Since the Crossfit games started in 2011, swimming has been involved in one of the events. Some of the events even include a combination of swimming and running–really working your aerobic engine!
There are very few athletes (besides swimmers, divers, and maybe a few other recreational water sports) that are born with the natural ability to float and not panic under a deliberate oxygen-deprived situation.
For someone, who is a swimmer (and occasionally does Crossfit)–these two sports are very different.
Let me explain further…
- Swimming; puts you in the horizontal plane with lighter stress loads than on-land, including some very restrictive breathing patterns. Also, it requires a bit of finesse with learning how to move quickly through a water medium, with technical body-movement instruction, and tons of aerobic conditioning.
- Crossfit; puts you in the vertical plane with EXTREMELY heavy loads and reps—challenging every muscle, tendon, and bone in your body. Including gymnastic movements, body weight exercises, and a solid foundation of anaerobic and aerobic conditioning.
Between these two sports, I’ve found that being good at one of them DOES NOT make you good at the other. BUT, what these past six Crossfit games have proven is that–in order to be an ELITE-LEVEL Crossfitter: You must be able to SWIM, and swim WELL!
If you are a Crossfitter and are contemplating stepping up your swimming game while reading this post–DO IT. Swimming will not only improve your overall fitness level, but it will get you better prepared for local competitions and/or regionals!
Let’s dive into 3 ways swimming MORE will improve your Crossfit level:
1.) Swimming Increases your Cardiovascular Fitness Level:
Swimming is a great way to improve your aerobic fitness level. The main factor that makes swimming such an awesome way to improve your cardio is due to the fact that when you swim—you are restricted from breathing regularly.
Getting to a point where you can swim a few laps (4×50 Freestyle @ 1:00 rest) without getting completely winded is the first step to improving your cardio level in a hypoxic (meaning very little air) environment.
2.) Swimming is a FULL-BODY Workout:
If you learn to swim all FOUR strokes–basically every large muscle group in your body must fire while swimming. This includes all the small muscle groups around your joints (those really important intrinsic muscles too)!
Check out this AWESOME video below that highlights the major muscle groups that fire during each swimming stroke:
With swimming, you cannot get away with just being strong on your upper-body or vice versa. Swimming is a very honest sport that requires full-body conditioning in order to be fast and efficient up and down the pool!
3.) Swimming puts LESS STRESS on Your Body:
Swimming is a great way to cross-train due to the fact you buoyant. With the water creating the resistance and your body being horizontal, as opposed to vertical—swimming DRASTICALLY decreases the amount of stress put on your body and your joints.
With Crossfit being very weight heavy and rep intensive, swimming is a great way to still get a good workout in without the high-impact stress on your joints!
Overall, swimming is a great way to train for Crossfit. If you’re ready to make the commitment to go swim more often–call your local pool for rates and membership prices. Also, finding a local masters swim team (masters meaning 18 years or older) is another great way to keep yourself motivated by swimming with a group! Masters team are available to all ability levels, and workouts are customized to your current swimming fitness level!
[CLICK HERE] for Part II, as we talk about 3 Common Crossfit Swimming Errors!
Until Next Time,