~By Nico Messer
As coaching starts to become my primary responsibility at the pool, I realize there are five important things to keep in mind doing this job. However, these five points can apply no matter where you are in your coaching career. Although I wrote this post with the goal of sharing some of my experiences and help swim coaches, I realize that this information can also help athletes as well.
After all, at the end of their careers, many swimmers end up coaching themselves to a large extent. So no matter if you're just starting out in your coaching career or have been on deck...
Read on at the Race Club
Seven tips to improve your swim stroke in time for your next triathlon.
~By Sara McLarty
When you're really hungry and you don't have a lot of money, you go for the value meal. Whether it's a sandwich, a side salad and a drink or whatever, the value meal usually gives you the most calories for the least amount of money.
An oddly similar phenomenon happens during swim training as well: You are hungry for improvement in your swimming yet have a limited budget of time and knowledge to spend on it. It's a sad reality, but most triathletes just don't have the time or money to invest in a good swim coach to watch and correct their strokes. Sometimes the closest thing to a coach available is a spouse, training partner or lane-mate who may share a piece of advice during practice. Athletes training solo can glance over at the faster swimmers and try to mimic their smooth strokes or, as a last resort, one can utilize swim tips from a world-class swimmer in a triathlon magazine
Read on at Triathlete Magazine
~By Keith Strange
Athletes are not the only people suffering from chronic shoulder pain. In today's active society anyone can injure a shoulder simply by moving the wrong way or having weak muscles supporting the shoulder. Simple day-o-day activities like gardening or housework can cause shoulder injuries. You can minimize the chance of hurting this critical muscle group by exercising the muscles of the rotator cuff three times a week.
Read on at Livestrong.com
To a coach the clock is practically an assistant on deck. A swim coach lives and breathes by the time. Splits, intervals, bathroom breaks...everything is measured by the clock.
To the swimmer, the clock is either a best friend or worst enemy. A swimmer already has to do so much math in their head for splits, stroke counts, pulse rates, etc....coaches are not making it any easier.
Read on at Swimwestside.com
~By Nate McBride
As discussed previously, Stages 1-5 are part of the same "group" meaning they should be done together, in order. I would recommend doing them every day at least twice through before you begin the remaining stages. It helps to reinforce the concepts and gets your body attuned to the motions it will need to perform.
The remaining stages, 6-9, each encompass multiple steps but each stands alone as a stage and can be done any time without needing to do any of the other stages. Frequently, we will do fly drills that focus on one particular stage and then put it into practice. For the sake of this discussion however, I have put them in order of progression meaning you should learn stage 6 before you learn stage 7 and so on...
~By Nate McBride
Several years ago I was in desperate need of finding a way to teach butterfly to adult swimmers...from scratch. Adult swimmers who, over the years, had lost ankle flexibility, core strength and rhythm. There wasn't much I could do about the first two except for dryland work whenever I could fit it in and ankle flexibility exercises that I was able to recommend to them. And well...rhythm...you either have it or you don't. If you don't, it's a constant struggle to do fly well but you can get there. These swimmers had been hounding me to teach them and I myself was getting more and more frustrated by the fact that I could not give them fly sets in workout. What to do what to do....I kept coming back to the possibility that I could teach them the same way I had taught my age groupers but then always rejected the idea because of the silliness/simplicity of those drills. Eventually though, desperation gave way to having no other choice. The results astounded me.
~By Jay Swift
Dedication, determination, and singularity of focus define what it means to be an endurance athlete, a definition that is the mirror image of a CrossFit athlete. As a coach and athlete who trains and competes in both the CrossFit and endurance realms I see the similarity as uncanny. Yet the question still remains. Why is it so difficult to convince the endurance community that training with intensity is the answer? It is fear of the unknown and the change such a shift in thinking will cause to the endurance community. Most importantly the Ironman community, whose books, videos, coach's, and training camps preach long slow distance training as the canon of endurance racing. Yet there is a schism taking place and some are proving there is another road to be traveled.
~By Nate McBride, West Side Swim Club
Now that our new season has started, many of our new swimmers are being introduced to what I consider one of the best dryland exercises you can do. Boxing.
About three years ago or so, I implemented boxing into my training program with specific swimmers (e.g. swimmers who had developed good upper body strength). I had long been considering the benefits of adding to my dryland program a group of exercises that did not require any weights or mats and only the simplest of equipment and that could be done in a tight space and a short amount of time but would get the swimmer's heart rate through the roof and work both the front and back of their upper body as a whole unit. We had been using plyometric-based routines for sometime to accomplish this but plyometric work does not get the heart rate going at the level I wanted it at. So my goal was to find something that would work given limited time to get the result and limited space.
It had happened that about the same time I had seen a Pacquiao special on HBO as he was preparing for one of his fights. Manny Pacquiao is truly one of those athletes that has it all. Speed undreamed of and agility to go with it. In any event, in this particular HBO special, his trainer Freddie Roach was discussing how important his hip to arm speed and balance was. That got me thinking that one of the things I am always ranting about on deck is the rotation of the hips to shoulders and the balance that has to be maintained. In that same episode, Freddie spoke about how when he watches Manny spar with partners, he is always watching to ensure that balance is maintained between the rotation of the hips, the speed of the punch and the extension. Watching this it occurred to me that he is putting his hip into his shoulder rotation AND that his punching extension was no different than a swimmer's extension with the exception of the final impact. He was almost swimming standing up.
~By Nate McBride
At West Side we spend a lot of time working on the lead-in stroke. Of my constant reminders to swimmers, its one of the things I spend the most time reminding my swimmers about. The lead-in stroke is the LAST stroke you take before the wall and, depending on who you speak to, is one of the three most important strokes of the race (the others being your primary breakout stroke off each wall and your last stroke of the race). When thinking about what occurs during a length of freestyle ...
Read on at West Side Swim Club
Last October, one of our Dynoswimmers, Judi Rich was asked, "What's the purpose of warm-down?"
So since we often have swimmers that come late to practice or leave early, it seems that we should clarify the importance of both the warm-up and the warm-down. To that question, Judi correctly replied that swimmers need to warm-up muscles and elevate heart rates during warm-up and relax muscles and bring down heart rates at cool down. Another Dynoswimmer, Glenn Partelow then mentioned that the warm-down helps relieve the lactic acid that builds up during high intensity workouts.
Judi found this article from USA Swimming that explains it all very well.
So, you've decided to get in the water again. It's probably been a while since you last hit the pool. Maybe you swam your final conference meet or NCAAs a few months ago, or it could be a decade or three since you last attempted a swim practice. Maybe you're a triathlete or fitness swimmer attending your first organized water workout. In any event, that first practice can often be daunting. Following a few simple rules of thumb may improve your perspective, prepare you for the experience, and keep you coming back for more.
Read on at Swimnetwork.com
~By Coach Emmett Hines
A common line of inquiry revolves around why we spend time doing super low stroke count swimming (which is often also super slow swimming) since absolutely none of our racing is done in the super low (or super slow) realm.
We do a fair amount of work at ever-lower stroke counts where you are bordering on drilling as opposed to swimming. The idea behind this is that, as you get better at doing the super-low counts (even for short distances) it makes doing your "normal" and just-under-normal stroke counts easier to do--primarily because you must get more streamlined and slippery to do the lowest counts. Then the idea is to take this visceral knowledge of slipperiness back to your more "normal" counts. I don't expect nor suggest that you try to swim your races or do your high intensity sets at the super low counts. Super low stroke count work is primarily technique refinement work--think of it as conditioning your nervous system for lower resistance swimming. Doing these swims will improve your ability to do your "normal" count swims at lower energy levels.
Read on at H2Ouston Swims
~By Sue Sotir; Minute Man Masters
Triathletes come to your practice and want to focus on freestyle (only), can't understand why one or two practices isn't enough and sometimes even bring along a workout their tri coach has given them. So what's the deal?
Coach Sue provides some key corrections to focus on to keep your triathletes engaged and improving...
Read on at USMS
~By Rachel Cohen
NEW YORK (AP) -- Michael Phelps is following up his record performance at the Beijing Olympics by changing some of the swimming technique that carried him to eight gold medals.
Hasn't he ever heard of, "If it ain't broke, don't fix it"? But Phelps isn't chasing the same old goals. As he shifts to focusing on shorter races, he hopes the new freestyle technique will increase his sprinting speed.
"You'll all have to see. I'm not saying anything until we unveil it," Phelps said with a grin when asked how he's tweaked the stroke. "It's a significant change. You'll be able to tell exactly what I did as soon as I take my first stroke."
Read on at The Associated Press
For those of us that need those long warm-ups with heart rate thrown in for good measure. It makes perfect sense to me...
~By Nate McBride
I read an article in early 08 which was actually a transcription of Chris Davis' speech at the ASCA World Clinic in 2007 (Chris is the founder of SwimAtlanta and is a true coach among coaches). In his speech he was discussing the training regimen of Amanda Weir. It was a great speech and one particular section caught my eye. Recently I referred to a section from this very speech in an article on Dynoswim but with reference to the shoe training that Amanda did to improve her kick. This time the part I am referring to here is a particular section on walkup warmups. Chris discusses a time block in the 500 that Amanda just could not overcome (being unable to break 4:52 no matter what they did). So Chris decided to break convention completely and had Amanda do 16 100's on 1:10 immediately before her race and then had her walk to up the blocks and go. She went a 4:46.
Read on at West Side Swim Club
Extend your stroke as you go to air to achieve greater distance per stroke.
~By Haydn Wooley
Ever been half way through a hard swim or kick set and all-of-a-sudden, whammo - your calf tightens up like someone just kicked you? Well, that type of cramping is such a common complaint that I hear it at least once in every squad session. The good news is that it is quite easy to diagnose and also easy to fix, if you can be honest about what you feel.
Read on at Swim-City
Photo: Rowdy Gaines, Jake Gulick, Laura Burke, Billy Geoghan, Mel Stewart
~Billy Geoghegan writes:
Rowdy and Mel talked all drills. For free, Rowdy pretty much described as Mel demonstrated. A main thrust was body positioning. The first step was moving the head down, or "level swimming", not as we are used to, with the waterline just over our goggles. The head up position forces the back down, and presents a larger frontal area to the water, therefore more resistance. And streamlining off turns, with dolphin kicks was said to be "40% of the job". One drill was to keep one arm back at your side and stroke with the other arm. If you were moving the left arm you would then breathe on the right side to create rotation making the right shoulder nearly perpendicular to the bottom of the pool (when out of the water). One must be careful not to crossover when doing this drill. Rowdy also had the kids swim with their legs crossed at the ankles. This proved how important the kick is while keeping the feet aligned with the rest of the body at the surface. The fist drill was then added as a method of showing the importance of forearm positioning. Rowdy said that when kicking, to have at most, the heels break the surface.
Another drill was related to hand (arm) speed. Everyone had to try to turn their hands over as fast as possible when swimming while keeping the head up and out of the water. One point I found very interesting from him was about the finish. He said you "don't" (necessarily) have to finish past your suit. Most of the strength and speed from the hands are done by the time your hand position reached the suit, at that point you are only pushing water up thus pushing your body position down.
~By Scott Rabalais
With the recent emphasis on faster swimming through decreased resistance, the position of the upper body at the initiation of the breaststroke kick becomes vitally important to increasing one's distance per stroke, or more accurately, distance per kick, in breaststroke.
The next time you swim breaststroke, mentally photograph the position of your body when the heels have been brought to their highest point in the kick, that is, just at the end of the kick's recovery and at the very beginning of the propulsive phase. Better yet, if you have access to underwater video equipment, have someone film you and then view the tape, pausing the video at the beginning of the kick.
~By Nate McBride
Well the first week of the Olympics is now over and if you didn't know better, you may have thought that the only two sports at the Olympics were swimming and volleyball, oh, and the occasional boxing match. You may also have realized that the two largest sponsors of the Olympics, Budweiser and McDonalds, provoke a sense of only the deepest irony. While I, like most athletes, enjoy a few Big Macs and Budweisers between sets, I have to go out on a limb and speculate that NO athletes at the games, except maybe the Hammer throwers, eat McDonalds or chase their McNuggets with a Budweiser tall boy. But that is only speculation and maybe, as a coach, I am behind the times on training diets. I will immediately begin a thorough investigation.
While I am glad that Michael Phelps won all of his events, I find it unfortunate that the great coverage team at NBC decided to neglect everyone else that kicked butt or in some way had a compelling swim.
~By Nate McBride
While we are on the topic of unpopular things to do, (see my last post on butterfly), I have been doing a lot of thinking about kicking in the last few months. I have always been as much as an avid fan of kicking as my swimmers have been unhappy with doing it. With previous clubs I have worked at, I tried to incorporate it into the program but found that there are two kinds of resistance: those that are not good at it and so refuse to do it and therefore do not get better at it, and those who don't like to do it because it cuts into their yardage total. The ones who did want to do it knowing it would make them better, did not get it enough.
We're pleased to announce a partnership between Go Swim and Dynoswim. Dynoswim.com is now offering our website visitors the opportunity to view Go Swim's video player. The Go Swim video player is known throughout the swimming community as among the best resources for swimming drills and examples on proper technique and good form. You can view these videos by clicking Swim Drill Videos on your left navigation.
Please comment below and let us know how you like it!
~By Dave Samuelsohn
Announcement: "Come on people; I know it's late but we can't start the 500 until we have sixteen timers. If you can time, please help us out now."
You're thinking, "I dunno how to use a stopwatch." But your ride is in heat six. So you're thinking "Oh God, kill me now." At least if you knew how to time....
I have been asked to offer a Primer on Timing for all of us - and for all of the friends and family who we bring with us for no apparent reason, to swim meets, the planners of which, unfortunately, have not planned well enough to have arranged for timers in advance. I hate when that happens. So, here goes:
Jim Sanders writes: Here is my take on the two beat kick - As TI swimmers we have learned first hand that the vast majority of our propulsion comes from a rotating core. This is evidenced by swimming with fist gloves. Another way to demonstrate core propulsion is to not catch and pull, but, upon entry, let your hand just fall through the water of its own accord and allow your body to glide past your arm as you recover into the next stroke.
Read on at Timed Finals
This week’s Speedo Tip of the week is from the Jan.-Feb. 2007 issue of Splash, in which Olympic champions Natalie Coughlin and Misty Hyman offer some advice on underwater dolphin kicking.
~By Dave Samuelsohn and Jack Geoghegan
Imagine! You just swam your best races, defeated your archrival, collected your hardware, and are riding off into the sunset with the girl (or the boy)!
If this is your dream, stop dreaming! Instead, make it your goal and start planning.
If you’re going to build something, it’s usually a good idea to know what it’s supposed to look like before you start digging the foundation. So, when you plan your season, start at the end with your goals – the times you want to do in the big meet. Then work backward to figure out where you need to be and what you need to be doing at key points during your season.
As an overview, the “mind” component of your preparation needs to be a continuing theme throughout your season. That means you start and end with your focus on your goal. Remember, you can train yourself to have more confidence (and being in great shape helps do that).
Begin by grouping your season into three chunks of time and plan each one backward, starting with where you want to be. Remember the mind component will be prevalent throughout, with a focus on your goals and a concentration on the fine points needed for your best race. Here’s what we mean:
~By Dr. Andrew Lyttle - Biomechanics Department, Western Australian Institute of Sport
~By Nat Benjanuvatra - Department of Human Movement and Exercise Science, The University of Western Australia
With turn times accounting for up to one third of the total race time, minor improvements in turning performance can lead to substantially improved event times. A successful swim turn results from a multitude of factors and requires a complex series of manoeuvres to optimise the total turning performance.
Note: I recommend you watch the included short videos
July 2005 | Washington DC
Contributed by Rajat Mittal, Alfred von Loebbecke
Flow Simulations and Analysis Group, The George Washington University
Rajat Mittal, PhD, heads up the team of 10 researchers that make up the Flow Simulations and Analysis Group (FSAG) at George Washington University. The group's primary focus is analyzing the physics of complex flows using numerical simulations. Alfred von Loebbecke, a graduate student and key researcher in this project, says the group's research is motivated by the quest to answer fundamental questions as well as specific flow-related issues encountered in practical applications. The simulation of complex flows often requires specialized computational tools and the development of such tools is another area of focus for the group.
~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:
~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.
Dolphin is the buzzword in Melbourne after Michael Phelps blitzed his way a record seven gold medals at swimming's World Championships.
The Competitive Swimmer's Edge
~by Donald R. Megerle, Men's Swimming Coach - Tufts University
(Reprinted in: The Poolside Journal, 1997 / College Swimming Coaches Association of America / Edited: 2004)
I will always remember the day when Coach Tom Grall gathered his swimming team for a brief meeting, and explained a new technique that several swimmers were experimenting with.
It was in the fall of 1963, during my junior year of swimming at Irondequoit High School in Rochester, New York. He explained that a few college swimmers had been shaving the hair from their legs and arms in order to improve their speed in the water. We were scheduled to compete against our town rival the following day. Coach Grall told us that shaving was an option, however, everyone left practice knowing they would ‘try’ this new experiment. I can recall how confused my mother was when I told her what I was going to do. After shaving I remember going to bed that evening with the oddest feeling ….everything that touched my skin, from bed sheets to the clothing I was wearing made me seem so ‘alive.’
OR Do You Take the Same Stroke 100,000 Times?
Average performers tend to feel they’re getting the job done if they grind out long sets of freestyle repeats. But too often that just means the same freestyle stroke imprinted thousands of times.
~by Terry Laughlin
Swimming is unique among all sports in the opportunity it offers to compensate for physical “ordinariness” with superior mindfulness. Moving a human body through water requires so many subtle skills that the combination of time and clear focus can add more to your mastery than whatever age may subtract from your physical capacity.
In 1963, at age 12, I tried out for my elementary school swim team. Though this was as grassroots as swimming gets I didn't make the cut. In fact, my tryout lap prompted one coach to attempt a rescue. At 15 I tried out for my high school team and made it -- not because my swimming had progressed much; our first-year team was accepting all comers. I fell so deeply in love with swimming that I was undiscouraged when, as a senior, I qualified only for the "novice" championship, racing mostly against freshmen. As a college distance swimmer I managed to win a few races in dual meets against minor rivals, but nothing in first 10 years of swimming suggested any particular promise.
Why it's important and the basics of how to do it.
~by Scott Bay, Coach/Swimmer, Dynoswim Aquatics
When I was a young athlete, I always had a ‘Goal Conference’ with the coach of whatever sport I was involved in at the time so the coach could explain to me what my goals were.
How crazy is that?
Goals for an athlete are not the expectations of the coach at all. They are a conversation between a coach and an athlete. Goals are important to athletes and coaches as it helps to guide things like workouts and decision making not only in the pool but in other parts of life as well. The athlete for his or her part brings dreams and ambition to the table. The coach for his or her part brings a knowledge of the steps necessary to achieve what athletes desire…Kind of.
~By Scott Rabalais
In 1972, Mark Spitz, swimming for Indiana University, won his fourth consecutive NCAA title in the 100-yard butterfly. On the first 25-yard length of the race, which included a dive start, Spitz took six strokes of butterfly. On each of the three subsequent 25s, Spitz managed seven strokes of butterfly. (Swimming aficionados may be well aware this was before the use of extended underwater dolphining.)
As an impressionable 13-year old, I recall tuning in to watch Spitz perform his butterfly magic and swim away from the field. Curious of his distance per stroke, I counted every stroke of his race. At my next swim practice, I learned that not only did I take several more strokes per length than Spitz, I was nowhere near as consistent in stroke count from length to length!
This week’s Speedo Tip of the Week comes from USA Swimming’s Biomechanics Coordinator Russell Mark. Mark offers some advice on proper butterfly arm recovery.
~By David Samuelsohn
At no time in your race will you be moving faster than when you leave the blocks on your start. And at no time will you encounter more resistance, than at the surface medium – the interface where water and air connect to form a barrier, and the harshest impediment to your speed and momentum. It’s the place your streamline matters the most – and the place we’re least likely to feel the need for it as we move unimpeded through the air.
~by Glenn Mills
What if everything you had, everything you earned, everything you stood for as a coach... was based on the performance of ONE swimmer? How would you nurture, foster, and develop that swimmer?
~Al Dodson - Head Coach, Egyptian National Team
Shoulder pain is a common phenomenon in competitive swimming. There are many contributing factors. The most common cause is faulty technique. By analyzing the anatomical and mechanical principles involved in the execution of the four competitive strokes and utilizing drills to teach proper mechanics, "swimmers' shoulder" can be prevented or relieved.
~By Glenn Mills
This week's training tip is from Erica Rose, USA Swimming's Female Open Water Swimmer of the Year for 2006. Erica grew up in Cleveland, Ohio, just down the road from where I grew up, so I know what her club program and coaches were like (Lake Erie Silver Dolphins, Coach Jerry Holtry), and I know how hard she had to work growing up. Her words prove that her success was NOT due to luck, but rather to extremely hard work, and tremendous dedication.
USA Swimming will be sponsoring a free online coaching clinic with Catherine Vogt on December 19th.
Note: It doesn't matter if you're a coach or swimmer, watching an elite level meet or age-group practice. The below applies. Please read the following article from a very wise man...
~By Dave Samuelsohn
What did you learn from the 2004 Olympics? Did you follow the results online? Did you watch the coverage? Did you get up out of your seat for the big finishes?
Most of what Coaches know about swimming they learn from observing, analyzing and sometimes, by jumping in to try and feel what it feels like - in effect, reverse-engineering the most efficient swimmers in the world to determine what makes fast swimmers, fast.
~by Glenn Mills
This week's GREAT swimmer goes way back in history again, to 1976. John Naber was the first swimmer to ever win two individual swimming medals in the same day, and the first swimmer to break 2:00 in the 200 backstroke. Read what John has to say about hard work.
~by Glenn Mills
When you’re trying to learn to swim REALLY fast, it’s sometimes hard to simulate the speed that you’re trying to achieve. Swimming lap after lap tends to make the swimmer JUST a bit slower than top speed at the places in the race where things need to be MORE exact.
By splitting up swims into segments, and allowing the swimmers to focus JUST on a very specific part of a swim, there’s a good chance the swimmer will hit that spot at a higher speed, and begin to learn how to be more accurate, or quicker, during that specific spot.
~By Scott Rabalais
Only 25 yards to go…keep my stroke long…legs are getting heavy…six strokes to the wall…don’t look up…need to breathe…three strokes, two, one…
You’ve made it to the wall, finishing the seventh 100-yard repeat in a set of 10 x 100. Your interval is 1:30, which means you have no more than 90 seconds to swim 100 yards, rest, and then start it all over again. And, the coach is keeping an eye on your times and has demanded all swimmers keep an even pace through the set. Your repeats have been held in the 1:19-1:21 range, but keeping the times there for the final three swims looks to be a daunting task.
~by Glenn Mills
Several weeks ago I sent out a message to a few of my friends, asking them what they remember about training when they were younger, and how, in hindsight, they view training today. Some of them are parents now, and spend many hours at little league baseball, soccer, and swim meets. One of the first people to respond was Mary T. Meagher. I've posted her commets here, and will post the comments of other swimmers in the coming weeks. Keep these thoughts in mind as you go to the pool to train.
~By Coach Dave Samuelsohn
Thanksgiving is over – I hope you took care not to under eat! With more holidays approaching, schedules are crazy and your swimming will be disrupted by late nights, pool closings, exhaustion, and your own many added responsibilities and stresses.
If you are a serious swimmer, the holidays can be a frustrating time – even maddening. But you can get through this, and maybe come out better on the other side.
~By Scott Rabalais
Every swimmer, when diving in the pool or pushing off of the wall, achieves a degree of streamlining. Swimmers who understand that minimizing the physical surface area exposed to the water and are willing to make the effort to achieve such streamlining will be rewarded with greater distance. While there is no substitution for a developed kinesthetic sense through the pushoff, here are a few tips to follow to position the body for maximum streamline effect.
Here's one of many studies done in the last few years on a very popular subject:
TRACK START VS. GRAB START: EVIDENCE OF THE SYDNEY OLYMPIC GAMES
~Vladimir B. Issurin and Oleg Verbitsky, Elite Sport Department at the Wingate Institute for Physical Education and Sport, Israel
"Two concurrent swimming start techniques - Track start (TS) and Grab start (GS), are presently particularly popular among swimmers and researchers. Despite the relatively large amount of publications, the outcome as to which is remains inconclusive."
Note: If in your own personal swimming experience, you found one technique better than another, tell Dynoswim which is better and why.
by Glenn Mills
Butterfly is the type of stroke that requires specific training. You need to swim ENOUGH butterfly to strengthen the specific muscles for the stroke. But if you train A LOT of butterfly, there's a good chance that you will train yourself to have a slow stroke cadence, and this is not effective for racing. The question is: How do you learn to slam race-pace butterfly, especially early in the season?
Stretching, one of the simplest fitness activities, is controversial. Will it prevent injuries? Some say yes, some say no. Is there a right and wrong way to do it? Different methods have their advocates. Here's a Q & A session about a type of exercise that has undeniable benefits--whichever side you take in the controversy--and also feels good.
~By Coach Dave Samuelsohn
Take it from me: Swimming is all in your head.
One of the most difficult things to do during a tough workout is to think, think about your stroke, your efficiency, your fine points. You’re tired, you know you’re swimming just to get through it and all you can really think about is “How much more?” and “ Maybe I can get my goggle strap to break!”
Building good stroke habits takes time … and discipline. Anything you can do to better focus yourself on thinking is going to help you. That’s why many coaches advocate the use of stroke drills. I advocate the use of stroke drills early in workout, before I’m so tired I can’t think straight. In fact, I think a good time to do stroke drills is in warm-up, every warm-up. Why not start the work-out thinking and patterning good stroke habits and improving efficiency while you’re fresh? Hey, there’s an idea!
One of my favorite drills, and about the best Freestyle drill I’ve come across, I call “Half Catch-Up.” It’s kind of like “Catch –Up” but instead of completing one stroke before beginning the next – and actually touching one hand with the other – you only “Catch –Up” halfway. Doesn’t seem like much of a difference but where you go from there can give you opportunities to focus on many aspects of improving your stroke.
This week’s Speedo Tip of the Week comes from USA Swimming’s biomechanics coordinator Russell Mark. Mark offers some advice on the importance of working on technique in practices and provides some helpful guidelines for making stroke adjustments.
~By FitLinxx Staff
“With an out-of-the-pool exercise program that delivers both increased flexibility and strength, your stroke will improve dramatically.”
~By Coach Dave Samuelsohn
Editor’s Note: This article was written in the early 1990’s, when the records times were a little slower than they currently are and Dave’s times were a little faster.
Most competitive swimmers I know swim during the short course season. Then long course rolls around and I hear a lot of excellent and deeply meaningful rationalizations why they don't swim long course meets:
- I run
- I bike
- I do triathlon
- I'm on the softball team at work
- I’m still exhausted from Zones
- I...ah...gotta go now.
Or they'll just seed themselves in a long course meet with short course times, get blown out, and never come back. No one ever steps up and just says, "Long course scares me to death!" But occasionally I'll find someone making a rare appearance at a long course meet. They'll swim their race (seldom the 400 IM - so at least they're intelligent) and inevitably I'll hear the question, "So what does that convert to? Whattaya...take three seconds off?"
The answer is no, you don't subtract anything. You don't add anything. Short course and long courses are two different races, subject to many different variables which change the complexion of how we perform:
- How good are your turns? Your push-offs?
- How good are your underwater pullouts?
- How do you hold up over the added distance?
- How did you feel when you stepped up to look at the pool?
(Scare you back into the locker room?)
I consider myself to have pretty good turns for an old guy, strong push-offs, and very good underwater work. But I'm not too long on the endurance thing. So you'd figure I'd be a natural for short course...Only, I'm not. As a flyer and breaststroker, I'm a rhythm swimmer, and it seems to take me a few strokes to settle in and get going. Too many walls break that up and I don't perform as well. So I prefer long course.
The point here again is that long course and short course really are two different animals with many reasons why an individual will perform differently. That is why I say that the two are not meaningfully convertible. We must treat the 100 yard race and the 100 meter race as two different races - as though they were different strokes. Your time for one should stand by itself and not be expected to be related to the other as might be convenient. Two different races - two different performance levels. Got that?
~by Dan Empfield
One of the most misunderstood elements in swimming is the "high elbow." For most of my life that phrase has been spoken with the intent of the elbow remaining high during the swimmer's recovery, that is, when the swimmer's arm is out of the water. The listener also, more often than not, thinks of recovery when he hears "high elbow."
What do you see? Tell us.
~By Terry Laughlin
Many swimmers wonder whether they should use alternate-side, or bilateral, breathing. The answer is yes -- at least in practice. And on some occasions it can be an advantage while racing too.
~by Craig Townsend
Being a successful swimmer is not just something you do in the water. It follows you everywhere you go in life.
~by Glenn Mills
When swimmers start to learn breaststroke, they tend to make the pull the biggest part of the stroke. This is usually counterproductive, so we try to introduce the pull as a very small move. In fact, we try to introduce the pull as a TEENY, TINY, MINISCULE move because what FEELS small to the swimmer usually ends up being too big. So we exaggerate the smallness. We ask for TEENY TINY, in order to reach the goal of small and just right. Tiny Hands is the drill that we use.
Gliding is one of those skills that you must learn well before you execute a good front crawl. Some beginners have a fear of gliding away from the wall. Still others, despite being more advanced, sink parts of their body, making it very difficult to glide.
One of the exercises that I ask my swimmers to do first is to glide towards the wall. By standing about three feet away from the wall, sink down to your neck, and put your hands out in front of you. Grab a big breath of air, bend forward and glide towards the wall. The head should be half in the water before your feet leave the bottom, and the head should remain in the water until the hands touch the wall. Look at the bottom of the pool as you do this drill. If the head is looking forward, your feet will not want to come up. Open your eyes when you swim, so that you know where you are going. The water level should be at the hairline. The back should be either breaking the surface, or be just at the surface. The buttocks should be just below the surface. Make adjustments to the body's alignment by changing the position of the head, and the small of the back. The hands should be about four inches under the water. Relax as much as possible.
If you have been training in the pool you might resist my suggestion to swim with a high elbow. I am not suggesting you abandon your pool technique altogether when you swim in the open water. However if you shorten your stroke you also shorten the distance your arm must travel before your hand re-enters the water (at the half-way mark) and you begin to elongate your arm, and begin your pull. In adopting this technique your body will automatically align itself for the perfect roll, which is more effective for a clean breath too. To check your stroke as you raise your arm in the water look directly at your elbow. Your head will be perfectly aligned with your body. Make sure your hand re-enters the water at a 30 to 45 degree angle, four to eight inches under the surface of the water. Lift your elbow out of the water as if on a puppet string, at a 90 degree angle. After your initial "pull" be certain to brush thumb past thigh before recovery to get the most from your stroke.
~Coach Pedro Ordenes, waterworldswim.com
"Stanford (and USA Olympic team) Coach Richard Quick once said while giving a butterfly stroke clinic: "Don't hide your breathing mistakes by not breathing; fix them instead." That's good advice not only for butterfly, but for freestyle as well."
I swam long-course today after being out of the water for over a week and a half. I felt terrible at first and had my share of excuses to just swim for yards and basically blow the workout. I'll share a few of my excuses:
- Hadn't swam long-course in over a year
- Didn't sleep much in three days
- Stressed out
- Losing my feel for the water
- Asthma kicked in
So I'm swimming along doing my warm-up and realized how much I missed long-course, my favorite kind of training. I also thought how great the water temperature was and what a nice breeze we were having - all with a clear blue summer sky. In short, we had perfect practice conditions. But you know, I really wasn't into it especially when my chest tightened and I felt the shortness of breath that comes before the inevitable wheezing.
Mastering the Swim Start
By Lance Watson / Triathlete magazine / May 31, 2006
Although in most triathlons the swim is relatively short, it nonetheless can be the cause of considerable apprehension, and much of this uneasiness can be traced to the often-chaotic start, where athletes frequently struggle with feelings of disorientation and claustrophobia as pre-race angst gives way to an early adrenalin surge as hundreds of swimmers jockey for position.
Note: Although this is written for triathlon these principals apply to open-water too. If you're swimming the "Ed Gaw" on July 8, you should read this...
By Gale Bernhardt / For Active.com / May 26, 2006
As a coach, I work with a wide range of athletic abilities -- athletes who are learning their sport, as well as those who are vying for Olympic slots. I use the same training principles on both inexperienced and seasoned athletes. Although the training load and specific workouts are different, the training ideology is the same for everyone.
KING Aquatic Club: Developing World Class Stroke Characteristics
This is the fifth web-based USA Swimming Coaching Clinic. Participants will watch a PowerPoint presentation given over the internet while listening to the audio of the presentation through an “866” toll free conference call number.
This 60 minute presentation gives thoughts on how to develop characteristics shared by world class swimmers. KING Aquatic Club's approach on combining technical and physiological training methods.
~By Brian Dorfman
When triathlon coach Paul Huddle and I got together in 1988 to produce the first flexibility material for triathletes, it was a meeting of two opposites: the hopelessly inflexible meets Gumby. Let's face it; the tri community is fun, but tight.
Swimmers, try this experiment while you are training in the pool. Keeping your arms still at your sides, face down in the water—kick. You are not moving very fast are you, and you are getting tired, correct? The fact is, that the energy required to kick hard and fast in the water is not always an efficient way to use your energy. If you are sprinting in the pool it will cut those few precious seconds from your overall time that may put you in first place at the finish. In the open water it will wear you out. Use your strength in your upper body, pulling from your back, and use your whole hand when gliding through the water. Kick smoothly and evenly to keep your momentum and allow for streamlining in your body to occur, the breath will relax and you will feel strong and focused. A smooth kick will also help you rotate and elongate your spine. Kick to keep the swimmer behind you off your back. Kick to correct your direction. Kick at the end of your competition to bring control and circulation back in to your legs and feet, but in the middle of your race, loosen up your legs (like a seal) and reserve your energy for when you need it.
~Coach Pedro Ordenes, www.waterworldswim.com
Notice anything important?
USMS Rule 107.6 - Water temperature between 78 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit shall be maintained for competition.
When you train in water slightly below 78 degrees you will have a leg-up vs. those swimmers that consistently train in warm water. The water at Frieda Zamba today was 73 degrees. Training in 83-85 degree water (as we have been at Belle Terre for the last few months) has put us at a severe disadvantage. Just the facts...
"When swimmers are first learning to flip, two of the most common problems are flipping sideways (as opposed to straight over) and using the arms (as opposed to keeping them tucked in to your sides). Here’s an easy drill that will help you master the basics."
Feeling overwhelmed at practice?
If you've hit a brick wall or you feel as though you can't finish a set, whatever you do, don't get discouraged. Don't get out of the pool. Don't give up.
Swim those "killer sets" one lap at a time, one stroke at a time if you have to. If your lane-mates begin to pass you, let them. Focus on the task at hand, don't think of repetition 11, when you're only into repetition 2. Think about the fundamentals. Are you lengthening your stroke? Are you pointing your toes? Do you have high elbows?
That's how you get it done - by using your mind to overcome your body, one perfect stroke at a time.
You didn't? Why not? Don't you care about your flexibility? No flexibility. No speed. Get it?
Use your bands, everyday.
Read about Ray Bussard's, "Tennessee Turns".
Please read the following article on common freestyle breathing mistakes and methods for improvement.
A must read for those that want more from their kick...
Please take a look at the following photo. This is what we're always talking about as demonstrated by one of the best, Aaron Peirsol.
You need to practice all strokes to improve your freestyle.
"The off-season is the perfect time to learn better technique in butterfly, backstroke and breastroke. Aside from the body-balance benefit of working different muscle groups in the water, each of the other strokes has elements that can be applied to better freestyle. The catch motion in butterfly is similar to the freestyle catch, and increased butterfly proficiency can lead to better awareness of how it feels to hold more water during the freestyle catch. Similarly, the breaststroke catch can be thought of as a freestyle drill, with increased water pressure and pitch awareness on the hands. Finally backstroke works the opposing muscle groups and can help activate the lats through effective elbow position, just like in freestyle. Backstroke can also help with body position and balance, as it is a long-axis stroke, as is freestyle."
Taken from Coach Joe Filliol and Triathlete Magazine
A simple but informative tutorial on how to perform a competitive swimming start.
Look no further than the Swimmers Guide. They have a database of 14,816 facilities with 15,761 swimming pools in 8,812 cities and towns in 155 countries.
Many of you have asked what the conversion rates are for yards vs. meters, especially since we've moved over to Belle Terre (a meter pool). Please refer to the attached link which will help to keep your times in perspective.
The secret to improving your technique.
Please read the following article by Kevin Milak (published in the 3rd Quarter issue of "Swim Technique" magazine).
Please take a look at www.Swim.ee, an Estonian swim resource, on proper breaststroke technique.
Please read the following article on start technique by Professor Ross Sanders - Director, Center for Aquatics Research and Education, University of Edinburgh.
This is an absolutely excellent article. Please pay close attention to the conclusions.
"Your weakness is your strength! Cliche? Yes, but like many cliches, this maxim contains an element of truth, since every imperfection presents an opportunity for improvement. And when it comes to swimming, ironing out wrinkles in your stroke can yield huge dividends in terms of improved efficiency and lowered splits.
What's more, regardless of your level of proficiency in the water, there is always room for improvement, so even the most talented swimmers can improve by continually tweaking and refining their strokes."
More tips on Free... Early Breakout
Great article on how to properly rotate when swimming freestyle, they even have videos demonstrating the technique.
"If you really want to be lazy, and develop the easiest, most efficient stroke possible...ROTATE."
Read how you can improve your kick...
Read about efficiency and relaxation. 100 Freestyle
Check out this helpful backstroke tip courtesy of Swimming World Magazine.
"A common technique error in backstroke is letting the hands enter too softly. If the hands enter too softly and "sit" on the water, your body rotation will be slowed down, and there is a tendency to overreach on the entry."
These are a few suggestions for someone who has never tried flip turns, not rules written in stone and not for experienced turners.
Why bend your elbows in freestyle? The very best arm stroke recovery is one which allows the hand to arrive in time to begin the next stroke but also allows the arm to slow almost to a complete stop just before the hand enters the water. Bending the elbow allows you to do this. If the hand and arm come forward and slam into the water, you lose momentum in the form of drag, and your arm fails to move you forward.
To get used to the bent or high elbow recovery, practice the Finger Tip Drag drill. Swim freestyle but drag your fingertips across the top of the water on each arm recovery out of the water.
Fingertip Drag is standard freestyle except that your fingers never lose contact with the water. From the moment your hand exits the water in the back to the moment it enters the water in front, the fingertips remain in contact with and "drag" across the surface of the water. This drill teaches a low head position, good rotation and a high elbow recovery.
This drill also teaches great extension out front and encourages a low body position. The elbow is the highest part of the body. The act of dragging the fingertips through the water gives the lead hand plenty of time to reach forward.
Furthermore, keeping the head low creates a bow wave. Because the head is low, the hips ride high, creating an efficient position that allows the body to glide through the water.
Swimmers and Triathletes read this... More reasons for finger-tip drag
An interesting tidbit on Freestyle sprinting, recommended by our friends at the Westport Swim Club, see the attached link to SWIMMING WORLD Magazine http://www.swimmingworldmagazine.com/lane9/news/9647.asp Considering all the sprinting we have done during the past week, this article could not have come at a better time...