Aqua Fun Academy
Swimming Tip Tuesday

Swimming Tip Tuesday Front Crawl: Avoiding Drag.

This weeks’ Swimming Tip Tuesday, we will discuss how to avoid ‘drag’ when performing Flutter Kick, specifically during Front Crawl.

Before we get right down to it, lets quickly review what drag is. Drag is the force that pulls the body backwards as we swim. It comes into effect when the body exits streamline position. Understanding that one does not swim only in streamline position, the swimmer learns to use the water to move forward.Natation Conseil Mardi

A common beginner mistake when kicking is to kick from the knees down. However the as a swimmer you want to utilize the whole leg. Focusing on the action and generating momentum at the hips. Using the larger muscles in the leg to generate power.

Swimming Tip TuesdayFor those who cannot make it to a pool here is a way to practice generating force from this hip on land. To practice this one can stand on a stool or on the stairs so there is a handrail to assist for balance. Standing sideways with one hand on the rail, swing the one of the legs back and forth focusing on the movement of the hip initially keeping the whole leg straight. Still swinging back and forth, focus on the up swing, remembering that the swimmers body will be face down throughout the stroke. The swimmer will start by pushing down on the thigh and then flicking the ankle up. The emphasis on the whole motion, the leg should look like a small controlled wave. While the most pressure should be on your feet, also move your whole legs in small, steady motion.

Translate this action into the Flutter kick, focusing on feeling a wave run down the leg from the hip to the toes. Another method of practice is to add flippers and focus on the same movement. The elongation of the leg due to the addition of the flippers forces the swimmer exaggerate the wave motion.

That’s all for this week until next Swimming Tip Tuesday.Swiming Tip Tuesday

Swimming Tip Tuesday

Swimming Tip Tuesday Butterfly Workouts

This weeks’ Swimming Tip Tuesday we will analyze and critique Butterfly. Butterfly, requires a large amount of upper body strength, unlike Front Crawl, one cannot over compensate with the use of a strong kick, to make it through stroke, for this is a skill for the advanced swimmer.

The base of Butterfly is the dolphin kick, alternating between the use of one big kick, and one smaller kick as the arms pull and recover. The legs move in unison, to mimic the tail of a Dolphin. This helps to propel the body forward, however with various bends in the body as the swimmer kicks, can cause the swimmer to sink lower and lower under the surface of the water.

Swimming Tip Tuesday

Swimming Tip Tuesday: Butterfly Recovery

To mitigate sinking as a result of the changes in our kick, we utilize the positioning of the upper body as well as momentum generated from the legs; specifically the arms. The arms sweep down drawing the shape of a keyhole, palms pushing through the water to lunge the body forward, as the arms come up over the head is when we must relax. This is our recovery phase, as we relax the angle of our chest rising through this movement will bring the legs up towards the surface of the water – giving us room to kick again.

Simply put: During the recovery phase, relax and let your chest position force your legs to rise to the top of the water.

Knowing is half the battle, how do we practice this so it becomes natural? Check out the training methods listed below:

Swimming Tip Tuesday Workout 1:

Equipment: pool buoy.

Use of Equipment: put the pool buoy in between your legs, specifically between the thighs.

Action: Perform arms only Butterfly.

Emphasis: Focus on relaxing the chest after the breathe in your recovery phase.

Distance: Repeat for 100m, 30 seconds of rest in between each 50m.

Reason: The use of the pool buoy will keep the swimmers legs at the surface of the water. Allowing the swimmer to focus on the arm motion and relaxation of the chest.

Swimming Tip Tuesday Workout 2:

Equipment: Flippers.

Use of Equipment: Put flippers on feet.

Action: Perform Butterfly.

Emphasis: Focus on the flippers reaching or breaking the surface water, one the chest has relaxed in the recovery phase.

Distance: Repeat 200m – 300m, 30 seconds of rest in between each 100m.

Reason: The flipper adds to the length of the legs, cause the swimmer to focus on generating enough power with the arms during the pull phase, to bring the chest to the appropriate position. This will use of the flippers will also allow the swimmer to perform longer distances, as the flippers will also add additional propulsion power.

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

Swimming Tip Tuesday

Swimming Tip Tuesday Front Crawl Speed and Power

This weeks Swimming Tip Tuesday will dive a little deeper into building our power as we do Front Crawl which will ultimately assist with our overall speed of the stroke. Despite swimming being a full body exercise, an area often neglected by swimmers is developing upper body strength. Fortunately for most swimmers, when sharpening our technique we can also enhance our upper body strength, with that said, let’s dive in.

Swimming Fit FridayWhat we want to remember: that the swimmer should not start pulling their arm back until they give themselves enough room to reach forward under the water. Here’s why, extending the arm as far forward as the swimmer can allows for a longer opportunity to generate power. The longer pull builds musculature within the biceps and triceps.

When performing Front Crawl the step before recovery (when the arm exits the water) is to pull the hand past the hip to propel the body forward. If the distance between reaching forward and pulling back is shorter, the swimmer will generate less power.

Less power generated from the arms will force the swimmer to rely heavily on strength from their legs. This is only optimal if the swimmer is performing a Front Glide. Movement of the arms out of the water brings the body out of a streamline position. When the arms are misused, or used incorrectly this slows the swimmer down. The purpose of utilizing the arms during a stroke like Front Crawl is meant to assist rather than burden the lower body. It creates a more effective opportunity to generate power, and propulsion as well as opportunities for breathing.Swimming Tip Tuesday

As a swimmer becomes more advance the addition of ‘S’ pull will allow the swimmer to generate much more power. As the swimmer is performing Front Crawl, there will be a longer and longer moment of forward movement in between each pull phase, due to the propulsion.

To Summarize, reach for the stars, or this case as far forward as you can before each and every pull!

Swimming Tip Tuesday

Swimming Tip Tuesday: Don’t Start pulling your arm back until you give yourself room to reach forward under the water.

Swimming Tip Tuesday

Swimming Tip Tuesday: The Pull

This week’s Swimming Tip Tuesday focuses on “The Pull” in the sequence “Pull, breath, whip, glide” during the breaststroke sequence!

The pull phase of the stroke, despite being a simple action, gives rise to opportunities for many little mistakes. Potential mistakes include: a false recovery period, stalling as well as sinking. However, mastery of this movement improves the following:

  • Forward propulsion power.
  • Optimized breathing opportunity.

To accomplish this, the swimmer must be aware of how to move different segments of the arms. Starting with the hands: for positioning of the hands, one wants to keep their fingers together. Continue with flat palms that push through the water during this phase. This emphasizes forward propulsion.

The next point of focus is the elbow. Swimmers should bend their arms so that their fingertips are pointed towards the pool floor. Beginners will bend at roughly a 90 degree angle. As a swimmer develops proper shoulder movement it will alter how far the hands and arms are from the trunk of the body.

As mentioned above, the next point of focus is the shoulder. One wants to lift the shoulder to bring their face out of the water. In other words, the swimmer should shrug as they pull their arms in towards the sides of the trunk of the body, bringing them in close. This provides a quick, optimal breathing opportunity.

The shoulder lift or shrug is also very important because it keeps the head close to the water. It negates the risk of sinking and stalling, so long as the swimmer aims the arms out from the chest in one full swift motion.

A common beginner habit is to draw a wide rectangular box during the pull phase, which leads to stalling and ultimately sinking. The method of drawing a narrow box is often -and only- used as a progression, in order to allow beginners to build the arm strength required to execute this skill.

To finish the pull and enter into the glide phase, the swimmer will roll the shoulders and push the hands out from the centre of the chest forwards.

Remember: Lift your shoulder to bring your face out of the water to breathe.

Thanks for reading!

Onieka

Swimming Tip Tuesday

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: 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 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
Swimming Tip Tuesday

Swimming Tip Tuesday – Streamline Breastroke

Todays’ Swimming Tip Tuesday we will talk about staying streamline while doing Breaststroke.

In previous Swimming Tip Tuesdays’ we have isolated various movements that help simplify this complicated stroke that is Breaststroke. We’ve also discussed maintaining streamline body position during other strokes. Today we are going to look at the body from the top of the torso to the knees when performing Breaststroke.

In Breast Stroke the body moves through a sequence of steps: pull, breathe, whip, and glide for three seconds. During the glide phase the body is in perfect streamline position, as seen in the photo below.

Swimming Tip Tuesday

Swimming Tip Tuesday: An example of a swimmer in full glide potion.

When a swimmer executes the pull and breathe phase we partially break streamline position. However these motions are to help us generate forward momentum. As we whip, the arms are returning to streamline position. In order to prevent drag as we whip the swimmer must try to keep their thighs at the same level as their torso.

There are a few ways to create drag during the whip phase that many beginners do while learning the stroke.

  • The swimmer drops their knees towards the ground as the initiate the bend phase.
  • The swimmer bends at the hips while they initiate the bend phase.
  • The swimmer bends so their ankles exit the water.

Now that we understand the mistakes that can be made how do we correct these?

  • The Swimmer aims their knees towards the wall directly behind us, keeping our thighs inline with our torso.
  • The swimmer bends their heels back towards our buttocks without bending at the hips.
  • During the whip phase the swimmer keeps their ankles under the water.

If the swimmer accomplishes all three of these corrections, they will improve speed efficiency and technique during Breaststroke, as a result of creating less drag.

Well that’s a wrap for this Swimming Tip Tuesday, until next time!Swimming Tip Tuesday