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Old 02-18-2014, 02:24 AM   #1
Alex Burden
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Swimming and Crossfit

We know from experience that water has now become a part of Crossfit and will surely play a part in the Crossfit games 2014.

So a couple of questions:

How and do you incorporate swimming into your training today?

Do you find it difficult to swim and crossfit at the same time (wod at the local pool)?

Do you swim in different ways, distances, styles to vary work load, conditioning and so on?

Have you found any advantages/disadvantages with swimming and Crossfit?

What is your best tip for anyone when it comes to swimming.
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Old 02-18-2014, 06:56 AM   #2
Mustafa Tahir
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Re: Swimming and Crossfit

Sup Alex,

All of the above depends on your goals really.

Swimming is non weight bearing so it's brilliant as a recovery workout on your off days. You can also make it a very intense workout in itself. Just get swimming.
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Old 02-18-2014, 09:54 AM   #3
Michael Cook
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Re: Swimming and Crossfit

Swimming has been a part of the Crossfit Games for individuals - not masters or teams. It has also been a part of some recent elite competitor sessions at competitions like the OC Throwdown and Wodapalooza.

But, for the vast majority of crossfitters, swimming isn't a part of crossfit.
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Old 02-18-2014, 11:57 AM   #4
Dakota Base
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Re: Swimming and Crossfit

I co-train for endurance triathlon as well as strength training, so even though I don't intentionally incorporate swimming into my Crossfit training, some might argue that it's part of my "constantly varied stimulus."

Granted, I'm not swimming for the same purpose as the Games, but I'd argue that the endurance freestyle stroke I use for open water triathlon swimming is appropriate for that task. I follow "Total Immersion" style/technique, which is designed to leave the muscles fresh for the bike and the run of triathlon. The 2013 Pool was only 500m, 2012 Pendleton was only 700m, but the total event times were long enough to make it a lot more of a contest in swim efficiency than raw water speed.

For Crossfit competition, the swimming component is far less critical than it is in triathlon, since it's only a portion of one event. Relatively speaking, I spend about the same hours each week swimming as other triathletes, a bit less maybe, but then spend extra time crossfitting, fighting, and bull riding drills, so maybe my swimming volume is the same as some of the other "good swimmers" in Crossfit.

For Crossfit, I would recommend swimming with the idea of being EFFICIENT in the water. There are better ways to build fitness for a Crossfitter, but you'll have an advantage over other athletes if you are efficient in the water. Slow is smoothe, smoothe is fast. Fighting the water will kill your energy, so you need to learn to swim efficiently and practice that technique enough to make it "the way I swim". Not just "the way I swim when I'm fresh and focused, but it all falls apart when I get tired".

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Originally Posted by Alex Burden View Post
How and do you incorporate swimming into your training today?
Predominantly in two different structures: Active training, and Maintenance Training.

I have distances and drills I need to do each week/month during "off-cycle" training, basically 3 swims a week of 30min to 90min. This varies between intervals, slow turns, stroke developing drills, pulls with a bouy or kicks with a board. This can be focused on improving weaknesses from last training cycle, or simply maintaining.

Then during training cycles, i.e. in preparation for a race (18-22wk training programs), I do as prescribed by the training program. This is usually more frequent than 3 swims per week, but varies depending on the other training load that week (for strength, fighting, bull riding, biking, and running).

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Originally Posted by Alex Burden View Post
Do you find it difficult to swim and crossfit at the same time (wod at the local pool)?
Most of the time, yes, it's difficult. Certain times of day and certain days a week, the pool is packed at the Y where I swim, so I have to jump in at my turn, even share a lane sometimes, and stay focused to get my workout done. Other days/times, it's almost empty, so I can get in and out as I please. But there's still the logistics of leaving the pool area, drying off, then fitting into the weightroom traffic.

For what it's worth, I don't see any benefit in intermittent swimming WOD's like the 2013 Pool event. Put the swim at the beginning or end of the workout, so you don't have to fight getting in and out of the pool, drying off, fighting between other swimmers or other lifters. When you are in the pool, focus on technique. Running, metcon, rowing, etc are better fitness developing workouts than swimming (harder per unit time), so develop your fitness out of the pool, and work on efficiency in the water when you're in the pool.

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Originally Posted by Alex Burden View Post
Do you swim in different ways, distances, styles to vary work load, conditioning and so on?
Normal swim training programs, like most other running, cycling, crossfit, etc, training programs call for mixing it up. I'll swim intervals of different lengths, sometimes 8x200, sometimes 20x100's, then other days I'll swim durations like 90min, no matter how far it ends up. Other days, I'll swim lengths from 1-3miles. If I did a high intensity workout one day, I might focus on a duration or distance swim, nice and easy, the next day for recovery.

I suppose if the pool area were clear and it wasn't against the rules at the pool, a guy can get out of the water after say a 50m sprint and then do burpees on the side, but again, I don't think it's really relevant. You might be able to talk the manager into letting you take a KB into the pool area, but usually that's forbidden.

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Originally Posted by Alex Burden View Post
Have you found any advantages/disadvantages with swimming and Crossfit?
Advantages:

Swimming is fantastic recovery training. Since it's low to no load, it's a great opportunity to pile some cardio work when your muscles are sore (i.e. I HATE running day after leg work, but I can swim effectively).

It's part of the Games, so if you think you're making the Games, you need to know how to swim efficiently.

Proper swim technique fosters a strong core, as it focuses on developing propulsion from twisting the torso/hips.

Swimming is good for full body fitness. It's not necessarily considered as good for developing fitness as higher load workouts like running or MetCons, but swimming gives you a chance to do some cardio without beating up your body. (Clarification: Alternatively, swimming is a full body workout, so it's great for calorie burn, but in terms of cardio work per calorie, it's not as good as those others. In other words, it's easier to swim a long time to burn a lot of calories than it is to run a long time).

Disadvantages:

It's a novelty event at the Games, so time spent practicing it steals time away from other skills, strengths, metcons. For example, Froning got 30th in the Pool in 2013, 18th in the 1st section of "pendleton" in 2012, which was proportionately more swim.

It requires time and dedication to learn, and then more time and dedication to maintain an efficient swim stroke. The 2013 Pool event REALLY illustrated how good swimming technique trumps good fitness with "I can swim" level technique, as the experienced swimmers ran away with it, and some guys with incredible fitness that didn't have good technique got surprisingly gassed. So you need to have a membership, ongoing, with a pool.

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Originally Posted by Alex Burden View Post
What is your best tip for anyone when it comes to swimming.
Forget everything you think you know about swimming. Most people can swim, but most people can't swim very efficiently.

Join a Master's Class at your local pool, and take lessons. That way you learn the proper technique in a supervised environment. These guys might focus on different strokes, so hone in on the Total Immersion style, let them know that's what you need to focus on, and let them help you adapt workouts to suit your needs (i.e. don't let an expert pool sprinter that doesn't worry about endurance or oxygen load and only breathes every 4-5 strokes misguide you - you're going to be doing an endurance event, so you need to be breathing every 1-2 strokes on the same side).

Having a "rest stroke" is a good idea, i.e. rolling over and doing a few meters of back stroke during a long swim. Otherwise when you get tired, you'd have to stop and tread water, or grab the edge. Probably won't come into play in competition, but it is good to have in distance training, especially if you do any open water swimming.

Watch Total Immersion videos, buy the DVD's and books, and find a way to film yourself in the water (iPhone with LifeProof case works for me).

Spend a LOT of time in the water focused on developing an efficient stroke. Once you build that muscle memory, it will take less time to maintain, but you'll still have to work on it. I swam 5-7days a week when I first started training for triathlon, and it helped me progress much faster, since everything stayed fresh in my mind, and fresh in my muscles.
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Old 02-19-2014, 01:29 AM   #5
Alex Burden
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Re: Swimming and Crossfit

Great reply Dakota and very interesting to see your view on this....

So i replied below

Last edited by Alex Burden : 02-19-2014 at 01:57 AM.
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Old 02-19-2014, 01:34 AM   #6
Alex Burden
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Re: Swimming and Crossfit

So here is a reply to my own questions

Quote:
Originally Posted by Alex Burden View Post
How and do you incorporate swimming into your training today?
I have been swimming for years and i use this to break away from the gym/box environment. I get into the ZONE and just do my own thing with no influence from anyone. Even though i am not competing with anyone i compete with myself and after a good swim i feel great. On average i swim 2 times a week but for time 45 min 1 session and 1hr the other.

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Originally Posted by Alex Burden View Post
Do you find it difficult to swim and crossfit at the same time (wod at the local pool)?
Lucky enough We have a pool at my local gym and i do a WOD every other time i swim during the 45min session. I am in the pool at 06.15 and we are normally only 4-5 people using it so it is quite simple. I use the shallow end of the pool to get in and out of to do my WOD. I will do air squats, push ups, pistols, OH squats with a towel, other back exercises with a towel, calf raises out of the pool to really make it hard, plus there is no chance of me slipping or anything. So to get back to Dakota -- the need to be efficient is key in the pool because once you start to mess with things it gets tough in the water.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Alex Burden View Post
Do you swim in different ways, distances, styles to vary work load, conditioning and so on?
I do my WODs, i use different swimming strokes, distances, speed training, distance training you name it, anything to really get my heart going but i also like to just have a swim and that is where i can see the difference. 1hr in the pool is a piece of cake. I never swim less than 1km any time i am in the pool.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Alex Burden View Post
Have you found any advantages/disadvantages with swimming and Crossfit?
I have noticed that Crossfit has helped my swimming more than swimming has helped Crossfit. The swimming has become allot easier but i cannot say it has helped my Crossfit apart form the cardio part, which has helped me with my breathing and lung capacity. When it comes to weights and increasing that side of thing it has given me nothing at all, which is what i knew all along.

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Originally Posted by Alex Burden View Post
What is your best tip for anyone when it comes to swimming.
- Well everyone should learn to swim as not everyone can!
- Swim a little more often to take the load of your body once in a while
- Challenge your crossfit friends for fun at the local pool now and then
- Do something different for a change to mess with your mind

Oh and most important - just have fun

Last edited by Alex Burden : 02-19-2014 at 01:59 AM.
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