Aqua Fun Academy
Swimming Tip Tuesday

Swimming Tip Tuesday Common beginner mistakes for Front Crawl

Today’s swimming Tip Tuesday will focus on a common beginner mistake for Front Crawl, regarding ones head position.

When doing Front Crawl the swimmers head position is important because it is one of the key points of rotation when breathing. If the swimmers head is miss-positioned the head can act like an anchor and cause the body to sink. The act of sinking causes the swimmer to exert unnecessary energy to complete the stroke for any desired distance.

A common beginner mistake is the swimmer will pull their head up, or forward facing when going to take a breath, rather than turn to the side. This creates unwanted strain on the neck, and throws the body out of a streamlined alignment.

To avoid this, read the following listed below:

  • The swimmer should breathe rhythmically, exhaling for a fixed period (3 seconds) of time and inhaling for a fixed period (three seconds) of time
  • The swimmer should focus on the location of the ear and nose while turning the head to the side
  • The swimmer should turn their head with the movement of their arm as they go into a side glide

Side glide: The swimmer extends one arm past the head leaning the ear down into the water bringing the swimmer onto their side. Keeping the other arm resting slightly behind the hip.

Another common beginner mistake is the swimmer will look forward, towards the wall ahead of them while blowing bubbles. Again putting unnecessary strain on the neck and throwing the body out of alignment.

While the swimmer is blowing bubbles into the water via the mouth or nose, the swimmer should aim to keep their head in the water with their eyes looking down. The swimmers head should be in line with the body and the water level should come between the eyebrows and hairline.

Indications of proper head position are as follows:

  • The swimmers neck is relaxed and not strained upwards
  • The swimmers ears are under water completely
  • The swimmers eyes are facing the floor beneath them
  • The swimmers chin is slightly tucked towards the chest

If all of the above are performed, the swimmer has successfully executed the proper head position for Front Crawl.

Tip: With eyes looking forward and down, your head should be in line with the body and the water level should come between your eyebrows and hairline.

Well That’s all for this weeks Swimming Tip Tuesday!

Until Next Time!Swimming Tip Tuesday

Swimming Tip Tuesday

Swimming Tip Tuesday: Butterfly – Dolphin Kick

Today’s Swimming Tip Tuesday Butterfly – Dolphin Kick

Butterfly is a more advance stroke, for it requires controlled upper body strength and coordination of the arms and legs. Because of how advance this skill is we will revisit and discuss other components in future article, so keep your eyes pealed for some helpful pro tips.

Swimming is all about transferable skills, for those who have master Breaststroke an intermediate skill in which there is a large amount of coordination involved between the upper and lower body. The coordination of arms and legs during Butterfly will come more naturally in comparison to those who are still grasping Breaststroke. Another transferable skill is mastery of dolphin kick, as it is a direct building block for the overall mastery of Dolphin Kick.

In today’s Swimming Tip Tuesday we will focus on the how to execute the dolphin kick component of Butterfly.

When executing dolphin kick a large part of the movement comes from isolation of the hips. In a streamlined position along the water, the swimmer will push their pelvis downward to generate momentum that will move down the body from the hips, thighs, knees, calves, and then feet.

This downward push of the pelvis is done twice. The first wave to allows for mostly forward momentum, the second wave is used to generate upward momentum to bring the torso and head out of the water. Allowing the swimmer to breathe.

Pro tips:

  • Swimmers often use the imagery of a mermaid tail to describe how the legs push through the water, while keeping them close together.
  • The catch in between kicks is important, you want to pull the hips up higher on the second kick to help generate more downward momentum.
  • While doing the kick the first kick will always be smaller then the second. The size of the kicks refers to the amount of downward movement from the hips.
  • Powerful downbeats of the feet then propel the body forward. Try to keep your legs close together with your ankles relaxed.Swimming Tip Tuesday
Swimming Tip Tuesday

Swimming Tip Tuesday, Improving Front Crawl

Today’s Swimming Tip Tuesday will focus on Front Crawl. As a swimmer graduates from each respective level the stroke Front Crawl is refined to increase power, speed and overall efficiency. This is done slowly as it takes time to commit the basic movements to memory with the proper amount of co-ordination. A common beginner mistake when starting Front Crawl is the swimmers pulls their head up as if they are about to breathe facing forward. When the swimmer pulls their head up out of the water it takes the body out of the streamline position, the swimmers body acting like an anchor the body will start to sink due to the major shift in body position. The swimmer must then exert more effort and energy to pull them selves back to the surface of the water. To avoid sinking, one can focus on the positioning of the ear and nose when turning to breathe. The ear should smoothly enter the water as the swimmer turns their head to the side to breathe.

Let’s walk through the steps of Front Crawl to illustrate what to do for the stroke.

Please read the following steps:

  • The swimmer should start in the glide position
  • As the swimmer lowers one of arm down towards the hip
  • The swimmers’ body will rotate onto it’s side
  • As the swimmers body rotates, one will drop the shoulder down into the water
  • Rolling with the body of the swimmers head will turn as well
  • Stretching their mouth upwards to take in air
  • To ensure the swimmer doesn’t pull their head up upon enter:
  • The swimmer will focus on the position their nose
  • Turning the head so that the nose of the swimmer faces the floor.

Remember to avoid lifting your head too much out of the water. Well that’s all for this weeks Swimming Tip Tuesday.Swimming TIp Tuesday

Swimming Tip Tuesday

Swimming Tip Tuesday: Breaststroke and head position.

This weeks’ Swimming Tip Tuesday we will discuss Breaststroke and head positioning. When performing Breaststroke head positioning is important as it helps the swimmer align their body in such a way that allows for them to recover and breath easily. A common beginner mistake is too keep ones head down almost pointed towards the floor. As a result of this head positioning the swimmer often dips far underneath the surface of the water, causing them to exert more effort pull themselves back up to the top when the time comes to breathe. This down and upward motion can also throw off the timing and coordination of the stroke. While the swimmer is maneuvering their body to bring their head up and out of the water, from a deep below the surface, the swimmer can stall, as a result of late whip.

When executing Breaststroke it is important to keep your head angled so that you are looking forwards and downwards – not just forwards. Imagine that you are holding a tennis ball between your chin and chest all the way through this process. This allows the swimmer to maintain a streamline body position without causing the swimmer to dip down far underneath the surface of the water.

Another way to think about our head positioning is that we should aim to keep our head at the surface of the water. As if we want the top of our head to be dry throughout the stroke. Remembering this has often also helped beginner swimmers who are striving to look more like intermediate swimmers to correct their head position.

As a point of reference as too what that looks like, refer to the picture of todays’ Swimming Tip Tuesday. In which the swimmer is holding their head at an angle, instead of looking straight down.

That’s all for this week! Keep Swimming!Swimming Tip Tuesday

Swimming Tip Tuesday

Swimming Tip Tuesday: Kicking

Today’s Swimming Tip Tuesday is on kicking:

Kicking is a key aspect of swimming, specifically flutter kick. It is used in both Front crawl also known as freestyle to those who swim competitively.  As well as during Back crawl, which is still called Back crawl even if the stroke is done competitively. Due to the fact that the muscles in our legs are significantly stronger than the muscles in our arms, it is essentially to learn how to use these muscles effectively. As one learns more strokes and swimming techniques, how and what we do with our legs to propel our bodies in the forward motion, or sometimes in an upward motion varies. To increase propulsion it is important to have mastery of kicking, especially flutter kick.

Swimming Tip Tuesday: an example of fluter kick

Swimming Tip Tuesday: an example of fluter kick

When doing flutter kick, we must remember to keep our toes pointed, as show in the photo to the left. As well as to generate power from our hips. Simply put we must kick from our hips rather than our knees. This is done by keeping the entirety of the leg mainly straight. With minimal bending at the knees. When we accomplish this we allow our legs to stay fairly close together. This is important! Though as a new swimmer it is common to push our legs up or down splitting our legs a great distance apart, usually in a effort to increase propulsion. In practice pushing our legs far away from each other increases drag, which slows us down. Ultimately leading to increased fatigue which in turn forces us to complete a shorter distances.

To achieve greater distances without out getting very tired in practice it is more beneficial to keep our leg movements small and rhythmic. This will allow us to increase our forward propulsion. Think of it as having your legs tip-toe near the top of the water. The steadier this motion, the better we stay streamlined. Due to our optimal body positioning the water will assist your streamline position and thus move you forward at a faster rate.

All in all you want to remember to Kick with your legs close together!

Swimming Tip Tuesday

Your legs should be close together

 

Swimming Fit Friday Natation Forme Vendredi

Swimming Fit Friday: Exercise and Arthritis.

 

 

swimming fit friday

Above is a photo of Aqua Fitness participants, with noodles

This swimming Fit Friday we will talk about ‘Exercise and Arthritis’.As we’ve discussed before the properties of water do fantastic things for the body.  One aspect that is noted often is that the water allows for a low impact environment. The water also allows those with reduced muscle mass, to weight bear with ease.

When working with participants who have arthritis the goal is to extend ones range of motion, building on flexibility while conditioning the muscle for positive developments in strength.

Because participants usually come with a limited range of motion, it is a preference of mine to only use ones body to exercise. Thus my classes in these cases tend to be equipment free. Warm water pools like Sunny View are perfect! Because the mobility required to thermo-regulate can be limited for the participants with decreased range of motion.

As an instructor I work to increase ROM (Range of Motion) by starting with small finer movements and gradually making the movements larger and more fluid. For example movement in the shoulders can be stiff, thus we can start by extending our arms as seen in the photo below. 

Swimming Fit Friday

Above is a photo of Michael Phelps arm span.

Once we’ve done this we will start by moving our arms in small circles and slowly increase the size of these circles with our arm. It is important to do this in both directions for a total time of 60 seconds, and 30 seconds in each direction.

A trend common amongst instructors who specialize in teaching this demographic is to limit every exercise to roughly 30 seconds intervals. Doing so allows the body time recoup and reduce muscle fatigue for the duration of the class.

In regards to building strength for this demographic it is also important to focus on balance. Having participants challenge their core strength, through various leg lifts, and holding various positions for 30 seconds at a time. Conditions the stabalizer muscles and promotes muscular endurance. Overall improving the participants’ quality of life, as they are able to stand for longer period of time. Which can allow them to do more around the household such as cooking and cleaning.

For opportunities on various adult classes and fitness programs visit the link below:

Health and Fitness

That’s a wrap for this weeks, Swimming Fit Friday!

Swimming Tip Tuesday

Swimming Tip Tuesday: Butterfly and Chest Position

Today’s Swimming Tip Tuesday our key point is to ‘avoid going too deep down in the water when pressing down the chest. It should only move about 5 inches up and down.’

Butterfly is an advanced stroke that requires a lot of coordination, and well-developed strength in both the arms and legs. As a result of this, Butterfly is a skill taught after one has mastered Breaststroke; which is a coordination heavy stroke.

Lets look at Breathing and Timing for Butterfly. When breathing the positioning of our chest in the water dictates how effectively we will be able to come up for air. Furthermore, the positioning of our chest also allows the swimmer to develop a natural rhythm.

A common mistake amongst beginners is to bring the head and chest too low into the water at the beginning of the stroke. What we are striving for is, to keep the head just under the surface of the water, and the chest almost level. As we go into the stroke the chest drops with the downbeat of the hips, and returns to just under the surface of the water on the second downbeat of the legs. Making a wave or ‘s’ motion with the body.

By returning the chest to just under the surface of the water, we decrease the amount of work required to pull the head up to breath. For those of you who have been swimming for some time, swimming is all about efficiency! By focusing on bringing the chest back up on the second down beat of the legs, we decrease the amount of energy used to bring our head up. This provides the swimmer with more energy to complete longer distances. As Butterfly can be a more physically taxing stroke in comparison to simple strokes like Front Crawl or Back Crawl.

That’s a wrap for this Swimming Tip Tuesday, until next week!Swimming Tip Tuesday

Swimming Tip Tuesday

Swimming Tip Tuesday: Back Crawl, relax the neck.

This weeks Swimming Tip Tuesday will focus on Back Crawl and relaxation of the neck. A Common beginner mistake while doing Back Crawl is to tilt the head upwards, as if they are looking at their chest or their toes. This creates unnecessary strain on the neck and can lead soreness along the neck. Another disadvantage to this tilted position of the head and neck is, that it partially closes the airway. Thus inhibiting the free flow of the breathe in and out of the body. This tension adds more stress on the body, ultimately compromising our streamlined position.Swimming Tip Tuesday

When performing Back Crawl, the swimmer wants to relax their head back so that their ears are partially or fully submerged in the water. If either the swimmer or instructor notices that there is still a feeling of tension within the neck, or that the body position looks awkward. There is another way to set the body into streamlined position.

The swimmer while on their back, must focus on where their chin points:

  • If the swimmers chin is pointed towards the chest that indicates that the swimmer is looking at their chest/toes.
  • If the swimmer’s chin is pointed upwards towards the ceiling, this means that the swimmer is overcompensating and looking towards the wall behind them.

The swimmer wants the chin to be held within these two points (as mentioned above) so that the swimmer is looking directly at the ceiling above them while performing Back Crawl. Maintaining this position will remove all tension, and keep the swimmer in a streamlined position.

Once the swimmer as achieved the ideal body positioning for the head and neck, the swimmer will also increase their speed for their will be less drag acting on the body.

Expert Tip: In short your head should be still and your neck relaxed. Holding your head up too high will cause strain to the neck and slow you down in the water.

Until Next Swimming Tip Tuesday!

Swimming Tip Tuesday

Swimming Fit Friday Natation Forme Vendredi

Swimming Fit Friday: Social Posture

This weeks Swimming Fit Friday we will discuss posture, and exercises one can do to improve, maintain and build their posture. However first we will discuss posture and its implications.

Posture is an important feature of our everyday lives it helps us communicate various characteristics such as confidence, power, authority, and strong leadership. These qualities are associated with good posture. Though these qualities may not be something inherent to the individual. Posture is something we can develop. With improved posture others may expect these positive characteristics from us. This is an advantage, for as humans we are performative creatures. Having others perceive us in this positive way can elicit us to act this way. Thus we become confident, powerful, and possess strong leadership.

Form is an implicit part of exercise success a lot of aquatic fitness, and water yoga rely on the ability to maintain ones posture. Body checks are done regularly throughout the class ensuring that participants are mindful of their proper form.

Starting at the top of the back underneath the shoulder blades, we have the Rhomboids; these muscles are crucial for developing proper posture. In aquafit, we can strengthen this area by standing in our athletic position; one for forward, and one back, and shoulders over hips.Swimming Fit Friday With our arms we will bring our elbows close to the torso of the body with the palms open. It is from this position that the athlete will relax the arms forward with the palms facing down until they are in front of the athlete, and then turn the palms 90 degrees, pushing the hands to the sides of the body, squeezing the shoulder blades together maintaining that the elbows remain close to the torso and that the hands do not extend past the shoulders. Repetition of these 25 times will build the upper back and shoulders.

To engage the entirety of the back, we can engage in various noodle work. The simplest is bicycle. This can be done by either sitting on the noodle or propping the noodle underneath ones arms. The points of interest are to maintain ones shoulders over hips throughout the cycle. Furthermore one wants to bring the legs forward in front of the body rather than underneath. By doing this we activate many of the postural muscles. It is through exercising these that we not only improve our health but our social standing as well.

Swimming Tip Tuesday: Breaststroke arm movements

This weeks Swimming Tip Tuesday we will discuss Breaststroke and focus on the arm movements.

When instructing this skill, instructors tell their students to “pull, breathe, whip and glide” as a way to remember the steps for the entire stroke. For the purpose of this discussion we will focus on the “pull, breathe” portion of this little saying. Starting from the top of the stroke our body is streamline, hands together in front of the head, as well the legs are close together behind. This is our body positioning at the very beginning and end of the stroke, please refer to the photo below for a visual.Natation Conseil Mardi
The swimmer will then take their arms and part them outwards, creating a box shape, at the sides of the body, while keeping the elbows inline with the shoulders. It is at this point that the swimmer will lift their head up to breathe hence the steps “pull, breathe”.  Immediately afterwards to generate forward momentum the swimmer will pull the arms from that position at the sides of the body in towards the chest and push forward. A common beginner mistake involves sweeping the arms to wide, pulling the arms past the shoulders, creating a longer distance for the arms to travel to return to a streamlined glide position. Ideally beginners want to create a box shape with the upper portion of their body always stopping at the shoulders.
Dependent on if the swimmer is performing Breaststroke as a common swimmer, or a racing swimmer the arm movements will look slightly different. Racing strokes have an emphasis on maintaining speed, by focusing on reduction of drag. Drag in this context, is when the water acts against the swimmer slowing them down. This can also be understood as time spent out of streamline position in which the body is not working to generate forwards momentum effectively. To improve speed for this stroke and reduce drag, one wants to keep the arms close to the body as they pull around. This is accomplished by bringing keeping the arms in tight as they move down towards the sides of the swimmers torso, dropping the elbows just under the shoulders, before pushing forward.
If speed is something of interest to you as a swimmer, looking into Aqua Fun Academy’s ASAC program, in which we develop swimmer skills and enhance their overall stroke performance. http://aquafunacademy.ca/asac/ 
That’s all for this weeks Swimming Tip Tuesday, until next time! Swimming Tip Tuesday