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Aqua Fun Academy
Swimming Fit Friday Natation Forme Vendredi

Swimming Fit Friday: Building Abdominals

On this week’s Swimming Fit Friday, we’re going to discuss how to develop abdominal strength, both in the water and on land. By strengthening our abdominal muscles, we can enhance our ability to perform strokes like butterfly.

As mentioned earlier on last week’s Swimming Tip Tuesday (link here), when a swimmer wants to really develop a strong dolphin kick, they start by engaging the abdominals. Push your chest downward, and engage the abdominals to push your hips up.

Below you will see some moves you can execute in the water to challenge your core strength.

Please note, exercises may be done with the assistance of a pool noodle or a buoyancy belt. Even advanced aqua fitness participants will use a pool noodle, floating dumbbells or belt to increase the number repetitions done per set. Furthermore not every body type will float with ease. I personally use the belt to assist with my buoyancy.

Exercise: Suntan – SupermanSwimming Fit Friday
Focus: lower abdominals

Starting on ones back in “suntan” position: legs straight and arms sculling* at the side of the body. The swimmer will then tuck their knees towards the chest to make a ball. In this ball the swimmer will rotate forward so they are now on their stomach, extending the legs back and arms forward to resemble the hero superman. Once in superman position the swimmer will tuck the knees to chest again, rotating backwards so that the swimmer rolls back onto their back returning to suntan position. The swimmer should repeat the transition from suntan-superman-suntan, 3-5 times as a beginner in aqua fitness, 5-8 times if intermediate, and 10+ times if advanced.

However the ease with which a swimmer does this will depend on their comfort in the water, as well as starting abdominal strength. Those with less abdominal strength will initially roll onto their side, and have difficulty when transitioning. Like many things, this will get easier with practice. Regardless of skill level swimmers may scull through transition to help maintain rolling direction.

*Sculling is a figure eight motion done with cupped hands at the side of the body to keep one afloat.

Exercise: PendulumSwimming Fit Friday
Focus: oblique and lower abdominals

With the use of the pool noodle or buoyancy belt or dumbbells, the swimmer will position themselves vertically in the water. Then, the swimmer will move the legs so they move horizontally up towards the top of the water. Afterwards, the swimmer should let the legs fall back so the body is vertical. The swimmer should do this to left to center, then right to centre, for a timed duration of 30 seconds.

As I mentioned above, the amount of repetitions will depend on how well conditioned the body is, as well as how comfortable one is in the water.

Swimming Fit Friday

Swimming Fit Friday: With knees on the ground, and hands placed on the handles of the wheel, roll forwards elongating the body, and then engaging the abdominals pull the body back in.

Listed below are common land exercises:

Exercise: Sit-ups
Focus: upper abdominals

Exercise: Leg raises
Focus: lower abdominals

Exercise: Planking
Focus: entire core

Exercise: Rollouts
Focus: entire core

Well that’s all for this week, thanks for reading!

Swimming Tip Tuesday

Swimming Tip Tuesday: Breaststroke & Slow Down

In this week’s Swimming Tip Tuesday let’s talk Breaststroke!

Maintain glide position until you feel deceleration.

Breaststroke is one of the more complex skills one can learn. To properly execute breaststroke, it requires the brain to coordinate multiple motor functions, as a result of its complexity. This promotes brain health, and strengthens neural pathways. To demonstrate the complexity of breaststroke, we will compare it to a stroke like front crawl. The legs involved in front crawl are a quick and repetitive motion, requiring minimal engagement from the lower leg. This simple motion is coupled with a more complex arm movement. This arm movement is where intermediate swimmers engage the majority of their focus.

In contrast, during breaststroke both arm and leg movements require high levels of focus, and coordination. For example, prior to the execution of the whip, the arms begin a sequence of two main movements. As the arms move into their third main movement, the execution of the whip is completed.

Swimming Tip Tuesday

Swimming Tip Tuesday: An example of a swimmer entering the glide phase.

It is at this point that the body is in a full glide position. Many beginners have difficulty micromanaging these movements in proper succession. As a result, they never enter the glide phase. If the swimmer never enters the glide phase, they lose overall forward propulsion, and use too much energy to move a short distance. It is during the glide phase that we achieve our highest forward momentum.

A common beginner mistake is to put too many whips in succession without a proper glide phase. The reason this is not a desired movement is because the water acts as a vacuum and either leaves the swimmer in a relatively stationary position, or pulls them in the backward direction. If this continues, the swimmer’s body will eventually sink. This is due to the large break in streamlined body position, as well as swimmer fatigue. Swimmer fatigue often happens due to the lack of efficiency in a stroke, in this case by putting too many whips in succession.

For all these reasons it is important to enter the glide position and wait until the body starts to slow down or decelerate. It is at this point that we can generate a large amount of forward propulsion, without fighting water resistance. This water resistance is generated by the aftermath of our previous whip.

In conclusion:

  • Whip one time, and one time only!
  • Enter the glide phase, and;
  • Hold glide ‘till Slow!

Until next week’s Swimming Tip Tuesday!

Swimming Tip Tuesday

Swimming Tip Tuesday

Swimming Tip Tuesday: Developing Butterfly

On this week’s Swimming Tip Tuesday we will discuss butterfly and the importance of building abdominal strength, both for enhancing the performance of the stroke as well as its everyday benefits.

The main component of butterfly is dolphin kick, and though the word “kick” would lead you to focus your energy on building leg muscles, the point of propulsion starts in the hips and lower abdomen. The hips and the abdomen is where the swimmer thrusts the pelvis downwards into the water. It is at this point that the swimmer takes this power and channels it down into the thighs, and through to the calves and feet. Strength in the abdomen is used again to pull the hips upwards for the next kick sequence.Swimming Tip Tuesday

Our Swimming Tip Tuesday Pro Tip to really develop a strong dolphin kick, is to start your kick by engaging your abdominals. Push your chest downward, and engage the abdominals to push your hips up.

By developing this abdominal strength, the ability to travel further between kicks increases tremendously!

Abdominal strength is important in day-to-day life as well for some of the following reasons:

  • Improvements in posture – aside from being better for your spine, having better posture can help with confidence, and how others perceive you. The way in which you physically hold yourself indicates a great deal to others subconsciously.
  • Better balance – which is something to be mindful of as we age. The number one cause of injuries as one gets older is from falling. Having good core strength allows for swift reaction time in the event of a potential fall.

For those of us who are comfortable in the water, you can perform the following to improve core strength:

  • With the use of a pool noodle placed under your feet in the water, hold a surf position for as long as possible.
  • With the use of a pool noodle, perform ‘suntan – super man’ (for more on how to do this move keep an eye out for the next Swimming Fit Friday on building abdominal strength).

Well that’s a wrap for this week’s Swimming Tip Tuesday! Thanks for reading!

Swimming Tip Tuesday

Swimming Fit Friday Natation Forme Vendredi

Swimming Fit Friday: Everyday and Stretching

On this week’s Swimming Fit Friday we’re going to discuss the significance of stretching in ones day-to-day life. Often, individuals will address the importance of stretching in addition to doing purposeful exercise. However, it is in our everyday lives that we perform various activities that can exercise the muscles or put strain on the joints and ligaments due to the repetitive tasks we do.

For example, we can continuously load the muscles with activities such as walking up and down the stairs, carrying loads of laundry, carrying pots, or taking pets out for a walk. Even carrying purses, or backpacks to get to our various plans for the day.

In careers such as retail, nursing, life guarding, or serving, individuals spend a great deal of time on their feet, walking for hours at a time. When an individual with a career of this nature neglects to stretch we increase our risk of injury. Strained muscles can lead to tears in tendons, and constant repetitive movement can increase the onset of diseases like arthritis.

Swimming Fit Friday

Swimming Fit Friday: An example of a leg and hip stretch

What can we do to help alleviate the tension that builds up inside our muscles and joints? The simple answer is to stretch the various muscle groups as the day goes on. For individuals with minimal time, one can use heat. A hot bath with epsom salts, will allow for some of the tension to disperse. However fitting small stretches into one’s day can be incredible beneficial. From planted finger stretches where the individual will place the finger along the surface of the table and pull the palms away from the surface of the table, to rolling the wrist and ankles. Over hand stretches will help to lengthen the back and spine on lunch breaks. Even planting the heel of your foot firmly into the ground while maintaining a straight leg. Performing some of these while at work, or once at home can help reduce built tension.

A large portion of work and everyday life involves the use of hands. What we can do specifically for hands as well as feet is to have them massaged or with the use of a tennis ball, roll them out to stretch out the fingers (toes) and loose the palms (soles).

To lengthen and release pressure in the spine there is an easy stretch one can do in the morning. What you will do once you wake up is lie on your back. In this position push your arms up as far as you can over your head towards the wall or headboard. At the same time, push your feet down towards the edge of the bed. Hold for 10 seconds. This is a simple stretch to do every morning.

Well that’s all for this weeks Swimming Fit Friday, until next time!

Swimming Tip Tuesday

Swimming Tip Tuesday: Butterfly Like a Wave

Swimming tip Tuesday

Swimming Tip Tuesday: An example of a swimmer performing just dolphin kick. Head position is lower to practice breath control over long distances.

On this week’s Swimming Tip Tuesday, we’re going to discuss butterfly and the flow of motion used to travel through the water. The base of butterfly is dolphin kick, which is performed in a ‘S’ shape or a wave motion in conjugation with the arms to form Butterfly. Dolphin kick is done to add additional and simultaneous propulsion power, to push the body forward as well as slightly up towards the surface to breathe. This is done while keeping our chin close to the surface of the water as well as maintaining visual of the wall ahead.

When beginning to learn this stroke, a common mistake is to perform two very separate actions in which the swimmer thrusts the hips down while arching the back up so that the head is at the surface. In the second action, the swimmer then pulls the hips up, and pushing the head down far beneath the surface of the water. This divides the body into an upper and lower half, disrupting the flow of water around the body.

This disruption creates drag, it waste swimmer stamina and makes it close to impossible to breathe and rotate the arms to generate significant momentum.

Tip: Focus on making your movement as wave-like as possible, as opposed to a see-saw type of motion.

You can do this by maintaining our head position close to the surface:

  • Where the top of the head is directly under the water while the eyes are facing forward; and
  • Where the chin remains close to the surface of the water while breathing.

The swimmer can focus on how to emphasize the kick from the hips with slight drops in the pelvis and bends in the knees to propel the body (as we spoke about in an earlier article in which we focused on dolphin kick). We want the chest to rise and fall, in accordance to the flow of the two kicks performed every time the swimmer rotates the arms for a strong pull.

That’s all for this week’s Swimming Tip Tuesday! Thanks for reading, and keep swimming!

Swimming Tip Tuesday

Swimming Tip Tuesday

Swimming Tip Tuesday: Front Crawl

On this week’s Swimming Tip Tuesday we will discuss front crawl. Specifically focusing on arm recovery and shoulder placement.

When you as a swimmer begin to learn front crawl, you have been introduced to the following skills:Swimming Tip Tuesday

  • Floating
  • Rhythmic Breathing
  • Front Glide
  • Side Glide
  • Flutter kick

Front crawl takes these skills and combines them, allowing the swimmer to achieve greater distances, swim more efficiently, and with greater strength. Front Crawl (also known as freestyle) is a highly energy efficient stroke when performed at a high level of proficiency.

To begin to make this stroke our own, we must focus on the mechanics of the combination “front-to-side-glide”.

To turn onto our side, the swimmer must first keep their kick consistent. Establishing a rhythm when kicking will keep the swimmer close to the top of the water.

Secondly, the swimmer should roll the body to the side, instead of turning just the head, a slight roll turning the hips and shoulder.

For the 3rd step we have a Pro Tip: Your shoulder should come out of the water as your arm exits while the other begins the propulsive phase under the water. This should happen as you slightly roll to breathe.

Swimming Tip TuesdayWhen executed correctly, the swimmer will reduce drag by maintaining their streamline body position. The swimmer will also increase forward propulsion as our hand finds the catch.

Definitions:

Drag: In swimming “drag” is used to explain the force or resistance experienced by a swimmer by working against the water, or out of a streamlined position.

Catch: In swimming “catch” is used to finding the assisting flow of water to increase propulsion. In other words where the water is moving in large volumes.

Rhythmic Breathing: In swimming this means to blow bubbles and exhale in a consistent pattern or rhythm.

Well that’s a wrap for this week’s Swimming Tip Tuesday! Until next week!

 

Tutor Thursday

Tutor Thursday: Inclusive Literature

On this week’s Tutor Thursday we will discuss the importance of inclusive literature. As we educate younger minds, we need to be very intentional about the resources we have in our classrooms, our libraries and our lessons.

Our communities are becoming more multicultural and it is important to include diversity within the curriculum. It allows for all members in a classroom to share a sense of belonging. It is also important for our more homogenous communities, as it allows for the individual to learn about others and develop a better understanding of our fellow human beings.

Here’s our go-to list for some awesome books you can share with your students, children, and friends.

Inclusive Literature


FamiliesTutor Thursday

Susan Kuklin

(Grades 4 – 5)

Combining interviews and engaging color photos, this book shows the diversity of families in America. Includes mixed-race, immigrant, two-dad, two-mom and single parent families and families for whom religion is a focal point.

This book includes the LGBT community, and people of different race and religion. It teaches students about the different types of families that exist.


Tutor ThursdayMuskrat Will be Swimming

Cheryl Savageau

(Grades 1 – 5)

A heartwarming tale of the lesson a girl learns from a Seneca creation story her grandfather tells her — a lesson of knowing who you are and staying strong in the face of hurtful criticism.

This book addresses issues of self-identity and native American culture. It teaches students how ancient tales of native American cultures can be utilized to help children find their way in the world.


Gracefully GraysonTutor Thursday

Ami Polonsky

(Grades 5 – 7)

Grayson has been holding onto a secret for what seems like forever: “he” is a girl on the inside. Strengthened by an unexpected friendship and a caring teacher who gives her a chance to step into the spotlight, Grayson has the tools to let her inner light shine.

This book addresses LGBT identities. It teaches students about the power of inclusion, and acceptance.


Tutor ThursdayToday I Feel Silly & Other Moods That Make My Day

Jamie Lee Curtis

(Grades 1 – 8)

“Today I feel silly. Mom says it’s the heat.
I put rouge on the cat and gloves on my feet.
I ate noodles for breakfast and pancakes at night.
I dressed like a star and was quite a sight. Today I am sad, my mood’s heavy and gray…”A storybook that examines at the wide range of human emotions. The girl in the book describes the possible moods that everyone can experience each day.The book helps students explore, identify, and have fun with their ever-changing moods. This book can be used to help students be aware of their emotions and can lead to a self-regulation discussion.


The Diamond Willow Walking StickTutor Thursday

Leah Marie Dorion (Norman Fleury)

(Grades 3 – 6)

A young Métis boy learns from his grandparents about the importance of generosity. Their belief in the circle of life extends to sharing what you have without reservation, as your return will be fourfold. The boy learns from the example of both of his grandparents and observes the respect in which they are held in the community. Eventually he must put this belief into practice himself by giving away his most treasured possession, the diamond willow walking stick.

This book addresses topics on generosity and the Metis culture. It informs students of other cultures.


King & King 

Linda de Haan and Stern Nijland

(Grades 1 – 5)

One day, a queen decides she’s had enough of ruling, and it’s time for her son to find a suitable princess and get married. The prince agrees, though he’s never much cared for princesses… and none of the ones who show up manage to change his opinion. Then in walks the last princess, beautiful golden-haired Princess Madeleine–and her brother, Prince Lee. It’s love at first sight, and the two princes, known as King & King, live happily ever after.This book addresses gender stereotypes and teaches children to be open to everybody’s differences.


Until out next Tutor Thursday!

 

Swimming Tip Tuesday

Swimming Tip Tuesday: Butterfly Streamlining & Chin Position

Today’s Swimming Tip Tuesday we’re going to discuss butterfly and another strategy swimmers use to maintain their head position. Our pro tip of the day is to keep your chin as close to the surface as possible when breathing.

Body position is important to all strokes and water skills. The way we move within water depends on how we manipulate the body to work with and against it. By maintaining a mainly streamlined body position allows for the swimmer to move with ease and speed through the pool. The water moves around the body instead of against it.

Whether you’re swimming for fun, for exercise, or for competition, practicing various techniques to manipulate the water in an energy efficient way is key. Swimming is an efficient sport, especially when focusing on manipulating the body to perform strokes. The goal is to get the most forward propulsion with minimal disruptions to our streamline position.Swimming Tip Tuesday

Throughout the stroke we want to minimize the amount of drag created when the swimmer ultimately has to breathe. If the swimmer keeps the top of the head close to the surface when exhaling into the water, there is less distance to move upward to breathe. Similarly by keeping the chin close to the surface of the water when breathing, we reduce the amount of time it will take to re-enter the water and begin the next forward pull of the arms.

How do we practice maintaining our chin close to the surface of the water:

  • Keep the eyes looking forward towards the wall across the pool.
  • Tuck the chin slightly to graze the water as you recover the arms.
  • When practicing isolated dolphin with a flutter board, focus on how far your chest and head rise to breathe.

Remember to keep these in mind when perfecting your own butterfly!

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

Swimming Tip Tuesday

Swimming Tip Tuesday

Swimming Tip Tuesday: Chest Position

On today’s Swimming Tip Tuesday our key point is to ‘keep your body as close to the surface of the water as possible’.

Butterfly is an advanced stroke that requires a lot of coordination, and well-developed strength in both the arms and legs. Let’s 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 starting with their 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 with the surface.

As we go into the stroke, the chest drops slightly with the downbeat of the hips, and returns to 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 the surface of the water, we decrease the amount of work required to pull the head up to breathe. 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.

To practice adjusting the body, perform a front float and focus on maintaining the position of the chest. Well that’s a wrap for this weeks’ Swimming Tip Tuesday, until next week!

Swimming Tip Tuesday

Swimming Tip Tuesday

Swimming Tip Tuesday: Beware the Current

On this week’s Swimming Tip Tuesday we will discuss water safety. Whether you are staying local and visiting the beach, headed up to the cabin, or going on vacation abroad. It is important be mindful and cautious about the type of water you are going to be venturing into.

swimming tip tuesday

Swimming Tip Tuesday: here’s an example of a warning flag at the beach

When going on vacation at a beach, lifeguards will have red buoys or flags out to indicate which parts of the beach are unsafe due to waves and the strength of currents in the water. Even the most experienced of swimmers can be pulled under due to the strength of the current. Follow these signs as you would traffic lights. They are not guidelines, they are rules to protect you. Never underestimate the power of currents, and be extremely cautious about swimming in one.

Another caution to be wary of while at the beach are sandbars. Sandbars are areas of elevated sand at the bottom of the water, these tend to appear and disappear as one moves deeper into the water. Walking off of one of these can be shocking for all swimmers, specifically inexperienced swimmers, or those new to this phenomenon. Remember to stay alert and be aware of your surroundings, swim with an aid, or a life jacket, to keep safe when out on the water.

swimming tip tuesday

Swimming Tip Tuesday: Currents of the water can be dangerous, wear a life jacket!

Remember, no matter how calm water looks, there are also under currents to be wary of. These are often a product of “calm” looking water. The water happens to be moving at a startling speed. Always wear a life jacket when going into uncontrolled waters (ie: lakes, oceans, rivers etc). Do not just bring your life jacket with you, wear it. Treat it as your would a bike helmet or a car seat belt. It does not work if it is not on. Remember even the most experienced swimmers can drown, so swim smart and swim safe.

Until our next Swimming Tip Tuesday!Swimming Tip Tuesday