4/1/12 - 5/1/12

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Apr 24, 2012

Breaststroker's Knee: 3 Tips to Avoid It

Do you swim breaststroke every time you have a workout? If you do, perhaps it is time to start learning other strokes and give your knees a bit of a rest. I know quite a few competitive breaststroke swimmers who did not train properly during their younger years and now suffer from knee pains during their favorite stroke, so don't become and statistics :). Jenna, a journalism student at Saint Louis University, will share with you a few tips on how to prevent the breaststroker's knee syndrome, so you don't become like the swimmers I mentioned earlier.

Breaststroke kick on back
Enter Jenna:
While swimming is certainly one of the most physically taxing of all the major sports out there, many non-competitive swimmers don't understand the stress that swimming can put on our bodies. It is by no means a sport void of injury. Quite to the contrary actually, there are a number of common injuries brought on by different swimming strokes. Here we will explore one of the most common of these injuries, and offer potential ways to avoid the annoyance of have to deal with it.

Breaststroker's knee is a common swim injury that many swimmers unfortunately have to deal with at some point in their career. Generally speaking, the injury is a result of two particular phases in the mechanics of the breaststroke. First, the whip kick of the stroke stretches out the medial ligament repeatedly in the knee. Then, when the legs are brought back together after the extension, during the propulsive phase of the kick the knee is subject to extreme external rotation. As our knees were not designed specifically for these motions, over time they can wear on the medial collateral ligament mentioned before. But, there are a few good ways to avoid this injury.

Alternating Strokes

By alternating swimming strokes, swimmers can put less repeated, direct strain on the knees and medial ligaments. This can obviously be beneficial to the knee, and can also help keep up practice with your other strokes.

Lengthy Breaks

If your knee is beginning to bother you, try avoiding the breaststroke for as long a period as possible. With enough time, the ligaments can recuperate and rehabilitate themselves if left alone. If possible, try splitting your strokes up by different months or other lengths of time throughout the year.

Knee hot/cold therapy wrap from betterbraces.com

Out of Pool Support/Stretching

Much like soccer braces used by soccer players for knee injuries, there are different braces designed specifically for swimmers to be worn outside the pool, and sometimes even inside the pool, that can be helpful for problematic knees. Also important to consider is the matter of stretching before and after swimming. This can greatly reduce your risk of injury and keep your body limber and prepared for each swim workout.

No matter what your favorite stroke is, swimmers do deal with various injuries. Maintaining proper stretching and workout techniques is an especially vital part of staying healthy. Consult your doctor if you feel you may have any serious swimming-related injuries before getting back in the pool. Stay safe and enjoy.

From Swimator Blog: Chances are you don't swim far enough and often enough with breaststroke to worry about your knees, however, if you do, it is definitely good idea to break it up a little. Do not swim your entire workout with breaststroke, but instead get creative and compose your workouts accordingly. You will prevent an injury before it is too late and have much more fun while swimming when you incorporate more strokes into it.

This is a guest post by Jenna, a journalism student at Saint Louis University. Upon graduation, she hopes to travel the world while producing compelling content for the masses. When she isn't writing, you can find Jenna with her nose in a book, or her headphones in to block out the rest of the world.

Be seen, keep your stuff dry and take a break when needed.

Apr 17, 2012

From the Swim Bag: Win a swim cap, design your swim suit and more

I get a lot of different emails from swimmers, people who'd like to swim, swimming companies and other fitness organizations asking interesting questions, promoting their products and services. Some of them are too good to be lost and forgotten in my inbox, so I decided to start sharing the more useful information on the Swimator Blog. Introducing "From the Swim Bag", a semi-regular round up of curated swimming information.

April's "From the Swim Bag" edition is below:


Swimator Blog custom swim suit

Design your own Swimwear with Finis

It is not an every day thing to buy a swim suit, especially if it is customized to your liking. However, as it is with other clothing and accessories, fashion does not sleep and swimming is no other, so why not create a swim suit based on your desires.

FINIS, a swimming equipment company, just launched a new product: The Custom Swimwear Design Studio! which will let all the swimming enthusiasts out there to design a unique swim suit, drag suit or swimming cap. With easy step by step instruction, it is easy as one to three to have a newly fashioned swim suit designed shipped to you. Check out the quickly put together Swimator Blog suit design. You can let your imagination run wild.

Win a free swimming cap

There is an opportunity to win a free swimming cap on our Facebook page. When the fan count reaches 300 a drawing will be made out of the last 20 Likes and one lucky swimmer will receive a free swimming cap. At the time of this writing, there are only 3 spots left, so hurry up and become a fan.

Sedentary job is a killer

To keep up with the swimming for health trend of this blog, I figured it was very appropriate to post the following statistics about our sedentary job.

Work Is Murder - why not go for a swim

This does not apply only to Americans, but most developed countries in the world. Why couldn't swimming be an answer to the problem? Go for a 30 minute swim during a lunch break or jump into your local swimming hole for a quick dip after work. Do not become a statistic and learn to enjoy swimming.

Learning to swim is priceless and SwimSmooth Learn to Swim DVD is a great start

Apr 16, 2012

Thanks to Signs, You Can Just Keep Swimming

No matter if we like it or not, we live in the world of signs. Traffic signs on the street, grocery signs in the supermarket, direction signs at the airports and for us more importantly rule signs at a swimming pool. One wouldn't think much about the signs in the last group, however, believe it or not, they are a key ingredient to a well functional pool facility and to enjoyable swimming experience. Suman, a lifelong aficionado of swimming, is here to bring more awareness and understanding of pool signs.
Pool depth sign (in Finnish, but everyone understands)

Enter Suman:
Consider these situations: you’re learning how to swim at the pool and find yourself in a pocket of water deeper than you wanted. You can’t concentrate on getting your laps in because a pool visitor brought his barking dog, or you slip on a Big Mac wrapper lying on the wet ground. Pool facility regulators must do what they can from preventing new swimmers from going off the deep end. Promoting rules, especially through strategically placed swimming pool signs, can make all the difference.

Like driving, swimming is an activity that requires people to be completely present, so there is no wonder that pool signs are utilized in a supportive and instructional manner. Clearly understandable signs help turn the pool into an amazing fully functional organism. Hundreds of people get in and out of pools and none of them would for example want to use public pools where people don’t shower or rinse off beforehand, which is why the signs require swimmers to shower before entering.

Pool rules signs also help to monitor what people can’t/shouldn't bring into swimming areas. For example, food, beverages, and tobacco products are generally prohibited, and apart from guide animals, pets are usually not allowed as well. Since these are public pools, everyone should do their part to keep swimming pools enjoyable places to be, so please obey the signs :).

When it comes to swimming, every inch or foot makes a difference. Shallow waters about three feet deep (~1 meter) are good for wading, relaxing, or swimming with infants or small children. However, that depth is definitely not ideal for jumping or diving, so it’s important to pay attention to 3ft (~1m) pool depth markers. In-ground pools are usually about five feet (~1,5m) deep, so they are a bit safer when it comes to diving in, but still the depth markers are needed for the new swimmers who should test how they feel at different depths, whether it’s three or six feet (~1-1,5m).

No Diving
It’s also crucial that divers know some ground rules before diving, since it can be a riskier activity than swimming. It’s all too easy for someone to jump into waters that are too shallow and injure themselves, striking their head or their legs on the pool bottom or side. No diving signs and other diving rules signs set the ground rules for swimmers to follow, from alerting others of shallow waters with no diving or urging people not to jump or push people into the water. Caution & warning no diving signs will save lives and stop injuries by commanding people to prevent drowning by watching their children or not to dive in an above-ground pool. Apart from fatalities, a dive that’s too steep can result in a broken neck and paralysis. As some of the signs say, "If in doubt, don’t dive!" (from Swimator Blog: An injury sustained from diving into shallow water is very very common, my brother for example had his shoulder dislocated after hitting the bottom too hard during one of our child games at our pool, so do not take this lightly.)

Since swimming is one of the most fun activities possible, that does not mean it is always safe. People must be on their guard. It is all too easy to get into an accident, slip and fall, or inconvenience others. In addition to our heroic lifeguards, swimming pool signs make sure

If you are a swimming facility manager or owner, please make sure your signs have been installed in your pool area as a support system to enjoy swimming or water play. If you are not sure where to start, why not for example check out an online store such as SwimmingPoolSigns.com which will provide you with a guidance on what type of materials and texture to consider. For example, aluminum signs are great allies because they withstand water spray, rust, weather, and abrasion. Or how about choosing signs which are skid-resistant and adhere to most surfaces instead of slippery. Many online shops also provide custom templates, so you as a swimming pool operator can create rules which fit your specific needs. So as you see, getting the appropriate rules arsenal for your swimming pool is quite simple, so make your pools safe.

From Swimator Blog: You may not even realize it, but more than likely you always check out at least one pool rule sign before beginning a swim to see if you are complying with pool procedures. Be it something you spot in the showers, around the pool or the signs which tell you the speed of swimmers in particular lanes. Next time you are in the pool, just pay attention and you will see that I am right. Better yet, why don't you count how many signs you encounter in your local pool during the next visit and share your count with us. It will be interesting to see how signs rule the pool :).

This guest post is contributed by Suman Sridhar, a lifelong aficionado of swimming. She is a content writer for SwimmingPoolSigns.com, a SmartSign site.

Safer Swimmer - the must have swim safety device for all open water swimmers

Apr 9, 2012

Swimming and Medical Infections (The dangers of dirty water)

Let's step away from swimming strokes, discussions of equipment and other learn to swim related material for a moment and look at the scarier side of swimming. Not many of us realize this, but apart from drowning, it is possible to catch a disease or infection from you local swimming hole. And I am not talking about a foot fungus from the shower floor or the unwashed sauna. Marina Salisbury, an experienced writer, is here to enlighten us about the dangers that lurk in the dark depths of our swimming pools and open water spots. Ok, that was a bit too dramatic as this article is not meant to scare you and by no means, keep you from pursuing this great sport, but it does not hurt to know what is out there to get you :).
Dirty swimming pools can cause nasty infections

Enter Marina:
Every summer, many people all around the world choose to spend their hot days splashing in the water. The American Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that swimming is the third most popular recreational activity in the United States; it is also the most popular recreational activity among children. However, not everything is so hunky dory. All water-goers risk exposure to recreational water illnesses (RWI), which are caused by germs that live in contaminated water. These have been found in both man-made structures (such as swimming pools, hot tubs and water parks) and outdoor areas (such as rivers, lakes and oceans).

Many swimmers assume that pools treated with chlorine and other chemicals are less likely to make them sick. Even though, this is probably true CDC still warns that certain diseases thrive in environments like this. Cryptosporidium (or Crypto), which is considered the leading cause of pool-related diarrheal illness, will survive for days in even a well-maintained pool. From 2004 to 2008, reported cases of this disease in the U.S. increased by 200 percent; some experts theorize the Crypto germs have developed a tolerance to chlorine over the years. Another swimming pool risk is the infectious liver disease, Hepatitis A. This virus can contaminate pools if there is any sudden rise in the local raw sewage level—which can occur anywhere after a heavy rainstorm. Though healthy chlorine levels will drastically reduce the risk of contamination, the CDC reported in 2010 that 1 in 8 public American pools were closed after failed chlorine level inspections.

Swimmer’s ear, also known as otitis externa according to the ICD-9 medical coding platform, is another infection, which can be obtained through swimming. Though a high temperature is known to kill many forms of bacteria in water, hot tubs are no safer than swimming pools; in fact, EHA Consulting Group, Inc. reports that heat may break down chemicals in the water and hamper their ability to disinfect. A common jacuzzi-related disease is Pseudomonas, which can produce swimmer’s ear, as well as a skin rash commonly known as "hot tub folliculitis." Even healthy individuals are vulnerable to the rash, which resembles chicken pox. Another potential threat to spa-goers is Norwalk Virus, which has been recently linked to several cruise ship outbreaks. This disease can be transmitted via human contact in setting such as hot tubs and spas. Naegleriasis and Acanthamoebiasis are free-living organisms that enter the human body through the nasal mucosa—and are known to cause corneal infections in hot tubs (especially for those who wear soft contact lenses).

Many miniature dangers await in open water
Many diseases that have been linked to public pools have also been found in the wild. One of these crossover diseases is Giardiasis, a protozoan infection with a notorious reputation among hikers. The disease is typically transmitted through oral consumption of contaminated water, and infected individuals can experience severe abdominal cramps, frequent diarrhea and weight loss for as long as three weeks. Giardiasis can be found in both stagnant and running water—so physicians warn outdoor enthusiasts to never drink from rivers. What does this mean for swimming? Try to eliminate getting water in your mouth, so take a breath well above the water line. Those who swim in areas adjacent to farms or agricultural facilities risk exposure to Leptospirosis, or Weir Fever. The disease is typically transferred into the water via livestock waste; symptoms include fever, chills, jaundice and skin hemorrhages. Finally, North American swimmers are susceptible to E. Coli, a disease-causing organism that is thought to cause 90 percent of diarrhea-related hemolytic uremic syndrome, which causes renal failure and poses particular risk to children. E. Coli is spread through contaminated drinking and swimming water (many physicians urge people not to drink from fountains at public pools).

Those who travel worldwide are advised to take precautions in regard to swimming, especially in third world nations. Schistosomiasis is a disease caused by parasitic snails, which enter the body either through the anal cavity or the urethra. Though these organisms have not been linked to any serious health problems in North America, they thrive in standing bodies of water located in tropical countries. Serious infection can lead to erosion of the digestive tract and colorectal cancer. Another threat is Dracunculiasis, a worm that enters the human body as a larva, matures parasitically and eventually releases offspring once the infected individual enters the water again. Today, this condition is only reported in 13 sub-Saharan African nations.

As countless number of adults and children flock to the local public pools and swimming holes, they are encouraged to take a second look at their surroundings. If any unsanitary conditions are detected, then the swimming area should probably be avoided. Nobody wants to spend valuable summer days hunched over a toilet—or linked to an IV in the emergency room.

From Swimator Blog: So there you have it. There definitely are some scary things with big names in the waters :). While you think you are stroking your way to better health and condition, you might unknowingly contract one of the infections mentioned above and spend a few days or weeks squeezing it out :). Even though, in my opinion it is probably quite unlikely you will ever catch anything from the water you swim in, it is always good to understand the risks and as Marina pointed out, use your common sense when going out for a swim. If you see a dead rat in your swimming pond, this might probably be a good sign to get it checked out or to hop for a swim into some other body of water.

As they say, what does not kill you only makes you stronger :), so get out there and appreciate every stroke, live life to the fullest and eat your dessert first. You never know what might happen.

This is a guest post by Marina Salsbury who planned on becoming a teacher since high school, but found her way instead into online writing after college. She writes around the web about everything from education to exercise.

Learning to swim is priceless and SwimSmooth Learn to Swim DVD is a great start

Apr 1, 2012

Learn to swim without water with HYBAC

This is quite amazing. Learning to swim without water? Wow, I did not think I'd live to see the day. Russian scientists from the Vladivostok's Institute for Marine Research came up with a groundbreaking invention called the HYBAC ("Hydrobaric chamber"). HYBAC is a machine which mimics the water environment with all of its unique properties. Now that is insane.
HYBAC in its beauty (photo by: AP/Wide World Photos)

The invention is a large circular cube where a normal person comfortably fits into. The chamber has mirrors all over the inner walls, so the subject can have clear view of themselves at all times. Special air vents are placed all around the horizontal and vertical lines on each wall. The air vents continuously pump in special nano particles which if reflected by the mirrors cause the air to gain its water like properties. By all water like properties I mean that it is for example 800 times denser in the cubicle than outside, so a person can easily float as if in the water or in zero gravity field. Of course, the air is not breathable, so a mask has to be wore at all times. The front air vents can be adjusted to pump in stronger currents of the nano particles, so the HYBAC chamber creates sort of a swimming flume like effect.

This HYBAC nano technology was originally created to test different scuba diving materials to allow the human body to be submerged into greater depths without the use of any underwater vehicles/submarines, however, I am sure you can now see the huge potential for swimming far beyond the original intended scuba diving use. Since the inside of the hydrobaric chamber feels like water without water, it is possible for the unfortunate individuals who suffer from fear of water (hydrophobia) to safely practice their body movements without actually being in water or for skilled swimmers perfect their body positions without any other distractions.

HYBAC nano air vent (image by freepatentsonline.com)
Let me explain it a bit differently. Many people struggle in the water because they are not able to fully relax and let go, for whatever reason. If a human is placed inside the HYBAC chamber where the water element is removed, after the initial shock of floating in a very thick air, he/she can relax as it is impossible to fall, to drown, to choke on water or to get water in the nose. All of which usually cause the swimmer to not fully relax and not fully allow the water support. Another huge problem is that many swimmers try to swim over top of the water and not through it. This causes the swimmers upper body being lifted over the surface of the water while the legs are dragging way down below the surface. Not the most aerodynamic of positions, let me tell you. One other problem in swimming is that the swimming movement is so complex it requires a synchrony of many body parts and body motions to make it all work, so it is very hard to focus only on improving one little thing. In the HYBAC hydrobaric chamber, there is no reason to swim on top of anything as everywhere it is the same and there is no reason to focus on all the body movements at one time, so the swimmer can easily position the body in a nice horizontal line and maintain it while stroking away.

Inspection by the Russian officials (image by iwm.org.uk)
Pavel Vladimir Apriliovic (depicted in the image above), one of the Russian scientist responsible for the HYBAC chamber invention says that they have already received bids for purchases from the Russian, Australian, British and American Swimming Federation bodies. However, he mentioned that there is only one hydrobaric chamber for sale at this moment in time and it will take at least another year to produce the next sister HYBAC chamber. So there will be an auction held in Vladivostok at the end of May and the highest bidder will go home with a new tool in their swimming improvement arsenal. This comes at an interesting time with the onset of the 2012 London Olympic swimming fever.

Ok, perhaps you have already started to smell something fishy in the article. Happy April Fools to everyone:). Unfortunately, I am afraid there is no HYBAC and you are stuck with the water and with the tedious learning of the intricacies it brings with it :). Keep up the good work. If you get over the initial learning curve, be consistent and persistent, you will soon learn to appreciate and even enjoy being in the water.

Safer Swimmer - the must have swim safety device for all open water swimmers