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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: 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 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: Entering The Water

On this week’s Swimming Tip Tuesday we will discuss water safety, specifically in regards to entering different bodies of water.

There are a variety of ways an individual can enter different bodies of water. When entering a pool the swimmer can slip into the water feet first in the shallow end (or deep end if comfortable in deep water). Conversely if the pool has steps or a ramp the swimmer can walk or wade into the pool. Wading into the water can also be used when going into a lake or ocean from land. Some swimming pools come with ladders as well to help lower you into the pool. These are all safe and effective ways of entering pools, lakes, and beaches.

Swimming Tip TuesdayIf a swimmer is at a lake or the beach and is jumping off a dock, it is important to look for signage indicating if there are rocks. As well as to be aware of the depth of the water, jumping into shallow water can result in major leg injuries and in worse case scenarios lumbar spinals. When entering unknown water, wading or slipping in is highly  recommended.

These tips are for swimmers of all skill levels. Often seasoned swimmers can miss important signage that can prevent serious injury. In swimming pools, be aware of no diving signs in both shallow and deep water. If a swimmer were to dive improperly into shallow water, it can result in serious spinal injuries. Remember shallow water is relative to pool regulations as well as the height of the swimmer.

Swimming Tip TuesdayDiving into shallow water is a skill reserved for properly trained individuals. Shallow diving is an advanced skill, though is always practiced in deep water and used in competition settings. Diving headfirst into water should be avoided unless the individual is properly trained. In addition, individuals should also be familiar with their aquatic surroundings.

Another safe entry for entering deep water swimmers are familiar with is a stride entry. When done properly it keeps the swimmer close to the top of the water, allowing the swimmer to enter without submersion of the head. This technique is also used in rescue skills to prevent loss of visual on the victim.

Remember to stop and evaluate your surrounding before jumping into water. Swim well, and stay 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 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!