For a few years now world record long distance and marathon swimmer, Dr. Julie Bradshaw MBE who owns Get Set 4 Success Ltd (www.getset4success.co.uk) has been incorporating yoga into her Swim Clinics and Open Water Swim Camps. She was the first as far as she is aware to utilise yoga therapy in her swimming programme in the UK.
So what it is about yoga that is so popular amongst her swimmers? There are various forms of yoga and the yoga therapists in her Team put strong emphasis on the functional side of swimming. In other words, it is about the holistic approach to swimming which has numerous benefits both mentally and physically.
Functional yoga improves the bio-mechanics of the joints in particular the hips, shoulders and spine. Which are very important in swimming and help the swimmer to understand their body more and thus reduce the likelihood of injury. The Team at Get Set 4 Swimming regularly use yoga themselves.
There are many other benefits of yoga within Julie’s swimming programme: reducing stress and physical tension, toning and building muscle strength, correcting breathing habits, increasing energy levels, improving digestion and increasing metabolism, improving circulation (important when in open water especially with the cold), balancing the nervous system as well as strengthening the immune system and the mind, improving concentration and so much more. Yoga helps with any pain, strain, neck and shoulder tension and lack of mobility.
As Julie explains swimming is not just about being in the pool training or in open water. “There is so much more to it. Last year I had shoulder problems and have since been doing certain yoga type activities and stretches which has enable me to increase my range of motion and lengthen muscle tissue. This has undoubtedly assisted in stabalizing my joints and has given them greater stability. I had got to the point where 20 minutes swimming was agony and I could not even raise my arm above 90 degrees, very frustrating for me given I had in 2002 swam 29 miles/14 hours and 18 minutes of Butterfly (the hardest stroke) across the English Channel and of course in 2011, my butterfly swim around Manhattan Island (28.5 miles).
Dr. Bradshaw has been coaching swimmers worldwide for over 35 years and believes that yoga practice has enhanced the ability of those swimmers who have ben coached by her. It is important in swimming to have body awareness and some of the best she has coached have had an amazing amount of body awareness. This in turn has enabled them to increase their technical efficiency since certain movements performed in yoga have made them aware of how their body feels at certain points in yoga practice.
Jim Kersey, GB Triathlete who coaches alongside Julie said of their last Swim Clinic, that it had demonstrated to some very capable swimmers through very simple movements in yoga just how limited their range of movements were. One of the swimmers commented after the session, that they felt ‘taller’. Get Set 4 Swimming Yoga Therapist Libby, who was taking that session showed the group the importance of ‘the breath and the ‘flow’ which in turn helps concentration – so important when swimming for miles and hours in the sea or a lake.”
Get Set 4 Success Ltd run Open Water Swim camps mainly at Windermere although they have run some in Scotland at Loch Lomond and 2016 will see them run the inaugural.
Bosworth Open Water Swim Training Camp (May 21st to 22nd)
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