Pilates for Swimmers




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Published May 8, 2016

What do Olympic swimmers Libby Trickett, Eamon Sullivan, and Geoff Huegill all have in common? Well apart from the obvious, they have all incorporated Pilates into their training.

What do Olympic swimmers Libby Trickett, Eamon Sullivan, and Geoff Huegill all have in common? Well apart from the obvious, they have all incorporated Pilates into their training.

Another former Elite swimmer, Leanne Wright, is training with us at PilatesCan as a Pilates Instructor at both our Woden and Manuka Pilates Studios here in Canberra whilst also in the process of completing her third year in Physiotherapy at the University of Canberra. Leanne was formerly on Swim scholarship at the AIS here in Canberra and knows first-hand what Pilates can do for swimmers to help fix shoulder injuries. Leanne’s Pilates prehab for and recovery from recent shoulder surgery has been very effective indeed.


“Late last year, I had shoulder surgery for an injury I had acquired while swimming. Pilates has really helped me with my rehab, while I have been training to become an instructor. I have been doing 1-2 Pilates sessions each week and have been amazed at the results and how quickly my shoulder has recovered from surgery and become strong again. The last few months I have been getting back into swimming, with absolutely no pain at all and am strong enough again to do several Kms a session.”


While swimming is an exercise that intensively trains the whole body, studies have shown that 90% of the forward propulsive power required comes from the upper body. This places the shoulders under increasing strain especially as swimming focuses on the outside musculature rather than the deep stabilizing muscles that support and control the joints.

This is where Pilates comes in as, in order to give an optimal performance, swimmers need to have a strong and stable core, and Pilates focuses on the muscles that will give them just that. Some of the benefits of incorporating Pilates into swimming training are:

  • Builds core strength
  • Restores natural posture through the practice of controlled functional movements thus creating better balance in water
  • Increases stamina and endurance through proper breathing techniques
  • Improves flexibility in shoulders, arms, legs and hips
  • Prevents injury through strengthening the inner support system and avoiding overload and fatigue on muscles and joints

If you are interested in improving your swimming, please contact us at PilatesCan.

About the author 

Claire Gunther is a PAA Principal Level Pilates Instructor with over 20 years and 20k+ hours of professional Pilates delivery experience.


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