Don't Underestimate the Importance of Mobility
It is said that Michael Phelps size-14 feet can bend 15 degrees farther at the ankle than most other swimmers, effectively turning his feet into flippers. That may or may not be true, but without a doubt creating ankle mobility & flexibility is an advantage. Why?
It allows greater range of motion, which creates optimal body position.
Proper body position allows better rotation in the water,
Better flexibility increases the ability to lengthen muscle groups which will increase the amount of force that You can produce per stroke, which makes swimmers stronger in the water and decrease drag.
Exercises To Increase Ankle Strength
Swimming increases plantar flexibility due to years of kicking freestyle or dolphin kick and improves blood circulation to all the lower extremities. Increased flexibility means that you are pushing more water backwards instead of kicking it down. Among top tier swimmers there is a direct correlation with flexibility and kicking speed.
Remember Fast Kickers Have Flexible Ankles!
No matter what, your feet and ankles will inevitably be subjected to pressure and strain. Ankle or foot injuries are the most common sports related injuries to athletes. Try these exercises to increase swimmer ankle strength and improve flexibility.
Band Point and Flex
Slowly point and flex the toe against the band. Keep the
movements slow through each transition. Focus on ankle stability.
Strengthening the shin muscle helps reduce
risk of ankle and tendon injury.
Negative Calf Raises
Help Prevent Achilles Tendinitis. Stand on a step with your toes on the edge and your heels hanging off. Push up with both feet into a calf raise. Left one leg off the step, and lower your other leg so that your heel drops below the step.
An active exercise and strength-builder, walking lunges
not only help improve weak ankles, but they help with balance, too.
Ankle Pump Up & Down
The ankle pump up is similar to the towel tug in that it stretches the calf muscles and increases ankle dorsiflexion. Pull your foot up like you are trying to bring your toes to your shin. The ankle pump helps increase ankle plantarflexion.