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Aqua Fun Academy
Swimming Tip Tuesday

Swimming Tip Tuesday: Minimize the Kick

On this week’s Swimming Tip Tuesday we’re going to focus on how to maximize our forward propulsion by looking at the differences in how we kick our feet.

Swimming tip TuesdayThe basis of butterfly is dolphin kick, it is from this movement that the swimmer generates most of their forward momentum. When beginners are learning this stroke, some instructors will put emphasis on splash to differentiate between the two different types of kicks.

Dolphin kick is a wave motion generated from the hips. The swimmer will do the following sequence when performing the kick.

1-push the hips down towards the pool floor.

1a-bend at the knees.

1b- keep the feet close to the top of the water.

This is the initial ‘S’ or ‘wave’ motion. Then the swimmer will…Swimming Tip Tuesday

2- push the bum up towards to the top of the water.

2a-straighten the knees.

2b push the feet down towards the pool floor.

This is the second wave, this motion will become seamless with practice.

As the swimmer performs 2b (pushing the feet down towards the pool floor) they will execute that push gently the first time, tapping the water and hard the second time, forcing the water down beneath them. On the second kick, the swimmer engages the arms and adds to the momentum.

We’ve spoken about the mechanics but how do we maximize this movement? The answer is to minimize the amount of splash we create in the kick.

As I have emphasized in the past to avoid drag we want to maintain a streamlined body position. Remaining streamlined allows for the water to flow around the body without creating drag and assisting with the swimmers’ forward momentum.

Swimming Tip TuesdayIn the case of Butterfly we want to maintain the motion of water around us to avoid drag. Due to the wave like motion of this stroke it is in the swimmer’s best interest to minimize disruptions to the flow of water.

When we create splashes, we change the movement of the water around the swimmer. Due to the change in direction of the water’s movement, the swimmer needs to work against these other currents being created by large splashes.

As a result it important for swimmers to practice the execution of this kick, with great power and a small amount of splash.

Keep practicing, and we’ll see you next time for Swimming Tip Tuesday!

Swimming Tip Tuesday

Swimming Tip Tuesday

Swimming Tip Tuesday: Streamlining

On this week’s Swimming Tip Tuesday we will discuss streamlining. Swimming is an efficient sport! The objective of swimming is to minimize as many unnecessary movements as possible to propel oneself through the water. In order to do this the body should remain in a horizontal streamline position.

Swimming Fit FridayWhen we raise our head up we break this horizontal streamline position, creating more drag. Note that “drag” in this context is the force pulling the swimmer backwards and ultimately down. Thus exiting streamline position by raising our head produces drag and causes the swimmer to sink. As a result of this it requires more effort for the swimmer to stay afloat and propel themselves forwards.

This is what happens: the body lowers starting from the hips and down towards the feet.

To prevent this specifically during strokes likes front crawl the swimmer must maintain a horizontal streamlined position. This can be done by keeping the head close to the shoulder when turning to the side to breathe. Ideally the swimmer should turn their head so their ear enters the water completely and their nose is parallel with the lane line or wall (dependent on which way the swimmer turns to breathe).

Swimming Tip TuesdayRaising our head up can also be create drag for strokes like back crawl and elementary backstroke. This is what happens: lifting the head up forces the swimmer to bend at the waist, and pushing the hips and legs down. This downward motion not only slows us down, but uses excessive amount of energy to propel us through the water.

To correct this one must relax the head in the water, allowing the ears to enter the water. As this is done, the swimmer should be able to see the ceiling directly above them. Maintaining this body position will allow the swimmer to keep their feet up with more ease during back crawl. Similarly during elementary backstroke, it is important to maintain the same head position as in back crawl.

To summarize: Try to keep your head and spine as still and relaxed as possible. Until our next Swimming Tip Tuesday!

Swimming Tip Tuesday

Swimming Tip Tuesday

Swimming Tip Tuesday: Breaststroke Whip Kick

This week’s Swimming Tip Tuesday we will discuss breaststroke and the correct execution of whip kick. During breaststroke, whip kick is an important element of the stroke, done primarily by the muscles in the legs, and guided by the feet. Whip kick is what generates the majority of propulsion during the stroke. When beginning to learn whip kick, it is common for beginners to have their feet exit the water.

The leg motion in breaststroke is actually broken down into several parts. First, the swimmer bends at the knees, pulling the heels towards the hips. Second, once the feet are in this position, the feet are to be flexed. We flex our feet to spread the toes out to the sides and connect the heels together to make a ‘V’ shape. Third, once this has been done, the swimmer follows the direction of the ‘V’ and draws a circle outwards away from the body, making sure to keep the ankles wider than the knees. Bearing this in mind, try to keep your feet from popping out of the water, as the goal of most strokes is to remain streamline to ensure that we float.

Because the overall mechanics of this stroke are different, we swim on a slight diagonal, keeping our head in the most upward position and our knees further under the surface of the water. Due to this adjustment in body position we can keep our feet below the surface. This needs to be done as we pull our heels to our hips, and as we whip them around drawing a circle. During the phase in which we pull our heels to our hips, we focus on the strength generated from the whip as we draw a circle with our legs.

To summarize: Draw your heels up to your hips without letting them pop out of the water!

Until next Swimming Tip Tuesday!

Swimming Tip Tuesday

Swimming Fit Friday Natation Forme Vendredi

Swimming Fit Friday: Starting Early

This Swimming Fit Friday we are going to discuss the benefits of starting swimming early in a child’s life.

As we get older, starting to swim can become a daunting task, one of the main reasons being we can actively think of a number of excuses not to start. As we get older, the ability to procrastinate and create excuses is fairly second nature. As a parent you can ease their potential anxiety of water by introducing them.

Swimming Tip Tuesday

A young swimmer totally comfortable in the water.

Psychologists use exposure to uncomfortable situations to help clients overcome phobias. Instructors and coaches also help students overcome their performance anxieties through the use of exposure to uncomfortable situations. This exposure creates a predictable environment, increasing our comfort. The more we put ourselves in uncomfortable situations, the more we shape our character and our ability to persevere.

Starting swimming early also provides an opportunity to develop self-discipline. Students create S.M.A.R.T. goals with the assistance of our instructors. Using instructor feedback, students continuously progress towards their goals. The development of self-discipline can then be applied throughout life, to school, to work, and to family.

Swimming Fit Friday

Make swimming a lifestyle!

Starting swimming early also provides an awesome opportunity to adhere to exercise. Engaging in physical activity can become bother-some as we get older, time constraints, new deadlines etc. However when an activity does not feel like a chore, and becomes a priority we dedicate time. That otherwise might have been spent doing something else.

Though there are many benefits to starting swimming early; swimming can be taken on at any age! I personally challenge you to overcome whatever it is that is keeping you away from the pool. Aqua Fun Academy has amazing instructors that will work with you to achieve your aquatics goals! From blowing bubbles for the first time, or being able to swim in the ocean on your next vacation, to working on that triathlon Aqua Fun Academy will get you there!

Until Next Swimming Fit Friday!

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: 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!

 

 

 

 

Swimming Fit Friday Natation Forme Vendredi

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: 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: Competition Diving

This weeks’ Swimming Tip Tuesday we will talk about diving, specifically in a competitive context. Last time we spoke about diving we focused on generating lift for diving from the floor level, in a non-competitive environment. For more on that click the link provided below.

Swimming Tip Tuesday – Diving and lift off

There are tons of helpful tips that will translate into this article. If you already have a foundation, welcome to Competition Diving!Swimming Tip Tuesday

Diving off the blocks, for Freestyle, Butterfly and Breaststroke signifies the start of the race. It is a point of impact. The purpose of diving in a competitive context is to initiate strong forward momentum.

The starting position is similar to that of track starting with one foot forward and one foot back, hands placed in front on the edge of the platform (or ground). In an aquatic context fingers are curled over the starting block.

  • One leg back aligned with the hip,
  • One leg forward, also aligned with the hip toes curled over the edge
  • Hands in front, curled over the edge of the starting block
  • Hips higher than head
  • Back straight rather than rounded
  • Chin closer to chest to maintain streamlined body position.

Choosing which foot goes in front can be as simple as swimmer comfort. However sometimes we do not actively know what leg we lead with or our dominant leg. Here is a simple exercise you can do to figure out which foot to put forward. Stand up Swimming Tip Tuesdaystraight with your feet together. Take a step forward, the leg you start with is your lea leg, this leg will need to generate the most power during the push phase of the dive.

Your less dominate leg will serve as a guide. What I mean by this is when you push off the block you want to make sure your back leg and foot points straight. This will insure that you do not enter the water on an angle. Tip Summary: keep your head lower than your hips when diving.

For more on Lift and Entry, look for our next Swimming Tip Tuesday on Competitive diving.

Until next time!

 

Swimming Fit Friday Natation Forme Vendredi

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!