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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 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: Breathing FC

Today’s Swimming Tip Tuesday we will look at Front Crawl, specifically breathing and how to correct common mistakes.

Front Crawl, as we progress through the levels, becomes more and more about positioning and coordination. Timing is just one small element of getting this stroke in motion; especially in regards to breathing throughout a stroke.

Through my own teaching experience I have seen a multitude of interesting ways to breathe incorrectly. It is common for swimmers at all stages to develop habits that do not aid us in perfecting the stroke.

In order to retrieve a full breathe while doing Front Crawl, the swimmer must keep various things in mind.

  • When pulling the arms around to whether we are doing big circles or Front Crawl with bent arm, we want to be in the beginnings of side glide position as we take the breath. A common mistake occurs when we breathe as we are exiting the recovery phase. Simply put, breathe as you bring the arm out of the water, and not while you are putting your arm back into the water.
  • Head positioning is crucial, we want to keep about half our face within the water. Angling our chin towards the ceiling to bring in more air. As ones stroke increases in speed, you will want to stretch your mouth to the top side to keep it clear above the water.
  • Another way to bring our face to the correct position when first beginning to learn Front Crawl, is to bring our ear down shoulder during the side glide phase of the stroke.

Another thing to keep in mind, while performing Front Crawl is that breathing during swimming shares the same principles as breathing during other physical activities we exhale on the effort (in the water), and inhale during the recovery (while we bring our arms out).

Until Next Weeks Swimming Tip Tuesday!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

 

 

Swimming Tip Tuesday

Swimming Tip Tuesday: Butterfly Arms

Today’s Swimming Tip Tuesday:

Bring your arms up barely above the water and out to the sides.

This advanced swimming tip Tuesday is going to focus on the coordination of the arms during butterfly. This article will also focus on the importance of muscular balance and flexibility. The stroke itself requires a lot of upper body strength. Good upper body strength combined with the proper technique enables the swimmer to have explosive power. This application of power is required to pull the swimmer in an upward and forward motion. The arms circling forward resembling the image of a butterfly. Hence the name of this advanced stroke.

It is important to develop all the muscles in the shoulder and rotator cuff as pulling your arms forcefully around in a circular motion may cause discomfort if the muscles are unbalanced.

Exercises that strengthen the three deltoid muscles can be accomplished by both land and water exercises. Water exercises such as: water yoga or aquafit.

Further more it is equally as important to work on maintaining flexibility for rotation of the arms to prevent injury. Stretching in general is a great way to remain limber and avoid injury. When muscles and tendons become tight we are more prone exercising with improper form.

Lastly it is important to coordination when to flex and relax the arm muscles. Flexing throughout the entirety of the movement can also bring about the opportunity for injury. For example: many exercises have a phase of intensity which is when we aim to generate power. Flexing during this phase allows us to accomplish that. However if remain flexed we are sustaining a load and putting unnecessary pressure on our antagonist muscles.

In regards to executing the stroke; when pushing the arms down into the water is to try and draw the shape of a key hole. This shape allows the swimmer to generate both forward and upward momentum.

Another important factor lies when the arms are coming up out of the water. Ideally you want the back of the hands to meet in front of the face. This sets us up for drawing the key hole shape once the arms have reentered the water.

Remember exercise smart, focus on building balanced muscles and swim on. That’s all until our next swimming tip Tuesday.

Bring your arms up barely above the water and out to the sides

Swimming Tip Tuesday

Swimming Tip Tuesday – Diving and lift off

Todays’ Swimming Tip Tuesday, we are going to discuss diving and the importance of using our legs!

When diving it is important to bend at the knees to provide proper lift off.

A common mistake amongst new divers happens when we forget to use our legs correctly, especially during a standing dive. Trying to generate force without bending at the knees creates the opportunity to enter the water chest first instead of hands first. What those of us familiar with diving blunders call a “belly flop”. To avoid this painful lesson, here are some tips about how to position ourselves to enter the water hands first.

From the start push your feet down into the ground preparing to jump, pointing where you want to enter the water with your hands. Remember to keep your hands together, throughout the glide phase of your dive.

  • Place feet side by side

If this is uncomfortable, one may spread their feet no wider than shoulder width apart. This marks our take off point, make sure ones’ toes are as close to the edge of the pool as possible.

  • Bend at the knees till about mid-squat position

This position allows the swimmer to prepare for proper execution of the dive. Furthermore, holding this position we will want to push off with our toes pointed towards our take off point.

  • Bend at the hips bringing the upper body close to the legs.

By lowering the body, we give ourselves a closer point of entrance into the water. We also allow the swimmer to achieve the arch necessary for entering the water hands first.

Remember when moving from the take off point, we want to aim our body out. As to travel forwards, as well as upwards. The image we want to form in our mind is an half moon.

Best of Luck, and Happy Diving!Swimming Tip Tuesday

Swimming Tip Tuesday

Swimming Tip Tuesday: Back Crawl

In Today’s Swimming Tip Tuesday: 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.

Breathing, something we do every single day of our lives. Breathing in passion, and breathing out results! Breathing, as it is something we do involuntarily should be easy enough to do in the water! Integrating our movements to sync up with our breathing requires a little more thought than expected. Though while swimming on our back a swimmer has the added advantage that their face is out of the water for the duration of the stroke. So, when do we breathe? In any exercise, we want to exhale on the effort and inhale during the recovery phase.

In back crawl the effort is when the arm is re-entering the water, during the push phase. While the recovery phase is when the water enters the air, or exits the water, both of these elements are what compose a complete cycle of back crawl arms. Understanding the basic mechanics of the stroke it should be easy to break down when to breathe.

However, when back crawl is done both arms move juxtaposed. Meaning one arm is always in the opposite phase to the other. To get around this conundrum, the swimmer can focus on one arms cycle and co-ordinate their breathing in time with that arm. Our dominant arm can vary from sport to sport, so an easy way to find out which of the two is a swimmers’ dominant arm, is to take note of which arm the swimmer start their stroke with. When the swimmers dominant arm is out of the water they must remember to inhale, similarly when the swimmers dominant arm is in the water, they must remember to exhale.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