Managing the Spaces in Your Stroke

To swim like a world class athlete, you must learn to “manage the decceleration spaces” within each stroke cycle. This can be done in several ways; 1. Your comfort level with the water is crucial. many swimmers, including world-class one’s, report feeling anxious when submerged. You can work on increasing your comfort level by keeping your chin on the water in between sets, or by letting the water flow over your mouth while in the shower. The more comfortable you can be while training, the more relaxed your muscles will be, and the easier and more fluid your swim. 2. Proper body alignment and body posture. 3. Your ability to balance your body along the short and long axis 4. The tightness of your core. 5. Your ability to swim efficiently. One thing that has become prevalent in today’s best swimmers is their ability to maintain constant velocity generated by a quick tempo, and dominant kick. Try experimenting with going fast at various rhythms and cadences, using your arms to help your body rotate. When you can be successful with this you will be utilizing the five criteria listed above, and when racing or training, will be the swimmer who slows down the least when recovering.  ...

Tapering

Perhaps the tapering period can best be described as a “fine tuning” of the body and mind in order to produce a championship performance. If you have been training with great focus, and taking care of the little things, then your taper will be a successful one. The bottom line is; IF YOU BELIEVE THAT YOU WILL SWIM FAST, THEN YOU WILL SWIM FAST! CREATE A COCOON OF QUIET CONFIDENCE. YOU ARE ALL THAT MATTERS! The main physiological goal of the taper is to maintain all of the aerobic gains that have occurred during the season, while at the same time allowing for improvements in the anaerobic and non aerobic training systems to evolve. This is why we divide the year into training phases, with an increase in sprinting towards the end of the dual meet season. Hence, our more focused attention on quality sets during the last few weeks prior to the taper period. By reducing endurance training, working more diligently on pacing and percent efforts, and placing an emphasis on resting and focused sprint work we allow your body to “super-compensate.” The result is a maximization of the improvements in the anaerobic and non aerobic systems. The goal is to rest long enough to allow for the super-compensation effect to occur, while at the same time maintaining the aerobic base that you have worked so hard to develop and maintain. Be aware of your STROKE COUNT, and you may also sense an increase in your STROKING POWER. This may take some time, and it is not unusual to feel “out of sorts” during the tapering process. STAY...

Racing Profiles

USA Swimming has developed a race analysis profile that you can use to measure your improvements in all phases of swimming. While sometimes difficult to do, next time you race try asking a teammate of a parent to measure the following things. You can then keep a running diary of your splits, stroke count, stroke rate, etc… and then work to get better in practice! Start time.  How quickly do your feet leave the block once the starting signal has sounded? Turn time.  From your approach, to your spin, to your push-off and breakout. How quickly do you do this? Where are your strengths? Where do you need to get better? Time spent underwater on your streamline.  How tight is your streamline and how quickly can you dolphin kick while under? Swimming velocity. This is the combination of your stroke length (SL) (DPS) and stroke rate. (See Summer 2011 newsletter) Number of strokes taken in 10 seconds (see Summer newsletter) You can then go on you tube and compare yourself with Olympians. Be sure to then compare within yourself. After all, this is the true measuring stick for all of us! Write down your strengths, and also discuss areas where you can be better. Then, work with your coach, and on your own, to improve all aspects of the racing profile. Once accomplished, even a little each week or month, will make all the difference down the...

Stroke Count & Stroking Rate

Distance per stroke (DPS), or the length of your stroke (stroke length) interacts with the rate (speed) at which you move your arms. This combination determines the velocity with which you swim. If you think about different ways of walking, you can easily apply this concept to your swimming. One can walk with very tiny steps (DPS) or very long steps (DPS), or somewhere in the middle. One can also move their legs very slowly, or very quickly. Or, again, somewhere in the middle. The idea in swimming (or speed walking) is to go as fast as you can over the distance of the event. Very slow, tiny steps are guaranteed to tire you out, without covering much distance. The same is true for swimming. Short strokes, taken very quickly lead to fatigue, and a whole lot of work for very little result. Conversely, very long steps taken very slowly will tend to yield a better result, but perhaps not an ideal one. Again, the same concept is applied to swimming. You could  swim one length taking three strokes, but it will take you some time to do that! As you may already be determining, the ideal stroke length/ stroke rate combination lies somewhere in between this continuum. So, what does this mean for you? Experimentation! Before you experiment, there are a few rules of thumb to consider. Everyone is different! Find your ideal combination for swimming fast. Take your time. This will be a process of trial and error. Length is always more important than rate! Work on being long in the water (see Spring newsletter) first. Once...

Technique Improvements

There are five main points to consider when thinking about your technique, and seeking to become more efficient Find your balancing points in the water.  These balancing points include your head, both right and left shoulders, and both right and left hips. With a solid core (your core extends from your belly to your back, just above the hip line and below the rib cage) begin to generate and coordinate rhythmic movements. These movements are generated from your five balancing points. Transfer the power of your core strength to the power of your arms and legs. Remember, a tight core leads to stronger kicking and pulling. Anchor your stroke (connect your power) at the extremities (arms, hands, legs, feet). Catch water out front with your hands, and behind with your feet. Develop a long distance per stroke and then begin to think about your cycling rates. In other words, stay long, and increase your tempo while maintaining the same distance per stroke (DPS). Three renowned swimming coaches, Charles Silvia, North Thornton, and Bill Boomer have characterized swimming both from a physical as well as a neurological standpoint. Their main points can be summarized as follows; Swim within yourself Let the stroke carry you.  Generate inertia and go for the ride! Be neural. Feel the water, focus on balance, line, and body posture. Stay relaxed.  No muscular tension, particularly when recovering. Catch and hold water By employing the above technique to your swimming you are guaranteed to feel more relaxed, effortless, streamlined, and as a result,...