Category Archives: Hints & Tips

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!

Elite Sport and School: A Juggling Act

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Trying to balance school and diving can be a mental stress, and this month I really felt it. The hardest thing is simply finding time to get everything done. The start of the school year has been hard. New teachers, new expectations – the workload has become very high. Missing a diving session is not an option for me, but on the other hand school and academic success rates high for me too.

I am part of a program that involves training at least 25 hours a week, either once or twice a day, for three hours per session, six days a week. So at the best of times it can be hard juggling homework with training. It means quite a few late nights. As an emerging elite athlete, I am required to be dedicated and committed to achieving my best – in and out of the pool and uncompromising in the quality applied to training and competition. Working out how school fits into this can be quite tricky.

Here are some ways I am making my week work for me:

  • focusing on what is important
  • being realistic when planning what needs to be done outside training each week
  • realising it is okay to ask for help and extensions on homework and assignments
  • using my travel time effectively – I travel between 45 minutes to an hour to and from training each day so I can get quite a bit done in this time
  • utilising my lunch breaks – I have amazing friends so they understand.

My parents, my amazing coach and the support I receive from my school go a long way towards getting this juggling act right so the balance always stays tipped in my favour.

Thanks for your support too AMANZI,
Until next month
Jade x

The Most Common Swimming Injuries and How to Avoid Them 

AMANZI Girl Laura Dennis

AMANZI Girl Laura stretching between sessions

While swimming is one of the safest sports out there, there are still some risks. Ultimately, any time that you are moving your body, you can hurt it. Poor technique and over training are the most common causes of swimming injuries but it is very easy to avoid injury. Listen to your coach and, of course, listen to your body! Here are a few of the most common swimming injuries that you should be on the lookout for so that you can avoid them.

Rotator cuff injuries: By far the most common injury that you will find in the pool, you can easily recognise the tell-tale signs of a rotator cuff injury. You will feel a sharp pain in your shoulder with every single stroke. The pain will be the sharpest when you extend your arm forward and over your head. This pain combined with shoulder inflammation probably means that you have a rotator cuff injury. One of the most common causes is simply overuse. Of course, it is best to check with your coach to make sure that you are swimming with a proper technique and, if the pain is chronic, check in with your doc. In the long term, focus on strength training but be strategic. Swim and lift weights but pay attention to your body to make sure that you aren’t pushing yourself too hard.

Lower back pain: This injury is often a result of the butterfly stroke. The movement puts a lot of pressure on the lumbar vertebrae because you are arching your back and pushing it out of the water. If you are feeling a general stiffness and swelling in your lower back, it’s time to take a break then focus on strength training and flexibility. To keep your back limber, stretch after each workout. To get your back strong, there are a few workouts that you can do. Get in the habit of adding side planks, lunges, hip bridges, squats and dead lifts to your routine. Make sure that you are maintaining good posture, whether you are working out or just hanging out, and focus on slowly gaining strength.

Swimmer’s knee: Feeling a pain on the inner side of your knee? Blame the breast stroke and take a look at your form. One common cause of knee pain is actually excessive hip rotation. To prevent pain, have your coach watch you closely to make sure that your breast stroke is spot on. Be sure to also mix it up in the water. Use different strokes so that you aren’t overtaxing particular muscles.

Neck injuries: Between holding a high head position and rotating your neck back and forth, a lot of swimmers deal with chronic neck pain. To stop it before it starts, focus on strengthening your neck with neck extension and shoulder roll exercises. While you are dealing with pain, stay out of the water as much as possible and stretch your neck and shoulders regularly to keep yourself flexible.

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 Meet 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.

 

 

Time Management: A Juggling Act

Gypsy Tribe

Photo Credit @mindbodysoultransformation

 

The many hats an AMANZI girls wear:

  • Swimmer
  • Student
  • Athlete
  • Sister
  • Friend
  • Teammate
  • Leader
  • Daughter
  • Girlfriend/wife
  • Nutritionist
  • Mother
  • Cook
  • Professional

… And the list goes on and on.

How do we wear so many hats? It really looks ridiculous as we walk down the street trying to balance everything on our head without running into any obstacles life seems to throw our way. What is an AMANZI girl to do?

We’re sure many of you out there, as AMANZI girls, already know a whole lot about juggling a lot of responsibilities all at once. We may be preaching to the choir here, but we hope there is at least one golden nugget of knowledge in here to help you pull off all those training sessions and the rest of life!

Tips on Time Management for Swimmers

1. Keep Track of Your Energy
With training, your energy can fluctuate dramatically throughout the day. Try to fit in tasks that don’t require much thought or energy into periods when you are experiencing low energy. For example, if you are feeling tired and sluggish do your chores or other brainless tasks that must get done. Your room is a mess! We can see it from here girls…

2. Eat, Sleep and Live Healthy

Want more energy? A big part of that is all about the lifestyle you lead. Avoid unhealthy foods, sleeping patterns and habits to help sustain high levels of energy. Let’s face it – you have to get up way too early tomorrow morning to be staying up watching Netflix all night! Not just one more episode for you!

3. Keep Track of Time Wasting Habits

We all have our own special unique ways of wasting time. Do you love Facebook? Daydreaming? Procrastinating? All of these habits add up rather quickly. Keep track of the time you spend wasting time for one week, then reassess how you can cut back on these habits to free up some much needed time for that math homework you never seem to get around to every night.

4. Prioritise

Take the time to list things that are most important to you. Consider everything that does not lend itself to those priorities. Sometimes we have to let go of people, places, activities and other things that do not help us shine in life. This is a natural process.

5. Cook Simpler Meals

This isn’t to say you should pop a frozen pizza in the oven and call it a day. But you can still eat healthy with simple recipes. Research snacks and meals you can make without a huge investment of time in the kitchen. Save the gourmet cooking for when you have more time to spend on it!

6. Give Yourself Some Much Needed Self Love

You rock! All of the things you already get done are amazing. Learn how to give yourself some much needed rest and self-love. This way when it comes time to get back to work you’ll feel invigorated with a refreshed kick butt attitude to take on the world!

 

Haircare for Swimmers: Small Steps to Keep your Locks Luscious

Photo credit - Calypso Sheridan

Photo credit – Calypso Sheridan

Who hasn’t seen the little blonde girl out there whose hair turning green from chlorine?! It happens all the time! Chlorine and hair just don’t mix well! As swimmers we are forced to jump right in and hope for the best for our hair. Luckily we are tough swimming ladies. Although, we must admit, most of us would like to not completely fry our hair.

What is a girl to do? Giving up swimming is NOT an option, but there are other small steps one can take with specific haircare tips for swimmers. These are fast and easy tips that will help you maintain the health of your hair even during swim season when it feels like you spend more time in the pool than anywhere else.

  1. You Must Wear a Swim Cap
    This is a no brainer for most swimmers, but just as a little reminder, it is imperative to wear a swim cap. Not only does this help keep your hair out of the way and reduce drag, but it also helps to protect the hair from the harsh elements of the pool. Take a look at our amazing selection of AMANZI swim caps to find one that’ll protect your hair and boost your style.
  2. Shower Before and After Every Single Swim Session
    Showering before helps to wet the hair, so it doesn’t soak up all of the chemicals. Showering after helps to cleanse the hair of all the chemicals. This is a great way to prevent chlorine damage to your hair and skin, so it is a good idea to get in the habit of having a shower routine as part of your swimming routine.
  3. Treat Your Hair with Coconut Oil
    Deep condition treatments are a great way to treat hair that is damaged and dried out from a lot of the time in the water and/or sun. A lot of deep conditioners actually contain a lot of harmful chemicals. Coconut oil is an all-natural way to treat your hair. Just apply a tablespoon or more to cover your hair from root to end. Let the conditioner sit in for about one hour before thoroughly rinsing it out in the shower. You’ll be amazed by the results!
  4. Seek Out Swim Facilities with Low Chlorine Content
    There are lots of pool out there that offer lower chlorine or alternatives to chlorine, like salt treated. If you have choices try to find a pool with lower chlorine or at least with good ventilation. Unfortunately, we know a lot of swimmers out there don’t have a choice.
  5. Cover Hair from the Sun
    Your hair is already frazzled enough without adding sun damage to the mix. Make sure if you are a swimmer who spends a lot of time outdoors to cover your hair with a hat, scarf, etc. to help prevent further damage.

The Plateau: How to Power through a Rut

Power on

Photo credit – Courtney Home

 

Anyone who has ever trained has experienced the frustration of hitting a plateau. No matter how hard you work, what you eat, how long you sleep, what God you pray to, your time remains stagnant, mocking all of your efforts. The first thing to know is that you are not alone in this experience, and it is in fact, a completely normal thing to run (or swim) into.

Once you’ve gotten past the point of feeling sorry for yourself, it is time to try different methods to get past the plateau. Maybe the first, second or third approach won’t work, but if you continue to try, your efforts are bound to pay off.  Here are a couple of different ways you can work towards improving your time when regular training just doesn’t seem to be cutting it anymore.

1.  Address your Technique

Running, swimming and any sport all have an infinite amount of ways to improve technique. It is a constant process to try to analyse and improve the stroke, stride or whatever else that may be involved. Take the time to really analyse how your body is working when you are training for the sport. It can be invaluable to get an outside opinion on exactly what you may be doing wrong. Or you can have someone record you while you are training, so that you can actually see what you’re doing. Once you have identified what may be the problem, consistently work towards eliminating that bad habit. It is difficult to train our bodies to do something that we are familiar with differently, but the payoff for improving technique can be enormous.

2. Take a Break

For some athletes, the idea of taking a break seems unimaginable. Training day in and day out becomes so ingrained into daily life, that it would seem really odd to have a day of complete rest. Sometimes it can be good to take a day, a week or even a month off of training to let the body and mind take a rest. When you return you may just have the enthusiasm needed to finally get out of that rut you’ve been stuck in for so long.

3.  Embrace the Elements 

The temperature and weather outside have an enormous impact on the way we perform. Not only does the weather impact the muscles, joints and mind, but for outdoor sports, we obviously dress completely differently. Allow for the differences in weather to influence your time in whatever way that they will. When spring rolls around most athletes experience a boost in performance and energy as the warm weather finally graces us with its presence.

4. Remember your Love for the Sport

Remember that it wasn’t a finishing time that got you inspired to start your activity of choice. Try to get back to the root of whatever it is that makes you passionate about you do. When you are feeling frustrated with lack of improvement, just return to the sheer joy that the sport gives you. Ultimately enjoyment is what the name of the game is supposed to be all about –  the competition, teams and training are all just icing on the cake.

Skincare Tips for Swimmers

AMANZI Girl Brooke in Nefertari

Keep your skin glowing like our gorgeous AMANZI Girl, Brooke

 

You may feel like you are half fish when it comes to loving the water, but your skin is telling a different story. It is very important to take care of your skin in and out of the water not only for superficial reasons, but because damaged skin really can prove detrimental to your health. The following skincare tips are for all our swimmers out there who want to make sure they can maintain their fishy lifestyle without damaging their skin.

  1. Sunscreen

If you are swimming outdoors it is imperative that you apply sunscreen to protect your skin from the sun. You know all those sunscreens that promise you they won’t come off with sweat or water- they are lying. Make sure to reapply regularly to ensure the effectiveness of the sunscreen. Also, use a sunscreen that doesn’t have dangerous chemicals in it that can cause cancer rather than prevent it.

  1. Stay Hydrated

Dry skin is much more susceptible to damage from chlorine and other elements than hydrated skin. Make sure that you drink plenty of fluids to keep your skin hydrated. Not to mention, swimmers should be drinking lots of waters anyway!

  1. Chlorine-resistant Swimwear

Swimwear that uses chlorine-resistant fabric will ensure your swimwear doesn’t absorb chlorine then continually rub it against your skin. As a bonus, swimwear built with chlorine-resistant fabric lasts longer. You need look no further than the AMANZI website for chlorine-resistant swimwear, because all of our swimwear is made with chlorine-resistant fabric.

  1. Rinse Swimwear

Rinse your swimwear immediately after every swim session. This will help eliminate any chlorine it may have absorbed during your training session. Besides you also want to get off any dirt or sweat that may have gotten on the swimwear while you were working hard in the pool!

  1. Shower after every Swim Session

Thoroughly wash your skin after every training session. When you use soap and water in a shower it helps ensure that chlorine doesn’t become bound to the skin.

  1. Treat Sensitive Areas

If your skin gets irritation, chaffing or a rash from swimming, make sure to treat the affected area. Putting Vaseline or Paw Paw cream on irritated areas before you swim can help prevent further irritation. Hydrocortisone is great for treating your skin after swim practice to relieve irritation, itching or burning.

  1. Consider Special Lotions

There are many lotions on the market to help treat skin that gets irritated from chlorine. You apply these lotions before you go into the pool to help neutralise the chlorine that comes in contact with your skin.

  1. Moisturise

Constant contact with water takes away our skin’s natural oils. Us swimmers shower, swim, shower, swim, shower, swim, and our skin would beg us to stop it if it had a voice. To help your skin stay hydrated, regularly moisturise after every shower, before bed and throughout the day

Learn to Love the Winter Season

Dive in.. in your uggs

Photo credit  – Laura Dennis

As winter settles in for Australia and the rest of the Southern hemisphere, a lot of ladies who prefer to be outdoors for recreation and their sport may be dreading the months ahead. Yet there is no real way of getting around winter unless perhaps you have the capacity to escape to the Northern hemisphere this time of year, like our AMANZI Girls Penny Hayes and Laura Dennis are doing. But for most of us, that is not an option, or at least not an immediate one. In the meantime, it behooves a lady to learn to embrace the chilly season.

So how does one learn to love the winter? Well, we can’t say with a 100% certainty we at AMANZI have mastered this skill of loving all the seasons equally, but we do have some useful tools that may help you loathe winter a wee bit less.

1. Dress Warmly

If you are one of those people who just hates the cold, then it is time to step up your layering game. When you wear an excessive amount of layers it can make it feel a lot warmer outside, so that you can comfortably go around without shivering too much. Invest in clothes that’ll help you feel warm and comfy during the winter season.

2. Spend Lots Of Time At The Pool

Indoor pools are around the same temperature year round. It is always a lovely feeling to walk into a warm pool area when it is miserable out. This is especially true if you can find a pool in the area that is heated to a nice and warm temperature. This whole winter thing seems like the perfect excuse to spend more time with your AMANZI swimwear in the pool to train if you ask us!

3. … But Dry Off Thoroughly After Each Swim Session

Make sure you have a showering and drying off routine after every session at the pool. A steaming, hot shower and a hair dryer will do wonders to reduce the amount of misery you experience when you go to face the elements outdoors after a hard training session at the pool.

4. Don’t Let It Stop You From Going Outside

When you don’t spend any time outdoors during the winter, it can be difficult to acclimate to the chillier weather. Unless the temperatures are extremely low or there is severe weather warnings, there is no reason to always stay inside. So suck it up and venture outdoors! You may be surprised how quickly your body gets used to the chilly weather when you give it some time to do so.

5. Adjust Your Training Appropriately

Our bodies function differently during the winter. Joints and muscles become stiffer, and the body needs to work harder to stay warm. Adjust your training routine and expectation to the match the season to avoid injury and optimize results. If at all possible work with a coach or trainer to see exactly what you should be doing to adjust your training regimen to the winter season.