Olympic swimming hopeful, Emily Large, and other competitive swimmers are logging on to a new, swimming specific Pilates programme designed and delivered by former GB swimmer and Olympic physiotherapist, Darren Wigg of Newcastle Physiotherapy.

The Zoom programme has been running for four weeks, with over 40 swimmers from across the country now subscribing to the weekly sessions.

Among the regulars are; Newcastle Swim Team’s Emily Large, who was tipped to attend Tokyo 2020, Laura Hodgson another Newcastle swimmer who currently holds a number of British records in freestyle, 14 year old Libby Freeman who is the country’s fastest 50 metre backstroke swimmer, as well as swimmers from clubs in Morpeth and Pioneer 79 in Manchester.

Newcastle Physiotherapy works with swimmers and athletes across a range of different sports and at all levels providing rehabilitation and on-going physiotherapy support. At the start of lockdown, Ryan Livingstone, Head Coach at Newcastle Swim Team approached Darren Wigg to ask that he develop a swim specific Pilates programme for the club’s competitive swimmers while pool training was cancelled.

Competitive swimmers would normally train in the pool between 1 – 4 hours every day, which is not possible during lockdown. To help swimmers maintain a level of swim fitness and target key muscle groups used in swimming, Newcastle Physiotherapy developed the swim specific Pilates programme, SSP.

Designed to make swimmers fitter, stronger and more efficient when they return to the water, the programme strips back each of the four strokes and focuses on 5 key principles:

· Develops aquatic postural awareness and understanding of swimming technique

· Develops muscle activation and functional strength of the swimming muscles

· Develops functional flexibility of the swimming muscles

· Develops swimming specific coordination

· Improves swimming efficiency by reducing compensatory movements

Training swimmers in this way will improve their understanding of swimming technique and will deliver results that can only be achieved on dry land, helping them hold good aquatic posture without tiring when they do return to the water. The exercise focuses on the hips, the core and the shoulders, areas prone to swimming injuries.

Olympic silver medallist, and open water world champion, Keri-anne Payne is also incorporating Newcastle Physiotherapy’s new Swim Specific Pilates training into the courses she runs for tri-athletes and open water swimmers.

Keri-anne said: “My approach and swimming methodology to coaching and technique is Straight-Line Swimming, effectively reducing drag and increasing efficient and speed by removing the lateral/ sideways movement so many swimmers do. This is especially crucial for open water swimmers and triathletes who want to conserve as much energy throughout their big swims as possible. The thing I love most about Newcastle Physio’s Swim Specific Pilates is that it helps to train and strengthen the specific muscles in the body that will directly help swimming. In a time when we have not been able to get in the water as much as normal this has been a huge benefit in keeping me motivated and strengthening my swimming so that when I get back to it, I can hit the ground, well, swimming (running).”

“Having been a GB swimmer himself, Darren understands swimming and is expert in the field of physiotherapy his techniques will deliver results which will be evident when swimmers get back to the pool or into open water.”

Darren Wigg, Managing Director of NP said:

“One of the silver linings of coronavirus is that it has allowed us to launch a full swim specific Pilates programme, developed in association with top level swim coaches, and roll it out to competitive swimmers across the country. In the past this training has been available, but mainly on a one-to-one basis for elite swimmers rehabilitating after injury. Covid has allowed us to scale it up making the training accessible for more swimmers online. Under normal circumstances, my team would not have the time to develop and deliver this programme and swimmers would not have this unique time out of the water.”

“The programme will help improve technique, build stamina and create stronger swimmers when lockdown is lifted.”

Ryan Livingston, Head Coach at Newcastle Swim Team said:

“Covid has given swimmers a unique opportunity. With the swim specific Pilates programme they can use the time out of the water to their advantage. Rarely, if ever, would swimmers get the chance to pare back their strokes and think about the bio-mechanics of each part of the stroke, targeting their muscles so specifically to improve their speed and efficiency. This is what Newcastle Physio’s Swim Specific Pilates achieves.

“Even our youngest swimmers who normally train several times each week will gain greater understanding of how to make their strokes more efficient and where movement should be coming from in their body. If we can embed this knowledge and train their muscles, it will make them more efficient and faster swimmers when they do return to the pool.”

Anyone interested in learning more about the swim specific Pilates programme should contact Newcastle Physiotherapy at info@newcastlephysiotherapy.com





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