Category: Swimming

Group Exercise Class Etiquette

The Seattle Athletic Clubs boasts over 50 group exercise classes a week! Have you tried one yet? As an instructor, I have a short list of suggestions that will make your and the instructor’s experience richer and safer.

  1. Introduce yourself to the instructor before class begins.
  2. Instructors will notice your presence in class, even if you sneak in and go straight to the back row! So, introduce yourself and inform him/her of any injuries you’re dealing with so he/she can be aware of your condition.
  3. Show up on time (means 5 minutes early to set up your equipment). Instructors build their class around a warm-up and a cool-down, and if you miss the warm up you may hurt yourself.
  4. Ask questions!       After class, approach the instructor to ask any questions about an exercise or concept you didn’t understand.       Instructors love to talk shop.
  5. And finally, give feedback! Whether a compliment or a suggestion, an instructor will want to know what you thought. Let his/her manager know what you thought as well because feedback (positive or negative) can only sharpen our awareness and hone our skills to make us better instructors.

We hope to see you in class!

Let Safe Adventures in Washington Boating Begin

The warmer summer months are almost here in Washington; which means there will be a lot of water activities that you and your family can enjoy. In order to ensure that everyone is a safe boater here are some guidelines from The Official Boating Handbook of the Washington State Parks and a list of the most frequently violated water laws:


REGISTRATION: All Personal Watercraft must be registered with the State of Washington and the operator must have available for inspection the vessel registration (similar to a car registration).


SPEEDING: Vessels are limited to a maximum speed of 7 nautical miles per hour (8mph): within 100 yards of any shoreline, pier, shore installation or restricted area in Lake Washington. Within 200 yards of any shoreline upon Puget Sound. Upon all the waters of Lake Union, Portage Bay, Union Bay and the Lake Washington Ship Canal from Shilshole Bay to Webster Point.


PERSONAL FLOATATION DEVICE (PFD): Operators and passengers must wear a U.S. Coast Guard approved personal flotation device or life vest.


VESSEL NUMBERING: All Personal Watercraft must have registration numbers, in contrasting colors, displayed on both sides of the forward section of the hull. (A yearly decal must be displayed in conjunction with the numbers).


AGE LIMITS: The operator of a Personal Watercraft must be at least 14 years of age. It is unlawful for a person to lease, hire or rent a Personal Watercraft to any person under 16 years of age.


FIRE EXTINGUISHER: Every Personal Watercraft must be equipped with a Fire Extinguisher (usually carried in a compartment at the rear of the machine).


NEGLIGENT OPERATION: Operating a vessel in a manner so as to endanger or likely endanger any person or property or operate at a rate of speed greater than will permit him/her to exercise reasonable care or control of the vessel. (Such as wake jumping too close to boats, speeding too close to other vessels, the shoreline, swimming beaches or launch ramps).


MUFFLER: It is unlawful to operate any engine on the waters of the city of Seattle without a muffler or silencer of sufficient size to prevent excessive or unusual noise from the exhaust of the engine.


HOURS OF OPERATION: Personal Watercraft may be operated from sunrise to sunset.

RULES OF THE ROAD: On Seattle waters, all vessels must comply with the International Rules for Preventing Collisions at Sea



  • Use protective equipment: Wear your PFD but also use eye protection, gloves and deck shoes. A wet suit will help protect against hypothermia.
  • Use care when wake jumping. Stay well clear of other vessels. Wake jumping produces a large percentage of the complaints of negligence directed at personal watercraft operators. It also accounts for a number of injuries incurred by personal watercraft operators.
  • Don’t Drink and Ride: Alcohol and drugs affect your judgment. The added affect of sun and physical exertion compounds the effects of alcohol and increases your risk of being involved in an accident.
  • Whistle: Carry a whistle for signaling and warning.
  • Tow Rope: Store a long rope in good condition on the vessel.
  • Lanyard: Wear the kill-switch safety Lanyard when operating your personal watercraft (PWC). The Lanyard attaches to the operator and the vessel to automatically shut off the engine if the operator is separated from the craft.
  • Take a boating safety course offered by organizations such as the Coast Guard Auxiliary or Power Squadron.



Irresponsible acts by a few operators and careless operation by new or uninformed riders and owners have resulted in numerous boating accidents throughout Washington State. Most of these accidents involve injuries and some have resulted in death. Accidents involving Personal Watercraft have almost doubled in the last few years.

Congratulations to the Aqua Dynamics Swim Team for a job well done at the PPST Pentathlon!

The challenge was daunting: swim a 50 or 100 of every stroke (butterfly, backstroke, breaststroke and freestyle) followed by a 100 or 200 IM. Not only did our swimmers have to swim every event well, they had to swim all events within a two and a half hour timeline. That’s only 20 minutes break between each event! This was one of the most physically challenging meets we’ve had to date, and the results were incredible!

9 Year Old Girls

Terese Palomino, 4th Place

Vivian Baker, 5th Place

Lilah Amon-Lucas, 6th Place in 50 Backstroke, 5th Place in Breaststroke

10 Year Old Boys

Max Hanley, 5th Place

11 Year Old Girls

Caroline Klewin, 7th in 100 Breaststroke, 7th in 100 Free

12 Year Old Boys

Donovan Blackham, 2nd Place

Ethan Cross, 3rd Place

Preston Palomino and James Fiorito, tied for 6th Place

12 Year Old Girls

Mia Hanley, 2nd Place

Sydney Thomson, 3rd Place

13 Year Old Girls

Kiya Smith, 5th Place

Junia Paulus, 6th Place

13 Year Old Boys

Seth Baker, 7th in 100 Fly, 100 Back, 100 Free

15 and Over Men

Theron Baker, 1st Place

Importance of Shoulder Roll

Swimming ability at the SAC is at quite a reasonable standard however with a few minor adjustments and basic tips you can improve your technique, endurance and timing drastically.

Today I will focus upon freestyle technique and how with a simple change you can improve not only your technique but also your personal well-being while swimming. One of the main problems when people swim this stroke is their body position and how they swim constantly on their front. This is an extremely static position and can cause excessive stress upon certain parts of your body.

A huge help would be to start or at least try swimming freestyle with a side – front – side rotation, or a body roll. This creates a shoulder roll movement which is extremely important for a variety of reasons:

1)      Less strain= as your shoulders have more movement and are not subject to all the strain from the arm pull, not only will your stroke feel looser but your body will after your swim. This will also help avoid nasty shoulder pain and poor posture.

2)      Larger pulls with less effort = as your body will stretch further automatically, you consequently have a larger reach but haven’t used any extra energy.

3)      Your body is more streamline = a more streamline body position is always desirable in swimming and by swimming on your side for half of the swim will result in not only a quicker swim but also a more efficient swim.

So how can you achieve all of this?

Drill -Kick Change

With your body you are going to roll side to side with each stroke

Start off on your side with your lower arm raised above your head, head resting on this arm and your upper arm down by your side (arms in a 6 o clock position)

You will then kick 12 times and then complete your arm pull by doing a normal stroke lifting the upper arm up and over. This is where you will roll to the other side now facing the opposite side of the pool, arms now switched along with the body

Repeat the 12 kicks and complete 40 yds (2 lengths or 1 lap) of this changing each 12 kicks

Now reduce the kicks to 10 kicks for 40yds, then 8 kicks for 40 yds, 6 kicks for 40yds and finally 4 kicks for 40yds. This is a 200 yd swim (10 lengths or 5 laps)

When you get down to 4 kicks the stroke will almost be at full stroke again however you will have a constant body roll with that stroke.

It’s relatively simple to practice this drill however it is hard to incorporate new techniques into your everyday stroke so thinking about this stroke while swimming is also very important.

Full stroke

You want to be switching the body with each stroke, giving you an extended reach, shoulder roll and a more streamlined body position,  however you need to keep you head still looking downwards while the body is rotating, until you need a breath.

Thanks for reading and hope this helps your techniques. I am often round the pool or in the pool so if you have any questions about this or anything else to do with swimming don’t hesitate to ask.

Learn to Swim Better by Learning to Share a Lane

Those of you who swim regularly are surely noticing that there are a lot more swimmers using the pool than ever before. Guess what, THAT’S A GOOD THING! Swimming is a great way to exercise and is such an important skill to have, especially here in the Puget Sound area.

Although more swimmers mean more congestion, which can be frustrating, there is a simple solution: Share your lane. Swim teams everywhere share lanes, regardless the pool size. A standard size pool of 25 yards x 6 (often narrow) lanes will accommodate very large swim teams with kids ranging in age from 6-18. Those kids learn to swim well in large part from the experience of sharing lanes. It is common during swim practice that six people will share a single lane, which translates to one swimmer every 8.33 yards in a single direction. It’s an opportunity: they get to learn timing, body position, spatial awareness and cadence, among other skills essential to good swimming and can only come from experience and practice. Swim Conditioning classes at Seattle Athletic Club cater to many members and they quickly learn to share a lane with at least one other swimmer.

Next time you come into the pool for solitary workout and that find that each lane is being used, please don’t just stand there and wait for a lane to open up; identify and swimmer whose speed matches yours, and ask if you can share the lane. Conversely, if you are the only person swimming in a lane and you notice people waiting to swim, be a good neighbor and invite them into your lane. Challenge yourself to do this—even if you feel like a novice—because the experience will help you get better! The better you become the harder and longer you will be able to swim and the more enjoyable it will be.

Finally, follow these easy steps for sharing a lane. If there are two of you in a lane, agree which side each of you will take and stay on that side of the black line. If there are three or more of you, begin to ‘circle swim’ or always stay on the right of the black line. If you are the fastest person in your lane, swimming slower and more aware of the others will help you with cadence and spatial awareness. If, on the other hand, you are one of the slower ones in the lane, swimming faster will challenge you to swim better and with more efficiency. Either way, these are all good skills to have.

Happy Laps!

Stay hydrated While Swimming.

When you swim, believe it or not, you sweat. It is important, as with any sport, to drink plenty of water; before during and after your workout. Don’t make the mistake of thinking just because I am in the water I am getting plenty of fluids. The water washes away the feeling of sweat thus the old thought of “I’m not sweating”. There are a lot of different types of hydration drinks. Avoid caffeine whileas its dehydrating affects will inhibit your performance, cause headaches and the ability to think clearly.


When you sweat your body loses important electrolytes and inhibits your performance. Remember to always bring hydration in a non-breakable container onto the pool deck!

Benefits of Water for Athletes

Beginning a swim program will help benefit your other athletic endeavors. Just like swimmers partake in dry land workouts to improve their bodies ability to swim better. If you have been a runner for the better part of your life the injuries you sustain can be worked out in the pool. You say but I want to run…how about running in the pool. There are devices that will help you float enough to keep your feet off of the pool floor. You can run from one end to the other. Give yourself different a certain amount of time to get to the other end. Do sprints like you would on a running track. Make the next set perhaps a bit easier then do another hard set. You will find the plantar fasciitis is no longer bothering you. The knee pain is less than it used to be. Now you can hit the pavement again, but don’t forget what helped you get better after all water is a benefit for all athletes.

Swimming Stronger

What is your favorite stroke? Do you always swim the same stroke? Do you swim freestyle aka crawl stroke for miles at a time? Do you think about building stamina?


For the most part when people swim they are swimming crawl stroke. People have said, “I can swim 3 miles and I am not winded”. Isn’t swimming one of those things that you can build to be better, stronger and faster? The answer is YES! Sometimes all it takes is to have a swim instructor look over your technique to provide pointers. The improvement may only be a slight, but can make a world of difference.


Do you want to be faster? Change your swim training up!  Instead of swimming for 30 minutes continues, incorporate, some sprints or slight speed changes. Or break up the swim to include rest periods, allowing you to focus on technique and/or pacing.


Another way to boost your speed and strength is to find a masters swim program (known as swim conditioning at the Seattle Athletic Club) with a coach and other swimmers to push you and switch things up! It’s amazing what a little competitive edge will do to help your swimming. And always…keep it FUN!


Land/Water Swimming Circuit


Below is a workout that I enjoy because it involves swimming along with calisthenics and plyometrics. These are two of my favorite things to do when exercising and you can combine them together into one circuit workout. If you cannot decide between the pool and the weight room, try this exercise and get them both done at once.


Warm up:

120 swim


Main Set:

40 sprint (free)

10 push ups

40 sprint (your choice: fly, back, breast, or free)

10 dips (chair or floor)


Rest for 1 minute and repeat 2-3 times


40 sprint (kick)

10 jump squats or squats

40 sprint (Kick of choice: fly, back, breast, or free)

10 lunges on each leg


Rest for 1 minute and repeat 2-3 times


Cool Down:

120 swim



There are many different variations and ways to do an exercise like this. If you enjoy it please let me know. If you have any questions or would like a different workout version contact Amber Gruger at