Category Archives: Hints & Tips

Why Swimmers Make Great Leaders

Ready to take on the world? Learn to swim! Swimmers make some of the greatest leaders and we aren’t just tooting our own horn. Here are seven tried and true reasons why swimmers make great leaders.

  1. Swimmers Are Punctual

Anyone who has ever done regular swim training knows that 5 am means 5 am. If you show up for your swim training session at 5:20 am, your coach is going to have more than a few words for you. Tongue lashings aside, every swimmer knows that excuses won’t help you win any races. If you want a medal, you need to show up on time and maximise every minute you have got in the pool.

  1. Swimmers Know Good Sportsmanship

Swimmers know how to lose and win gracefully. A top swimmer is able to congratulate and console the competition, no matter how important the race is. While everyday life isn’t a race, knowing how to win and lose is a skill that you can always use when you are a leader.

AMANZI Girls Jenna and Larah

  1. Swimmers Are Detail-Oriented

When you are swimming in a race, you know that every second counts and there are countless elements that can affect the time that it takes to get from one end of the pool to the other. To excel in swimming, you need to pay attention to every little minute detail that can affect your time. From the positioning of every finger and toe to the fit of your swimwear, top swimmers have to be aware that every little thing that affects the bottom line is worth paying attention to.

  1. Swimmers Know How to Be Healthy

Sleeping well and knowing how to destress are critical keys in the world of swimming. Being tense and tired out is a major detriment in the pool, so the best swimmers have learned how to take care of themselves. These healthy habits make it indefinitely easier to lead the world.

  1. Swimmers Can Take Criticism

The best swimmers know how to take criticism and use it to improve themselves. After years of getting feedback from a coach, swimmers know that you have to keep an open mind and listen to what others have to say. Swimmers know that advice is key to improvement and they aren’t shy about swallowing even the toughest criticism.

  1. Swimmers Know Time Management

The majority of swimmers have to find a way to get regular swim training sessions into an already busy schedule. Between work, school and all of the other commitments of life, swimmers have found a way to make it work.

  1. Swimmers Are Dedicated

It is not easy to be a serious swimmer. Splashing around the pool isn’t going to win you any races. To be a good swimmer, you need to regularly swim train. Like so many sports, consistency is king. If you want to be at the top of your game, every swimmer knows that you have to show up every single day and put in your time in the pool, no matter how tired you are! To swim and to lead, we know that you have to put in the time and effort.

Mindfulness for Athletes: What it can do for you

They say that 90 percent of your performance is mental. If that is true, why do we spend so much time training our bodies? If it is just a case of mind over matter, surely we should spend a bit more time getting our brains in shape.

According to experts, mindfulness is the real key to getting your mind in top shape. Top coaches from around the globe are pushing pro athletes to start getting into meditation, yoga and the world of mindfulness. They claim that learning how to be mindful can create the difference between great athletes and world class professional sports stars.

What is mindfulness?

Mindfulness is an incredibly simple concept that is notoriously hard to grasp. The basic premise is that our brains thrive when they live in the moment. To truly engage in the present and everything that is going on around us, we need to forget about the past and stop obsessing about the future.

By forcing our minds to stop wasting energy by thinking about things that aren’t currently important, we allow our brains to be totally present in the moment. Once you become trained in the art of mindfulness, you can learn how to shut your mind off to certain things. Rather than obsessing over distractions and worries, you can train your brain to live in the moment. When you mind wanders, you can train it to come back to present.

How can I learn mindfulness?

Like any skill, learning mindfulness is a process. You learn a little bit and strengthen the muscles of your mind with each meditation. When you first start out, you will make a lot of major gains then slowly improve your skill set. With time, it becomes more natural and you feel more in control of your mind.

AMANZI Girl Penny swimming

Train you mind, how you train your body in the pool! Photo cred: @pennyhayesnz

There are countless options that will help you get started with the first steps. Ultimately, the way that you learn comes down to your learning style. If you prefer to be part of a group and learn by doing, sign up for a course! If you want to get your feet wet before you sign up for anything, get online. You can find an endless of array of YouTube videos, websites, apps and books dedicated to teaching newbies the art of meditation.

Whatever method you choose, stick with it! Most people who are new to mindfulness tend to feel like they are doing something wrong. They get stuck in the idea of having “successful” or “bad” meditations. It’s important to know that every meditation is helpful. As swimmers, we know that training is always a good thing! Start training your brain now and you’ll be amazed at the results.

Introducing the New Backstroke Wedge

Wondering about the introduction of backstroke wedges for backstroke starts? You’re not alone! Here’s everything you need to know about the change.

AMANZI Girl Penny Hayes backstroke start

The new backstroke wedges will add that extra oooomph to your start. Photo credit: @pennyhayesnz

These wedges were approved by FINA during a meeting at last year’s new rules committee gathering during the July sessions in Barcelona. The backstroke wedges first hit the scene at the grand prix circuit last summer and are now starting to be used more regularly.

The purpose of the new wedges is to create a standardisation of the starting foot placement for backstroke swimmers. With all of the different types of pools and touch pads out there, there is a lot of inconsistency for backstroke swimmers and this is an attempt to fix it as well as to reduce the number of slips during backstroke starts.

One of the best things about the backstroke wedge is that it’ll give you a grip that has been unheard of in the swimming world until now. As swimmers, we naturally pull up to the balls of our feet then rest most of our weight there during backstroke starts. The backstroke wedge allows you to put your weight onto an angled piece of material to push off, rather than trying to grip your feet onto a flat wall.

We’ve all seen swimmers who get disqualified at the very start of a backstroke event. They pull their bodies up in preparation for the start but then drop down a bit too far before they take off. It can happen to the best of us! In fact, these unfortunate slips have happened even at the highest levels. One of the fastest backstroker swimmers on the planet, Elizabeth Beisel, qualified for the 2014 US National Championships then was immediately taken out of the race when she slipped off the wall. It’s so unfortunate but so common! It has happened to top swimmers around the world at events like the World Championships and even the Olympics. If it can happen to an Olympics swimmer, it can happen to any of us.

The goal of the backstroke wedge is to act like a high heel shoe and force your feet to stay in place so you never have to worry about slipping and being tossed out of the competition. On top of that, the backstroke wedge also creates a more even weight distribution so you aren’t killing your arms if you pull yourself high out of the water.

On top of creating stability, the backstroke wedge will also give a push factor. When you stabilise your body, you are in much greater control. Since you are completely still on a backstroke wedge, you can push off with greater force at the start of a race. With your body exactly where you want it to be, you will always start every swim meet at your best.

This new change is definitely something that we are excited about. Hopefully we will be seeing more backstroke wedges rolled out quickly at pools across the globe!

A Guide To Training When You Are Sick

 

AMANZI Girl Charlotte eager to get back in the pool

To train or not to train when you’re feeling sick? Photo credit @chardurand

When you get into the rhythm of a training schedule, a cold or another illness can throw a huge cramp in your style and many athletes are left with the question whether it is a good idea to train or not. Depending on who you ask, exercising when you are sick can either be the worst thing in the world to do for your body or the best. We came to the conclusion it really depends on the illness and the individual. This brief guide will help you decide whether to keep on training or to temporarily throw in the towel.

The Pros and Cons

The arguments for whether to train or not are not all that complicated: exercise can either make you better or worse! So which one is it? The answer is that it really depends on the type of exercise, illness, environmental conditions and the individual.

Exercise is a great way to boost our metabolism and immunity, and this ultimately can mean helping your body get better faster. Essentially there was a little bit of truth to the myth of sweating an illness off. It will also help you make sure your physical progress does not deteriorate as much during the course of the illness.

However, that doesn’t take into account the severity of the illness. If you are running a high fever, raising your core temperature with exercise is a terrible idea that will make you sick. Exercise also can leave you depleted of energy to fight off an illness if you are extremely weak.

Basically, you’ll need to use a little common sense to try to navigate the answer to this question.

To Train, or not to Train?

In this case it is sometimes best to go with how you are exactly feeling to determine whether you should exercise or not. If you don’t feel like you can get out of bed, going on a jog is probably not the best idea. However, if you feel like you have regular energy levels with a just few symptoms then you are probably ready to go.

One rule of thumb that many athletes go by is feeling where the cold is in the body. If your symptoms are the throat and up, then you are probably fine to train. If your symptoms reach down to the chest along with any aches or pains, it is best to sit it out.

One last thing to remember is that you should definitely not start anything new or difficult while you are sick. At most you should just do your standard training distance and time or even go a little less far and hard in order to not overwhelm your body.

Listening To Your Body

Obviously since you are sick, you are not going to be able to push as hard as normal. It is important to have body awareness. If you feel worse for the wear after exercise then you’ve probably pushed too hard, and you should take that as a learning experience. On the other hand, when your body feels a little bit better after exercise that means you’ve done the perfect amount.

Remember don’t feel like you absolutely must train during an illness. Sometimes taking a short break will help refresh your enthusiasm, so when you finally are feeling 100% again, you’ll literally be ready to hit the ground running.

Stay warm after your workout

While swimming outside can be wonderful, it can also freeze you to your core! Even if you are feeling warm in the pool, you might feel pretty differently when you hop out. Thanks to icy cold winters in the Northern Hemisphere and unheated outdoor pools, it can be tricky to keep outdoor swimming in your routine.

On top of being uncomfortable, being too cold can be downright dangerous! You already know about the dangerous of frostbite but did you know that the cold even impacts your muscles and your likelihood of injury?

Fortunately, a little bit goes a long way when it comes to getting your training routine heated up. It is important to have the right gear. If you are planning to swim in cold sea water, get a wetsuit. While sleeveless wetsuits might seem more comfortable, you will lose a lot of heat through your armpits. Opt for a full suit and be sure to keep your head covered with a cap and stick earplugs in to keep your core temperature high.

AMANZI Girl Courtney Home in her wetsuit

AMANZI Girl Courtney doing it right this winter! Photo cred: @corky93

If you can relax in a sauna after a cold swim, this is the perfect way to keep your body heated up. If not, ditch the freezing cold wetsuit when you get out of the water and start layering on warm clothes. Rather than throwing on a thick jacket, layering is great because it allows you to slowly strip down as you start to warm up again.

It’s important to remember that your body is always fighting to stay at a comfortable temperature. When you allow your body to get too cold, you are more susceptible to picking up cold and flu viruses so don’t make your body work harder than it needs to! Regulate your temperature after your workouts when your body is already tired out.

When your muscles become cold too quickly, you increase your risk of injury. A sudden burst of cold affects your blood flow and can affect your body’s recovery rate. This is the reason for cooling down slowly after workouts as well as preventing your body from being hit with a sudden burst of cold after leaving the water.

The best thing that you can do after a cold swim is get out of the water and do some cool down exercises. When you leave the water, dry off, layer up your clothing and take a brisk walk. This will allow your heart rate to drop more gradually while reducing your risk of injury and post-workout pain.

So, outdoor swimmers, there is no reason to let chilly weather push you inside! Come prepared and you can enjoy your swim training almost anytime, anywhere.

Top 5 Swim Apps

Just because you can’t take your phone into the water doesn’t mean that you can’t use your phone to take your swimming to the next level. Check out these five amazing swim apps that will take you where you want to go!

SwimPB: This is a great app for keeping you motivated. Swim PB maintains a historical record of all of your swim times. The app creates lists of your current personal best times for every event. If you are looking for a simple, straightforward app to record all of your times or maintain your swim team’s records, this is exactly what you need.

GoSwim: Go Swim is home to all things swim related. Get free training videos alongside weekly inspirational pics and articles, as well as swimming news from around the world. Go Swim has a great fan wall where you can chat with other swimmers to share tips and tricks or just enjoy a good read.  Go Swim’s Twitter feed is home to a current and constant stream of international sporting news.

AMANZI Triathlete Charlotte Durand

Improve your stroke with the advice of the best coaches out there. Photo credit @chardurand

Swim Coach Plus: This isn’t your grandma’s swim coach! If you are looking to improve your technique, this is the place to go. Whether you are a beginner or on your way to the Olympics, Swim Coach Plus HD is a powerful tool. Its video features basically bring the best coaches in the world to your pool so that you can get exactly the feedback that you need. Record your moves, get feedback, watch the best swimmers in action and master your technique!

Active Goals: This app from the ACTIVE Network is designed for runners, cyclists, swimmers and triathletes. You can log all of your workouts and meet other swimmers from around the globe. Set goals for yourself then track your progress. Active Goals has a gorgeous array of graphs and lists that will keep your motivated.

Meet Mobile:  Another great tool from the ACTIVE Network, Meet Mobile will give you all of the swim meet info that you will ever need. No matter how big or small the event, you can get real-time results alongside all of the latest info on your favourite swimmers and upcoming local meets.

 

Goal Digger: How to Realise your Goals in 2016

AMANZI Girl Jodie Duff

Whatever your goals are, you CAN achieve them! Whether you want to push yourself to get in the pool every single morning or just manage your time better, there are a few simple steps that work for any objective you might have. Here is how to get started with any goal, no matter how big or small.

Step one: Create a real target

What is it that you really want? Be specific. Think about something that you can measure. Don’t just declare that you will “get fit” or “stop wasting time.” Break down your goals into smaller pieces that you can monitor on a daily basis. If you want to start using your time better, make a goal to use a planner each day. The more detailed that your plan is, the more likely that you are to achieve it. Forget about the big picture and think about what your real goal looks like every day.

Step two: Spread the word

Tell other people about your goals so that you can get support and encouragement. Ask for help to resist temptation. Don’t be shy! This is what friends and families are for. Spread the word. Everything in life is easier with a bit of help. Find others who share your goals, whether it is your best friend or an online support network. The more accountability and support that you have to meet your objective, the easier it will be so don’t try to go it alone!

Step three: Incorporate it into your daily life

Ultimately, everything comes down to your daily routine. All of your successes and failures in life will always hinge on what you do on a daily basis. Figure out what it is exactly that you need to do every day to meet your goal. If you want to become a better swimmer, what do you need to do each day? Make it realistic and achievable. Take a hard look at your daily routine and see what you can tweak. Find a way to make your goal part of real life.

Step four: Accept setbacks

It is important to recognise the difference between a failure and a setback. A setback is when you don’t meet your daily goal. A failure is when you stop trying. It is too easy to get into an all-or-nothing mentality and that has been the downfall of too many people. Make a commitment to stick to it, no matter what! If you find yourself struggling, start over at step one.

 

 

5 Tips for the Perfect Night’s Sleep

AMANZI Girl Laura Dennis

AMANZI Girl Laura ready for bed? Photo cred @laurajanedennis

Want the secret to a healthy, happy life? Sleep! Sleeping is one of the best things that you can do for your body. Here are a few things that you can do to get the perfect night’s sleep.

  1. Always wake up at the same time. Keeping a consistent schedule can make all of the difference! Of course, sometimes life gets in the way but there is a lot that you can do to keep yourself on track. Don’t sacrifice sleep for a few extra minutes of staring at a screen and forget about trying to make up for lost time over the weekend. Keep on track every night.
  2. Only go to bed when you’re tired. Don’t waste too much time lounging around. If you can’t sleep after 30 minutes, get up. If you have a TV in your bedroom, get it out of there. Make your bedroom into a sanctuary for sleep so that your brain automatically makes the association and you feel ready to relax as soon as you walk in the door. Do whatever you can to make your bedroom a restful place. Invest in nice blankets, pillows and whatever other creature comforts make your time in the bedroom a little more enjoyable.
  3. Create a routine. Start preparing for bed one hour in advance. If you are running around the house until the moment your head hits the pillow, it will be hard to get to sleep. You need to slowly unwind. Get into the habit of shutting everything down an hour before bed. If you haven’t been able to finish it by that time, it can wait until morning. Follow your routine everyday of the week- including weekends! It may be a hard transition but it’s worth it. You will quickly find that getting enough sleep during the week means that you don’t need more sleep at the weekend and your cravings for it will slowly fade.
  4. Turn off the lights. Bright lights are incredibly disruptive. It is important to turn off all of your screens at least an hour before you plan to sleep and recreate the most relaxing environment possible. Get into the habit of reading real books rather than looking at your computer or TV. If you absolutely must be in front of a screen before bed, get a filter that blocks blue light. There are tons of apps out there that will do that for you and it can make a huge difference in your sleep quality.
  5. Put your body into neutral. Close off the kitchen. It’s better not to eat or drink anything too close to bedroom time. This is doubly true for alcohol and caffeine. While it might feel like a drink or two helps you sleep better, the opposite is actually true. Having alcohol in your system actually disturbs your sleeping patterns. The same is true for evening exercise. Like caffeine, the later you exercise, the more it wakes you up. Try to hit the gym in the morning or before dinner for the best night’s sleep. Your goal is to avoid having too much of anything in the hours leading up to sleep.

Core Workouts: Why Every Swimmer Needs Powerful Abs

AMANZI Girl Corrie Scott

AMANZI Girl Corrie Scott with abs of steel!

Want to know how to perfect your form? Get your core in shape! As swimmers, we tend to focus a lot on our getting our arms and legs moving but we forget that it’s our core that connects it all.

Powerful abdominal muscles are the key to strong, coordinated movement of the arms and legs. Your abs are what keep your body moving in flawless connection during freestyle swimming and the backstroke. To get the undulating motion that you’ll need for the butterfly and breaststroke, you need your ab muscles to be in top form.

So, are you ready to get focused? We’ve got you covered! Here’s how to get your core muscles in amazing shape and take your swimming to the next level.

If you go to the gym regularly, one of the best workouts that you can do is the reverse wood chop. All you need is the stretch cord. Set it so that it is anchored at floor level. Hold onto it with both hands. Squat down to grab the cord then twist it up and away from your body, moving it from your lower left to your upper right side. Do reps of 12.

You don’t need the gym to get your core in shape though. The best anytime, anywhere workout is the plank. There are a lot of different ways to mix things up here but let’s start by talking about the classic plank. All you need to do is get onto your forearms and toes, making sure that your elbows are directly below your shoulders. Squeeze your abs and butt. Start off by trying to hold a tight, straight line for 30 seconds then work on increasing that time. Be sure to stay focused on keeping a totally straight line and not allowing your stomach to drop down. And don’t forget to breathe!

Ready to take it to the next level? Enter the superman plank. Once you can hold the plank position for a minute, it is time to move onto this powerful move. Get into your good, old fashioned plank position then extend your opposite arm and leg away from each other. By taking your arm and leg off the ground, your abs will go into hyper-drive. Work your way up to 20 reps and focus on keeping them slow and steady.

If your forearms are starting to feel the carpet burn, get on your back! Another great ab workout is the x crunch up. To get started, lie down on the ground and make the shape of a letter x. Basically, that means that you should have your arms overhead with both your arms and legs spread away from each other. Lift your opposite arm and leg off the ground and push them forward until your hand can touch your foot. Lower them both back down to the ground as slowly as you can then repeat on the other side. Do it 12 reps at a time and you’ll have powerful abs in no time!