day.

EDIT: Many of the benefits I'm talking about are because I'm adequate technically at swimming. Swimming is more technical than running or cycling, I'm not experienced enough on rowing to comment on that. Busting out a couple laps with no swimming technique is just going to be frustrating.

Last edited by Robert D Taylor Jr : 08-13-2009 at 06:12 AM.
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Old 08-13-2009, 06:27 AM   #6
Mark Markley
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Re: Swimming

The challenge of swimming (similar to Oly lifting) is that it is significantly more dependent on technique, rather than strength. I have a friend who has done 10+ Ironman triathlons, and regardless of how much training time he puts in the pool, he swims 1:04. I occasionally think about getting back to the pool, but it usually passes quickly.
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Old 08-13-2009, 06:56 AM   #7
Zach Yarges
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Re: Swimming

Swimming I think helps the most in setting up good breathing patterns and as mentioned already it has a lot to do with technique. As far as being functional and transferable to other activities I believe it also plays an important role such as survival. If you never get in a pool/lake/pond/ocean/bathtub there is still the ominous threat of floods and though a raging torrent of water is different from the pool at the 'Y' the principles can still be applied. During my work up to go to Marine OCS I used swimming as part of my training to supplement my running regime and it worked out pretty effectively. You still are incorporating all your bodies facilities to stay afloat and move forward. Swimming in warm water (around 85F) helps even more supposedly from what I have heard. If you have the opportunity to swim in the ocean then I would suggest that as the threat of dying is a great motivator . Finally it falls under part of Crossfit's idea of try new and different sports, so for nothing else do it for that.
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Old 08-13-2009, 07:26 AM   #8
Nancy Cohen
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Re: Swimming

I was a competitive swimmer as a kid. Just started masters swimming about 6 or so weeks ago, to train for a triathlon.

I was cycling with a group on Saturday mornings, and was always the last person, and struggled to even keep up. Since I started masters workouts 2-3 times a week, my cycling has soared! My cardio is great now, and now when I ride on Saturday's, I'm at the front of the pack, and I ride up small hills with ease!

I haven't been running due to injury (and sucking at it!). But, the last 2 short runs I did on the treadmill, I sure seemed to also be enjoying better cardio endurance. I wasn't sucking wind nearly as much as I used to.

Because swimming is very technical, I think that if you're a really good swimmer, you can then get the most conditioning benefit from it, because you can relax and push yourself, instead of being worried about breathing, or not being able to breathe, etc..
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Old 08-14-2009, 11:48 AM   #9
Lincoln Brigham
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Re: Swimming

That's an interesting point Nancy.

Some people swim, others try to beat the water into submission. Perhaps get swimmers better conditioning from swimming than thrashers.

At the local pool I noticed that the stroke count per length of the pool went from a low of 13 to a high of 33. Most -- including some experienced lap swimmers -- take around 21-23 strokes per lap. That's a big difference in efficiency.
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Old 08-14-2009, 12:29 PM   #10
Jamie J. Skibicki
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Re: Swimming

Chuck norris doesn't swim, he round house kicks the water and it moves him where he wants. Also, water to too affraid you try and drown him, lest it gets round house kicked by his lungs.
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