Dive into the unknown: Swimmers worry about toll of being out of training pools

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Written by Shivani Naik
| Mumbai |

Updated: July 18, 2020 10:37:46 pm





Swimming Backstroker Srihari Nataraj has a nagging thought of ‘losing his feel’ for the water.

This rust gathers from lack of water: it’s the rustiness of the deconditioned swimmer, when away from training pools. The Covid-19 pandemic has left India’s prime swimmers out of the pool for 4 months now, and they’re anxious about the toll that is taking up their competitiveness.

Srihari Nataraj, India’s greatest backstroker, is taken into account to have what’s swimming’s greatest ‘catch’ on this half of the world. In the catch-and-pull approach, the elbows and forearms transfer at fine-tuned particular angles and the swimmer forces his wrist and palm outward and downward to scoop off water for maximising energy output. His catch is Srihari’s innate aggressive edge, one thing he hopes has stayed sharp by this bone-dry lull.

When the 19-year-old returns to the pool with the nagging thought of ‘losing his feel’ for the water, it’s this ‘catch’ that he dreads not being capable of summon. “Think of water as a solid surface and the hand striking this solid surface. When we swim, we catch water with our palms. That’s the natural feel of water. I wonder when I return to the water, if the wrist/palm will catch enough water,” Srihari says.

There’s a clamour to return to the pool a minimum of for these aiming for the Tokyo Olympics. But being restricted to dry training results in a bunch of niggling ideas that don’t have any treatment on land. “I’d thought of buying a big tub to swim in when I went to pick some fitness gear,” Srihari says, not joking in any respect. “But it won’t be deep enough and I have long arms. No, (it) wouldn’t work,” he provides with a resigned cluck.

The Bengaluru lad — India’s greatest wager internationally proper now — began swimming when he turned two. “I’ve been swimming all my life. So the biggest thing I miss in lockdown is the smell of chlorine on me!” he provides. He should’ve been 15-16 when he first realised his present. “A senior of mine, a backstroker, told me I had a very good catch. I would struggle at my start, but could make up speed because of the catch,” Srihari remembers.

Influential coach Nihar Amin, who trains a bunch of prime swimmers at the Dravid Padukone centre in Bengaluru, is anxious about the loss of apply for this lengthy. “Your bones need to have that porous quality to swim well. Heavy land work can make bones dense and they lose buoyancy on water,” he says.

At greatest, swimmers might be put by some belly work on the athletics monitor. Amin roars his disapproval at swimmers being leashed to land and never allowed a splash.

“The transition of training from land to water is minimal in swimming. Eighty per cent of agility work in badminton will be identical to what you’d do on the court. Swimming, it’s not even 15-20 per cent.”

Deconditioning in a swimmer’s physique when away from water could be very obtrusive. Dr Nikhil Latey, who works on movement evaluation with worldwide athletes, says, “It’s like when someone working on laptops suddenly returns to pen and paper. The fingers will be rusty, handwriting will be shaky. (Similarly) the coordination of arms will suddenly be lacking in pathways for the swimmer,” Latey explains.

He talks of different elements of deconditioning – the lulling of the stimulus. “Muscle memory tends to reduce so the movement of the body in the water is not the same as it used to be. Muscles start working inefficiently causing early fatigue. The normal adrenaline rush that accompanies competitive swimming is dulled,” Latey says.

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Also, when elite swimmers are in prime form, the cardio respiration system (used when operating at a gentle tempo) aids the anaerobic respiration (explosive, high-intensity swimming). But in the first few days, after training resumes, swimmers might be respiration solely anaerobically, with extra lactic acid fashioned. “The aerobic/anaerobic capacity split, adaptations and skills, the load and stimulus are totally different in land training. You just can’t swim on land!” Amin provides.

Trying to maneuver the physique in a fluid can’t be replicated by leaping off land the place gravity comes into play. “Being suspended and moving the body in a dense medium is a skillset entirely different from lifting weights,” the coach says.

Indians sometimes prepare for 40-60 km in the water every week and 2-Three hours of bodily conditioning day by day is not any match.

Advait Page, the 800 & 1500 m freestyle swimmer, returned from the US in March and has caught to his dry land drills. “I replicate a normal swim day, two workouts at same time slots. Running, stationary bike for endurance, yoga, meditation,” he says. The swim bench (a contraption that simulates the arm work mendacity flat on the bench with resistance bands strapped up) is the closest one can get to swim drills on dry land.

“But I know I’ll lose that touch of water at the start – something that swimmers hate to lose: that feel of water. It’ll be weird when we resume as moving in water won’t feel so effortless,” Page says, stranded in Indore.

Though the prime swimmers aren’t sweating about gaining weight, Page says the swimmer’s angular physique can lose its sharpness. “The muscles might lose shape,” he says.

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Srihari struggled first up earlier than realising he simply wanted to concentrate on muscle elasticity to remain pool-ready at any time when the waters opened up. “First two weeks, I ended up eating a lot of calories so I had to control that,” he says. Swimmers are in the behavior of gorging on immense energy – all of which they burn out simply in the pool. “When you train, you eat huge amounts of food. So the body requirement and adjusting took time. I’m lucky to have a fast metabolism. But I’m down from my 6-7 meals a day,” he says, having stepped out simply as soon as in three months. Land training for swimmers is actually sustaining energy. “It’s keeping endurance so I know I can run 10-15 kms. I just have to make sure my muscles have the speed for high endurance workouts.”

Latey stresses it may take as much as two months for the physique to answer training, to ease out of the stiffened muscular tissues and shirk off the degraded motion sample of the torso and limbs. With 60 per cent fewer energy, Srihari has leaned down fairly a bit. More repetitions reasonably than any heavy-duty muscle bulking had been known as for. “I’m not worried for my water speed. Two weeks to a month will make up for that. The big challenge is that emptiness because I’ve been in the water for four hours daily every day since I was 12,” he rues.

On his 50m backstroke, the place he bests at 25.50 seconds, Srihari reckons he’ll be alright if he begins at 29 seconds on resumption. “It’s just that I hope I don’t lose that feel for the water,” he stresses. In the catch, lies the catch: the swimmer’s underwater propellor he hopes hasn’t gone too rusty to restart.

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