2/1/06 - 3/1/06

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Feb 17, 2006

Breaststroke Pullout 101 (How champions do a breaststroke pullout)

It is well know that the fastest breaststrokers have one of the longest and fastest breaststroke pullouts. Now why is that? Are they bigger, stronger or smaller and smarter? Not really, they just know when to pull and how to position their body in the water in order to decrease the amount of resistance and increase the speed, so in a sense you can say they are smarter :). With a little bit of practice, even you could be the one coming out of the water ahead of the entire competitor field.

Let's discuss what factors we have in play when swimming breaststroke. First, there is the push off the wall. This needs to be powerful and swift. When you push off, the body needs to be in a perfect streamline, squeezing your ears and head between your arms and stretching those arms out of your shoulders. Make sure to keep your feet tightly together. One other thing to keep in mind is the angle of your lower back. When we walk, we have a slight dip and curve in the lower back, however, the best streamline is when you keep this curve minimized, almost straight (this creates less water turbulance and better glide. To practice this you can just simply lay on your back on the ground with your arms by your side and then press your lower back to the ground, getting rid off the gap in between your skin and the ground. Once you master this position, slowly raise your arms into the streamlined position and keep pressing your lower back to the ground, so no gap is formed. After this positon becomes a second nature for you, your streamline will be more efficient than ever.

Second, the first very powerful yet patiently carried out breaststroke pull. Your arms are in a streamlined position in front of your head, then you need to grab the water and achieve about 90 degree angles with your fingertips pointing towards the bottom of the pool. Make sure this breaststroke pull is strong and you finish all the way at your butt by throwing your hand (as you'd throw a ball). Now, the real trick is this. Listen carefully, once your arms are at your side and you have finished the arm stroke, shrug your shoulders instantly to your ears. You are probably thinking, WTF is he talking about. Well, try it and I guarantee you, that you'll feel the surge after your pull. Your pullout is going to be at least 1 meter longer.

Thirdly, the kick is strong as well, finishing with both of the soles of your feet snapping together and keeping the feet tightly against each other. According to the new breaststroke FINA rule, you may as well perform one dolphin kick toward the end of the breaststroke kick. Here comes the other important surge in order for you to get in front of your competition.

Lastly, you just need to surface as smoothly as possible, keeping your body low out of the water and your head down and stretching forward.

Good luck in your newly refined pullout. Feel free to leave any comments if anything of this is unclear or if you are having troubles mastering this technique. I'll do my best to help.
Be seen, keep your stuff dry and take a break when needed.

Feb 16, 2006

Going dry for a change (Swimming related gym program)

As many of you know, dryland work is almost as important as the time spent in the water. Many coaches try to hammer thousands of miles (kilometers) during practices focusing little or not at all on strengthening the body outside the pool. Such practices lead to swimmer burnouts early in their years and many shoulder problems (even though those are mainly caused by incorrect technique).

In order to keep your swimmers or yourself fit, get them out of the water and give them what they need. It is a lot tougher to fight gravity than the density of water, therefore you can sometimes get so much more from doing the right thing on the dryland. One thing is for sure, dryland excercises help prevent swimming injuries. I have put together a few excercises that are very helpful in strengthening your core and in improving the way you feel in the water. Here you go:

1. Run, run, run (simple as that). Running is a great way to keep in shape and to improve stamina.

2. Core stability excercises including: Pillar stands, iso holds, stability ball excercises

3. Swim bench, Vasa trainer, biokinetic, stretch cordz - all these are good to get some more resistance on your swims and to improve your underwater pull without actually getting wet.

4. Shoulder stability with cords or tera bands - use these in all possible motions and directions

5. Bouncing medicine balls keep your muscles occupied and keep the boys on your team happy. Women don't seem to enjoy those that much.

6. If you need more variety try a boxing class, tae bo, kickboxing or yoga. All of these pay close attention to developing the core body which is the essence of swimming.

After doing similar exercises for a while, you will feel very tight around your waist which will cause you to become more comofortable in the water. You will finally be able to rotate your body from side to side with less effort. So, don't waist another minute and give it a shot. It works!!!
Learning to swim is priceless and SwimSmooth Learn to Swim DVD is a great start