Underwater stretch depth in swim WEST

Underwater stretch depth, why is it so important? and why should we swim in a different swimming technique, and not like Olympian swimmers?

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Why is it so important for long distance swimming, open water swimming and triathletes?


In long distance most of the people swim differently when they swim in the sea compared to the pool, meaning, they keep their heads higher than usual, they throw their hands above the water, sometimes even breath while looking forward, to see the buoy or the place they need to swim to.


One of the most important things is to protect the neck and shoulders and especially to get the shoulders to be relaxed and less oxidized when swimming long distances in open water. What usually happens is, when the waves are high and the water is not clear, we try to look to the front all the time instead of elongating the muscles and floating better we start shortening the movements in our strokes, and instead of doing 60 strokes per minute for example, sometimes we swim 80 or even more per minute. After a period of 30 minutes we start swimming slower by the minute.

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So why is underwater stretch so important? Every swimmer has a different flexibility level, and what we’ll try to do is when we want to see where we swim, we should glide the hand on the surface line, on the water line, and keep the chin in the water so we won’t lift our heads too high.

When we swim we have to think about 3 different depth stretches in swim WEST :

  1. Flexible swimmers – 20 cm from the water line
  2. Moderate flexibility – stretch and glide very slowly 35 cm from the water line.
  3. Not very flexible swimmers – glide very deep – something like 50 cm from the water line.

Which means about 80% of the swimmers put their hand closer to the water line and what happens is, the elbow falls, it creates a stop with the hand, when the palm goes up, there’s a lot of pressure on the neck and shoulders, sometimes even on the lower back, legs sink so we need to work harder with the legs and don’t know why this happens.

So instead of working harder with the legs coming to a stop, hurting neck and shoulders we should glide exactly according to our flexibility level. And when you find this place, what’s right for you, you won’t get oxidized fast, and you could easily swim long distance without swimming slower and slower by the minute.

One thing you should remember, when swimming long distances, 1 hour, 2 hours and even more, if we do feel pressure on the shoulders or the neck we should put the head a little down, and the hand a little lower your glide line which will help you loosen the shoulders, and you will be able to swim faster and have the energy to continue the long distance swimming – and even enjoy it.

If you aren’t yet swimming long distances in open water and you know it is important to work on your swimming technique?

Fill in the questionnaire and an swim WEST, learn to swim online program will be send to you (according to your flexibility and swimming level) https://swim-west.com/diagnosis/


The writer of this article is Ori Sela founder of swim WEST technique and the owner of Water World Israel – one of the biggest and most professional clubs for Hydrotherapy in the world

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