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Swim into shape during pregnancy

25 October 2019

'Alise Selsmark
Alise Selsmark has been part of the F-Team since 2014

As a professional athlete, pregnancy can be an interesting journey. There is endless advice and information available about exercise and training during pregnancy, but this can often be daunting for new parents. We caught up with two athletes who have continued swimming throughout their pregnancy to gain insight into their experiences and how they have adapted their training for the past 9 months.

F-Teamer Alise Selsmark is a professional Australian triathlete who splits her time between sunny Noosa Heads and the high-altitude town of Boulder, Colorado in the United States. With a background as a competitive swimmer, Alise only entered her first triathlon at 28, and just 4 years later qualified to race as a professional. We caught up with Alise when she was 36 weeks pregnant.

What did your training week look like before you became pregnant?

A regular training week for me as a triathlete before pregnancy included around 20 - 25 hours per week. Each week is typically made up of 5 swim sessions (4 - 6kms), 5 bike sessions and 5 run sessions, plus added strength work in the gym.

What was the first thing you did when you found out you were pregnant?

When I found out I was pregnant the first thing I did was check in with my doctor to find out if there were any risks involved if I was to carry on training. He mentioned that women who have been fit and healthy prior to becoming pregnant can usually carry on with their current activity. Healthy women typically have fewer pregnancy complications, faster labour times and easier recovery after labour, so that was all the motivation I needed to carry on training!

Alise Selsmark
Daily training has been a mood booster for Alise completing 3-4 swim sessions per week in her third trimester

What was the first trimester like?

The first trimester can be particularly exhausting due to hormonal shifts, so I had to adjust some of my sessions and listen to my body even though I wasn't very far along. More rest days were definitely needed.

How has swimming helped your mood?

Swimming for me has been a huge mood booster. With all of the hormonal changes that occur during pregnancy, I have found that daily exercise provides some much-needed endorphin release to keep the pregnancy blues at bay. I enjoy the swimming more as it's not so weight bearing and it's been kinder to my body.

When did you make a change in your swimwear?

My Funkita two-piece became a life saver at around 19 weeks, as I was almost busting out of my favourite one piece. I found that the Funkita Hi Light swim tops have been amazingly supportive.

Hi Light Swim Top
Click here to shop Tomb Raider in Hi Light Swim Top

What does your weekly schedule currently look like?

Now that I'm well into the third trimester of pregnancy, my training weeks look very different. I set the goal to simply complete an hour of low-moderate intensity training each day, so around 7 hours total per week. A typical week currently includes 3 to 4 swim sessions, a 60min gentle interval session on the treadmill or spin bike, and a little bit of strength work. This will hopefully ensure a smooth transition back to professional racing next year.

Alise Selsmark
Alise has learnt to embrace the changes in her body and also have fun whilst on her journey

At what point did you notice a big change in the pool?

During my third trimester I noticed a huge change in my body and my swimming times. I'm currently swimming around 15 seconds slower per 100 metres than usual. You expend a lot of energy to grow a small human after all. Also carrying a big baby bump out in front of you means you are a lot less streamlined in the water. I joke to my squad mates that it feels a bit like being a submarine. I am still able to comfortably flip turn, although I have found that swimming butterfly and breaststroke is now fairly uncomfortable, so I've had to cut those strokes out for the most part. At the moment I?m loving my kickboard and pull buoy as they help make things feel easier.

Click here to shop Kickboards
Still Lagoon
Click here to shop Pull Buoys

Any top tips for other pregnant athletes?

Pregnancy can be an amazing and exciting time, but it can also be a very challenging time as you can't do what you're used to. My number one piece of advice would be to go with the flow and embrace the different stages and changes as much as you can. Listen to your body and adapt training as needed. This can be hard to accept, but it will definitely be worth it in the end.

UK based Alice Thomas is a qualified Level 3 personal trainer, swim teacher, triathlon coach and lover of all things swimming. Specialising in pre and post-natal fitness, Alice has shared her top tips for swimming during pregnancy.

Alice Thomas
Alice Thomas has been a long-time supporter of Funkita

Tip 1: Pick the right swimwear

As soon as my bump became too big I changed to a two piece. My belly started to outgrow a one piece and the costume started to feel tight around my shoulders and bump. I've switched to my Funkita Eco C-Infinity Panda two-piece and it was much more comfortable. I felt like I was embracing my bump and the growth of it!

Tip 2: Stay fit and healthy

Obviously, labour is a huge endurance event and as swimming is such a great cardio-based workout, it's probably the best type of exercise to do throughout pregnancy to prepare. Swimming is a low impact sport so it is easy on your joints and feels therapeutic to be in the water as your bump is almost weightless. I'm of course biased because I love to swim.

It's also important to work on upper back strength to help keep good posture as this is compromised during body changes in pregnancy. As a new mum if you're breastfeeding you will end up spending more time hunched over. Swimming freestyle will help build strength in your upper back muscles, whilst backstroke can help you open up your chest and keep your shoulders back.

Alice is all smiles taking her Rock Salt Funkitas to the pool

Tip 3: Modify training

Make sure you take more time to rest as pregnancy takes up a lot of energy. To help as I get tired, I alternate between wearing fins and using my pull buoy in my training to give me more support.

Whether you're a first time mum or want to try something new for your next pregnancy keep in mind it may take several trips to the pool to find a way that works for you. Celebrate this special time to enjoy, relax and go with the flow.

To get you prepared, take a look at some of our Funkita two-piece sets and toddler gear for when your little one arrives!

Sports Top and Brief
Click here to shop Palm Springs Sports Top
Toddler Swimwear
Click here to shop Toddler Swimwear

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