CrossFit Endurance Swimming: Body Alignment

By Chris Michelmore and Brian Nabeta

Video Article

Join CrossFit Endurance swimming coaches Brian Nabeta and Chris Michelmore at De Anza College in Cupertino, Calif., as they fine-tune swimming mechanics with their athletes.

In this video, Michelmore and Nabeta drill the floating position to develop a balanced body position for swimming.

“The first thing to realize when you are in water, your spine naturally wants to stay in line,” Michelmore says.

Through dead-man’s-float drills, the participants find their balance point by raising their arms, then legs. Once the legs and arms are raised in a face-down float, the body is streamlined and balanced.

“They’re not kicking to keep their legs up. Their core is doing that, and we talk a lot about that in CrossFit,” Michelmore points out after a demonstration. “Swimming is unbelievably along those parameters in that it starts in your core and then moves out.”

10min 15sec

Additional video: Bringing CrossFit to Collegiate Swimming by Chris Michelmore and Sage Hopkins, originally aired Aug. 27, 2010.

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6 Comments on “CrossFit Endurance Swimming: Body Alignment”


wrote …

It's great to see the Crossfit and swimming communities working together.
I don't know how many people within swimming have already bought in to Crossfit philosophy and training, but there is a group of us at Middlebury College that have been using it this season and getting great results.

Check out our training blog-


wrote …

Tyler, that's is awesome that you guys at Middlebury are applying Crossfit to swimming. I introduced it to chris and he has help blow this thing wide open. We are so excited about helping CFers to try something new and how to program it into their training.


wrote …

It certainly is great to see the correct swimming "stuff" being taught within the vehicle of

I think there are quite a few people in the swimming community who use crossfit as a resource. The way the Journal has expanded and improved over the last year or so makes it an undeniable resource. I know my swimming program benefits indirectly from crossfit in the sense that as the coach I am constantly on this site, watching as many videos as I can. I don't participate in the WOD's....but I use the site in every other way. The videos (demos) are a great way to learn new excercises. The Journal videos are all-encompassing and thorough -- last month I watched Kelly Starett talk through shoulder mobility and relearned that which I had forgotten, benefiting my current athletes in many ways. I like to watch "coaching styles" as well -- it's great to see Coach Burgener going through his warmup because he has such a succinct, effective style that I can attempt to mimick on a daily basis as a coach.

As far as swimming-specific info, this site is great for the beginner who is learning the basics of body alignment, as demonstrated in this video. Swimming is an "unnatural" activity for us land mammals, and so understanding bouyancy and the role of the lungs/core is essential to not only fast times in the pool, but water comfort -- which helps more people get in and attempt to swim, even if it's not the most natural thing for them.

I've got a blog as well, which I try to update as much as I can. My next subject will something relating to the BS idea of "burnout" that many parents, coaches, and athletes throw around.

Check it out at


wrote …

Paul, it is great that you look at the CF blog and journal. We've met in the past at Nationals through Bob. Have you been applying some of CF to some of your dryland or implementing it to any form of swimming workout? I know Chris Plumb at Carmel has been experimenting as well as several other clubs.


wrote …

Hey Brian! With our dryland program at T2 Aquatics (which is similar to the dryland we did at North Baltimore), my main goals are twofold: first, to maintain a healthy athlete; and two, to increase strength. While there are quite a few excercises we do that I've gotten directly from Crossfit (currently front-lever pullups, man-makers, and properly done squats to name a few)we don't do WODs and when in the weight room we really don't push it as far as many crossfiters push it. I've seen dryland/strength programs take quite a bit from the swimmers in terms of overall energy, and I'd rather our energy (high-intensity, crossfit-style energy) come out in our water training sets. I really like to watch athletes swim fast in practice, so the dryland/strngth program is simply a supplement to our actual swimming. I'm more into the shoulder stability videos (Kelly Starett's "shoulder warmup" is perfect for us - and I plan to implement it) than the WODs as it directly relates to my swimming athletes.

We have the crossfit mentality (highlighted also by the San Jose coaches in another video they did) -- in that we go hard often, perhaps more often than many (not all) will dare to go. Recently (the last 4-5 years) I've learned how to better coordinate mid-range (less intense) aerobic training into what I think is my normal program of hitting the athletes pretty hard many times per week. Many of my athletes train for IM, so we work different strokes on different days --it's easier to work'em hard multiple times per week because we're using many different muscle group patterns, and so we're resting part of our neuromuscluar system while we're working on another.

I like to think that my program is similar to a Crossfit program in that we are constantly balancing functional training with intensity and duration -- and trying to figure out what the athlete is going to be ready for tomorrow based of the work we are doing today, a likewise on a weekly, monthly, and yearly basis.


wrote …

Brian -
Is there a way I can contact you directly instead? I have a few cross fit and masters swimming questions I like to talk to you about.

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