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Aqua Fun Academy
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 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: 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 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: 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 Tip Tuesday

Swimming Tip Tuesday: Elbows in Front Crawl

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

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

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

Swimming Tip Tuesday Workout 1:

Equipment: A Buddy & 2 Flutter BoardsSwimming Tip Tuesday

Use of Equipment:

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

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

Emphasis: Bringing the elbow out of the water.

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

Swimming Tip TuesdaySwimming Tip Tuesday Workout 2:

Equipment: Flutter board.

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

Action: Perform bent arm front crawl.

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

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

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

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

Focus on having high elbows after you pull straight back

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

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

 

Swimming Fit Friday Natation Forme Vendredi

Swimming Fit Friday: 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: Back Crawl Workout

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

Swimming Tip Tuesday

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

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

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

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

Swimming Tip Tuesday: Back Crawl Workout:

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

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

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

  • Progression 2 will sync our breathing.

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

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

  • Extra progression 3 will add the arms.

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

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

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

Swimming Fit Friday Natation Forme Vendredi

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

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

F.I.T.T Stands for:

  • Frequency
  • Intensity
  • Time
  • Type of Exercise

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

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

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

Swimming Fit Friday

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

Intensity can be adjusted in various ways. For example:

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

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

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

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

Swimming Fit Friday

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

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

 

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

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