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Swim company Finis not only aims at providing top quality gear for swimmers, but also hopes to help athletes refine their skills in the water.  To learn more about some basic swimming tips, Alameda Runners recently chatted with Mark Stephens, who is the Finis Product Manager and former Stanford Swim Team Captain.

Swimming has benefits for fitness and cross training that are often neglected by non-swimmers.  Many athletes use swimming as part of their training for running and cycling, because it’s a low-impact activity.

“Swimming will increase your flexibility, aerobic training, and work muscles you never thought you had. Swimming is very good as a recovery and non-impact exercise,” Alameda Runners learned.  “In the long-run, injuries are much less common for swimmers.”

Although injuries are less common, swimmers should always pay attention to their form as best they can.  For example shoulder-related issues remain a great concern for swimmers hoping to prevent injury and increase swim efficiency.

“Stretching is the best way to prevent shoulder inflammation and tendonitis.  Stretch before and after your workouts.  Shoulder stretches with the Fraid Nots ropes are great, but you should also include active stretches (such as arm swings).”

Stephens also mentioned it’s not uncommon for swimmers to suffer shoulder aches after long workouts and if a swimmer was pulling with paddles.

“Be sure to mix in pulling AND kicking. Pulling is a great way to build arm-strength, but can lead to injury if over done. Much the same way you don’t want to over-lift weights.”

New athletes normally have to find out what their body can handle before jumping into training too much.  It is recommended that new swimmers “take it one-step at a time” and learn to pace themselves as they become more comfortable in the water.

“If you are with an organized team, don’t over-exert yourself initially to try and make the intervals everyone else is doing. It’s okay to push yourself, but don’t push yourself to the extreme. Also don’t over use muscle-building equipment such as paddles. Too much repetition with paddles can cause shoulder injury.”

Part two of this interview will be posted in the next 24 hours.  It will include strengthening tips, muscle cramp prevention, the importance of good swim technique.

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