One of the best ways to improve your swimming is to become more mobile. Changing and improving technique is good of course, however you need to be mobile enough to make these certain changes. Being mobile helps you to be more relaxed in the water which makes swimming so much easier and more efficient. Swimming can be hard enough without the added difficulty of fighting against your bodies own mobility limitations. Mobility is also very important for injury prevention. It is a lot easier to incorporate some mobility training to prevent injury than it is to wait until you are injured and then try and become more mobile to fix the problem.
Becoming mobile takes time and dedication. When you stretch a muscle it does not just stretch and stay stretched. When you stretch a muscle regularly it will adapt to this new movement and grow longer. Therefore stretching should be treated like a training session. The best way to do this is to find a good yoga class and commit to it at a minimum of twice per week, the more the better. Like any sort of training you will not see good results unless you do it often. If you cannot commit to a yoga class then stretching at home or after training sessions can work. The use of tools such as foam rollers are also a good way to help with tight and tense areas of the body. Stretching not only elongates muscles and tendons but it has also shown to boost blood flow through your tissues, increase oxygen levels, helps deliver nutrients to your muscles, and facilitates the removal of metabolic waste such as carbon dioxide, ammonia, and uric acid.
Being mobile can also come from doing different activities, if you only do one type of exercise for example swimming and cycling your body will adapt to this and will tighten in areas that are overworked or tensed up. Doing a range of different activities can help to keep your body moving well in all directions. Don’t be afraid to do exercise that encourages all types of body movement for example Yoga, Pilates, indoor Rock climbing, Jump (trampoline park), Martial arts, and Gymnastics.
From a personal experience of swimming for many years I was lucky enough not to have any swimming related injuries. I put this down to the Yoga and stretching sessions I would fit into my training weeks. One of the great All Blacks, Brad Thorn played professional Rugby and Rugby League for 22 years, two very physically demanding sports where he was still playing at the highest level at age 40. When Brad was asked how he does it he said his secret to longevity and preventing injury is yoga and flexibility training. So that your body doesn’t set like concrete as you age, always stretch and do yoga or anything to move and activate your joints and ligaments.