Swim Strong: Multiphase Dryland Series for Masters Swimmers, Phase II


Contributed by Stacy Sweetser, ASCA & USMS Level II, SweetWater Swim Studio & Chris Brown, CSCS, CCET, Endurafit Training and Rehab

Welcome back to the Swim Strong Series. This is the second phase of a progressive dryland training sequence meant to build athleticism that compliments the demands of moving forward through the water efficiently and powerfully. Dryland training, at the pool and at home, is a valuable addition to any swimmer’s routine regardless of age or fitness level. Click here to read Phase I of the Swim Strong Series.

The goal of this series is to increase a swimmer’s range of motion while building strength and mobility. This fundamental movement pattern work aids in injury prevention, tightens connective tissue, and improves swim mechanics and strength. Each phase builds upon the previous phase. The early phases will focus on range of motion, mobility and stability, then progress into strength and resistance exercises.

Use the following Phase II exercise routine as your dynamic warm up before each swim, at home, or before other activities. Allow 3-5 minutes 3x/week. Feel free to alternate days while revisiting exercises from Phase I. If on the pool deck, use a kickboard as a cushion for your knees, ankles, and forearms when appropriate.

A dynamic warm up increases blood circulation and fires up muscles soon to be engaged in the water. Think, “RAMP Up!” before you start up. (RAMP = Range of motion, Activation, Muscle Pliability.)

Do not force movements in this routine and build repetitions and time in exercises gradually.

Wall Slides

wall slide.jpg

Why do it? Wall slides are a great drill to improve shoulder extension and lat activation.

How to do it well: Keeping the spine neutral, place the elbow, forearm and wrist on the wall with the elbow at shoulder height. Push the hands toward the ceiling, keeping the elbow and forearm in contact with the wall, while pulling the shoulder blades down as depicted by the green arrows. Complete 8-10 repetitions.

Common mistakes: The most common mistakes are rounding the spine, pulling the elbows away from the wall on extension, and shrugging the shoulders as depicted by the red arrows.

Chest Opener

Why do it? The chest opener is a great way to activate the posterior deltoid and rhomboids (think upper back) while stretching the pecs.

How to do it well: In a half kneeling position and with a neutral spine, place the hands around the ears with the elbows out to the side. Pull the elbows back while squeezing the shoulder blades together and exhaling. Complete 6-8 repetitions.

Common mistakes: The most common mistakes are starting with the elbows too far forward with a rounded spine and head tilted forward, arching the back during the pull back motion, and pointing the toes on the rear foot.

chest opener.jpg

T-Spine Rotations

Why do it? T-Spine Rotations are a great drill to provide mobility through the mid-back (thoracic spine).

How to do it well: In a half kneeling position, place the hands around the ears with the elbows out to the side (similar to the starting position of the chest openers). Take a deep breath in then exhale hard as you rotate over the front leg. Inhale and return to the starting position. Complete 6-8 repetitions.

Common mistakes: The most common mistakes are rounding the spine throughout the range of motion, not pulling the elbows back to engage the upper back, dropping the chin, and pointing the rear toes.

t-spine rotation.jpg

Ankle Mobs

Why do it? The Ankle Mobs (or Ankle Mobility) drill is one of our favorites for developing ankle mobility and flexibility in the gastrocnemius and soleus muscles (calf muscles).

How to do it well: Starting in the half kneeling position with the spine in neutral and the front foot slightly behind the front knee, place the hands on top of the knee. Shift your weight forward as you press the knee past the front toes while keeping the front heel in contact with the floor. Return to starting position. Complete 10-12 repetitions.

Common mistakes: The most common mistakes are extending the spine, starting with the front foot too far forward, and allowing the front heel to lose contact with the floor.

ankle mobs.jpg

Around the World

Why do it? The Around the World drill is a great movement to improve range of motion and flexibility of the rotator cuff.

How to do it well: Using a strap or a towel long enough to allow you to go through the range of motion, grab the end of the strap/towel with the palms facing down and the arms fully extended. Bring one arm overhead with the other out to the side to form a triangle. Bring both arms behind, then continue the motion to the other side. Repeat from the opposite side. Complete 4-6 repetitions.

Common mistakes: The most common mistakes are standing with the back extended (arched), using a strap or towel that is too short, and bending the elbows.

around the world - good.jpg
around the world - bad.jpg

Learn more about Stacy & Chris:

Stacy Sweetser, ASCA & USMS Level II Coach: SweetWater Swim Studio | Facebook | Instagram
Chris Brown, CSCS, CCET: Endurafit Training and Rehab | Facebook | Instagram

Swim Strong: Multiphase Dryland Series for Masters Swimmers, Phase I

Swim Strong: Multiphase Dryland Series for Masters Swimmers, Phase I

Swimming strong is about building athleticism that compliments the demands of moving through the water efficiently and powerfully. Dryland training, at the pool and at home, is a valuable addition to any swimmer’s routine regardless of age or fitness level. The goal of this series is to increase the swimmer’s range of motion while building strength and mobility. This fundamental movement pattern work aids in injury prevention, tightens connective tissue, and improves swim mechanics and strength.

The Swim Strong Series will present dryland exercises in progressive phases. Each phase builds upon the previous phase. The early phases will focus on range of motion, mobility and stability then progress into strength and resistive exercises.  Phase I teaches the following exercises: Posture Row, Supported Hip Hinge, Toe Sits, Heel Sits, and Plank.

Fix Your Turns before the Big Meet

The New England LMSC SCY Championship is just a month away, and you know what short course yards means... turns! U.S. Masters Swimming maintains a large collection of articles on all sorts of swim topics. Check out these relevant articles to brush up on racing and turns before the meet:

NELMSC Presents: Winter Fitness Challenge Grand Prize!

Want to win a Freestyle & Fitness Clinic led by Coach Bill Meier? Participate in the 2019 USMS Winter Fitness Challenge!

What It Is:

The Winter Fitness Challenge is a 30-minute swim. It can be done in any manner desired: straight through, as a member of a relay, or even with fins! Challenge proceeds benefit the Swimming Saves Lives Foundation and Adult Learn to Swim Programs.

What You Do:

  1. Register here today.

  2. Encourage your teammates to do the same.

  3. Complete the swim between February 15 and 28!

Bill Meier is a USMS Level 4 Coach, ALTS Lead Instructor, and was the 2018 High Performance Camp Head Coach.

Bill Meier is a USMS Level 4 Coach, ALTS Lead Instructor, and was the 2018 High Performance Camp Head Coach.

How You Win:

The NELMSC club with the greatest percentage of Winter Fitness Challenge registrants will win a Freestyle & Fitness Clinic led by Coach Bill Meier.

The Grand Prize:

The clinic includes freestyle stroke progression, video analysis, and swimmer specific nutrition information and exercises. The winning team will host the clinic and is responsible for pool fees and scheduling. Pool time is approximately 2 hours, and classroom time is approximately 1.5 hours.

Register today


Questions? Email Emily Cook, the NELMSC Fitness & ALTS Coordinator.

“This is a DRAG clinic” with Coach David C. Graham Registration Open Now!

New England LMSC Presents “This is a DRAG clinic”

January 27th, 2019 3:00pm – 6:00pm
at Simmons University Sports Center
With Coach David C. GrahaM

Register Online

24 swimmers max, USMS Membership Required
$30 for NE-LMSC Members
$60 for non-NE-LMSC Members

Clinic Details: 

Own your Walls - We will be focusing on both ends of the wall, the in and the out. It is common for so many swimmers to set up their turns on the approach which leads to the decrease in speed as we approach a pivotal point in your race along with focusing on increase distance and efficiency as we leave each wall. 

Killer Streamlines - We will be looking at the 4 common types of streamline we are seeing nowadays along with analyzing which one works best for you.

Reducing Frontal Drag - We will be discussing as a group, the common ways and things that are slowing us down in the water when it comes to frontal drag. Once in the water, we will play with some broken swimming vs more aligned/streamlines positions and practices to aid in reducing front drag.

***Coaches - Would you like to gain experience by supporting this clinic on deck? Please email Crystie at to learn more.

About Coach David Graham

David C. Graham -- A native of NJ, he now calls southern NH his home and works at the Town of Swanzey in the Finance Department. David serves on the adjunct faculty list at both MWCC and Franklin Pierce University and this fall, as a volunteer Assistant Swim Coach at Keene State College. 

Swimming since the age of 14, Coach Graham has been an avid supporter of masters swimming since returning to the pool 10 years ago and competes regularly as a member of the Granite State Penguins at local meets as well as 3 USMS National Championships and the FINA World Masters Championships hosted in Montreal in 2014. 

Coach Graham is a Level 3 USMS and ASCA Masters Coach and has previously worked in the aquatics arena as a professional for more than 15 years. This year he was awarded an Appreciation Award by the LMSC and was selected as the LMSC Coach of the Year in 2015.

High Performance Camp Recap

Contributed by Bill Meier, Simon's Rock PaceMakers Head Coach & NE LMSC Fitness Chair

GREENSBORO, NC -- On the last day of the USMS High Performance Camp at the Greensboro Aquatics Center, I was on the far side of the pool working with Sarah -- who had come from Italy for some last minute pointers in her attempt to break the LCM world record in the 100 breaststroke -- when I was interrupted by a surprising but familiar noise:

"Gimme an H"   ...  "H"

"Gimme a P"  ...   "P"

"Gimme a C"  ...  "C"

"What's that spell?"   ...  "HPC"

I looked up and yes, that was Bill Davis of Charles River Masters in the middle of a group of adult athletes joyfully screaming at the top of their lungs. With a smile, I realized that their spontaneous cheer meant our coaching staff had met an important goal -- to make each one of these swimmers from around the globe realize they were an essential part of something special: The High Performance Camp.

Happy campers in Greensboro

Happy campers in Greensboro

After serving as one of the three assistant coaches at last year's High Performance Camp, it was an unexpected honor to be invited to serve as the head coach this year. As soon as HPC Director Hill Carrow offered me the position, I started making mental notes of elements I wanted to keep from 2017 and those I thought we could improve.

The first step was to invite three other coaches to take part. Our goal was to find top coaches with different strengths. We got acceptances from three USMS Level 4 coaches: Mike Hamm, world-ranked breaststroker from Coeur de Laine, ID; Lisa Brown, open-water swimmer extraordinaire from Indy Aquatics; and Trey Taylor, who on the second day of camp learned that he will be receiving the Kerry O'Brien Coaching Award at the 2018 USMS Convention -- 'nuff said!


The cost of the camp for participating swimmers $2,200 plus transportation costs. Over the course of the five-day camp, most of the swimmers commented that the diagnostic activities alone were worth that price. Highlights of these included:

Extensive video recording - Each swimmer was recorded above and below the water for each stroke, doing all turns and starts AND with the addition of a power graph during their best stroke. All video analysis was done in the evening with the whole group watching and all coaches commenting. Although this might sound horrifying to some, the process was actually very productive with all swimmers seeing common mistakes and unique challenges. Additionally, these sessions were an opportunity for everyone to get to know their fellow swimmers even better.

Bill Davis of Charles River Masters

Bill Davis of Charles River Masters

In depth lectures on each stroke with accompanying drill practice and stoke refinement - On the first full day of the camp, each coach presented their take on one of the four competitive strokes. These were grouped as long-axis strokes (free and back) and short-axis strokes (breast and fly). A practice followed each section with drills shown that focused on the points made in the presentations.

Dr. Genadijus Sokolovas - Dr. G. is a world renowned physiologist who works with the US Olympic Team and Olympians around the world. He has developed software that can show a swimmer definitively the parts of their stroke that contribute to propulsion or create resistance. Along with thorough blood lactate testing and heart rate monitoring, he gave each swimmer a final consultation to explain what the data showed. Swimmers learned if their bodies are better suited to long-distance or sprint distances, what strokes they do best, and where they generate the most power in each element of their stroke.
Besides the testing, Dr. G. presented two lectures that were each too short at 2 hours. He has extensive video documentation of most of the current Olympic Champions. As a student of the sport, it is enthralling to listen and watch an objective analysis of Michael Phelps and Katie Ledecky. All swimmers left these presentations with a better understanding of the physiological systems that contribute to a swimmer getting from one side of the pool and back in the most efficient way.

Emily Cook of Great Bay Masters

Emily Cook of Great Bay Masters

Jen Brunelli, Carolina Panthers Team Nutritionist - Also an accomplished D1 swimmer, Jen offered real-life, rational and down-to-earth advice on good eating habits for the serious athlete. Coming from a professional perspective where optimizing each football player's physical potential nutritionally is scrutinized on a daily basis, this self-described "science nerd" offered our swimmers great tricks to keep healthy and perform at peak levels. If passion for a subject is contagious, then everyone listening to Jen will apply everything she said.

Besides all this, swimmers were analyzed by a physical therapist, got tips from a sport psychologist, and learned how to set realistic goals for themselves. Combine this with copious amounts of good food, a fun night at a local bowling alley and some enthusiastic karaoke performances, I believe that everyone involved walked away feeling that the USMS High Performance Camp set them up for a successful 2018/19 swim season.

USMS to Deliver Free Stroke Clinic in Rhode Island

Bill Brenner

Bill Brenner

LINCOLN, RI -- USMS COO and Education Director Bill Brenner will lead a free stroke clinic at the Community College of Rhode Island (CCRI) Flanagan Campus on Saturday, September 30, 2017. This clinic is coming to New England as a result of our LMSC winning the USMS Early Renewal contest in November and December 2016.

The clinic is free (no cost) to current USMS members and prospective USMS members age 18 and up.* Registration is limited to 36 swimmers in the water and up to 12 coaches who wish to gain practical experience working on-deck with Bill. Check-in is from 8:30-9:00 AM, and the clinic runs from 9:00 AM to noon. There will be an optional post-clinic lunch at a nearby restaurant (possibly Ladder 133 Sports Bar & Grill).

The goal of the clinic is to help swimmers improve stroke technique and teach drills that will enable continued stroke refinement. All four strokes will be evaluated and corrected. Swimmers are not required to swim all strokes and may work on only those strokes they choose. All swimmers should bring goggles, fins, paddles and a towel -- fins are necessary to facilitate drills.


To register as a swimmer or on-deck coach, email Douglas Sayles at or call (401) 633-5756.

Because the number or participants is limited, we ask that (barring emergency) everyone who registers show up.


*Prospective USMS members may participate in the clinic by signing a no-cost USMS trial/guest membership form onsite. Former USMS members whose memberships have lapsed must renew to participate in this clinic.

How to Make Your Freestyle More Propulsive

Contributed by Bill Paine, Tech Masters (MIT)

For years, I have observed that many swim articles that turn the spotlight towards freestyle "technique" leave me with an unclear picture of what the "latest and greatest" contemporary wisdom is for this stroke. Especially the pulling motion! It seems that when anyone writes about the physics part of the stroke or other technical mechanics, things just get confusing. Then there are the videos. Sometimes they are shot so that all you see are blurry side-views that really don’t show you the actual arm pull. I’ve concluded, with regard to freestyle, that the pulling motion is one of swimming’s best-kept secrets.  

In November 2016, 4-time Olympian and noted author, Sheila Taormina, delivered an enthusiastic, laughter infused, and extremely insightful presentation to 150 coaches at the National Coaches Clinic held in beautiful San Mateo, CA. Taormina confessed that this was her first time talking about the stroke to a group of masters' coaches.  

Taormina’s session was called “Beyond Mechanics: Coaching a Propulsive Freestyle Stroke” and focused on the power generated from what happens underwater. For this article, I’d like to zero in on the arm entry and pulling motion. Of course, I have come to realize that it is much easier to demonstrate these mechanics on deck with my swimmers from Tech Masters (MIT), but for today, I’ll do my best to describe some key areas that Taormina highlighted, and offer my own words and descriptions to help you get started on improving your technique. And just so visualizing this is a bit easier, try to think of lying on your belly on the pool deck, and think of all the small tiles underneath you as if they were lines on a piece of graph paper.    

Let’s start with hand entry: 

The older and outdated method involved your hand landing in front of your head (fingers first), then tracking to a target that would be your centerline (think straight out in front of the center of your skull). The newer method suggests that your hand enters the water, fingers first, and moves forward and targets a spot that is in alignment with the width of your shoulders. As the arm is extended and the hand starts to "catch" water, the elbow pops up a bit, allowing the hand, wrist, forearm, and even other parts of the arm to become, in essence, a bigger paddle, thus giving you a bigger surface area, and for simpleminded folks (like myself), a bigger pull. Sometimes this is referred to as a "high elbow catch." This bigger "paddle" gets you more resistance and traction during the pull, which needs to move you forward down the lane. Don’t make the mistake of focusing on the "hand" pull because the pulling motion is bigger, so think of it as an "arm" pull.   

As the hand/arm creates resistance and the pulling motion begins, the hand/arm starts to track in an outward direction. Remember the right arm tracks out toward the lane line on your right. The left arm tracks out to the lane line on your left. I sometimes tell my swimmers to think of the arm pull motion as being similar to a small "question mark." This is significant, because some coaches and swimmers like to think of the pulling motion as a straight arm pull, but Taormina thinks differently.  After the catch and the elbow popping up a bit, your hand should track outward toward the lane line. This can be between 4 and 8 inches, or about one to two hand-widths.      

Elbow position is key when learning this technique: 

As the pulling motion begins, the hand/arm tracks outward. Now, right around the time the arm crosses, let’s say, the chin line, the arm starts to track inward toward the body. For some swimmers, in the old stroke, your hand and arm would move towards your centerline, which would be the middle of your chest, and then push backwards. But with the new propulsive freestyle stroke described by Taormina, your arm tracks in toward your body but not nearly as far -- only to a line that would be equivalent to your shoulder line. I know this is confusing, so visualize this: draw an imaginary line that would go from your nipple (can I say nipple?) to your feet. The arm never crosses this boundary during the pulling motion.  

The last area of the pull to discuss is the "finish." For me, I used to tell my swimmers that your hand should pull as far back to where the coins would be in your pockets (if you were wearing slacks). This way, you would have big long finishing strokes, especially for distance swimmers. However, with the newer propulsive freestyle stroke, pretend you are wearing blue jeans, and put your fingers in that weird tiny pocket that is above the regular pocket. Taormina suggests that when your hand reaches this area, you end the pulling motion and finish phase. Next your hand exits the water and you begin the recovery stage.  

Of course, learning to have a propulsive freestyle stroke involves many items and details, i.e., moving body parts, rotation, kicking, an open mind, and more! If you are looking for more info, you might want to read Swim Speed Secrets for Swimmers and Triathletes by Sheila Taormina. Gaining a better picture and understanding of what is happening during the pulling motion can make a big difference in your freestyle. 

Last point:  

Getting advice from a 4-time Olympian as she unravels the mystery is a great start. And make no mistake – Sheila Taormina is letting the best kept secrets out of the bag!

NE-LMSC Coach Scholarship Winners present: Flip Turn Clinic #2


Join NE-LMSC Coaches Todd Whitford and Crystie McGrail for a flip turn clinic on Sunday, March 5th in Dover, NH.  

The clinic will be broken into two sections - Novice Flip Turns for those who don't consistently use flip turns in workouts and Advanced Flip Turns for those who are looking for feedback and a tune up for their flip turns. The Advanced section will also review and practice the backstroke to breaststroke cross-over flip turn.  

Registration is required for this event as spots are limited. Cost is the $7 pool drop in fee.  

Check-In for the clinic will begin at 8:30 AM and we will be in the water from 9:00 AM to 10:00 AM.  Immediately following the clinic participants are invited to join a one hour workout with Great Bay Masters Swimming Club from 10:00 AM to 11:00 AM. 

This clinic is brought to you as part of the NE-LMSC scholarship initiative to support New England coaches attending the USMS National Coaches Clinic this past fall.


Competition Etiquette... "Competiquette"

Contributed by Crystie McGrail, NE-LMSC Coaches Chair

A few notes on the “lay of the land” for the racing waters we inhabit.

New England does meets like no other. We have two of the biggest, fastest, bestest (that's a word, right?) championship meets every single year. On top of that, we have multitudes of fun mini meets of all styles and a slew of open water events for the truly crazy folks. 

With this many events it’s often evident that a few folks didn’t quite get the memo on the etiquette surrounding some of the rules and common practices of Masters competition. As such, I was enlisted to write a quick article sharing some of the taboo things that happen at swim meets. 

The most common issues surround the enigmatic meet warmup, and that is what this article will focus on.   

Just kidding! Let's help each other out!

WarmUp TaDas and TaDon’ts



There are only two instances when it is okay to dive in the pool during a competition - the first is when the starter beeps, signaling the beginning of your race (don’t miss that one; it’s important) and the second time is when the officials have opened specific lanes for sprints.  

Two key words in that sentence are officials and specific. If you are unsure if a lane is a sprint lane, ASK! They may look all official and scary in their pristine white shirts hovering about your lane like sharks… no wait, these are masters meets - they are likely lounging in a chair nearby chatting with other swimmers to catch up on the kids and family.  


SPRINT LANES are for sprinting

If you see a completely empty lane during a fairly busy warm up, it is safe to say that it’s probably not some Utopian turn of fate to allow you a perfect warm up - it’s a sprint lane. ASK an official if it’s a sprint lane and if it is - please don’t get in and start doing your normal laps. Sprint lanes only happen during the last 15-20 minutes of a warm up and are usually announced. 

A note about “sprinting”: The definition of sprinting is moving at full speed. Always respect that each individual's “full speed” is very different. You can do this by observing the lane you are going to sprint in to make sure that those before you have the opportunity to finish their sprint as they wish without being impeded. 



Leave ‘em at home. No one wants to be whacked with your paddles in the middle of a frenetic warm up pool. Oh, and this is actually in the rulebook - no paddles.  



Much like life, swimming depends on a lot of non-verbal communication. We can’t very well yell out “ON YOUR LEFT” underwater when passing someone like runners do (though most of us probably wish we could). Make sure you pick up the clues and follow the general rule of thumb that passing happens on the left (similar to driving).  

And don’t hang out in the middle of the lane. If you’re at the wall, stopping in the middle is always bad news; stay to the right if you are stopping.  



There is nothing worse than the highly responsible first heat of the meet standing cold and ready behind the blocks, waiting to race, while the officials or meet directors chase up and down the pool trying to clear that last person (or few people) out of the competition pool. Respect your fellow swimmers and clear the pool at the scheduled time. Don’t know what time it is? ASK.



99.8% of masters swimmers are super friendly. Be one of them. Many of the notes above say “ASK” because at a Masters meet you will be instantly surrounded with some of the best people in the universe and they are extremely helpful. Don’t feel bad asking questions; it’s a great way to make new friends!  

Got questions, comments, or criticisms?  Track me down at a swim meet and tell me!  Or I guess you could email me: