~By Scott Rabalais
The great ones make it look so easy.
Whether it’s a master pianist, dancer or swimmer, the top performers move with an apparent effortlessness that can be astounding. Consider the champion butterfly swimmer, who dolphins fluidly through each stroke, taking less than 20 strokes to reach the end of a 50-meter pool. The arms sail through the recovery; the head rises and dips in rhythmic fashion; the kick pats at the water’s surface and the hips roll above the surface and then disappear, much like a whale out a sea.
And yet, anyone who has ever swum a length of butterfly can attest that the stroke demands far more than appearances suggest.
When all of the numerable components of a swimming stroke are working together in harmony, there exists a state called "stroke flow." Stroke flow is a condition seen most often at elite competitions, such as the national championships or Olympic games. These are meetings of the masters of the sport, those who have usually devoted their lives to developing a stroke of perfection.
It is safe to say that any swimmer would aspire to the "stroke of champions," one which has both the appearance and the feeling of harmony and grace in the water. So how can you transform your stroke to one that others might label "perfect?" What steps can you take realize a swimming stroke nirvana?
When first taking piano lessons, the music student will first learn basic notes and scales. The components of a song are learned one note at a time, then combined to produce a full music piece. Likewise in the pool, the beginning swimmer will first isolate various skills such as breathing, kicking, pulling, and body position. Once the individual components of the stroke have been learned, the pieces of the stroke are assembled to create the full swimming stroke.
While learning swimming skills can be challenging for a beginning adult swimmer, perhaps the most difficult transformation for any swimmer is from one whom has mastered the basics to one who swims with stroke flow. If you are working on that transformation, here are a few suggestions that will help you swim like the best:
Practice Heightened Awareness
Swimming mastery involves developing a high degree of self-awareness in the water. Not only do the champion swimmers possess a strong kinesthetic sense, they are acutely aware of their unique physical traits. Within these swimmers is an enhanced ability to sense even the subtlest bodily movements and how these movements translate to propulsion in the water. While there may be hundreds of muscles working at any one time during the swimming stroke, the master has a strong intuitive sense that communicates how to integrate these movements most effectively.
While there are swimmers who seem to be more naturally aware of the body/water interaction, you can benefit your stroke by focusing on various physical components during swimming. For example, try swimming for five minutes with complete concentration on the hips and their motion trough the stroke. For another five minutes, focus only on the action of the feet. Rather than trying to make changes in your movement, just bring your full attention to that area so that you gain a greater sense of your movements.
Refine the Stroke Components
The majority of swimmers in coached programs use stroke drills to isolate components of the stroke that need refinement. Some stroke drills, when done properly, can "force" the swimmer to execute a facet of stroke technique properly. For example, a swimmer may show congruency in the breaststroke except for the timing of the breath. A drill that focuses on the interaction of the stroke and head position may easily produce a stroke correction, leading to a more refined stroke.
No two swimmers swim exactly alike. What feels natural to one swimmer may not be natural for another. Also, the human body is not designed symmetrically, both in shape and in the generation of power, so a swimmer who gains a sense of stroke flow may not always give the appearance of a "perfect" stroke.
Obtain Coaching Assistance
Swimmers receive stroke feedback both internally and externally. A swimmer who is overreaching in backstroke may feel a resulting lateral movement in the hips and subsequently make a correction. But self-perception can only take you so far, and your coach can serve as another set of eyes to evaluate your performance in the water. The effective coach one who can "wear your shoes" and make suggestions to improve your stroke based on what you are experiencing. It is the role of the coach to understand both your current and potential capabilities and bridge the gap between the two.
A great golfer was asked to describe the perfect golf swing. His answer? "One that is repeatable." In swimming as in golf, the top athletes are able to reproduce an effective stroke (or swing) time after time. Even a slight modification to a golf swing by a quarter-inch can have disastrous consequences. A similar change to a swimmer’s stroke can make a significant difference, given the considerable number of strokes taken by swimmers over most any distance.
Achieve Tranquility of Mind
The body will manifest the state of mind of the swimmer. A swimmers’ frantic mind will produce a physical stroke that is erratic, while a calm mind is one that allows for a harmonious and flowing stroke. In addition to practicing stroke technique drills, practice calming the mind while swimming. Experienced swimmers over time develop a mental calmness that does not interfere with the most natural physical execution of the stroke.
Take Your Time
Elite swimmers who have achieved "stroke flow" have usually earned such ability, often over many years and many, many miles of training. While the suggestions above can contribute to the development of stroke flow, spending hours in the water, day after day, seems to have its merits. All swimmers naturally and subconsciously adapt to the water during the hours of practice. While a fortunate few are born with a flowing stroke and display it at a young age, the vast majority of swimmers are not child prodigies. Hey, give it a couple of decades!
Scott Rabalais, fitness editor for SWIM, is a collegiate and Masters coach in Savannah, Ga. He serves as Vice President of USMS.
Well, at least how to nab a trophy for your mantel. As races dole out more prizes, and the Web makes it easier to scope out the competition, more amateurs are perfecting the art of finding the easy win.
Tracy Caulkins is the only swimmer ever, man or woman, to own American records in every stroke.
"Creativity is inventing, experimenting, growing, taking risks, breaking rules, making mistakes, and having fun."
~Mary Lou Cook
Following are the top 7 strangest search terms people searched for on various public search engines that resulted in a visit to dynoswim.com:
7. Used Speedos
6. Ice Hole Swimming
5. Floating Pool Lady
4. Camouflage Myself
3. Tarzan Portrayor
2. Butterfly that Flies Fast
And the top strangest search term people searched for on various public search engines that resulted in a visit to dynoswim.com is:
1. Thumbprint Artist
This training plan is written to prepare you for your first Ironman. While just a beginner’s plan, the hours per week start at a significant 8 hours.
~Written by Scott Herrick exclusively for Beginner Triathlete, LLC
2.4mile Swim | 112mile Bike | 26.2mile Run
This training plan is written to prepare you to finish your first Ironman. While it is just a beginner’s plan, the hours per week start at a significant 8 hours and quickly move up to 15-18. You should already be consistently training 8-10 hours per week before beginning and ideally you should have completed some Olympic distance races in the past season and a half Ironman race would be even better.
Swimming is a large part of your life. It's a large part of our lives too. Have you ever noticed how much you have in common with your fellow peer swimmers? Ever been to a party or meet a random somebody only to find out that that person is also a swimmer, just like you. You immediately share a bond and you probably swap a few stories about each other's swimming histories and backgrounds. Sometimes it becomes a night of swim talk. "Hey, did you know that so and so is a swimmer too?" "Gee, I remember when we..." And there it goes on and on, all those great stories about swim meets, swim parties, strange experiences so on and so forth.
(from January 22, 2007)
Johnny Weissmuller, the first to swim 100 meters in less than a minute, was a hero in real life too? He saved the lives of 11 people when an excursion boat capsized on lake Michigan. He also played the role of a hero in "reel life" - 'Tarzan the Ape Man' in the movie series based on Edgar Rice-Burrough's novel.
Donate to Joshua Usdavin's Swim Across the Sound Fundraising Page
On August 4th, 2007 I will be competing in the 20th Annual Swim Across the Sound 25km marathon swim for the 4th year in a row. A field of over 160 solo and relay swimmers participated in 2006 and raised approximately $250,000 for cancer prevention, education and support programs sponsored by the Swim. Last year our relay team fundraised over $7000 and finished in 1st place out of 31 relay teams. Swim officials are expecting an unprecedented crowd in 2007. Contributions received from Swim Across the Sound will be donated to secondary cancer prevention, with the endeavor of utilizing screening tests or examinations to detect early disease before they are clinically evident. Detection of the disease process in an early stage is essential for the purpose of initiating early intervention and improving long-term prognosis. Please consider donating to this crucial cause!
Please use the link below to donate online quickly & securely. You will receive email confirmation of your donation and I will be notified as soon as you make your donation. I thank you in advance for your support, and really appreciate your generosity!
Please forward this link to as many people as you can to encourage them to donate as well.
"A human being is a part of a whole, called by us 'universe', a part limited in time and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts and feelings as something separated from the rest - a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness. This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest to us. Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty."
This is a continuation of last week's "Name That Pool". It's the same pool, different view. If you've ever swam here, you know the facility. Just be the first to give us the proper name of the pool and it's location and we'll mail you a swim cap. Think! I know for a fact that quite a few members of the Dynoswim community have swum at this facility.
In the 1948 Olympics, the U.S. won every event in the swimming competition.
Despite losing her leg only a year after she just missed qualifying for the Olympics, South African swimmer Natalie du Toit still competes, still succeeds, and still dreams of one day taking part in an Olympic Games.
Judi Rich, Christine Bange, Joe Matuszczak, and Ashley Forte at the Lifestyle Realtors Beaches Fine Arts Sprint Triathlon this past June 9th. Check out the results.
Overheard via email:
...Christine and I were cutting it close getting there. Our wave was at the beach when we came jogging up to the start. I made my way to the front of the crowd (per Christine’s suggestion). I looked down at my HR monitor and it was at 133 before even starting. Then I hear, “Three seconds to go.” 134, 135..... I did everything I probably shouldn’t have done. It was an all out sprint for me. I overshot the 1st buoy by 15-20 meters. I didn’t want to get kicked in the face or bashed in the teeth. I’ve heard all the horror stories and seen the photos; I wanted to do well and make it out alive! As I was approaching the kayakers I realized I was out way to far and started angling back in closer towards the buoys. My bilateral breathing went out the window midway through the race. I passed men from the previous wave. Yay! I saw people coming to a complete stop to sight! I didn’t slow down to sight once. I did all my sighting while swimming because it was so calm there was no need to slow down or change strokes. When I got out of the water my HR was 174, the highest it was throughout the entire race. I raced this one girl to the transition area (I’m not even sure who got there first!). When I started on the bike, once I got into a groove, I slowed down a bit just to bring my HR back down and get my breathing back down from a pant.
When the results were posted and I saw 1st place on the swim leg, all I could do from jumping up and down was smile ear to ear and feel like I’ve conquered the world! “Sweet!!!”
I may not be a swim practice tonight. I’ll be at the track!!!
PS: And I even made it to swim practice Saturday!
Don't forget to refer back to our map from this time last year.
"I had found a kind of serenity, a new maturity... I didn't feel better or stronger than anyone else, but it seemed no longer important whether everyone loved me or not - more important now was for me to love them. Feeling that way turns your whole life around; living becomes the act of giving."
A look at what has made Michigan swimming and diving one of the most storied programs in the history of Big Ten women's athletics.
In the 25-year existence of women's athletics in the Big Ten Conference, no team has established success comparable to that of the University of Michigan swimming and diving team. One of the most dominating forces in the history of the Big Ten, the Michigan program swept 12 consecutive conference championships from 1987-98 under head coach Jim Richardson, while also earning 12 top-10 finishes at the NCAA Championships.
Whoever is first to name the pool and its location wins a Dynoswim swim cap!
~By Greg Parini, Head Coach / Charlie Griffiths, Assistant Coach - Denison University Granville, Ohio
Want to know one of the best-kept secrets in the NCAA?
It’s small college swimming.
Why swim at the Division III level? Simply put, the biggest advantage of NCAA Division III swimming is that the student-athlete has the opportunity to attend a Division III school. As an extension of the institution’s larger academic mission, swimming is most often fully integrated into the academic experience. Division III institutions are typically smaller colleges with small classes, which place a premium on academic achievement coupled with athletic and co-curricular successes. Because there is a cooperative relationship between the institution’s academic and athletic powers, the swimmer is fully integrated into the academic mainstream, thereby securing the integrity of her academic experience.
Americans Nancy Hogshead and Carrie Steinseifer registered the first official tie in Olympic history in the 100-meter freestyle at the 1984 Olympics. They each recorded a time of 55.92.
"Be thankful for the things that you don't get, that you don't want."
Dynoswimmers, Dean Osterloh and Judi Rich begin their morning ocean practice.
~By Judi Rich, Dynoswimmer
Last year I remember Dean talking about doing a “binge swim”. He had asked if it would be something I’d be interested in. I had never heard of a binge swim before and was very interested in learning more. He explained that it would be hard swimming 2-3x a day for a week straight. He said that while you were doing it, you’d probably ask yourself, “What have I gotten myself into? Why am I doing this? I must be totally crazy!” I remember thinking, "Am I ready for this?" (I had just recently returned to competitive swimming after 17 years away from the sport.
Dean further explained that binge swimming would make you totally exhausted and it would break you down. The theory is that over time, binge training, coupled with a consistent training regimen could help you to become a much stronger, faster swimmer. I thought to myself, I must be nuts but yes; I was open to try anything that would make me faster.
Unfortunately, we never had that opportunity last summer to have our binge training session since Dean left Florida to return to Connecticut for work related reasons. I thought I’d lost my chance to do something so crazy. But the opportunity re-emerged this year, and my doubts and fears returned - not that that ever stopped me before; I was willing to try.
When this year's opportunity arose, I immediately jumped at the chance. I mean I had already committed to swimming the 9-Mile Swim and hosting Emily while she was visiting Florida for her open-water training. It was later that I came to find out that it was going to be an all-out binge swim; I was psyched. Here’s my opportunity to do this binge swim thing that Dean had explained to me a year earlier and not only was it a binge swim - it was an open-water binge swim (for the most part). I couldn’t ask for anything better than that! I love open water swimming. I was in.
The first day of our training started off a little disappointing due to the rough conditions, however the pool practice was highly challenging. Thereafter, we drove back to the beach to try round two of our open water sessions. We did make it out past the breakers, like we had done that day's morning but it was still too rough to swim. We carefully made our way back to shore. Everyone made it back safely despite the ocean claiming two training fins and a pair of missing goggles.
It really didn’t hit me until later that day: how fortunate I was to grow up on the water. I never realized how in-tune I was with it. Yes, it was tough getting out through the ten-foot waves and yes, I was pushed under a few times, but nothing happened that really frightened me. And maybe that’s not such a good thing, having a fear of treacherous conditions is not all bad. But I’ve seen worse.
The waves in New Jersey on a normal day were almost like the conditions we were experiencing or at least, that was my perception! It’s been a long time since I’ve been swimming at the Jersey shore. In any event, I totally agreed with Dean’s decision to call off the swim. It wasn’t about me, it was about Emily and Emily had never really swam in the ocean, let alone during storm-like conditions.
Day two was much better. The waves were still quite large, the red flags were up and the rip currents still bad. However, that didn’t stop us from getting out past the breakers to the so-called calmer waters to begin our (typically 3-mile) swim. The waves were constant and they were high. As we swam, we’d be swimming up the rollers then back down again. It was quite the roller-coaster ride, something I happen to enjoy. But if you’re not used to this, I can see how it could make you sick. Here again, my childhood experiences of swimming in the ocean, the bay, and living on a boat for two summers had prepared me for the worst. Luckily, I never had to experience sea-sickness. I felt so badly for Emily, because I could see that she was feeling terribly ill. She was pale. She did an exceptional job though. Considering the conditions, it being her first time ocean swimming, and the fact that she was seasick, she stuck with it and swam.
The following week; weekend #2, Day 3 of the swim binge training session: The conditions hadn't gotten much better. All week the ocean was rough and we all heard the news about record lifeguard saves at the local beaches, not surprising that Dean called off the Saturday AM swim. By that afternoon though, after our pool practice, we were back to the beach for our 5th ocean swim. Dean was running one day late due to problems with his flight, so Scott was leading this practice. I emailed Scott to let him know that over the previous week Emily and I had gone to the beach to "play in the waves" (as Dean requested). During that time Emily was unfortunately slammed by a wave, tumbled and had gotten some sand rash on her shoulder. I knew she was shaken up. It shook me up too, but I had this happen to me thousands of times before, so it was no big deal. Luckily, the night before at our pool practice, Scott had done an intense open water practice. He told me to get Emily there a little early so he could go over a few more open water techniques with an added quick overview of the marine life in our area. All that week on the news, they had been talking about the man-of-war jellyfish washing up on shore and to “watch out!” Considering the fact that we swam near a pack of dolphins (scary seeing fins out there) the week before, I knew Emily was very skeptical about re-entering the ocean. Scott reassured her and she did get back into the ocean for our fifth ocean swim. This time she did much better. Not only did she not get sick, she was much more confident getting out through the breakers. Coming in, she did an awesome job.
5pm: same day, 6th ocean swim: Since our morning ocean swim was canceled, Dean had mentioned that we’d do a makeup swim. I checked my voicemail once we had walked back from the previous swim and sure enough, Dean’s flight was on time and he was on his way to the beach. We had only a short break between swims. Dean asked how things had gone and was ready to get into the water. We weren’t as anxious as he was, but were ready. He announced that we could use fins if we were tired although he preferred that we didn’t. I chose not to use them. By this time, the waves had picked up and it was getting choppier.
Dean was very happy with Emily’s progress as compared to the previous week. He said he was “pleasantly surprised” with her overall open water skills. She made it through the waves with no problems and seemed much more relaxed. As we swam back through the breakers after our swim, we were riding in some massive waves. As I look up, I see Scott (and Karen) riding a wave directly in front of and straight for me! I didn’t have anywhere to go but under water. They successfully rode the wave toward the shore over and on top of me. I could feel Scott, and the wave as they passed over me. Luckily I didn’t get kicked, smacked or crushed. What a trip! We then swam Emily and Karen back to shore after another successful swim. Dean, Dakin, Scott and I went back out past the breakers for a third time. After adding a bit more distance to our swim we decided to look for a massive wave like the one Scott and Karen rode in. We never found one quite like that, but we sure had fun anyway. Poor Scott had his little bout with the waves’ fury and got sand blasted to the bottom of the ocean. For the record, we would miss you, Scott.
By Saturday night, I was feeling tired. I knew that we still had four more practices to go and that Sunday morning’s swim was going to be the “long” one. Emily was asking me how much swimming I thought we’d be doing. I truly didn’t know although I had my suspicions. We were up 7am Sunday morning and at the beach by 8:20, ready to go. Dean had announced this was it. We’re doing the long swim.
I give Emily such credit. Here she flies into Florida, stays with people she doesn’t even know (my family and I), swims with people that she’s never met or swam with before, and is ready to get back into the water for the “long” ocean swim. During this one, Emily was veering out into the Atlantic (no lane lines in the ocean). So since I knew she was struggling to “get through” this swim, I told her that I would swim on her right and that she could use me as her lane line. Zig-zagging would only make the swim that much longer. After about the 10th time Emily apologized for bumping into me, I told her not to worry, don’t apologize - just swim. So Sheryl swam on her left side and I swam on her right side giving her the emotional support she needed at every break (which weren’t many). Meanwhile Dean's shouting, “I’m over here, guys. Over here!” This time I could tell she was determined to make it to HER goal: the water tower. Well, not only did she make it to the water tower, but beyond it. Four yellow houses past it! She went further than she ever thought she’d imagine. Sure, she was being pushed (by Dean) but she did it and did it well. I am so amazed at her ambition and determination. Way to go, Emily!
By this time, I was feeling great. As long as I was swimming I was fine. Between swim sessions, I would start to feel tired. So by round two, day two, of weekend two, I was ready to go. I just had to make it through this 2nd swim of the day then homeward bound for a nap before our last night out, another two practices and then finally the binge swim training session would be over. This particular swim though was awesome. Fin swimming in the ocean is a lot of fun. And when you’re tired, those fins really help.
Last day, Memorial Day morning ocean swim: This was it, the last ocean swim of our binge swimming. For this session it was: Dean, Doug, Emily, Dakin, Amy and me, paired together in that order, we were doing a little of everything this morning. Lots of drills: freestyle while counting strokes, breaststroke and backstroke. It was a more relaxed swim than the previous ocean swims and definitely the calmest out in the ocean. As we were swimming Amy asked, “Are you swimming fast?” I replied, “No, just swimming.” She was like, “Damn girlie, you got fast!” Doug and Dean both confirmed that I had picked up some speed. Yay!
Then came the last practice of our last day. This time we're in the pool. and Dean didn’t pity us at all. Warm-up was a 1650, non-stop swimming. It was a nice change though: fresh chlorine water. After being baked in the sun, covered in salt and sand, the pool was quite refreshing. Even though it was a tough practice, it was clear, it was cool, and it was fresh. Again, I was told that I was kicking ass (thanks, Amy). The 1650 was followed by stroke technique then followed by some relays. Yes, after all this swimming, we were asked to race! As the relays went on, those of us who swam every binge swim session got just a little tiny bit slower - I mean we were tired and worm out - but that’s OK, it was still fun!
So, you ask? Does binge swimming work? Well, time will tell. So far, not only have I noticed a difference in my speed, so have my teammates. Hopefully I will be able to retain and improve upon it. And never once did I ask myself, “Why am I doing this?” I actually enjoyed the entire experience!
~by Glenn Mills
If you're like many swimmers, you REALLY enjoy breathing to one side. Even though you're perfectly adept at breathing to both, when you get tired, you have a tendency of "leaning" to your favorite side for air.
Trouble is, if you're leaning too much to one side, you're probably not getting the proper pull with the other hand. This quick sequence of drills, or this progression, is a quick way to PROVE to yourself that you CAN rotate equally to both sides. It should also help you do that more frequently.