One of the most important components of great freestyle is core strength. A developed core maintains proper body position in the water, keeps us stable, and allows us to use rotation to increase the power of each stroke. For open water swimmers and triathletes, the core is even more relevant, as a strong core will prevent you from being jostled around by waves and competitors, keeping you grounded and stable in the water.
There are some good drills that teach the importance of hip rotation, but there is really no better way to feel proper hip rotation than using the FINIS Hydro Hip. The Hydro Hip’s blades, positioned on either side of your hips or waist, increase resistance as you rotate through the water. In order to rotate without hitting your hands on the blades, you’ll have to lead rotation with the hips, and rotate more powerfully and quickly than you’re perhaps used to. Using the Hydro Hip creates an intense workout for your core, and is best used for short distances. The Hydro Hip takes some getting used to, and it can be difficult while you have it on, but you’ll notice a drastic improvement in your rotation and timing when you take it off.
A great way to get the most out of your Hydro Hip is repeat 100s on an easy interval. Wear the Hydro Hip on the odd 100s and focus on ‘popping’ the hips side to side, like a downhill skier on moguls. Do the even 100s without the Hydro Hip at a slightly higher level of intensity. Notice how much earlier you drive your hips and focus on the increased power this adds to your stroke.
The Hydro Hip is also great for backstroke; the same principles apply. You can also get creative and adjust the blades so both rest on your stomach, facing the bottom of the pool or slightly outwards. Freestyle with the Hydro Hip set up in this manner forces you to initiate hip rotation quickly and forcefully. The same can be done for backstroke, with the blades resting on your back, facing the bottom of the pool.
Regardless of how you use your Hydro Hip, it offers an intense core workout and will increase the power and efficiency of your stroke.
Marathon Swimmer, www.jenschumacher.org
Sport Psychology Consultant, www.jenschumacher.com