Some things to remember when you are lifting free weights — always get a spotter. Don’t be afraid to ask for one. The fitness staff is more than happy to help. Getting a spotter is the first step to safe and consistent lifting. Also remember to support your back at all times. Whether it is sitting at a bench to do your curls or overhead press, or making sure that you keep your knees bent and a stance that is shoulder-width apart, it will make a difference and protect the back.

If you chose to use bands, ask the aquatics director or someone who is very familiar with swimming to help you. The bands are a great way to improve your strength and become stronger within your stroke. It is very difficult to describe how to use the bands here. There should be someone who is in charge of the swimming pool that can show the proper way to use the bands. The other positive aspect to using bands as a method of strength training is that they travel with you and you don’t have to join a gym to strength train. Using the bands can be done in intervals as well, such as 15 seconds of exercise and five seconds of rest. As you get stronger try 20 seconds on/five seconds off, then 25 seconds on/five seconds off and so on, for a total of eight to 10 times per exercise. Keep up with the progressions to keep getting stronger. If you run into a time problem, do as much as you can and stay on a maintenance program.

Just because you are spending your time in the pool, and you strengthen your muscles, you need to add in some other strengthening exercises if you want to improve your times or just your efficiency in the pool. The stronger your muscles are the more distance per stroke you will get.

Some Drills to Improve Your Swimming

Catch Up — This drill will help you lengthen your stroke as well as work on your timing. It is for freestyle. Push off with your hands in front of your head, arms fully extended. Pull first with your right arm and don’t pull until your right hand touches your left one again. As you get better with this one you can start to cheat a bit, helping to make you swim a bit faster. Don’t forget to kick — it will help out.

Counting Strokes — Start by swimming one length of the pool counting the number strokes it takes to get to the end of the pool.

The next length of the pool cut that stroke count down by one. Continue this until you can’t cut the number down anymore. Remember you will need to find the happy medium here — where you are the fastest and the most efficient, but it does help you to keep your stroke as long as possible. You can use this drill for any stroke.