If you watched Olympic Trials, you couldnï¿½t help but notice one defining characteristic of all elite level swimmers. Their core strength is phenomenal. In some of the pictures of Michael Phelps, I could see abdominal muscles that I didnï¿½t know existed. One of the easy ways to get these rock-hard and stylish abs is to rock countless crunches, Russian twists, planks, etc. I prefer a more weight-oriented and partner-assisted exercise, the Washing Machine.
Why Do It:
First, this is a great core-twisting exercise. This is something that will help add power to your rotation in both freestyle and backstroke. Second, it is awesome to pull off on an unsuspecting pool goer. Timed right, it can be a real crowd pleaser at any pool. You may need to be careful in choosing your victim. I suggest someone who is smaller than you and, more important, slower in the water so you can swim away after pulling off the move. You can see from these still shots that I chose my girlfriend (smaller than me, and slower in the water).
How To Do It:
1. First you have to stealthily swim up behind your victim. It is much harder to do when they know it is coming.
2. In one aggressive motion, put them into a full nelson. For those of you unfamiliar with the WWF, the full nelson is a submission hold. You slip both hands under the victims arms then join them together on the back of their neck.
3. Once you have established the full nelson, throw the person either to the right or left. Make sure to complete the motion by twisting the core as much as possible.
4. This is the step that will really make you earn the burn. Once you have them under on one side you have to rotate fully to the other side. The resisted twisting action will really help you build that core strength that is oh so important in your long-axis strokes.
5. Repeat over and over and over again.
How To Do It Really Well (the Fine Points):
1. Really get a solid grip by interweaving the fingers behind the neck. Also pull them closer to you for max core action.
2. I prefer to start going right because it is my dominant side. Make sure that you are focusing on snapping through with the core and not with the arms.
3. You should hear their face slapping the water on each rotation. On each rotation, pierce through the water to get their head all the way under. That will ensure that water goes in their eyes, and mouth, as well as up their nose.
4. Watch for legs that will be flailing, you could catch one in a sensitive spot.
5. For best results, vary weight, and number of repetitions. Start with lower weight/lower reps, really focusing on technique, then work your way up.
6. Having your game face on won’t hurt anything either, and it gets extra style points.