S T R E T C H
Stretching makes swimming easier. My teammate and friend, Sprint King Jason Lezak, has to stretch at least three times a day. He says his body simply doesn’t function well unless he stretches regularly. Stretching after a light warm-up and after every workout really does make swimming and workouts easier.
Some of us are naturally more flexible than others. For example, ever since I was a little tike I’ve been able to turn my ankles around 180 degrees so that my feet point backwards. I can also touch my elbows behind my back. I’m flexible. Jason wouldn’t be able to point his toes if he didn’t work on it everyday. We all have various degrees of flexibility, but anyone can work on getting more flexible. Get into a regular stretching routine, and hold each stretch for 15 to 20 seconds. Don’t get into the habit of striking a pose with each stretch. You’re not a model. You’re a swimmer. Models don’t really have to use their muscles; they eat lettuce and water all day to avoid it. You do have to use your muscles, so you need to feel them stretch. Really feel your muscles lengthening and, well, stretching.