The Swimming Sessions
Like with most sports, windsurfing has its own individual kind of fitness, you’ll get better at it if you windsurf! However, it can involve a lot of swimming, particularly in the early stages maybe, or when learning to waterstart! Swimming is an easy way to improve your fitness without the risk of injury, so how about trying it with the idea that it’ll help your windsurfing too? (You’ll feel more confident in the water if you can swim reasonably well too I reckon!)
Start off slowly, in terms of frequency, duration and intensity of your training sessions. You’ll get more out of it if you don’t blitz it all in one session, or one week! And it won’t make that much of a difference if you only stick at it for a couple of weeks, think long term….
Never start your swim session with breastroke; it uses most of the muscles in your body all at once, so you need to warm up with front crawl or back crawl first.
Try to breathe bi-laterally when doing front crawl, this means on the odd number so every 3 or 5 strokes then breathe. It keeps you moving in a straight line, and it makes the stroke more continuous and smooth.
It can take a bit of practise to get the breathing right, it’s the smallest head movement to each side; you may have a preferred side. (It’s the same as windsurfing, keep the movements small, and try and do everything on both tacks!) You can practise just by holding onto the side and turning your head to each side after a count of 5, kick your legs out behind you like you would whilst swimming.
The leg kick for front and back crawl is long and continuous, you kick with straight legs from the hip, keep feet and ankles flexible, to get the feel for it, try using flippers to begin with (you have to kick properly with these, otherwise it just won’t work!), you can use a float to hold onto, out in front of you, then work without the flippers.
Remember, its your elbow that breaks the surface first not your hand, aim to enter the water as far out in front of you with your thumb and forefinger as you can, really reach ahead; your hands are ‘cupped’, not with your fingers splaying out.
Hopefully, this will help a bit with your swimming. Just try it, remember you’re swimming to help with your windsurfing not to go to the 2012 Olympics…
SWIMMING PROGRAM – IN A 25M POOL!
100 metre warm up (not breaststroke, front crawl or back crawl)
2 x 50 metre catch up (see notes)
2 x 50 m chicken wing (see notes)
50 m normal front crawl swim
4 x 25 m kicking with a float
4 x 25 m pulling (arms only)
100 m cool down (any stroke)
Total: 650 metres
Catch up is a drill used to practise the ‘reach forward’ of front crawl. Hold one arm out in front of you, as the do the stroke reach forward and touch the extended arm with your other hand. Keep kicking continuously.
Chicken wing is a drill used to make sure that its your elbow that exits the water rather than your hand. As your arm comes out of the water touch your arm pit with the exiting hand. Keep kicking continuously.
You can vary this program by either changing the distances (increasing or decreasing) or by varying the rest periods in between the sets. Start with 30 seconds between everything and go from there!
Written by: Amy Chambers advanced windsurf instructor, Chief Club Vass Diva and swimming coach.