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Aqua Fun Academy
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!

 

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: 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 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

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Swimming Fit Friday: I Like To Move It!

On this week’s Swimming Fit Friday we will discuss different ways you can get into fitness or out of a fitness rut. Winter is a difficult time to stay physically active but with spring and summer approaching, there’s more to do outside!

Things to keep in mind, you do not have to commit to a full 3-4 day exercise regime. There are many opportunities throughout our day that we can do to increase our physical activity overall. Start slow and increase the amount of physical activity as you progress. Going on walks, is fantastic for improving your circulation. I recommend going on a walk twice a day at a moderate pace. How do we find time for walking? See some opportunities below:Swimming Fit Friday

  • Taking the dog on a walk.
  • Joining a friend for a walk.
  • Joining a friend with a dog for a walk.
  • Parking further away from the store entrance.
  • Some end of season shopping at the mall.
  • Walk to the mailbox.
  • Prep the yard for garden work or set up the patio.

These are just a few ways to get more steps into your day! To get back into a regime you can always start with exercises that have you laydown or sit down.Swimming Fit Friday

  • Leg raises
  • Squats over a chair or stool
  • Crunches
  • Superman planks (on stomach)

 

For regular exercisers who are feeling less motivated to stick with their regime, remember to make your workout versatile! Add a new skill and track your progress every two weeks. Some land and aquatic exercises are listed below:

  • Pull ups
  • Bulgarian split squats
  • Front squats
  • Flexibility test as simple as touching our toes.
  • Sun-tan superman
  • Seated kick backs (with flutter board)
  • Or implement a circuit with 5 activities ranging from 30 – 60 seconds.

Here’s a beginner circuit we would do with our ASAC program:

  • 30 seconds legs only flutter kick on front (to warm up).
  • 5-10 push ups (to build upper body and core strength).
  • 30 seconds dolphin kick (to strengthen lower body).
  • 10-15 sit-ups (to strengthen core).
  • 25-50m of arms only front crawl with a pool buoy (to strengthen upper body).
  • 4 front crawl sprints with 30 second rest period (to improve speed and endurance).

Happy Exercising! Until next Swimming Fit Friday!July 26, 2017

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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!