Dan Daly is committed to helping swimmers -- swim faster, become more proficient in their technique, and go deeper into the inherent athleticism. Dan is a competitive open water and masters swimmer, he's a highly sought after performance coach, presenter, mentor, and content expert for several publications, with over 15 years in the industry. Dan co-created the Equinox signature group swim program EQX H2O, is a 3x Personal Trainer of the Year, 2x Educator of the Year nominee, as well as an awarded top performing coach and educator.
Hamstring injuries are common in sports, and from a coaching perspective we need to look at them from three angles: mobility, strength, and power. Transcript: "One of the most common movement and strength dysfunctions across all sports is hamstring injuries. From a coaching perspective, we want to look at this from three ways-- mobility, strength, and power. First, does the athlete have the requisite range of motion at their joints and extensibility in their tissues? Second, can they produce force through that range of motion? And then third, can they demonstrate that athletically with explosive power and speed?"
Pull ups are probably the most underutilized lift or exercise for swimmers because it is so specific to swimming and helps develop strength in the overhead position. Transcript: "Dr. Brian Cunningham wants to know, what is the most underutilized lift or exercise in your opinion for swimmers? It's a tough one to narrow down, because swimming is so upper body and pulling dominant. It's an overhead position probably the most specific exercise to that would be the pull up. It's also one of the weakest patterns for people in general, so probably typically underdeveloped people might avoid it. But because it's so specific to swimming developing the last, developing the shoulders in that overhead position, if you're going to pick one exercise to develop strength specifically in the pool there's a lot of science supporting your performance in the pull up translates to performance in the water. Thanks."
Athletes should lift two to four times per week for 10 minutes, focusing on three whole-body movements: trap bar deadlift, barbell push press, and pull-ups. They should do 3-6 sets of 3-6 reps with a progressive increase in load and variance in the loads used. Transcript: "I suggest athletes lift two to four times per week. So if you only have 10 minutes within those two to four sessions per week, pick three movements that cover your whole body. So in this case, we have a lower-body movement, we have an upper-body pushing movement, and an upper-body pulling movement. Here's a trap bar deadlift, and then we go into a barbell push press, and then you have a pull-up pattern third. I would focus on strength, with a progressive increase in load, and do anywhere from three to six sets of three to six repetitions, and again, progressively increasing the load. I would add a variance in the loads that I do. And the sets and reps as well would be kind of inherent, based on that. But you could mix up and have a high, medium, and low weight day."
Swimmers can improve pull power by doing water-based exercises with resistive devices, pull-ups, explosive pull-ups, jumping pull-ups, band assisted pull-ups, medicine ball throws, kettlebell swings, and Olympic lifts that focus on speed and pulling. Transcript: "The best exercises to improve a swimmer's pull power are going to start in the water. And there's some evidence showing that swimming-specific power work with resistive-type devices like resistance tubing, parachutes, a power tower, the GX7, are really great ways to develop swim-specific power against resistance and accelerating that resistance. On land, the pull-up is probably the best way to develop pulling power, provided that you can do that fast and explosive and you have a strong enough pull-up to do that. There are some other, more ways to do an explosive pull-up, maybe a jumping pull-up, band assisted pull-up. But you really want to focus on that acceleration and that speed. And then other power exercises, medicine balls, kettlebells, Olympic lifts, where there's a focus on speed and has a pulling element."
The core muscles should be mobile, and then stabilized with exercises like planks and glute strengthening. Once someone can hold these positions, they should progress to more dynamic and explosive exercises such as cable chops, medicine ball throwing, and other ballistic and explosive movements. This will help build the strength needed to swim faster and farther. Transcript: "Brett asked what are the best core strength in the exercises for swimming. I think when a lot of people think of the core, they just think of the anterior, so they think of the abdominals and the muscles that you can see on the front of your body, or the so-called mirror muscles. But the core is really a 360 degree stabilization unit. So we want to look at it from the front, we want to look at it from the sides, and also the back. And first and foremost, we want to make sure that we're mobile. So are all of those parts moving as much as they're supposed to move? And once we have that requisite mobility we want to learn to stabilize. So taking a look at our common stabilization movements, like front planks, side planks, some of our glute strengthening exercises in the posterior side. And once someone can demonstrate that they can hold those positions, so hold streamline, hold these planking positions. We want to learn to channel and transfer energy through our core, between our hips and shoulders, so we can be mobile and powerful with things like our stroke, with things like kicking. And those dynamic exercises should progress in a more ballistic and explosive way. So maybe something like cable chops and coming across the body can progress to medicine ball throwing and things that are more dynamic and explosive. But first and foremost, are those parts moving from a mobility standpoint? Then can you control and stabilize in a static way? And then we want to progress that in a more dynamic, explosive, athletic way. And the pinnacle of all of that is being able to swim a super fast 50 or a pretty fast mile or 10K."
Strength, explosive power off the start, high tempo, pulling strength and power, pushing strength, jumping mechanics, and good wall technique are all important for improving freestyle speed. Transcript: "Love this question because there's just so much to be gained in such a short race, where explosive starts, explosive walls, high tempo 18 to 22 seconds is super important. So a lot of lower body strength, a lot of lower body power, jumping mechanics, pulling strength and power, even pushing strength have been shown to increase freestyle speed. So a lot of strength and power with these athletes. Strength during the in season, cycling into power before some key races but really developing explosive jumping power off the start, high tempo, high pull, high velocity, long lever power, and force with stroke rate, and really good wall. So strength, can't emphasize enough, really important for this particular event."