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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: 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 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: 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: 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 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!