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Staff Sgt. Shawn Hope, with the Marine Corps Communication-Electronics School, dives into the Training Tank to act as a drowning victim for his test partner during the culmination of a recent Water Survival Advanced Course Aug. 19, 2011,::r::::n::

Photo by Sgt. Heather Golden

Swimming a functional workout alternative

2 Sep 2011 | Sgt. Heather Golden

“Yellow bell peppers.”

That’s how a conversation with a few recent Water Survival Advanced Course graduates began.

We were talking about using the pool for physical training. Specifically, we started off talking about how to tailor a diet for peak performance in the pool.

“Bananas, mushrooms, rice, chicken” followed soon after in their list of effective foods. Hydration is also key.

“You’re using your entire body,” said Gunnery Sgt. Michael Moynagh, the aquatic staff noncommissioned officer in charge at the Combat Center’s Training Tank. “This gives you the extra fuel without burning off as fast. Bell peppers have more than one hundred times more potassium than a banana. This is the fuel your muscles run off of in the water. It keeps you from cramping.”

Swimming is one of the few truly full body workouts that anybody can do, said Moynagh, also a Marine Combat Instructor of Water Survival. And that is where its true worth as part of a weekly training regimen lies.

It’s a low impact routine that’s easy on joints, but tough on endurance and cardio. Chances of injury are also greatly reduced.

“On land, I run a 300 [physical fitness test], but I plateaued,” said Cpl. Zachary Givens, a squad leader with Company E, 2nd Battalion, 7th Marine Regiment. “This week [during the WSA course], my body fat was down and my cardio went up.”

Givens completed the WSA course last week.

When it comes to dropping weight in a healthy manner, it’s hard to beat the results you see from swimming laps.

“You burn a lot more calories in the water just because you’re working all your muscle groups at the same time,” said Moynagh. “You work arms, shoulders and back, along with a lot of core.”

“I’d go to the sauna. I’d run. I’d do everything to keep weight down,” said Cpl. John Keeling, a radio technician with the Marine Corps Communication-Electronics School. “This way I can keep myself hydrated and still lose weight, all while improving my fitness.”

Keeling also completed the WSA course last week.

You can get the most out of your time in the pool by using proper body position for each of the different strokes.

“Body position is everything in swimming,” said Moynagh. “If you’re not positioned properly, you’ll wear out faster because you’re using more energy for the same distance. This way, you’re utilizing your body how it is meant to be in the water instead of just splashing around.”

Time in the pool isn’t time spent away from training for a fitness test, either. Benefits gained in the water affects how your body performs on land.

“Cardio in the water translates into better cardio running,” said Moynagh. “This is a core exercise, and a lot of running is about core, too. Arms, shoulders, utilizing your back – these are the same things you use for pull-ups. You’re getting this workout without even realizing it.”

 The Olympic-sized Training Tank pool is open for schedule unit training, and open and lap swim. Call 830-6212 for more information about water-based fitness or the different exercise programs offered.

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