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Ballet Talk for Dancers

What to do While Swimming


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Hi all-

I've read and heard that swimming is great for dancers! But what exactly is good to do while in the pool? I mean, would it be beneficial to do laps back and forth through the pool, or would that do the wrong things to ones' body? Sorry if this sounds kind of confusing! :D

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Laps are good, as long as you aren't doing Olympic training! In other words, doing it recreationally is fine. Doing it like major training develops muscles you do not want developed for ballet. Water ballet also good! Hold on the the edge and do barre in the water :D Oh, and don't forget to go where you can stand without being totally underwater, and practice your beats, like entrechat six! :D

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Thanks for replying Ms. Leigh and Mr. Johnson!

While swimming laps in the pool, what kind of stroke should I do?


Thanks for all of the help!

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Not a swimming expert here, CAdancer! However, I would think just basic things like breast stroke and backstroke. I think I might avoid Butterfly in terms of laps.

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I used to be on the swimteam and wanted to be a world ranking-swimmer. It started overlapping with ballet and I had to choose one or the other. I chose ballet. So I have a pretty good idea of what strokes and exercises to do.


Don't do butterfly it builds a lot of bulk in your shoulders.


Freestyle is okay but watch your shoulders in danceclass they will tend to want to go up.


Same thing with Breastroke. Your shoulders will rise it makes you look like you have no neck. :D


Backstroke is the same as Breastroke and Freestyle.


Sidestroke is a great stroke, but you have to tons and tons of laps to get anything out of it.


To do these strokes correctly you have to reach as far as you can with your whole arm including your shoulder.


Swimming is a lot like ballet. Technique Technique Technique Technique. If you don't do the stroke correctly you could pull muscles or tendons. :D

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Guest live2dance115

I usually do 40 laps at least 3-4 times a week in the summer after summer intensives to keep in shape. I do freestyle, back, and breast. Do you think that is to much or to little or just right? :flowers:

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I have no idea! As I said, NOT an expert about this at all. I think, actually, that when I said breast stroke I might have meant freestyle? Not even sure.

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Mix the strokes all up. Don't do any one thing for any too long. And just take it easy. Remember, this is recreational, and you don't have any records to break.

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My dd is 12 and was also on a swim team each summer up until this year. She couldn't do it this year because she went away to her first SI. Her teacher had recommended in the past if she wanted to continue with swimming to use a kick board and kick the legs. This minimizes bulking of the upper body, yet enables you to work the leg, lengthening the muscles. Hope this helps!

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Knock, knock, parent here. Since my husband is a swim coach and has worked with swimmers from beginners to Olympic class, including most recently in Australia, I wanted to pop into this thread and share a couple thoughts that should hopefully calm a few fears about mixing swimming and ballet. First, you’d have to be doing at least 3,000 yards (or 120 laps in a 25-yard pool) a day 5-6 days a week for at least a year to get a body that looks swimmerish (larger shoulders, tiny waist, sometimes bigger thighs). 40 laps a day (1,000 yards), 3-4 times a week, is great. That’s what I do and it gives me nice but not too obvious muscle tone up top.


Second, butterfly is actually a great stroke for dancers but ONLY if you’ve been trained properly in how to do it. Done correctly, it actually relies most on lower back flexibility and stomach strength (very good things for dancers), not on shoulder muscles. In fact, if you feel like your shoulders are doing most of the work in your fly, you’re doing it very wrong.


And that brings up the biggest misconception with swimming: being good at it isn’t a matter of upper-body strength. The best swimmers are actually “all legs,” meaning their speed comes from their kick. Well-informed coaches nowadays have their swimmers spend up to half a workout kicking while holding onto a kickboard. This would be an excellent water exercise for any dancer.


One last pitch for the benefits of swimming for dancers: the whole non-pounding nature of it. You can build stamina without being on your feet, and during your growing years, that’s a real plus. And my DD also finds that there’s no better way to cool down her muscles and help them recover faster than hopping in the pool after a hard day of dancing, and just playing in the water. that's fun playing, not lap swimming.


Oh, and one last thing while I think of it, this whole image of the shoulder-heavy "swimmer lurch" -- it doesn't exist in Australian swimmers because, we found, the coaches there place so much emphasis on building stomach-muscle strength. If you think about it, it makes perfect sense. Good posture comes from strong stomach muscles. The Aussies do a lot more of what is called "dryland" exercises -- these are exercises done on land, specifically to build strength and flexibility in areas that water-exercising might not help. So, as with everything in life, if you're keeping things in balance (both inside your body and inside your life), you're going to be OK.


hope this helps!

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All really good information, chauffeur, thanks! :)

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I had hydroconditioning in the water over the summer and it was helpful. If you want to work solely on your legs its also good to wear a life vest (I know that sounds stupid, but it is helpful)...and go into the deep end and you can practice beats without worrying about drowning. You can also walk in the water, forward and backward, but when you are wearing a life vest, it means you can continue the walking action through to the deep end (it works your legs more when you cant stand) and you won't ehav eto worry about drowning. If you get bar bells (those floaty things that kids use in swim team practice) you can do lots of cool things in the deep end wearing a life vest and using the bar bells...hard to describe, so I won't try...but some easy things are rolling your legs front to back (like lying on your back with the barbells on the sides of you and rolling so that your laying on your stomach (it works your stomach a lot). And also rolling side to side keeping the bar bells on the sides of you so that your laying on one side and then you lay on the other side (it works your side stomach mucsles, I forget what they are called). If you have a life vest on, you can also do the breast stroke upright (so that your head is on top of your spine and your legs and arms are in front of you...you need a life vest though, its rather impossible to do without one)...it works your stomach and inner thighs. Umm, I'm trying to think of some other things they had us do...hmmm, oh bycicle action...I think you can do this with a life vest only, but its better with barbells, you keep yourself upright and your legs in front of you and hold a barbell in front of you and bycicle backwards...then you can do the opposite of that, keep your legs in front of you, but put the barbell behind you and keep your body upright and bycicle your legs forward. SOrry if you don't have access to a barbell and things, but you can buy them for not that much money at any pool store, same witha life vest. These excercises are really good and make you so much stronger!

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