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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: 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: 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 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 Fit Friday Natation Forme Vendredi

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

Swimming Tip Tuesday

Swimming Tip Tuesday: Front Float

On this week’s Swimming Tip Tuesday we’re going to talk about Front Floats, breathing & recovery. For many beginner swimmers Front Floats can be a daunting task, as we have to perform this skill with our face in the water. This skill requires us to draw upon two instinctive behaviours, our ability to relax and our ability to blow bubbles.

The key to staying close to the top of the water is spreading our arms and legs out as much as possible, to increase our surface area. It is as if you were to put a slice of bread over water.

  • First pretend you are a clock; place your hands at 2 & 10 and your legs at 5 & 7. Another image is that of a starfish.
  • You want to maintain a relaxed demeanor when you perform a float because if you’re tense your body will sink.
    Swimming Tip Tuesday

    Swimming Tip Tuesday: Swimmer breathing out of their nose

  • Once you’ve gotten into the star float position, bend your knees and lean forward, slowly pushing your feet off the floor so you are now close to the surface of the water.
  • As you are leaning towards the water, take in a deep breath to prepare to exhale as your face is in the water.
  • Exhale slowly, this can be done through the mouth or nose.
  • To exhale from the nose, keep your lips together and hum “hmmm”.

To stand up (recover) perform the following:

  • Pull your knees in towards your chest (this will cause your body to start to sink as you are taking up less surface area.
  • Draw your arms in towards your centre as you feel yourself sink (this is to force the body to rotate so your feet are facing the floor).
  • Either after or as you draw your arms in push your feet down towards the bottom of the pool.
  • Stand up.

Despite the number of steps, performing this weeks’ Swimming Tip Tuesday is a quick skill. Especially recovering from a Front Float. Remember to remain calm, and exhale slowly. If you are having difficulty exhaling slowly from your mouth, try humming as this will force the swimmer to exhale from the nose. It will also slow the rate at which you are exhaling. For more on breathing check out the link below: https://www.aquafunacademy.ca/swimming-tip-tuesday-relax/

Until next Swimming Tip Tuesday!

Swimming Tip Tuesday

Swimming Tip Tuesday: Back Float & Recovery

On this week’s Swimming Tip Tuesday we’re going to come back to basics and talk about back floats and recovery.

Floating on our back can be unsettling for new swimmers because they experience difficulty standing back up or recovering. Today we are going to look at the mechanics of getting into a relaxed back float and how to get up.

Swimming Tip TuesdayFloating always reminds me of an old episode of Magic School Bus in which they take a piece of bread and throw it over top of the lake and it floats, another student takes another piece of bread and crumples it into a ball, to the students surprise it sinks to the bottom of the lake.

We want to be like that first piece of bread. Flat on top of the water, and taking up as much space as we can. This can be accomplished by putting our arms above our head at 10 and 2 (as if we are on a clock), and we will put our feet at 5 & 7 or further apart depending on the swimmer’s flexibility.

Once we are in position, we are going to bend at the knees and slowly lean back onto the water. There are a few things we want to keep in mind when we are leaning back.

  • To push our legs up slowly
  • Don’t worry about maintaining your arms at the exact points above
  • Remember to push your tummy up

Some equipment we can use for those who want a little added support.Swimming Tip Tuesday

  • Dumbbells
  • Noodle
  • Or the assistance of an AFA instructor

Recovery refers to the way in which we get our feet back on the ground.

While in our float position we want to do the following:

  • Bend the knees
  • Bring your bent knees up towards your chest
  • Pull your arms in towards your knees to make more of a ball shape
  • Push your feet down towards the ground

Note: while bending your knees you may sink a bit, be prepared to blow bubbles or hold your breath for up to 3 seconds.

Remember you can practice this and more during our Adult classes. AFA instructors will help you get back on your feet every time!

Until next Swimming Tip Tuesday!

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!