10/1/10 - 11/1/10

Be a Safer Swimmer - 360swim SaferSwimmer

Oct 27, 2010

What's Your Swim Type? (Custom Tailored Swim Classes)

The guys over at SwimSmooth have done it again. After introducing us to the Wetronome (tech gadget to help you with your stroke rate) and Mr. Smooth (an application to show you how swimming is done from all angle at at all speeds), SwimSmooth has now produced SwimTypes.com.

SwimSmooth's swim coaches came up with a new angle on how to teach swimming.

The fundamental idea is that we are all build differently, which makes us swim in varied ways and therefore we require a customized swimming class instruction to effectively improve our swimming stroke.

I am sure that most of you were in the situation where during your swim class you were asked to perform certain drill which you just could not muster and did not understand why the drill was important.

It could have just been the case that your body just could not do it, because it wasn't build for it.

Now, don't take me wrong, I don't mean you will never be able to do it, I am just stating that perhaps some other less complicated, more targeted drills for your swimming style are more appropriate.

Hover the image to learn more about SwimTypes

You can choose from 6 different types:

1) Arnie or Arnette

Assuming this is an anlogy to the infamous Arnold Schwarzenegger, you can just imagine what that looks like :).

You are probably an american football player, judo wrestler or weight lifter. Basically, you got too much muscle :), so swimming which requires long, lean muscle mass and a lot of flexibility is quite difficult for you.

In other words, your Arnie or Arnette body is not buoyant enough in the water, so you have to work extra hard to stay afloat. To help you with this, you need to work on your body position.

2) Bambino

If you are a small person with a light build and you are having problems with breathing and propulsion through water, you could fall into the Bambino category.

In other words, you need to build up more strength in your upper and core body and improve the catch in the first part of your stroke during your swim class.

So, next time you are in the pool stroking away wondering why you are not moving forward and your arms are slicing through water like butter, remember that maybe you are a Bambino.

3) Kicktastic

Well, the title says it all, you just kick too damn much :).

Kicking is a bread and butter of very fast sprint swimming, but constant fast kick does not belong to longer distance or practice swimming unless instructed to do so or during fast sets.

Kicking is very exhausting, due to its use of your largest muscles in your body.

Your legs should more or less be just floating inline behind your body with a kick rhythm which helps you turn to breath (for longer swimming, probably only 2 beat kick).

If you look at this underwater video of Grant Hackett it shows you how he does not kick all the time, even though in his case, he still kicks quite a bit. You can, however, see the rhythm he has.

So, if you are a Kicktastic, relax and try not to kick that much. Use your arms instead and focus on strengthening your core body in a gym for example.

4) Overglider

Again, very good descriptive name for this swim type of a swimmer.

Overgliders tend to do just that, overglide their stroke. They do it to that extent that it actually creates a dead spot in their stroke.

Don't despair though, there are things you can work on during your swim classes to get you out of this group and swimming smooth.

As always, catching the water earlier is better, but in your case, you should also increase your stroke rate slightly.

How about giving the Wetronome a go, it could just help keep you on stroking away at the right speed, thus eliminating the over glide effect, so you can graduate from being an Overglider to being Smooth.

5) Swinger

No, don't worry, we are not going to tell you that you swing too much. That is fully between you and your sex partner :).

The Swinger swim type means that you swing your arms around your body to swim, instead of rolling your hips to help you move your arms.

In other words, you spend too much time on your belly while swimming. Instead you should spend more time rolling from one hip to another.

Also, this type of swimming could have pretty severe medical repercussions for your shoulders, so, next time you are doing your laps, keep your head down and only roll your hips.

Here are very helpful couple of pieces of swim equipment to get you started on rolling your hips during your swim classes. Say no to being a Swinger and become Smooth.

6) Smooth

If you made it this far and you consider yourself to swim smooth, congratulations. You will enjoy swimming much more if it appears as if it is effortless.

For some inspiration check out Alexander Popov's video.

There is always, however, something to work on, be it stronger core body, better catch, better kick and so on.

Being Smooth means you do well, but don't fall asleep behind the wheel. There is no such thing as a perfect stroke, but more on that next time.

So, after you have discovered the different swim types (Arnie/Arnette, Bambino, Kicktastic, Overglider, Swinger and Smooth) which one are YOU?

Be seen, keep your stuff dry and take a break when needed.

Oct 22, 2010

Learn to do a proper butterfly and breaststroke turn

I've been swimming and coaching for many years and one thing that I see the most room for improvements, even in competitive swimmers, are butterfly and breaststroke turns. Let me give you a few tips and tricks on how to improve and speed up your butterfly or breaststroke turn.

1) Do not be lazy on your turns. This is a very simple rule. You shouldn't think of swimming walls as a place you hang out and rest. If this is your habit, I am sure you always see your opponent swimmers take off at the wall and then you play catch up the next 25 or 50m before another turn. If you need to rest, just do it in the middle of the pool, but not the walls. To speed up your turns, we'll use a simple visualization technique. Everytime you get ready to do a breaststroke or butterfly turn, pretend/imagine that the wall is a hot stove and if you let your hands rest there, they will get burned. This will help you to get off the wall quicker and you will not burn your hands twice:).

2) Know your body position when doing a breaststroke or butterfly turn. Some folks tend to touch the wall, then they lift themselves out of the water, using the pool wall as some sort of a box to push upon and then they fall back down and push off. Here, you need to think of yourself as a stationary object which does not move its axis. Once your hands touch the wall, tuck your legs under your body and push off. There is no reason for you to bop up and down during the turn. In other terms, you simple move your hands from the front to back and legs from back to front, sort of switching them around with the chest staying stationary at one place.

3) Definitely do not wait to move your legs until the bottoms of your hands (palms) touch the wall. The first thing that touches the wall during breaststroke and butterfly turn are the fingertips. Once this happens, the momentum will bring your palm to the wall, however, at the same time you should already move your legs forward and start driving your knees to the wall.

4) Finally, focus on switching the direction of your swim as fast as possible. To help you with that, once your hands touch the pool wall, you should right away spring your elbow in the direction you will swim now which is away from the wall and this will help you switch your legs with your arms on the wall. See the video for a great example.

5) Last, but not least, make sure you use your stomach muscles and your core body during the breaststroke or butterfly turn to quickly bring your legs to your chest and to the wall. To practice this, you can just lay face down into the water in the middle of the pool and just practice quickly switching your legs with your ams, so you always end up facing in the other direction.

Some swimmers have experimented with butterfly flip turns, however, from my own experience, do not try it unless you are very very flexible at the shoulders as you might tear some ligament from the momentum and  the surgery to get this fixed ain't pretty. Also, if you go this route, you might notice that you actually end up much closer to the wall then during a regular freestyle flipturn, because you actually have to touch the wall. This will cause you to spring much slower off the wall, but on the other hand, your push off is going to be very powerful.
Learning to swim is priceless and SwimSmooth Learn to Swim DVD is a great start