Buoyancy and Core Strength in Swimming
Buoyancy in swimming is very important as it shows how well we float and which part of our bodies balance well in the water. It is very important that we have a solid core (center of gravity) in order for our bodies to move our mass through the water more efficiently. Studies have examined differences in position of one’s center of mass and center of buoyancy. Studies in USA swimming have assessed the impact that buoyancy has on freestyle swimming and kicking performance. The difference between the center of mass and center of buoyancy causes a rotating effect on the body while in the water; typically the center of mass lies closer to the feet so that the center of buoyancy causes the swimmer’s feet to sink.
The larger difference between the center of mass and the center of buoyancy, the more the feet tend to drop, and the more energy a swimmer must exert to remain in a horizontal position. So, if the swimmer had better core strength, they would be able to stabilize his/her body position and stay more rigid and, thus, float higher on the water.
In closing, when seeing your local teams’ swimmers at a swim practice, you will notice why most of the faster swimmers have a great-looking muscular back and abdominals. Swimming for hours requires them to have the proper core stabilization in order to compete at the highest levels. If you are swimming to compete, or doing a triathlon, or to keep fit, get your core in shape.
Dry land exercises to help swimmers have a better core:
Back extensions: Lie on the ground with your hands at your sides or out in front. Slowly bring your upper body off the ground while leaving your thighs and hips on the ground. Do this several times and you’ll notice that is becomes very tiring. This will help with your lower back position. For a more advanced back extension, try this same exercise on the Roman chair keeping the back arched. Go down and then back up to a diagonal body position, staying inline with the lower half of the body.
Air squats: (body weight) will help with inline stabilization as well as working the legs. The body must stay still as you are going down into the squat. The strength of the legs and movement of the hip forward allows the body to stand up. Full sit-ups with chest to thigh are the best. If you prefer your feet anchored, that is fine too, but no crunches.