Swimming Exercises: Strength and Mobility Drills to Become a Better Swimmer

Swimming Tips by Dan Daly

DALY Tip 1: Mobility Drills for Better Swimming Shoulders

Dan Daly swimming and demonstrating dryland drill. Lifting pull bouy and placing it on lower back.

Dryland drill. Squat position, rotating upper body.

Dryland drill. Laying on stomach. Lifting arms and bringing them behind the head and then to lower back.

Dryland drill. Using TRX agains wall.

DALY Tip 2: Number one restriction - Shoulder Mobility

The number 1 restriction we see in swimming assessments is shoulder mobility. Beyond technique, the shoulders ability on land to coordinate the upper spine, shoulder blades, and shoulder joint, through all three planes of movement, through each phase of the stroke, is often compromised.

If you struggle with poor rotation, reach, “swimmers shoulder” or impingement, seek out a qualified coach or movement professional to perform a thorough shoulder screen and help identify which specific joint actions you are limited in, helping to prescribe specific exercises and drills for you to restore those patterns. 1 size fits all shoulder programs often do not account for each swimmers unique tendencies.


DALY Tip 3: What is your favorite stroke? 

Whether you race Ironman, 10ks, or pool events, work stroke and strength into your routine for balance, strength and power. 

Dan Daly swimming breaststroke

DALY Tip 4 : Tight hamstrings?

A tight muscle doesn’t always need to be stretched. Find out why it’s tight. Maybe the answer is strengthening and training it through a full range of motion.

Below you can find some exercise inspo! 

Dan Daly swimming breastroke

Dan Daly showing exercise with kettlebells

Dan Daly showing exercise with kettlebells again

Dan Daly moving exercise

Dan Daly deadlift with kettlebells

Dan Daly hip lift exercise

DALY Tip 5: How to develop explosive speed?

Endurance swimmers, develop explosive speed by incorporating other strokes, strength and power into your training!



DALY Tip 6: Full body Medicine ball power

Medicine balls are a great accessible tool for all levels for developing explosive power and speed. The focus here is on speed of movement.

Choose a weight that allows you to accelerate through every repetition.

Keep the repetitions low and the speed high.

Take a break or lower the weight if you find you cannot maintain speed on each rep.

Find a buddy or a sturdy wall and give these exercises a try during your next dryland session! 




DALY Tip 7: 3 ground based core exercises

Power your pulls through your core. Here’s 3 ground based core exercises done in a swim specific position using dryland cords.

Dan Daly showing cord exercise #1

Dan Daly showing cord exercise #2Dan Daly showing cord exercise #3

DALY Tip 8: Improving the Overhead Position

The shoulder is the most injured joint in swimming.

Swimmers shoulder, shoulder impingement, rotator cuff injuries, these are general terms that could indicate several issues, each with a unique approach specific to the athlete.

A comprehensive approach that addresses technique, strength and training volume are important to reduce incidents.

If you’re in pain go see a professional. If you sense you could improve your mobility, stability, and strength overhead check out these examples:



DALY Tip 9: 3D Shoulders for swimmers

Your shoulder girdle is a dynamic system of mobile and stabile parts, that depend on each other to get into position (mobility) and produce force (stability).

First, it is important that all the pieces move as much as they should, and no more, second can they hold position and produce force.

Here are just a few examples, but not all, of the shoulder positions your stroke may demand, and some corresponding joint actions on land that address them.

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