Aqua Fun Academy
Swimming Tip Tuesday

Swimming Tip Tuesday: Getting Started

This week’s Swimming Tip Tuesday we’re going to go all the way back to the beginning. We’re going to discuss how to get started on your own swimming journey for those of you who have never been in the water before.

Approaching a swimming pool can be an anxiety-ridden task. With this carefully constructed list I hope you’ll be encouraged to join us in the water, whether that be at our Aqua Fun Academy facilities or at your own local community centers!

This starts with wearing proper and comfortable swim attire:

  • Swimming Tip TuesdayFor clients we recommend a one-piece swimsuit or a two-piece with strong elasticity around the chest and/or waistline.
  • As a woman I tend to buy my one-piece swimsuits one size or a half size tighter. This is because over the course of a season the elastic of the suit will loosen. This allows me to have a longer wearing suit.
  • Swimming Tip Tuesday, Pro Tips to keep your swimsuit in long lasting form:
    • Store in a separate bag from your towel.
    • Hand wash with gentle soaps (no detergents) in cold water.
    • Hang to dry.
    • Avoid facility provided bathing suit dryers as those wear out the fabric.
  • Goggles for those with more sensitive eyes.
  • Swim caps, you can purchase from your local Sport Chek or SportingLife.
  • Some professionals will recommend nose plugs. I personally discourage the use of nose plugs, just because you want to be able to breathe through both your mouth and nose during swimming. However, the swimmer’s comfort comes first.

Understanding your needs as a new swimmer is important, so feel free to ask your AFA instructors what they recommend.

Know your pool, and start in the shallow end. Here are some tips to identify which end of the pool is shallow: Swimming Tip Tuesday

  • Ask the lifeguard / instructor on deck which end of the pool is shallow.
  • Look out for “shallow” or “no diving signs”.
  • Some pools have a dark line that divides the pool into shallow and deep. Note that this line will cross through the lines dividing the lanes.
  • Locate a ramp to enter (these are always on the shallow end of the pool).

Know your pool, there are different types of pools:

  • Therapy pools or pools specifically for younger children are warm (note: therapy pools are not the same as hot tubs).
  • Pools used for length swims are on the cooler side (so exercising individuals do not overheat).
  • Shower before entering the pool to help adjust to the water temperature before your swim.

For those of us worried about how the water will affect our hair & skin look below:

  • Swim caps are good to keep some water out. You can purchase from your local Sport Chek or SportingLife.
  • For swimmers with thick and luscious hair I highly recommend using a clarifying shampoo to help take the chlorine out.
  • Don’t have time for a heavy duty wash? Be sure to rinse your hair after your swims.
  • Always rinse after a swim and moisturize, pick up a strong moisturizing body lotion to help keep skin healthy and hydrated. (The water tends to dry out the skin after extended duration (hours) in the water).

Until out NEXT Swimming Tip Tuesday!

 

 

 

 

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Swimming Fit Friday: Accessory Workouts

On this week’s Swimming Fit Friday we are going to discuss building strength through cross training in the gym instead of the pool and why you can’t always do your favorite exercises!

Many of us areSwimming Fit Friday guilty of focusing on our favourite or well-known exercises for long duration of time as our only workout. Examples of commonly known exercises would be squats, deadlifts, and bicep curls. Our bodies are composed of multiple muscle groups, and these muscle groups work together to accomplish an exercise. We mitigate our ability to develop strength when we focus on one muscle group.

Performing the same behavior, but expecting the outcome to change, is the definition of insanity (Albert Einstein may have also been an athlete?). The body requires versatility in order to develop. When I started lifting I too was guilty of this. I was doing squats as a solo activity, hoping I’d eventually surpass my plateau of 90lbs. For months, I was unable to surpass this weight limit, as I was repeating the same workout routine. Then one day it hit me, my problem was a lack of training any accessory muscle groups! In simple words, I wasn’t working on any of the muscles that were supposed to help me squat this weight.

I started to do different exercises to build the rest of my muscle groups.

To list a few:Swimming Fit Friday

  • Walking lunges or Farmers carries
  • Glute and Hamstring raises
  • Hip Thrust
  • Prowler Pushers

I also started to do exercises that focus on smaller muscle groups such as glute medius and minimus. For you are only as strong as your weakest link.

Using a microband to add resistance. Step inside the band with both feet and fasten around each ankle. Stand in a wide sports stance (or squat), knees slightly bent, toes pointed straight ahead and hands on hips or out in front. Step out to the side and continue walking sideways as if you were a crab.

Swimming Fit FridayThough these exercises are less exciting to post to Instagram, they are key in helping you bridge the gap in your muscle development. Giving you the assist you need to develop your strength!

If you’re still struggling to develop strength, check out my other articles on progressive overload, and the F.I.T.T principles. Until next Swimming Fit Friday!

Swimming Tip Tuesday

Swimming Tip Tuesday: Back Float & Recovery

On this week’s Swimming Tip Tuesday we’re going to come back to basics and talk about back floats and recovery.

Floating on our back can be unsettling for new swimmers because they experience difficulty standing back up or recovering. Today we are going to look at the mechanics of getting into a relaxed back float and how to get up.

Swimming Tip TuesdayFloating always reminds me of an old episode of Magic School Bus in which they take a piece of bread and throw it over top of the lake and it floats, another student takes another piece of bread and crumples it into a ball, to the students surprise it sinks to the bottom of the lake.

We want to be like that first piece of bread. Flat on top of the water, and taking up as much space as we can. This can be accomplished by putting our arms above our head at 10 and 2 (as if we are on a clock), and we will put our feet at 5 & 7 or further apart depending on the swimmer’s flexibility.

Once we are in position, we are going to bend at the knees and slowly lean back onto the water. There are a few things we want to keep in mind when we are leaning back.

  • To push our legs up slowly
  • Don’t worry about maintaining your arms at the exact points above
  • Remember to push your tummy up

Some equipment we can use for those who want a little added support.Swimming Tip Tuesday

  • Dumbbells
  • Noodle
  • Or the assistance of an AFA instructor

Recovery refers to the way in which we get our feet back on the ground.

While in our float position we want to do the following:

  • Bend the knees
  • Bring your bent knees up towards your chest
  • Pull your arms in towards your knees to make more of a ball shape
  • Push your feet down towards the ground

Note: while bending your knees you may sink a bit, be prepared to blow bubbles or hold your breath for up to 3 seconds.

Remember you can practice this and more during our Adult classes. AFA instructors will help you get back on your feet every time!

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!

 

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Swimming Fit Friday: Presence & Exercise

Today’s Swimming Fit Friday of the week:

Swimming Fit Friday

Swimming Fit Friday: Presence and Exercise

Very often we are distracted by the daily buzzing of our thoughts and day to day activities. Did I grab the mail today? What time is that appointment on Thursday? We are out of tune with the present moment. Through exercise and mindfulness practices we can come back to the present moment. We can accomplish this by paying attention to our breathing. We carry our breath with us everywhere, and due to this, one can always be aware of the present moment!

Start by following your breath in, either through the mouth or nose, paying attention as your lungs fill up, causing the chest and abdominals to expand, and follow the breath out as your abdominals and chest relax and the air flows upwards into the throat and out of your mouth and nose. This practice can be done for as short as 30 seconds or as long as 1 hour, and as often as necessary to help ourselves return to the present. Drifting is completely normal, and for as many times as we go astray we shall bring ourselves back. That is why it is called a practice as we will remember to bring ourselves back more and more. Following your breath is also important during exercise, it allows us to set a pace and recognize how hard our cardiovascular system is working!

Swimming Fit Friday

Swimming Fit Friday: exhaling from the mouth, the breathe is everywhere.

When exercising, we want to push ourselves into a moderate workload. Remember a moderate workload is personal to the individual and everyone can work at different intensities dependent on their personal fitness, age, and ability. Holding your breath is counter-productive, it puts extra stress on your cardiovascular system. Thus, when we are exercising we want to exhale on the effort of a movement and inhale during the recovery phase, in preparation for the next movement. This awareness helps to provide an overall rhythm to our workout.

Remember to always be smart, be safe, and work slow, and have fun!

 

Swimming Tip Tuesday

Swimming Tip Tuesday: Progressing Butterfly

Today’s Swimming Tip Tuesday is an Advanced Tip! As we progress throughout swimming, we challenge ourselves to learn more complicated strokes, and more competitive and competition oriented strokes. If this is where your interest lies, look more into Aqua Fun Academy’s ASAC program. The Link is provided below:

http://aquafunacademy.ca/asac/

Butterfly is one of the most co-ordination heavy strokes, similar to breaststroke. However butterfly also requires well-conditioned upper body strength, and flexible shoulder mobility. This stroke can be learned in steps, and for today’s Swimming Tip Tuesday we will focus on the head position associated with the butterfly.

To perform butterfly correctly the swimmer should maintain that they look downward towards the bottom of the pool. Let’s look at some different methods to practice this key aspect of the skill.
Swimming Tip Tuesday Workout.Swimming Tip Tuesday

Equipment:

  • 6 rings (an alternative to rings would be following the dark black line down the middle of the pool).
  • Flippers, to perform butterfly or alternatively Dolphin Kick

Use of Equipment:

  • Rings
  • Flippers

Action: Perform butterfly OR dolphin kick

Emphasis: Focus on following the line or rings down the pool.

Distance: Repeat for 50m, 30 seconds of rest in between each 25m.

Swimming Tip TuesdayReason: The activity of following the rings or the line down the pool will encourage the body to remember this position and store it in muscle memory when practicing butterfly while focusing on other elements.

How can I tell if I’m performing butterfly properly? Get a buddy. Swimming with a buddy helps us to hold ourselves accountable for our actions. Get your buddy to watch you from two angles. Have your buddy stand at the opposite end of the lane to see if you deviate and look forwards at them. A second vantage point would be to swim in the lane closest to a wall and have your buddy watch you from the side. What your buddy is looking for is how far forward or downwards you hold your head throughout the stroke.

Tip Summary:

Swimming butterfly correctly requires you to keep your head set solidly in a downward-facing position.

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

Swimming Tip Tuesday

 

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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: 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

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This weeks’ Swimming Fit Friday – Goal Setting

This weeks’ Swimming Fit Friday we are going to talk Goal Setting and getting started.

Well into our second month of 2018, congratulations you made it! For those us of who were quick to make up new years resolutions, maybe some of us have fallen off the horse. On the other hand some of us may be late to making major changes. If this is you, there’s no time like the present. A good friend of mine said it’s good to start things on a Monday, keeping that in mind we’ll spark a fire to get active on a Fit Friday, prep over the weekend and hit the ground running on Motivation Monday!

SMART, that’s the acronym those of us working to be successful follow. Take the time to read these questions provided by the SMART acronym when that light bulb goes off.

Swimming Fit Friday

Swimming Fit Friday:
Alex and Eamon going over SMART goals with their swimmers.

SMART stands for:

  • Specific: What do you want to achieve?
  • Measurable: Is this goal something you can measure?
  • Attainable: Can you accomplish this goal?
  • Relevant: Does this goal add value?
  • Time: What is the time frame we are going to do this in, and is it reasonable?

It is through this method we filter our ideas and get specific, and start to make real progress. Take this tool and share your SMART goal with someone you care about, hold yourself accountable to your goals. Through sharing we are now accountable to ourselves and those we shared it with.

 

 

Swimming Fit Friday

Swimming Fit Friday: Swimmer practicing Front Crawl.

Let’s look at an example:

S – Swim Freestyle 100m in under 2:00m

M – Yes, because we can use a timer to verify success

A – Yes, because I know how to perform basic Freestyle

R – I am training for ASAC

T – The ASAC meet is in 4 months

Understanding that this is where we want to be in 4 months time, we can add milestones throughout our journey. This can be checked at the end of each practice, or at the end of each month. Having Milestones in addition to our SMART allow us to re-evaluate our plans to attain this goal.

We’ll that’s all for this weeks Swimming Fit Friday. All the best!