Swimming is a great way to cross train for any sport. Swimming will increase lung capacity and lend an overall tone and fitness to muscle groups that might not be getting worked otherwise. While swimming works the legs, arms, and core, it is easy on the joints and doesn’t cause a lot of stress to knees or ankles that need rest. The way to workout with swimming is to simply get in the water and swim laps. But there are ways to target different parts of the body when you are swimming and you can end up getting a really comprehensive workout if you know exactly what you are doing in the water.
Just what it sounds like, kicking is focusing on working your legs. A correct kick will start from the hip and will travel all the way down the leg in any stroke. There are three different ways to kick. Flutter kick is when you move the legs independently from one another, starting from the hip and alternating the legs. Breaststroke, or frog kick, is the kick that involves the most bending of the knees, where you push your legs out and snap them together in order to propel your body through the water. Dolphin kick or shimmer kick is the kick used under the water and with the stroke butterfly. It is a strong kick that originates in the chest and travels into the legs while the legs remain together. Kick sets are when you use a kickboard or just float on your back as you kick up and down the pool
Pulling is the exact opposite of kicking, and only really works for the stroke freestyle or front call. You use a float called a pull buoy that you hold between your legs in order to complete pull sets. Holding this buoy, usually between the thighs, will prevent you from attempting to kick while also keeping your back half afloat. This will help you perfect the form on your front crawl and will strengthen the muscles in your shoulders. There is also a breathing exercise that can be performed with a pull buoy called sculling, which is essentially lying face down in the water and using the buoy to keep you floating while moving forward using only the motion of your wrists. While it doesn’t really burn many calories, it can provide a good rest set.
ButterflyThere are four main strokes that are Olympic certified, and they each end up working a different part of the body. Butterfly is considered to be the most difficult and energy consuming of the strokes and many people prefer not to use it in their workouts. However, it is the fastest way to burn calories in the water, and it works and tones the muscles in your shoulders, back, chest and abdomen. The trick to butterfly is timing the pull of the arms with the pulse of the dolphin kick. There are some great videos and tutorials online, and it is a great workout when mastered correctly.
Backstroke utilizes the muscles in the back and arms to pull you through the water on your back. While not as vigorous as butterfly or freestyle, backstroke provides great tone and a good, targeted muscular workout. It is also one of the easiest strokes to master for beginners along with front crawl, both of which use the constant flutter kick to propel them forward.
This stroke really works the chest, glutes, and leg muscles. A slower stroke, it is also very easy to breath and can be a good rest stroke. However this means it is also easy to become sloppy when doing breaststroke. It is important to be as aware of the motions you are going through in order to get your muscles fully engaged. It is a short bodied stroke that requires good timing like butterfly, and can produce good results if practiced correctly.