Aqua Fun Academy
Swimming Tip Tuesday

Swimming Tip Tuesday: Performance & Fatigue

On this week’s Swimming Tip Tuesday, we’re going to discuss performance curves in regards to practicing our strokes and ways in which we can combat fatigue.

What is a performance curve? A performance curve measures how effectively we practice over a period of time. This varies from person to person, though there are some general rules. For example if one is reading a long article in preparation for an exam it takes approximately thirty minutes of reading for the mind to optimally focus on the material. In regards to physical activity, our level of fatigue is one of the factors determining optimal performance.

There are ways to work around fatigue when practicing. One of those ways is to mix up which muscle groups we use throughout our practice session. If you feel your stroke technique dropping for one stroke, change to another stroke. Different muscle groups are used in different strokes. Due to this swimmers can provide an opportunity for your other muscles to recover from some fatigue.

Another way to combat fatigue is to incorporate stroke alternatives. These alternatives can come from our shallow or deep-water aquatic fitness programs. Below are some alternatives that assist in overall muscle development.

Swimming Tip Tuesday

Swimming Tip Tuesday: A person performing water running with assistance of a buoyancy belt.

  • Water running/jogging
  • Cross Country ski
  • Pendulum
  • V or L sit
  • Jax / oppositional Jax

Bolded exercises are to be done with the aid of a buoyancy belt!!

The eventual onset of fatigue is unavoidable, to help with swimmer recovery remember to also include light exercise or rest period throughout your programs.

To keep your swimming stamina high prior to practice check out the following tips below:

  • 30-45 minutes before your physical activity have Quick Carbs: a fruit (banana, apple, orange) of your choice helps boost energy levels prior to physical activity.
  • Hydrate regularly throughout practice, a good opportunity for this is during rest periods
  • Warm up & warm down to keep muscles loose and prevent the occurrence of muscle cramps
  • Communicate with your coach, they can adjust workouts to better suit your progress

Until Next Swimming Tip Tuesday!Swimming Tip Tuesday

Swimming Tip Tuesday

Swimming Tip Tuesday: Front Float

On this week’s Swimming Tip Tuesday we’re going to talk about Front Floats, breathing & recovery. For many beginner swimmers Front Floats can be a daunting task, as we have to perform this skill with our face in the water. This skill requires us to draw upon two instinctive behaviours, our ability to relax and our ability to blow bubbles.

The key to staying close to the top of the water is spreading our arms and legs out as much as possible, to increase our surface area. It is as if you were to put a slice of bread over water.

  • First pretend you are a clock; place your hands at 2 & 10 and your legs at 5 & 7. Another image is that of a starfish.
  • You want to maintain a relaxed demeanor when you perform a float because if you’re tense your body will sink.
    Swimming Tip Tuesday

    Swimming Tip Tuesday: Swimmer breathing out of their nose

  • Once you’ve gotten into the star float position, bend your knees and lean forward, slowly pushing your feet off the floor so you are now close to the surface of the water.
  • As you are leaning towards the water, take in a deep breath to prepare to exhale as your face is in the water.
  • Exhale slowly, this can be done through the mouth or nose.
  • To exhale from the nose, keep your lips together and hum “hmmm”.

To stand up (recover) perform the following:

  • Pull your knees in towards your chest (this will cause your body to start to sink as you are taking up less surface area.
  • Draw your arms in towards your centre as you feel yourself sink (this is to force the body to rotate so your feet are facing the floor).
  • Either after or as you draw your arms in push your feet down towards the bottom of the pool.
  • Stand up.

Despite the number of steps, performing this weeks’ Swimming Tip Tuesday is a quick skill. Especially recovering from a Front Float. Remember to remain calm, and exhale slowly. If you are having difficulty exhaling slowly from your mouth, try humming as this will force the swimmer to exhale from the nose. It will also slow the rate at which you are exhaling. For more on breathing check out the link below: http://aquafunacademy.ca/swimming-tip-tuesday-relax/

Until next Swimming Tip Tuesday!

Swimming Tip Tuesday

Swimming Tip Tuesday: Face in the Water

On this week’s Swimming Tip Tuesday we’re going to go back to basics with a beginner tip on putting our face in the water and submerging our whole head in the water.

Swimming Tip Tuesday

Swimming Tip Tuesday: A young swimmer totally comfortable in the water.

For many new swimmers this is an area of concern. Like any skill the more you practice the easier it will be to perform. We swimming instructors don’t ask for submersion to become a new swimmer’s favorite skill. As a matter of fact, we look for indifference, we want to transition to aversion, to callousness that will eventually lead to comfort.

Let’s address that we interact with water very often in our everyday lives, taking baths, showers, washing our face. We often get our faces wet. So why the aversion to putting our face in a pool?

A common aversion to putting our face in water is the difference in visibility. This can be aided by wearing goggles, which also has a dual purpose. The dual purpose comes from the fact that for some swimmers, their aversion comes from eye sensitivity. Due to the chemical nature of the pool some swimmers experience a slight stinging sensation. Remember it is important to invest in a pair of goggles that suit your face and eye shape. If the goggles are to small or too big it defeats the purpose of using them.

Dependent on the age of the beginner we can use a variety of techniques. One that spans age groups are submersible plastic rings. Placing the rings in the pool at a depth one cannot reach with their hands encourages swimmers to take the plunge and fully submerge.

Swimming Tip Tuesday

Swimming Tip Tuesday: A swimmer exhaling in the water while while wearing goggles.

An difficulty instructors face with this might stem from the fact that the swimmer may not be performing “bubbles” properly. “Blowing bubbles,” as an instructor would call it, is a technique used to exhale when we submerge in the water until we come up above the surface to inhale our next breath.

We want to make the process of blowing bubbles to feel natural to us. Similarly when we breathe, it’s something we do without thinking. Pay attention to your breath and every time you have to breathe out make a fish face as you exhale. Do this over and over, then filling up a bowl, or the kitchen sink, or the bath. Do the same over the water and slowly, lower your face into the water as you do this. The key is to remember to continue to breathe out as long as you have your face in the water.

For more on this, check out our Swimming Tip Tuesday on Breathing.

 

Swimming Tip Tuesday

Swimming Tip Tuesday: Elbows in Front Crawl

This week’s Swimming Tip Tuesday lets us hone in on high elbows in Front Crawl and ways to practice executing this skill. High elbows are the beginning of a more efficient stroke. It allows us to reduce the amount of drag and to set ourselves up for a more powerful pull action.

Tip: Focus on having high elbows after you pull straight back.

To help you guys out, I’ve written out two very simple drills using very little equipment that you can find around your local community pool. Both these drills emphasize the arms for front crawl.

Swimming Tip Tuesday Workout 1:

Equipment: A Buddy & 2 Flutter BoardsSwimming Tip Tuesday

Use of Equipment:

  • The swimmer will use one of the flutter boards to aid them with buoyancy.
  • The buddy will hold the flutter board at a consistent height (the highest point the swimmer can bring their elbow up during the stroke) and walk alongside the swimmer, all the while encouraging the swimmer to have their elbow meet the board.

Action: Using one arm, perform bent arm front crawl, with your buddy walking alongside you. Switch arm after each distance.

Emphasis: Bringing the elbow out of the water.

Distance: Dependent on the skill of your buddy and type of pool. Perform this within the shallow portion (where you can touch) of the pool. If your buddy has steady eggbeater you can do the full length of the pool.

Swimming Tip TuesdaySwimming Tip Tuesday Workout 2:

Equipment: Flutter board.

Use of equipment: hold the flutter board in both hands in front of the body.

Action: Perform bent arm front crawl.

Emphasis: Focus on exaggerating the rotation of the body and having your armpit facing upwards as you recover the arm around.

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

Reason: The flutter board will provide extra buoyancy during exaggerated rotation. This motion will give us enough room to focus on bending the elbow high above the body.

For more workouts on how to improve your strokes, check us out every Tuesday!

Focus on having high elbows after you pull straight back

Swimming Tip Tuesday: Sofia performing beautifully executed Front Crawl with high elbows.

That’s a wrap for today’s Swimming Tip Tuesday!

 

Swimming Fit Friday Natation Forme Vendredi

Swimming Fit Friday: Visualization

On this week’s Swimming Fit Friday, we will explore the uses of visualization in relation to exercise. As a bonus we will also explain how this tool promotes success in activities unrelated to athletics.

Imagine if you will, a world in which you have control over your body. Oh wait, for many of us this is a reality! Our motor functions and our thoughts are programed and executed through the pink squishy matter sitting in our heads. The brain has the power to practice and solve problems using only our subconscious mind. Athletes and businessmen alike have taken advantage of this function and turned it into a tool for success.

Swimming Fit Friday

Swimming Fit Friday: Jennifer Abel from Canada’s Olympic diving team performing a tuck.

Through visualization we can activate motor functions and practice sequences without actively doing them. When you imagine diving into a pool in great detail the brain will fire low-level signals to the muscle groups involved in diving. From our toes curling over the edge of the pool, our arms swinging to the sides of our head, to our fingers breaking the surface of the water upon entry. But why do this?

The simple answer is fatigue. Physical fatigue will inhibit us from practicing. Mental fatigue takes more time to develop, and as a result of that we can leverage our ability to visualize when we cannot physically practice.

How do you apply visualization properly? If you are struggling to do a skill, rehearsing the wrong way will not benefit you.

  1. Find a video of someone executing the skill properly then watch it repeatedly and think about doing the exact same movement.
  2. You want to focus your mind in the positive “you can” and “you will” execute this move perfectly.
  3. Find a quiet room and sit eyes closed for 30 minutes and imagine you are the individual you just watched and visualize yourself performing that movement.

Studies show that visualization in conjunction with practice increases your rate of improvement by 10-15 percent.

How does this apply to the world of business, or other less athletic activities? Visualization can help us build desirable habits. By spending 10 to 30 minutes everyday visualizing a desired behavior we can slowly change how we operate on a day to day basis.

Whether you want to change your behaviors, or tackle a new skill, remember to start slow and use your smart goals and milestones to help evaluate if you’re making progress with your skills. Until next Swimming Fit Friday!

Swimming Tip Tuesday

Swimming Tip Tuesday: Bent Arm Workout

This week’s Swimming Tip Tuesday, we’ll talk front crawl and focus on the movement of the arms as we progress the skill. Specifically, we will talk about keeping your elbow slightly bent as you reach your hand in front of your body to enter the water. Front crawl is a skill we begin learning in the upper preschool levels and swim kids 1 and 2. Teaching us the basic movements of Front Crawl. To make coordination as simple as possible, beginners move their arms in a full circle. As we progress through the levels swimmers develop more strength through conditioning. It is when we enter swimmer 5 that bent elbows are introduced.

Why do we bend our elbows during the recovery phase of the stroke? For starters the recovery phase is when our arms are above the water. Bending the elbow reduces the recovery phase time and makes the stroke more efficient, so we no longer must full rotate at the shoulder blade. This also allows the swimmer to focus on generating more force during the push phase. The push phase occurs when we push the arm through the water and past our hips.

Beginners often bend at the wrist instead of the elbow. The reason this difference is important is because bending at the wrist does not reduce time spent in the recovery phase. Furthermore bending at the wrist creates drag, as the body is no longer streamline when entering the water.

Remembering to bend at the elbow slightly as you reach your hand in front of your body to enter the water is a key component in advancing one’s front crawl from a beginner stroke to an intermediate stroke. To help graduate your stroke from beginner to intermediate, check out the workout below.

Swimming Tip Tuesday

Swimming Tip Tuesday: Cullen Jones from 2012 Team USA performing Freestyle.

Bent Arms workout for Front Crawl:

Swimming Tip Tuesday Workout 1:

Equipment: Flutter board

Use of Equipment: hold the Flutter board in both hands in front of the body

Action: Perform Bent arm Front Crawl

Emphasis: Focus on exaggerating the rotation of the body and having your armpit facing upwards as you recover the arm around.

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

Reason: The flutter board will provide extra buoyancy during exaggerated rotation. This motion will give us enough room to focus on bending the elbow high above the body.

For more workouts on how to improve your strokes, visit us again.

That’s a wrap for today’s Swimming Tip Tuesday!

Swimming Tip Tuesday

Swimming Tip Tuesday

Swimming Tip Tuesday: Back Crawl Workout

This weeks’ Swimming Tip Tuesday, we will discuss coordinated breathing during Back Crawl. This article will also include 1 basic workout you can use in your free time to help perfect this beautiful stroke!

Swimming Tip Tuesday

Swimming Tip Tuesday: Swimmer breathing out as they break the surface during Back Crawl.

One of the fundamental skills of swimming comes from understanding rhythm, because every movement has a rhythm. These rhythms work together to move us along the water in the same way notes on a staff do for a song.

A breath is taken every time an arm completes a full cycle. Try breathing in as one arm passes your ear and exhale as the other arm passes. When beginning Back Crawl, the arms start in opposition to each other. With one above the head, and the other by the hip the swimmer is going to breathe in as the arm that was closest to the hip passes by the ear.

As a beginner, syncing up our breathing with our movement will be difficult, in particular with the inclusion of the arms. The following drill is going to simplify our movement keep us within streamline position and provide the swimmer with an opportunity to sync their breathing.

Swimming Tip Tuesday: Back Crawl Workout:

  • Progression 1 will focus on body timing.
Swimming Tip Tuesday

Swimming Tip Tuesday: Swimmers in streamline position, before rotating onto their backs.

The swimmer will breathe normally and start by performing back glide. Ever six kicks, the swimmer will roll their body so one shoulder has popped out of the water. Alternating the shoulder every six kicks. Perform for a distance 25m-50m

  • Progression 2 will sync our breathing.

Performing Back Glide still alternating the shoulders every six kicks, the swimmer will inhale slowly for six kicks as the first shoulder rises, and exhale slowly for six kicks as the first shoulder falls and the second shoulder rises. Perform for a distance of 200m-300m

A follow up to these progressions is listed below as extra, be aware that it will utilize the arms, and challenge the swimmer to maintain streamline position.

  • Extra progression 3 will add the arms.

Instead of rolling the shoulders the swimmer will move rotate the arms, ever six kicks. Maintaining the same breathing pattern listed in progression 2. Perform for a distance of 200-300m

Keep in mind these progressions are used to help us develop rhythm, to produce a smoother and more controlled stroke.

Well that’s all for this weeks’ Swimming Tip Tuesday!Swimming 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 Fit Friday Natation Forme Vendredi

Swimming Fit Friday: F.I.T.T Principles

For today’s Swimming Fit Friday we will discuss personal fitness within the realm of aquatics. Specifically the F.I.T.T principles and how to apply it to your life both in and outside of the pool!

F.I.T.T Stands for:

  • Frequency
  • Intensity
  • Time
  • Type of Exercise

When looking at exercise guidelines, it is recommended to exercise 3-4 times a week for, a duration of 60 minutes. Knowing this a common theme is that 3-4 times a week for 60 minutes is not something that fits nicely into everyones’ schedule. If one is blissfully unaware of the F.I.T.T principle one often sees exercise as an ultimatum. As a result many of us go without exercising. Lack of exercise can lead too poor or worse health, lack of motivation and drive, lowered self-esteem, and high levels of stress. Finding a way to get exercise into your schedule really works wonders for the individual and all those they are connected too.

To get more out of our day, we can increase the frequency in which we work out, to twice a day for 15 minutes. It is easier to find small windows of time. Another example would be 15 minutes of a high intensity workout 3 times a week. In which we increased both the frequency and intensity.

Understanding this means we know that one does not want to exercise at a leisurely pace, with your increased exercise frequency, reduced time period, you need to increase the intensity of the workout. This helps us reap similar benefits as if we were to follow the recommended guidelines. Making modifications to our exercise routine with the use of the F.I.T.T principle, helps us to achieve our exercise goals!

Swimming Fit Friday

Swimming Fit Friday: A person performing water running with assistance of a buoyancy belt.

Intensity can be adjusted in various ways. For example:

  • Running 10, 100m sprints, instead of jogging a mile. Would be an increase in intensity.
  • Water running, instead of running on a treadmill, you’ve increased resistance and therefore increased the intensity.
  • Holding a push up, and performing an isometric hold. Check the link below for a quick 20 seconds demo!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WqAjyXjfQpc

  • In an aquatic situation you can perform with only body weight or add the addition of a noodle, or dumbbells to work against buoyancy. When performing a push down, as shown by the woman in the photo underneath to the right.
    Swimming Fit Friday

    Swimming Fit Friday: a woman performing push down with the use of a buoyancy resistance tool, called dumbbells.

Swimming Fit Friday

Swimming Fit Friday: Swimmers in a deep water aquafit class, using the noodles to increase the resistance in their arm action. Buoyancy belts are a common tool for deep water aquafit.

Intensity can also be coupled with the concept of exercise type. For example, you can do crunches or you can hold a 5pound medicine ball to increase the load while performing sit-ups. Similar exercise, higher intensity! In an aquatic situation you can perform with only body weight or add the addition of a noodle, to work against buoyancy.

 

Well that’s all for todays’ Swimming Fit Friday, and the F.I.T.T principles! Until Next Time!

P.S Remember when performing our exercises it is KEY to maintain ones form, bad form is an opportunity for injury! Continual posture checks throughout ones workout help to keep one in good form.