On Tuesday the 24th of October 2017 I had the privilege of presenting a lecture in Port Elizabeth. Growing up on a farm just outside of Port Elizabeth and visiting my family made this trip even more special.

Port Elizabeth draws thousands of athletes each year for the IRONMAN South Africa event and with the recent arrival of the first Certified Swim Smooth Coach in Africa, and more specifically South Africa, local physiotherapists where keen on brushing up on their knowledge of the (often) most challenging leg of the three disciplines, swimming.

It was an absolute pleasure to share my passion for, one, my profession and, two, the sport of swimming!

Addressing a group of physiotherapists in the Eastern Cape, we discussed Freestyle Swimming: Efficiency/Performance vs. Drag/Injury”.

As physiotherapists our vast medical knowledge coupled with hands on experience in identifying normal and abnormal postures and movement patterns on a daily basis enable us to also play a vital role in injury prevention and performance enhancement on the sports field (and even in the swimming pool!).

Revisiting the various posture types (and comparing them to some classic cartoons!), Kendall et al reminded us that each and every person is unique, presenting with their own set of anatomical deviations from the “ideal” posture. Over time these deviations may lead to pain and pathology.

In the same way the founders of Swim Smooth, Paul Newsome and Adam Young, presented the “ideal” stroke style by releasing the “Mr. Smooth” video animation in 2009 (see www.swimsmooth.com). Later, the “Miss Swinger” animation followed, emphasizing the vast differences in the two ideal stroke styles utilized by Olympic pool-based and elite open water swimmers. These “ideal” swimming postures and mechanics help facilitate swimming efficiently.

Paul’s wife, Michelle, also happens to be a physiotherapist in Perth, Australia, and her influence on developing this unique and extremely effective coaching system is evident, with specific regard to the cause and effect relationship.

When swimmers deviate from the ideal stroke styles they may present with inefficient postures and movement patterns predisposing them to excessive drag and various swimming related injuries. Discussing the various Swim Types (see www.swimtypes.com) in depth and showing video examples of each made it easy to see why so many swimmers struggle to show improvement and resolve swimming related injuries.

We then took a closer look at some of the most common stroke flaws and their resultant effect on the body’s mechanics. Identifying these can be a challenge but analyzing a swimmer’s stroke from a range of different angles, above and below the water, is sure to paint a clear picture of what may be holding the swimmer back in the water.

Moving on to some Top Tips, we discussed vital stretches and exercises specific to swimming which need to be included in the rehabilitation of any swimmer.

Our profession is truly something to be proud of and our involvement in the biomechanics of various sporting disciplines and final stage rehabilitation cannot be underestimated. I would like to encourage each and every physiotherapist to follow their specific interest and continue to develop their own passion, regardless of obstacles that might come along the way… no matter what field you choose, be passionate, be bold and never stop believing that you can make a difference! Swimming, and more specifically the biomechanics thereof, is my passion and this is a part of my story, what is yours?!

Special thanks to Lizette Louw for exposing me to our incredible profession and inspiring me to become a physiotherapist!

Lastly, during my visit I not only had the pleasure of attending an aqua therapy class (thank you Audrey Strydom!) with my mom but also had the opportunity to work with local swimmers, Karla Lokotsch and Rebecca Newman. Thank you both for your time and willingness to learn some new skills. Rebecca also attended our lecture and shared her experiences after conducting a bespoke Swim Smooth 1-2-1 Video Analysis & Stroke Correction Session at the Newton Park indoor pool. I wish the both many more efficient swimming miles!

A big thank you to the Eastern Cape AQPG for inviting me as guest speaker at the monthly EC SASP branch meeting! I truly enjoyed every moment of my trip.

I hope to visit PE again soon!


Jana Oosthuizen

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