Video Article

Chris Michelmore is a busy man. Not only is he the head coach at CrossFit Moxie in San Jose, Calif., but he also works as the San Jose State women’s swimming and diving assistant coach and the De Anza Cupertino Aquatics assistant national team coach. Beyond coaching, Michelmore made it to the Southwest Regional this year, finishing 29th overall.

In the first installment of Swim Tips for CrossFitters, Michelmore takes us through the importance of reaching, neck position and proper breathing techniques.

Break out the Speedo and give these basic tips a try next time you’re in the pool.

6min 02sec

Additional reading: Pukie at the Pool by Roy Wallack and Brian Nabeta, published April 18, 2009.



24 Comments on “Swim Tips for CrossFitters: Part 1”


wrote …

One of the most beautiful things in sport is watching a strong, efficient swimmer cruise effortlessly through the water.

Is there a pool at the new CFG venue?


wrote …

Man! The tips for xfit swimmers couln't come at a better time. I'm about to do my first triathlon and need all the tips I can get!


wrote …

Mmmm cycling WOD on mainsite, and now this. Hints at possible endurance events at the games? Sprint triathlon?


wrote …

The CrossFit Journal never ceases to amaze me. Such a varied supply of information to build a well rounded athlete. I learned more about swimming in six minutes of video than I have in 39 years. I thank all of those who make this information available to us.


Justin Riley wrote …

Great video Chris! Awesome to see you in the journal. Kinda makes me want to go swim. (Nabeta, don't be gettin' any ideas here) And right now I am hoping that they haven't constructed a pool for the Affiliate Games, that would be embarrassing.


wrote …

Haha thanks Justin! It would definitely be interesting to see a pool at the Home Depot Center, it would shake a few people to say the least. Not sure I'd want to see all those speedos though. Now go get in the pool!


wrote …

Fernando I agree with you! Great video packed full of tips you can implement in the pool on the very next visit. Really useful to hear you speak about the spine in that way as well Chris, I saw a video recently where the instruction was to accentuate the lumbar curve, which I thought was suspect at the time. As a triathlete desperate to improve my swim times this was just perfect, Thank you!!


wrote …

In the next part can we expect some talk about high elbows lead arm trail arm, finger tip drag drills, etc? Other stuff to make you longer (so to speak) in the water.


wrote …

Great remarks. I swam in college and have coached forever. Body position and lengthening of the reach are the two most critical points to correct in swimming. On a side note, what is up with all those flies swarming around? :)


wrote …

Great video. I would love some follow up on stretching/strengthening the cervical spine. my neck and upper traps get very tight from Crossfitting and impedes my swimming form. any ideas/thoughts/suggestions would be helpful. thanks for some great tips.


wrote …

Excellent topic, very well presented... looking forward to more.


replied to comment from Carl Helstrom

Carl, as hard as it might be to explain/understand via the comments, try lying on the ground on your back and getting every part of your spine from your tailbone to your shoulder blades to touch the ground (especially the small of your back). This means you have to really have to have a tight, flexed core, keep your ribs sucked in and belly button pressing towards the ground. Then try to extend your neck and get it as long as possible. You can progress this to a streamline position only as far as you can without letting any part of your spine lift off the ground. If you do it right you should realize just how flexed and involved your abs need to be, as well as your hips and butt (sound like any other crossfit movements?).

Does this help?


wrote …

Chris. wow, thanks for the quick reply and good suggestions. I will start practicing tonight. I appreciate your help very much. Carl


wrote …

Maybe this will appear at the Crossfit 2010 Games? An Odyssey Custom Made PORTABLE Pool, 80ft x 130ft, 60in deep, costing ~ $40K.

In keeping with fitness including whatever comes out of the hopper: how about swim length of a 130-foot pool, L-rope climb from pool, swing to next rope, L-rope climb down, Fran, sprint 130-feet to pool beginning, repeat.

Think it impossible to put in a pool at Home Depot Center? 3-2-1 Go it can be done!!! Look at the photos at the Odyssey Custom Portable Pools website ... ... it would fit in the parking lot.


wrote …

Chris, great tips. I started doing triathlons last year, sprint distance. I found the only way for me to swim the longer distance was to breathe every time I turned to my left, otherwise I was exhausted when I tried breathing every three. I learned to swim at the start of last year, so not yet 100% comfortable in the water. Started Crossfit aprox. 1 month ago and typical heart rate when swimming lenghts in the pool is 150bpm. So, my question would be have you transitioned someone from where I'am now to breathing every three and what would your reccomendations be for a 48yr. old newbie wanting to do an olympic distance this year?


replied to comment from Ted Johnson


To be perfectly honest you're probably more than fine staying with breathing every 2 (every time to the left) especially if you're doing open water if it's helping to keep you relaxed. I have dealt with plenty of people transitioning to "balanced breathing". One tactic is to do what's called "2-2" breathing. This is where you breath twice on your left, then after three strokes breathe twice on your right. It's a simple enough transition and is actually preferred in most of my swimmers.

However, more than forcing breathing on both sides it would also be beneficial to work on your efficiency and keeping your heartrate down. I believe the other videos will have some of my stuff about stroke counting during pool workouts, but basically, focus on counting your strokes each lap and lowering the count without raising your heartrate.

I hope this wasn't confusing and it actually helps!

Good luck!



wrote …

Chris, thanks for the reply. Not confusing at all!
Looking forward to your next video!



Austin @Unlimited wrote …

Chris, Thanks for this nugget! You are a class act and it's great to see you on a journal video. Keep doing what you're doing brother.


wrote …

So exciting to see more swimming in the crossfit world! I was lost at the end of my college swim career but luckliy crossfit found me :)

Ive been working with a couple of gym mates one-on-one in the pool. Ive been using a kickboard out in front, along with one arm drills with the board, just to help them learn how to control the breating and not try to rush through the rotation. You think this is a bad idea?


wrote …

Great tips. I got a lot of similar stuff from Terry Laughlin from Total Immersion, which was VERY helpful in improving my swimming efficiency. Military operators prepping for combat dive or other swimming-intensive training typically start with Total Immersion techniques.

Thanks, Chris. Looking forward to your next video(s). And hoping CF catches on to the great benefits of this sport.


wrote …

Great to see the journal continuing on the "swimming for crossfit" thread.

For those interested in a truly amphibious CrossFit experience - check out the various rescue events at surf life-saving championships (national and international).


wrote …

Great post, I agree I learned more on swimming efficiently in 6 minutes than I did in the last couple of years. Counting the number of strokes for time and decreasing both makes so much sense in a crossfit point of view.

I do have question and this relates to Carl's question about getting tightness in the shoulders when doing crossfit workouts. I feel like when I do heavy lifting CF workouts I become a little more unflexible maybe due to the load (maybe i'm doing something wrong). Do you scale down the weights for your students (body weight only) as not to end up beefing up and causing inefficiency in the water? I swim and surf a lot but feel like sometimes the heavy lifting of CF does impede my stroke and range of motion so my technique suffers. What am I doing wrong?

Thank you for the tips.

Beginner Crossfitter, JV


wrote …

excellent tips but breathing on every side for odd numbers like he said 3,5,7 is breathing to one side. Great tips though


wrote …

excellent tips but breathing on every side for odd numbers like he said 3,5,7 is breathing to one side. Great tips though

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