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Momentum, Body Position, & Drag

I read this article written by Gary Hall Sr about coupling motions.

FIRST RESPONSE TO ARTICLE: This article is another great way to describe momentum.

“When an external force acts upon a body, it changes its momentum; however, when no external force acts, the momentum of the body does not change, a fact which is incorporated in the principle of ‘the conservation of momentum’. Therefore, momentum has come to be known as the force of motion that a moving body acquires in continuing its motion by virtue of inertia.” – Webster’s Unabridged

If you can understand this concept, you will be a very happy swimmer.

Maintaining a proper streamline and being able to time your breakout into your swimming is key to fast swimming. If you ever do anything underwater and feel yourself slow down then you have lost momentum. Momentum will be different for each athlete based on body type, flexibility and skill level. What and how you do your underwater mechanics and how you break out into your swimming all effects momentum.

Streamlined position:
The hands should be crossed – hand over hand, some people teach a crossover grab. The biceps should be pressed upon the ears with the shoulders and chest stretched out as much as possible. The head will not be tucked chin to chest but in the same position, it would be in as if you were walking. The midsection and hips will be in line with the thighs and feet following directly behind. The legs must be in the same plane as the hips thus reducing drag. This is the basic streamline (spike). Hands, Head, Hips, and Heels in line. Once this has been achieved you may begin your breakout by starting your first stroke. Judging the depth of the water is essential for a good breakout by maintaining momentum.

SECOND RESPONSE TO ARTICLE: I don’t necessarily agree with the way he describes Breaststroke coupling and the mechanics involved. This is obviously a stroke that is still evolving but I would err on the side of teaching body position of the stroke first.

Body position and reducing drag:
If a swimmer can master body position, then the battle with drag can be won. Reducing drag should be a swimmers main concern. Your head position should be held as when walking. The head should not be tucked forward or back. The head controls the position of the feet and a slight movement of the head will make a huge impact with the legs and increase the drag of the whole body. The head must be streamlined with the body during the whole swim. The concept of body position must be learned with the thoughts of achieving a streamlined body position. As often as possible you must try to keep the 4 H’s in line (Hands, Head, Hips, and Heels). Once body position is lost the drag becomes a very large factor and stroke mechanics fall apart. Eliminating drag is an important part of stroke mechanics and one of the driving forces of swimming along with maintaining momentum.
Breaststroke legs warm up during meets before a competition.

200-400 non-breast easy, based on how you feel 
Begin with 8 x 25’s kick with a drill. (3 kicks / 1 stroke or hands at side, breathing every kick) @ 60% rest as needed 
Another 8 x 25’s kick, 4 with a drill and 4 w/board or hands in front @ 70-75% rest as needed 
Another 6-8 x 25’s kick half kick w/board or hands in front and half swim(emphasis kick) @90% rest as needed 
Another 6 x 25’s build each 25 swim to 95% rest to recovery 
200-400 non-breast, easy based on your recovery needed and plan to finish about 7-10 minutes before you compete

We are all here to learn and adapt. Let me know your thoughts. Please take some time to review all our seasonal plans (7, 14, 19 and 23-week programs). If you need any help adjusting programming to your team please email me.

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Daily practice advice to incorporate into your workouts

PRACTICE TECHNIQUES

1. Racing – The drive to win close races to recover from mistakes and overtake your competition, the desire to win!!!! Some swimmers have that desire and others must be taught. You must add racing sets in your workout. Each swimmer must have the ability to start and stop speed (variable speed) thru out the season no matter what phase of training you are currently involved. Drafting then passing, stagger starts and racing different abilities of swimmers in practice must be some part of a weekly routine.

2. Race Pace – This isn’t sprinting to exhaustion but creating the speed that will be needed to achieve goal times for each event. Let’s take the 100 free for our example: John’s goal is to swim a 48.00 in the 100. In order to achieve this swim we must create and instill muscle memory in john to help him achieve this goal. John will need to maintain 12.00 while swimming 25’s and 24.00 speed while doing 50’s. You can eventually work up to 75’s and broken 100’s (breaking them at different distances) and finally a 100 from the block before he actually swims his big race. This will give John the confidence he needs for his big race. Start the season with enough rest at each desired distance to achieve race pace speed and as the season continues change the rest interval and achieve the same result. If John is tired on a given day that you want him to do race pace then you must give him enough rest to achieve race pace. This doesn’t have to be the main set but just the last 10 minutes of a desired workout. Please remember to do race pace during the aerobic phase of the season and during holiday training. Race pace develops muscle memory and helps create speed and power. Remember that your dryland program is important and must coincide with this type of training. You will do more race pace as the taper progresses. Recovery and over-speed sets are as important and must be incorporated in workouts with race pace. Training with speed and power in the water and during dryland will enhance everything you are trying to achieve in your program.

3. Over-speed – Creating and enhancing muscle memory with the possible speed of a time not yet achieved in a race. Creating speed in short spurts helps train the fast twitch muscle make-up of every swimmer. Cords is wide spread example usually incorporated during the taper or resting phase of a season and should be used thru out. Over-speed can be achieved off starts and walls and during very short distances or with correct Tarzan swimming.

4. Tarzan for speed purposes – Swimmers that do water polo use Tarzan to see the ball. They are strong, have arm speed, upper body strength and usually are great at kicking. Wow, everything you need for sprinting!!!!! Sprinting doesn’t always mean short distances. 200’s are now in the sprint category. If you have ever seen Diana Munz swim she has great kicking skills that were evident in her swims off each wall and at the end of distance events. She shows variable speed and power in the distance events with her upper body and legs…………..

5. Recovery and dryland – These two categories make most coaches nervous. I understand the thinking of overtraining, as I have to constantly trust what I believe and not slip into the way I was trained to over train. Proper recovery must be part of each workout phase and the dryland program must match recovery and must constantly change body part emphasis to ensure recovery. Hard work should alternate legs, core and upper body. That doesn’t mean if you are recovering the legs you can’t work the arms, etc…. You can even alternate upper and lower body between dryland and swimming as well as in each set! You can alternate within each set, from set to set from work –out to workout, week to week. Add a true recovery workout once during the week and see how your swimmers respond the next day. Maybe recover for an hour and surprise them by sending them home early, you have now added MENTAL RECOVERY.

6. Each set should include distances as well as the repetitions, mechanics emphasis, and what to do on each part of the swim. For example: 6 X 400’s on 5:00 free with 4 fly kicks off each wall breathing to one side of the pool (to insure breathing n both sides and even shoulder rotation) and make-sure the swimmers know why. Odd swims are variable speed 75% – 95% by 50, with numbers 2 and 4 pace holding 1:02 and number 6 being timed with sprint kicking each wall and last 200. Write it down for them to read and repeat it to them verbally as you know it’ll take many times to get it thru their heads.

7. Make sure your swimmers can read the clock and understand negative, even, ascending, and pace terminology for splits in races and practice. Swimmers should constantly be using the clock even during warm-up and warm-downs so times and speed can be inherent. They must understand when you tell them they need to go out in a certain speed for a race strategy or tell them next time to go out faster or slower. Most swimmers shake their head OK but actually have no idea how to actually physically do it. They understand the concept mentally so you must incorporate this in your training sets. Simple example during warm-up 4 X 200’s with descending send-off tell swimmers to just make the send off as it descends with a goal time on the last 200 that is easy to achieve with some effort in order to reinforce feel of that speed in the water. 4 X 200’s 2:40, 2:30, 2:20 and the last one go a 2:15.

8. Just FYI and my opinion about certain types of equipment: Paddles – I like paddles but it does take away the feel of the water temporarily from the swimmers. Please incorporate a longer warm-down after a paddle set to give the swimmer time to regain feel. Pull-boys – They are made with different styles that fit each person differently and usually result in bad body position during a set. Please watch for this, as pull-boys don’t promote streamline body position. Kickboards – again different styles and sizes. Please don’t do all your kick sets with boards as this takes the body out of proper streamline position. Kickboards are good for isolating the legs. Cords for dryland and over-speed – Good for cross training as talked about previously. Please check the cords as chemicals do eventually cause the cords to snap and that’ll hurt!

9. Coaches flexibility: Stay flexible and evaluate if the swimmers are getting what you wanted out of each set. Don’t force the issue if motivation isn’t the issue. Change the set to achieve your goal, scratch the set if needed, adjust it or use it later in the season. If you change the set explain why and try to get them to understand the reason. If you can’t explain it you’ll never be able to teach it. If too much info is written for the set slowly increase the stimulus over time. Flexibility is hard as a coach feels the time constraint to get it all in. Fight that urge and back up, as that’ll help the swimmers more in the short and long term.

10. IM (Individual medley) and the importance of doing sets in IM order. Training the muscle memory of going from one stroke to the other and breathing patterns. Breathing patterns change from one stroke to the other, as does the timing of each stroke. If the swimmer doesn’t understand that controlling the breathing of each stroke will help the success of the IM swim then breathing will control the swim detrimentally. When switching each stroke the swimmer must gain control of the breathing pattern before settling into the race strategy of each stroke. When control of the breathing pattern is achieved then the swimmer can work on what the coach desires for each stroke in the IM based on each swimmers strengths and weaknesses. Each swimmer should be able to negative split each part of the IM. For example in the 400 IM splits should be fly – 28-28 as the start affects the first split, back – 30-29, breast 34-33, free 27-26. The 200 IM would be a controlled sprint, as race pace should be incorporated in practice for this event. Share splits with your swimmers before and after each race. Each swimmer should have practiced what you want in the meet at practice.

11. Old school breathing – Have you ever been told to only breath 3 times each lap in the 200, hopefully not. Breathing is your friend in events longer than a 50 and helps the body alleviate the pain you feel in your body by exhaling and eliminating the lactate acid your muscles are producing as a by-product of the work you are demanding of them. Breathing too much or poorly (mechanically incorrect) in the 50 can slow you down. Breathing is important in the timing or the breast and fly and essential to the backstroke. Breathing is covered in mechanics of each stroke. You can’t expect a swimmer to change or do anything different is a meet that you don’t train at practice. Please keep that in mind ……… Breathing should never compromise streamline position especially before and after each wall or flags to flags.

12. Heart rate is a great tool to see if your swimmer is sick, stressed, over worked, needs more rest or is out of shape. You can measure this many ways by creating a set that helps the swimmer with maxing heart rate and measuring how long it takes to recover. Remember that I am not a doctor nor should you diagnose a swimmer from this, it is only a tool and can be used to help you at each phase of training. This tells you about aerobic conditioning, fatigue during the holiday training and the amount of resting needed to create race pace or sprinting and definitely during taper and resting before meets. Consult a doctor or read up about heart rate, as there are plenty of studies and info on the subject. This will help you with flexibility and changing your workouts when needed.

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Speed – A Primer

Speed determines the victor in the sport of swimming. Whoever touches the wall first wins, regardless of technique differences, fitness, strength, mental toughness, or whatever. Speed wins.

So how do we improve speed? We swim fast(er). Often. And when full efforts don’t produce the speed we are looking for in the water, we slow down or shut it down. Why? Two reasons… Number one is technique. If you push harder and harder, technique can begin to fall apart. We don’t want to reinforce sloppy swim habits – especially at or near full speed, whatever the stroke or distance. Technique is ingrained and imprinted through repetition – specifically repetition at a given intensity or speed – by the nervous system. So we want to repeat the good – not the bad and the ugly.

Which brings us right to the doorstep of reason #2 – the nervous system. The nervous system controls our movements (coordination) and helps create speed (through impulse). Many confuse energy-system work (bio-chemical reactions & efficiencies) with nervous-system work (maximal speed and control of motion). They are tied together, of course, but to understand the difference and apply this understanding to your training is the key. It is the difference between a great practice swimmer and a great competitor. Ideally we strive to find the perfect balance between these two, and when in doubt we (Faster Swimming) err on the side of “Less is more” – sparing both technique and nervous system fatigue. We live to fight another day.

Speed can also be trained and transferred to swim performance (to some degree) through dryland and strength training. General Physical Preparedness (or GPP) can be trained in part through dryland. If you simply put in some work with dryland training you may have some carry-over to swim performance, but the correlations will be low. However, if your dryland training includes standards that account for speed of movement (volume per time) your correlation to faster swimming will be much higher. This is training the acceleration (speed) end of the F=m x a curve.

GPP can also be trained in part through weight lifting. Improving strength with weight lifting works the mass end of the F=m x a curve, and should be approached with a “controlled speed” technique to exploit nervous-system efficiency and sport carry-over. The saying “Train fast to be fast” comes to mind as I write all of this and applies not only specifically (to swimming) but generally (to dryland and lifting) because your nervous system controls it all!

This is simply a primer, and needless to say there is much more to discuss about how and why certain training can be not only more effective but also more efficient in creating race speed. Ever wonder why different athletes/teams taper so differently/better/worse? I would look to the nervous system for most answers (fatigue, efficiency, readiness…). I will leave you now with a final thought. I have always believed athletes are physically trained and (therefore) mentally tough. If your training involves pushing the pain barrier repeatedly at sub-maximal speeds, does that make you better physically trained or mentally tougher than training at near or maximal speed with less fatigue?

Which makes a better competitor – the ability to produce maximal speed or the ability to endure pain repeatedly? And then do you apply your thinking to your actual training – both in the water and out?!?

If you have any thoughts on the topic of speed, I welcome any and all comments on our blog, on Facebook, or shoot me an email. And thanks for reading.

Design your program now. Get more information in the Crosstraining book and /or the back chapters of the Faster Swimming book

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Lets Talk about Tarzan!

The first item I would like to talk about is Tarzan. Tarzan is used for speed purposes. The proper body position for Tarzan is with the head and mouth out of the water. Keeping hips in line with the shoulders with a controlled fast kick. Tarzan is used for developing arm and leg speed. Leg speed drives the arms so begin by emphasizing the kick. The arm stroke needs to be shorter and faster than the normal freestyle stroke with an emphasis on equal shoulder rotation. There are many variations of Tarzan to train. Two of the main drills to use are just quality Tarzan sprinting and Tarzan to easy as indicated on the outline. “Tarzan to easy” is where the swimmer will work on increasing arm speed until they are unable then drop their head and finish easy to the wall. When the athlete is broken down this will be very hard to do but as the swimmer recovers he or she will be able to increase arm speed for longer distances of 25’s or 50’s.

Please go to Youtube and search “USAswimcoach” or Facebook and search “Faster Swimming” for the Tarzan video. You can also find it on Viddler

I’d like to show a few different drills of Tarzan. First I am having my swimmer do a 25 of Tarzan where he is holding a constant rate of speed, keeping his head out of the water, shoulders square with hips in line and a small fast kick. The next drill is 5 Tarzan strokes sprint up followed by 2 freestyle strokes down easy. The swimmer will just drop his head on the recovery strokes. Make sure the swimmers count their strokes to ensure that they start each new cycle of 5 up 2 down with the opposite arm. This will help ensure equal rotation of shoulders and help the swimmers work with both arms to start swimming. This will translate to their breakout strokes also. Please vary this drill as desired for example 7 up sprint Tarzan strokes then 4 easy strokes, etc.. We are always trying to prime the fast twitch muscles by using Tarzan. We do a lot of Tarzan during taper as well as throughout the season. It is easy to train your fast twitch muscle fibers to move at one speed with long sets, making it more difficult to retrain muscle fiber later. Always throw in some Tarzan or speed work into your workouts. The last 25 of the video is Tarzan where the swimmer is working on increasing arm speed throughout, working on equal shoulder rotation as well as proper mechanics. A variation of this is on the Faster Swimming 23 week outline is called Tarzan to easy. The only difference is that I want the swimmers to start off at a faster pace and when they can no longer increase arm speed they will drop their head and finish the set distance easy.

Let’s talk about Variable Speed

We all know that racing is the drive to win close races to recover from mistakes and overtake your competition at all costs. Some swimmers have that desire and others we must try to teach. This is why adding Speed work should be very important to us as coaches. Each swimmer needs the ability to start and stop speed with their upper and lower body and I call this Variable Speed. Training an athlete and enhancing his or her ability to change speed at any time of the race is key to teaching and giving the swimmer confidence that they can race. It is a big part of our designed workouts throughout the season. You will need to change the variable speed distances and intensities as outlined weekly. Variable speed work in sets is difficult for the swimmer because it spikes heart rates when a swimmer would normally train at one speed.

For example:

A basic 8 x 200 swim set descend by 2 on 3:00 can be adjusted with variable speed work by 100. For example on the first 2 x 200’s have the swimmers work at 70% on the first 100 and 80% on the second. Descending the 200’s by adjusting the variable speed effort. Variable speed work can be similar to Negative split as I just described in this set. The hard part is getting them to understand the actual percentage of intensities and still descend the 200’s. You can mix it up by making the swimmers go out in the first 100 @ 95% and the second 100 back in a controlled 90% by either giving them their splits, doing open turns or breaking the 200 at the 100 for a short rest interval. This will make their set more difficult and train their muscle fibers at variable speeds. You don’t want to get in the habit of training your swimmers at one pace thus making it harder to get into sprint work later in the practice or season.

Using Heart Rate

I am using the measurement of heart rate in this set to get a basic feel of how my swimmers are feeling today. There are a lot of factors that affect heart rate so this is just a guideline. I have created a set where the swimmer must maximize heart rate and created the speed work I wanted to have in today’s workout. This set was given a week after one championship meet and week before another. Prior to this workout, they had two hard weight and dryland workouts and one longer aerobic swim practice. They were sore and a bit tired as they should have been.

This set is all freestyle starting with 2 x 100’s on a 1:30 send-off. The first 1:00 holding a minute pace and descending the 2nd 100 holding a :56. They are to take their heart rate immediately after the 2nd 100 for a starting point. They are taking their heart rate for 10 seconds. I want them to take their heart rate again after+/- 45 seconds to see how fast they recover. Once the heart rate drops below 20 (for :10 seconds) they will finish the next part of the set which is, 50 sprint kick followed by 2 x 25 sprint Tarzan with :20 seconds rest then a 100 recovery swim.

They will repeat the same basic pattern two more times.

Second time starting off with 2 x 50 on a :35 second send off just making the send-off immediately followed by a 100 free holding a :54 or faster again taking the heart rate immediately after the swim. Their heart rate should be above 30 or elevated from the last time taken. Once the heart rate drops below 20 finishing the set with a 50 sprint kick and 2 x 25’s sprint Tarzan with :20 rest and a 100 recovery swim. If their heart rate doesn’t drop you can assume that they need more rest or they are completely out of shape. This is very individual and knowing your swimmer will help you answer that question. If their heart rate doesn’t drop below 20 for a couple of minutes then just have them finish the set or warm down, your call.

Third time thru they will begin with 4 x 25’s @ 100 Race Pace on a :20 second send-off. Each swimmer should have an understanding of the effort needed to maximize their heart rate on this set. Then finish the set once heart rate drops with 50 sprint kick and 2 x 25’s Tarzan then a 100 recovery swim.

Tarzan, Variable Speed, and Heart Rate sets are some of the important items included in the Faster Swimming program. We discussed Race Pace training in the last Journal. If you have any questions please email [email protected] or [email protected]

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The Importance of Fly Kicks

Consistent kick is a must.  Swimmers need to understand momentum and maintain it especially through the break out strokes or the transition between the underwater and swimming. Most swimmers make the mistake of slowing the kick before the break out strokes thus increasing drag and slowing momentum before trying to swim.  A consistent kick will help maintain a better body position in the water throughout the swim.

http://www.viddler.com/explore/FasterSwim/videos/253/

Fly kicking on the side helps swimmers understand the importance of kicking both directions with equal force.  This will help with working the up kick needed for speed during the swim.

http://www.viddler.com/explore/FasterSwim/videos/254/

Fly kicking off of the wall.

1. Kick immediately upon leaving the wall.

2. Keep you upper body still to reduce drag and focus on a tight streamline.

3. You could actually turn your body slightly towards the wall which will help affect(more force) more water.

4. Kick up and down with equal force.

http://www.viddler.com/explore/FasterSwim/videos/255/

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Why Swim On Top of the Water When the Fastest Part Is Under Water?

Momentum, Momentum, Momentum

“When an external force acts upon a body, it changes its momentum; however, when no external force acts, the momentum of the body does not change, a fact which is incorporated in the principle of ‘the conservation of momentum’. Therefore, momentum has come to be known as the force of motion that a moving body acquires in continuing its motion by virtue of inertia.” If you can understand this concept then you will be a very happy swimmer.

Maintaining a proper streamline and being able to time your breakout into your swimming is key to fast swimming. If you ever do anything underwater and feel yourself slow down then you have lost momentum. Momentum will be different for each athlete based on body type, flexibility and skill level. What and how you do your underwater mechanics and how you breakout into your swimming all effects momentum.

As often as possible you must try to keep the 4 H’s in line (Hands, Head, Hips and Heels).

The biggest momentum killer for all strokes is the transition from the underwater swimming to the actual swimming on top of the water. Swimmers and coaches do not spend enough time on this aspect of swimming. This is major especially when a swimmer comes off a wall in an un-streamlined position, not kicking, then deciding to breakout of the water too deep and deciding to breath first thing.

Sound familiar?

Use each wall in practice to break your bad habits. The fastest part of swimming is underwater when done correctly. Why do you think the 15-meter rule, and original rules of breaststroke were made?

BACKSTROKE:

A slow down in timing with improper body position will kill momentum. Keeping the head back, controlling the breathing and maintaining the speed of the kick will help maintain momentum. Increasing stroke count through (each lap) your swims will help maintain momentum.

BREASTSTROKE:

Momentum is lost when a swimmer loses control of body position. Speed is in the kick. Swimmers must remember to never let the time between the finish of a kick and start of the next kick get slower. The time between the finish and start of the kick can tell the story of timing. A constant pace must be maintained at this part of the swim whether it is faster for sprints or slightly slower for other swims. You must control the timing of the kick while maintaining proper mechanics of the pull.

FREESTYLE:

Breathing, head position, finish of stroke while maintaining a constant kick will all affect momentum. Learning how to maintain these mechanics during the race will greatly affect the finish of the race and momentum.

Momentum is lost when a swimmer loses control of body position.

BUTTERFLY:

Momentum is lost when the speed of the kick slows. A non-kick, slow kick or bad timing will only make all the other mechanics worse. Timing is key to proper mechanics and momentum.

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Timing and Rhythm During Breathing and Stroke

BACKSTROKE:

There is a breathing pattern in backstroke. Each swimmer will be a bit different. Have each swimmer determine his or her breathing pattern. The concentration should be during the exhale of the breath with the finish of a stroke this could be every right arm finish or any variation. Tell swimmers as they are sprinting that as they try to increase to rate of exhaling that this will help maintain or increase the turnover of the stroke.  Timing of the kick must be short and faster, as the kick falls apart during the backstroke so goes the stroke. While maintaining a faster and shorter kick remember to finish the stroke near the thigh and the surface of the water. There should be no delay from the finish of one stroke to the beginning of another. This is a major problem with the backstroke with many swimmers. Make sure that the swimmers are finishing the stroke correctly. Most swimmers finish the stroke too deep or off to the side of the body.

FREESTYLE:

Timing of the breath and proper breathing is the most important concept to instill in the swimmer. The first thing a swimmer must be able to do is learning how to exhale while the mouth is in the water so there is only inhaling while the mouth is out of the water. A lot of swimmers take time to exhale and inhale during the breath thus slowing the breathing process and throwing off timing and body position by turning the head to a non-streamline position creating drag and usually affecting the hips. The breathing process begins during the catch of the stroke and is completed at the front end of the pull. If a swimmer sees his or her arm during the breath then they are breathing late.

Timing of the breath is the most important beginning to freestyle. If you can teach this it will eliminate many errors in mechanics. For example: If a swimmer doesn’t kick or the kick slows during the breath then the breath is too late. If a swimmer has a hip swing it could be due to the breath and head control. Make sure the swimmer is finishing the stroke in the proper place as to maintain the rotation of the arms.

BREASTSTROKE:

Timing is the most important aspect of this stroke to understand and grasp. Three parts of the stroke are initiated together. While the beginning of the stroke is initiated the swimmer needs to begin lifting the head to for the breath and the kick needs to begin with a slight bend in the knees. All three of these timing issues take a lot of thought and practice. The breath must be at the beginning of the stroke to again reduce drag and help the swimmer with the timing of the kick and pull. Remind swimmers that while the head is out of the water the swimmer needs only to inhale because the exhale of the breath should have been completed while the head was in the streamline position. The pull and the kick must match so the timing is such that they begin together or end together. The kick must be taught with the concept of reducing drag. If the knees are brought under the stomach or outside of the hips then drag is a huge factor. The kick must be kept behind the hips and is as much of a streamline position as possible. Body position is key all strokes as it is to breaststroke. Teach the kick with the thoughts of being streamline all the way through the swim, initiating the kick, during and especially at the finish of the kick. Most swimmers pull and kick at different times and never achieve a streamline position during any portion of the swim. It is easy to spot timing problems in this stroke, as you will see a pause after the pull because the swimmer is now waiting on the kick to start forward momentum again. Timing is such that as the swimmer is doing the recovery part of the pull he or she is kicking back thus always-maintaining forward momentum while reducing drag.

BUTTERFLY:

The initial start of the stroke with the timing and the kick is the same as the breaststroke. During the catch of the stroke the swimmer begins to lift his or her head for the breath and a down kick is done at the same time. There are two kicks per stroke and each kick has two parts an up kick and a down kick. The down kicks are timed with the catch and finish of the stroke. The up kick in fly is seldom taught and help the swimmer maintain the speed of the kick and momentum. Teach the swimmers how to kick and up as well as down equally. A good way to do this is kicking on the side.

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Developing Race Strategies and Breathing Tips for your Swimmers

Age-group coaches here some assumptions while developing RACE STRATEGIES and breathing tips for your swimmers.

Remember to incorporate all of this into daily practices so it becomes second nature to your swimmers then you can really focus on their racing!

Assumptions:

1.    Each swimmer will vary on how to swim each event and this should be established between the swimmer and coach.

2.    Training level. How in shape are you at the time of your swim?

3.    What time of the season are you swimming the event? Beginning of the season, heaviest training time or tapered.

4.    Physical/mental capabilities and you know your mental pitfalls better than anyone else.

5.    Remember that this is a training tool for the coach to test and teach the swimmer. While learning it isn’t all about the final time but how that specific time was achieved.

6.    Some swimmers have the ability to swim events differently in a prelim/final meet just to qualify top 8 or 16 at night.

7.    Each swimmer has judged all walls for turns and finishes in warm-up at race pace. The swimmer needs to do a couple of starts to get used to the blocks and this includes a backstroke start.

400 Individual Medley along with breathing tips.

Except for the fly because of the start, each stroke should be negative split by 50. For example, fly :28, :30, back :33, :32, breast :35, :34 and free :29, :28. Splits will vary based on the swimmer’s strengths and weaknesses. Help the swimmer work on splits based on the goal time and work on race pace in practice.

You need to establish the number of fly kicks you are going to maintain thru-out your swim off each wall (breast obviously one). You need to establish this at practice and repeat, repeat, repeat. The more fly kick you are able to do eventually within your physical demands the faster you will swim.

Every time you switch strokes the timing of the stroke changes and your body needs to adapt to the new breathing pattern. “Breathing is your friend”. You need to catch your breath and adapt to the new stroke within the first couple breaths of each stroke.

When doing an open turn (fly, breast and some back to breast transition turns) you need to exhale before you touch the wall so all you are doing when you head is out of the water is inhaling. Most swimmers make the mistake of exhaling and inhaling on the wall. This makes the turn slower and gives you less oxygen to work with to help your distance and momentum off of the wall.

When doing the backstroke turn you need to exhale before rotating on your stomach so you only inhale on the rotation, before your turn. Most swimmers don’t even think about this and the turn takes lots of oxygen. This also plays into the freestyle that obviously is the same turn. When breathing in freestyle remember to exhale while the head is in the water so you only inhale during the breath. If you are trying to exhale and inhale at the same time when your mouth is out of the water then you will develop timing problems and slow your strokes and ruin your mechanics.

Remember that breathing is your friend and the most common mistake swimmers make is not taking enough breaths the first 25 of all races, except the 50 free. You need to start breathing to enable your body to break down lactic acid build-up that will ensue. Lactic acid (lactate) is produced by muscle use and your body breaks it down it thru the breathing process as it tries to supply the muscles with more oxygen to optimize its workload. Without oxygen, there is anaerobic glycolysis which is the break down of carbohydrates which leads to lactic acid to build up in the muscle cells. The process of lactic acid removal takes approximately one hour, but this can be accelerated by undertaking an appropriate warm down which ensures a rapid and continuous supply of oxygen to the muscles. Lactic acid eventually gets converted to mainly carbon dioxide and water while it also gets converted to glycogen, protein, and glucose.

The 50 can be completed with 2, 1 or zero breaths as it is a race that is usually completed within 30 seconds for most year-round swimmers. Remember that this must be practiced regularly prior to racing. When deciding how to plan your breaths you need to keep in mind that if you wait until you need a breath it is probably too late and that particular breath mechanically will slow you down.

Your muscles can continue to work with maximum output up to 30 seconds before they totally tighten-up and stop working due to lactic acid build-up. Swimmers usually wonder why they died in a particular race and a lot can be answered by understanding oxygen deprivation and what it does to your body. Oxygen deprivation leads to a quicker build-up of lactate which makes it harder for the body to use oxygen (lack of) to break down lactate as described above.

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The Open Turn

The open turn is used for the breast and the butterfly. There is another flip turn for these strokes. I have only been witness to this turn at higher level meets.  This turn takes a lot of practice and excellent judgement especially as the swimmer goes into the third turn of the 100 or continues racing the 200. The key to the other flip turn is that a swimmer must touch with two hands first before the flip. The timing must be perfect upon judging the wall and the swimmers need a tight tuck and have good lungs. Swimmers do this by touching with the back of the hands shoulder-width apart and slightly deeper in the water. Then initiating a tuck, twisting and pushing off the wall with the breast facing down.

Judging the wall is essential. Swimmers must look for the wall with every breath. Your brain constantly perceives distances to an approaching object or walking would be very difficult. Help yourself out and look for the wall. Speaking of breaths, a swimmer must exhale upon touching the wall so as to take advantage of the time that the head is out of the water at the wall. Inhaling should be the only part of the breath when the head is out of the water (every breath should be the same. It is amazing how many advanced swimmers don’t inhale and exhale correctly). If a swimmer exhales and inhales while hanging on the wall the turn will be slower. A swimmer must touch the wall with a full extension of the body in a streamlined position. Swimmers have a tendency to dive for the wall and reach down thus increasing the distance to the wall. Maintain body position! Once the touch has been completed the time it takes you to touch your feet to the wall after the hand touch will determine the speed of the turn. Remember two-hand touch and proper breathing on the wall. When touching the wall the legs must be brought up to the wall with proper placement of the feet. The feet must be placed on the wall so that the push off the wall is parallel to the surface of the water but deep enough to do the pullout or fly kick needed. The legs must be brought up so the knees are pointed to the ceiling or sky (upward). The turn must be completed with the concept in mind that “the shortest distance between two points is a straight line”. Bring the legs up in a tight tuck to the chest using the core of the body including the hips and abdominals. Swimmers need to remember that pushing off the wall with their hands will not create a fast turn. The shoulders must stay at water level and the head must continue to look forward at the wall, until both hands have left the wall and the swimmer has submerged to begin the push off with the legs. The time it takes the swimmer to touch the wall with the legs after the hand touch and the timing of the breath are major factors in speed of the turn. The swimmer must point one arm to the other end of the pool after the touch immediately, during the tuck part of the turn. Once the feet have touched the other arm will leave the wall passing by the head submerging the swimmer for the push off of the wall. The head turns once the second arm passes by. Achieve a tight spike immediately and maintain good body position. You are now ready to begin the underwater pull or fly kick. There are four other open turns and three are transitions involved in the IM, with the fourth hardly used anymore call the “Nabor” turn. This was developed by John Nabor an Olympian backstroker from the 1970’s when you had to touch each wall in the backstroke before turning. This turn will not be described. Please look it up or ask an older swimmer.

Fly to back is as described above with the exception of pushing off with the breast of the swimmer facing up instead of facing down.

Back to breast is initiated as if you are going to do a backstroke finish. When your hand touches the wall you will use your abs and bring your knees to your chest. If you touched the wall with your right hand then you’ll spin your feet towards the right and your left hand will point to the opposite wall initiating the spike. The tighter your tuck the faster you’ll spin. Keep your shoulders at water level.

Breast to free is the same as the open turn described above.

Please feel free to comment or post your ideas for turns!

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Backstroke and Freestyle Turns

Backstroke turn:

Let’s start with the backstroke turn, which technically is the same as the freestyle turn, once the swimmer has changed his or her body position. The last stroke taken from the flags of backstroke is the key stroke where the swimmers change body position to the breast facing the bottom on the pool. When the last stroke is initiated (recovery part) the swimmer leaves the arm over the head with the fingertips pointing to the wall. The swimmer adjusts body position by rotating the shoulders (A swimmer can spin by rotating the shoulders to the desired position while the rest of the body will follow.) to the freestyle position with one arm stretched over the head as if doing a one-arm spike. Remember to take a breath while turning over to the freestyle position. The swimmer is now in proper freestyle body position and ready to begin the first underwater stroke followed by the one allowed, by USA rules, recovery arm stroke then followed by the final underwater stroke thus beginning the turn. The other variation of that begins after the swimmer changes body position with the spiked arm. The swimmer then does the one allowed recovery stroke followed by a double arm underwater stroke (both arms at the same time) into the turn.

Freestyle turn:

Let’s assume that you have mastered judging the wall for your turn. Do not change your arm rotation into the wall as you need to hit the turn as if you are continually swimming. Let’s say that you are going into the wall with your right arm out pointing to the wall meaning that you have completed the underwater part of your left arm. Leave the left arm at your side while starting the underwater stroke of the right arm. When this is complete both arms are at your side. Turn your arms so the hands are facing palms down to the bottom of the pool. You are now ready to initiate the tuck of the turn. Start by bending in half where you bring your legs and chest together. Once this has happened, bring your legs over and your feet to the wall. The tighter the tuck the faster the turn or the closer you can bring your legs to your chest the better. During the tuck you bend your arms to your face using your “arms and hand” to help speed the turn. Once your hands pass your face they will extend past the head into your spike. Do not touch flat footed or come to a stop. Touch with the balls of your feet with your knees slightly bent. The turn must be completed as one continuous motion, thus leaving the wall immediately. You may push off of the wall on your back. If on your back you will need to turn on your stomach by rotating your shoulders. This begins after your feet leave the wall and you have achieved a spike. If you are more advanced, you have initiated the shoulder rotation slightly, as you are tucking before the feet hit the wall.