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Aqua Fun Academy
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: 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

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: Butterfly Head Position

On this week’s Swimming Tip Tuesday we’re going to discuss butterfly and how our head position affects the power and motion of the stroke.

Before we get into the details, let’s look at the mechanics behind dolphin kick and how that influences the swimmer’s head position. The reason dolphin kick is important is because it is the foundation for butterfly.

Swimming Tip TuesdayDolphin kick is a movement mainly generated from the hips to propel the body forward. This motion is practiced with the swimmers head facing downwards towards the pool floor.

Dolphin kick happens to be a “legs only” skill, for new swimmers or swimmers who are not accustomed to blowing bubbles slowly, as well as swimmers who are not accustomed to holding their breath for long distances. Instructors notice that these swimmers will jut their head out of the water to breathe.

Though this response is normal for beginners, it can carry over into butterfly and cause some problems.

When a swimmer juts their head out of the water during butterfly this action disrupts their forward momentum. To correct this we want the swimmer’s head to follow the natural rise and fall of the chest as we engage the arms. Finding the breathing window comes with understanding the rhythm of the arms.

Pro Tip: Remember to breathe once the arms exit the water and enter the recovery phase, keeping your head close to the surface of the water.Swimming Fit Friday

By sticking to this pattern we can generate lots of uninterrupted forward momentum, which will improve our overall endurance for the stroke.

Swimming Tip Tuesday Summary: Avoid jutting your head out of the water when performing butterfly.

If you are interested in more competitive and competition oriented strokes check out Aqua Fun Academy’s ASAC program. The Link is provided below:

https://www.aquafunacademy.ca/asac/

Until next Swimming Tip Tuesday!

Swimming Tip Tuesday

Swimming Fit Friday Natation Forme Vendredi

Swimming Fit Friday: Exercise and Self Esteem

On this week’s Swimming Fit Friday, we are going to discuss exercise. as well as how it can have a positive effects on our self-esteem. With ads and social media influencing our self-perception of shaping what is and is not of value. It can be increasingly difficult for people of all backgrounds, sizes, shapes, and abilities to hold onto what makes them amazing.

I would like to say that as a person you do not owe anyone health, fitness, or beauty. Exercise can provide a space to discover one’s passions, capacity for learning new skills, and overall growth.

Swimmimg Fit FridayTaking up an exercise can provide us with an out, it can take us outdoors, exercising can get us unplugged from ads and social media momentarily.

We can find excitement in our new abilities; from lifting your first weight, to running your first ½ marathon, to swimming in your first competition. Overcoming challenges has a positive effect on our mental state. The endorphins released into the body are responsible for feelings such as happiness.

I have also noticed that the confidence that comes with knowing you’re good at a skill has a way of translating intoSwimming Fit Friday other avenues of your life. It can become its own well in which we draw from to actively discover new passions.

Engaging in exercise can also give us new friends, or even and entire community. Joining a sports team, or league, having a weekly swim buddy, or a network of people at your pool. Being surrounded by amazing people makes us better.

Excelling at our exercise / sport of choice builds our perseverance, our character, and our self-esteem. Exercise provides us with a template for learning, it demonstrates to the individual that time and effort are fundamental in achieving our goals.

I challenge all of you to go out there and find an exercise, sport, or activity that feels good to you!

Until next Swimming Fit Friday

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!