The swim through splits (not sure where this term originates, I may have made it up but I don’t think so), are a beautiful transitional movement requiring advanced hip flexibility, strength, and control. I love this transition which can quickly and dramatically take you from sitting on your rump to laying on your belly and, with a little more effort, back again.
Below please enjoy a tutorial that breaks this movement down into stages, demonstrating the swim through both with and without assistance from the arms.
I only recommend this tutorial to folks who already have an established practice of hip stretching and strengthening and are close to 180 degrees on both straddle and middle splits. I have seen this transition used as a training tool for folks who are still far off the ground in middle splits and I’ll be honest that it isn’t my favorite. I feel that it can put too much pressure on the hips and, without adequate control, its a bit risky for my taste.
If you are still working on getting those deep straddle and middle splits, check out our free splits workouts on YouTube or full-length workouts on the Fit & Bendy Video Club Membership.
For those of you ready to tackle swim throughs, my recommendation is to start with the straddle slides and the no-hands leaning forward to pancake. These two movements build strength in the external rotators (piriformis and friends), outside butt (gluteus medius and minimus), and upstairs butt/lower back (upper gluteus maximus and spinal extensors) that you will need to successfully execute the full movement.
The most common misadventure I see in learning this movement is to heave your hips up and over to transition into the middle split. If this is you, continue to build that active flexibility in your hips with side leg lifts in a tucked position. The goal here (which I admit I do not execute to perfection in this tutorial but am continuing to work towards) is to be able to do the entire movement without lifting the pelvis off the floor at all.
As always, enjoy the process and many happy bendings!