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Aqua Fun Academy
Swimming Tip Tuesday

Swimming Tip Tuesday: Ice Safety – Clear Blue Water

Our Swimming Tip Tuesday of the week: Clear blue ice is the strongest and safest form of ice.

It’s very important to consider the colour of ice. Clear blue ice is the strongest and safest. It forms when the temperature has been at least -8ºC for three consecutive weeks. The colder it gets, the faster blue ice will form. At a minimum thickness of 12 inches, blue ice will even support a large vehicle such as a mid-size pick-up. According to the Lifesaving Society, clear blue ice needs to be at least four inches thick to support a person and at least 12 inches for a mid-size pick-up. And of course, stay clear of grey ice.

Blue ice occurs when snow falls on a glacier, is compressed, and becomes part of the glacier. Air bubbles are squeezed out and ice crystals enlarge, making the ice appear blue. Small amounts of regular ice appear to be white because of air bubbles inside them and also because small quantities of water appear to be colourless. In glaciers, the pressure causes the air bubbles to be squeezed out increasing the density of the created ice. Large quantities of water appear to be blue, as it absorbs other colours more efficiently than blue. Therefore, a large piece of compressed ice, or a glacier, would appear blue.

Blue ice is exposed in areas of the Antarctic where there is no net addition or subtraction of snow. That is, any snow that falls in that area is counteracted by sublimation or other losses. These areas have been used as runways (e.g.Wilkins Runway, Novolazarevskaya, Patriot Hills Base Camp) due to their hard surface which is suitable for aircraft fitted with wheels rather than skis.

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Swimming Tip Tuesday

Swimming Tip Tuesday: Using a Kick Board

Our Swimming Tip Tuesday of the week: Don’t lean the weight of your body on the board. If you’re comfortable in the water, leaning slows you down.

On this week’s Swimming Tip Tuesday, we’re going to discuss the use of a flutter board (also known as a kick board) during our swim practices. A kick board is often used during kicking drills, hence the name. A common beginner habit is to put the upper half of their body over-top of the kick board. Why is this problematic? First of all, it does not allow the swimmer to build their upper body strength. It also does the swimmer a great disservice by altering the their body position. By propping the upper body onto the kick board, the swimmer has created an arch in the back that would normally be smooth. Thus slowing them down when they perform the skill without the aid of a kick board.

Swimming Tip Tuesday

Swimming Tip Tuesday: Streamlined position

To correct this the swimmer wants to hold the base of the kick board, keeping the hands inline with the shoulders, or maintaining that the arms are straight as possible. This challenges the swimmer to maintain a horizontal body position from the tip of the head, through the back, and down to the toes. The swimmers kick should happen just under the surface of the water, creating a ripple effect as the swimmer kicks rhythmically. Whether the swimmer practices their kicks on their front (stomach) or on their back, the swimmer needs to maintain a streamline body position.

Another common beginner mistake is to lean into the kick board. How do we spot a swimmer who is leaning into the board? Assuming the swimmer is holding the base of the kick board you will notice one of two scenarios. In scenario one the swimmer will have propped the kick board on an angle either pointed upwards towards the ceiling or down towards the pool floor. In scenario two, the swimmer is holding the top of the kick board, with the majority of their upper body resting on the kick board the body will be arched at the hips which is also incorrect. If the swimmer is holding the kick board correctly, you will notice that the kick board is parallel with the surface of the water, regardless is the swimmer is holding at the base or the sides of the kick board.

Note: the kick board is held at the sides most often when practicing dolphin kick, or whip kick rather than flutter kick.

To develop this skill correctly practice in distance increments, allowing the swimmer to perform the skill correctly over a small distance and then building on that distance and giving feedback when they begin to lean. By doing so you will strength the swimmers body and muscle memory. Knowing what it feels like to perform a skill properly is half the battle.

Happy swimming! Until our next Swimming Tip Tuesday!

Swimming Tip Tuesday

Swimming Tip Tuesday: Butterfly and the Crown

Our Aqua Speed front crawl #TipTuesday of the week: Your body should be led by the crown of your head with your shoulders and hips horizontal, as you swim forward.

On this week’s Swimming Tip Tuesday we’re going to discuss butterfly and body positioning throughout the stroke. A common beginner mistake when beginning this stroke is to focus primarily on the pull of the arms. Usually swimmers lead with the hands and sway to the side that is the strongest. As our arm strength improves on both sides of the body, we want to consider changing what we use to lead our body from end to end.

Today’s Swimming Tip Tuesday tip is that your body should be led by the crown of your head with your shoulders and hips horizontal, as you swim forward. As we’ve discussed in a previous Swimming Tip Tuesday, swimming butterfly correctly requires you to keep your head set solidly in a downward-facing position. By doing so the crown of our head is closest to the top of the water, and as we rise to breathe, the shoulders come into alignment with our head.

By using these smaller points on the body to guide us through the water, we minimize the amount of drifting from side to side due to differences in muscular strength in the arms. As well as improve the speed with which we get from end to end. The less time the swimmer has to spend correcting their trajectory the better off they will be.

Furthermore by maintaining the hips in alignment with the crown of our head, we reduce the amount of swinging and drag happening around the lower body. By reducing drag the water is working with the swimmer instead of against the swimmer. This is the importance of streamlining the body as much as possible. Since the arms must break that alignment to propel us forward, keeping the crown of our head, the shoulders, and the hips in streamlined position will improve our overall stroke.

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See you again right here for another Swimming Tip Tuesday!

Swimming Tip Tuesday

Swimming Tip Tuesday: Breaking Rules

Our Aqua Speed front crawl Advanced #TipTuesday of the week: To isolate and improve calf and core strength, it is okay to kick from the knees instead of the hips.

On this week’s Swimming Tip Tuesday, we’re going to discuss building muscle in the lower leg, by doing a highly unorthodox front crawl drill. This drill will allow the swimmer to make improvements in not only front crawl, but also butterfly!

To do this, we’re going to break a couple rules. When we first learn to swim, one of the key rules is to kick from the hips, rather than the knees, trying to bend at the knee as little as possible. This golden rule of flutter kick is told to us over and over again. Today, our advice is to kick from your knees. Instructors like myself will cringe when reading this but hear me out. The improvements we’re going to make by introducing this drill will be spectacular!

Swimming Tip Tuesday

a pool buoy or pull float.

When swimming, we generate a significant amount of power and forward propulsion from the legs, generally the thighs, as we spend most of our swim time kicking from the hips. To improve our overall leg strength, and to improve strokes like butterfly (where our dolphin kick happens at both the hips and knees), you’ll need a pull float or a pool buoy. See the image to the right.

The swimmer should place the pull float between the thighs, squeezing them together. The swimmer should then practice their front crawl with a kick from the knees. When performing this, the swimmer will move slower, as we are using some of the smaller and less developed muscles in our lower leg. The swimmer will also be using core strength to maintain a horizontal body position and activate the abductors (the muscles that pull the legs towards the centre of the body). Most importantly the swimmer will begin to improve leg strength in the calves. The swimmer should do this drill at a minimum of 2 times in a general practice to improve calf strength.

Some rules are meant to be broken. Remember when you switch back to doing your unassisted front crawl, you should return to kicking from the hips. As we’ve discussed before, kicking from the knees without the pool buoy will disrupt the flow of water, increasing drag acting on the swimmer, who will then slow down and sink.

Want to learn more? Sign up on our website for personalized training with one of our instructors!

See you again right here for another Swimming Tip Tuesday!

Swimming Tip Tuesday

Swimming Tip Tuesday: Increasing Arm Power

Our Aqua Speed front crawl #TipTuesday of the week: As the swimmer enters the pull phase they increase the surface area of the hand by pushing with a flat hand.

On this week’s Swimming Tip Tuesday we’re going to talk about front crawl and increasing our speed by focusing on the power we generate in our arms.

For those of you who have progressed to bent arm front crawl, congratulations for joining the intermediate group of swimmers! Now to improve upon this achievement we want to build power. Raw power will allow us as swimmers to improve our speed. For those of us who gotta go fast, it is improvements in our technique, muscular endurance and muscular strength that get us there.

A common beginner mistake when trying to improve one’s speed during front crawl is moving the arms out of the water has fast as physically possible. This often results in flat-handed recovery and flat-handed entry into the water. Increasing the surface area of our hand during entry and recovery phases will slow down the swimmer as a result of the increased resistance acting upon the arms, which we spoke about in a previous Swimming Tip Tuesday.

Swimming Tip Tuesday

This swimmer is using medium power paddles.

To get faster, swimmers can make use of power paddles. As the swimmer enters the pull phase, they increase the surface area of the hand by pushing with a flat hand. This allows the swimmer to find the catch and propel the body forward. What the power paddles do is they further increase the overall surface area of the hand during the pull phase of the stroke. With power paddles the swimmer can increase the level of resistance acting on the arm as they pull through the water. In doing so, the swimmer will build muscular strength and muscular endurance.

There are three levels of resistance for power paddles. Swimmers using the power paddles for the first time should use small power paddles. Keep in mind however, a more seasoned swimmer may start with medium power paddles. More advanced swimmers, such as AFA instructors, competitive swimmers, and lifeguards may opt to use the large power paddles.

The use of power paddles can help balance muscular strength, which prevents swimming on a diagonal angle. Power paddles are also a key tool in stroke correction, as the shape of the power paddles will prompt the swimmer to enter and exit the water with the hands horizontal. This will reducing the surface area of the hand and the effect of drag.

Want to learn more? Sign up on our website for personalized training with one of our instructors!

See you again right here for another Swimming Tip Tuesday!

Swimming Tip Tuesday

Swimming Tip Tuesday: Alternating Propulsion

Our Swimming Tip Tuesday of the week: Alternate your propulsion between your arms and your legs.

There is always something propelling you through the water. The arms will be propulsive while the legs recover and the legs propel while the hands recover. When performing breaststroke, there is always a slight pause between the arm motions and the leg motions. The more advanced you become at breaststroke, the smaller the pause becomes, however that pause is always there.

The pulling motion should remain within your body, as you pull your arms in while you breathe. This motion should look like clockwork, quite literally. Like the hands on a clock, your arms will begin at the 12, which will then pull towards the 9 and the 3, down to the 6, and finally shooting themselves back towards the 12.

However, you must remember that these hands need to remain within your body, pulling too wide will lead to lost momentum, slowing us down and tiring us. As we pull our arms back, we swiftly pull our heads out to take a breath, and as we are returning our arms back to the 12 position, we lower our heads again back into the water. This leads us to our kicking portion.

Moments within getting our arms back to the 12 position and getting our heads into water, we will be whipping our legs around with a lot of power, pushing ourselves forward.

The whip must remain within the water, as often we tend to raise our knees up, which allow a splash to occur. Just like the arms, if our feet whip outside of the water, we will lose our momentum and tire ourselves down. A good tip is to lower the knees instead, allowing ourselves to get the full motion while keeping ourselves in the water.

As well, remember to put the power on the actual whip component, instead of putting the power into dropping the knees into position as this is a common error. Finally, remember to give yourself a second or two to glide, giving yourself the maximum amount of time to push forward before you begin to slow down and need to whip again.

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Alternate your propulsion between your arms and your legs

Swimming Tip Tuesday

Swimming Tip Tuesday: Backstroke Finger

Our Aqua Speed back crawl #TipTuesday of the week: Lead with your thumb as your arm comes out of the water.

On this week’s Swimming Tip Tuesday we’re going to discuss back crawl! Our focus is going to be on the positioning of our hands as they exit the water. A common beginner mistake is to have the hands lay flat as they exit and enter the water. Due to the resistance upon exiting the water, and impact when entering the water, keeping the hands flat (horizontal) can cause the swimmer pain. As well as create drag, which slows the swimmer down.

To eliminate the pain and increase our speed it is important to monitor and maintain how our hand exits and enters the water. The swimmer wants to lead with your thumb as your arm comes out of the water. The arm should be lifted out by the movement of the shoulders – not the other way round. By keeping the thumb up and pointed towards the ceiling we reduce the amount of water resistance upon exiting the water during our backward rotation of the arms.

Now as you may know, the shoulder can only rotate the arm backwards to a certain point with the thumb pointed towards the ceiling. As we re-enter the water the swimmer will face the palms outwards away from the body and let the pinky finger enter. Again, by doing this the swimmer minimizes resistance and drag by making the entry surface of the water smaller.

When we enter the water with a flat hand, the surface area the swimmer must push through is larger. Therefore the swimmer will need to work much harder against the force of the water. Swimming is all about efficiency and effective movement for our desired outcome. Which in the case of back crawl is to move quickly while maintaining our body position on our back. As you progress through the levels mastery of this stroke can take you to many competitions. Those who are the very best at this skill can compete for national and even olympic standing!

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See you again right here for another Swimming Tip Tuesday!

Swimming Tip Tuesday

Swimming Tip Tuesday: Goggles

On this week’s Swimming Tip Tuesday we’re going to talk about swim equipment, specifically goggles!Swimming Tip Tuesday

It is important to be comfortable without them. However, as we progress goggles are a great piece of swim equipment to help enhance our swimming. How do goggles enhance our swimming? Firstly it will allow the swimmer to see clearly underwater. This is important for many different skills: from “bobs,” also known as submersion in our preschool levels, to surface dives and rescue drills in our swimmer and bronze levels.

It is also helpful during strokes performed on your front (or stomach). From breaststroke to butterfly, all strokes require the swimmer to swim in a straight line. Being able to focus our sight under the water at the wall ahead will allow the swimmer to travel forward without deviating into a wall or lane rope.

When choosing this piece of swim equipment you want to ensure that there is good suction around the eyes without the use of the strap. Press the goggles to the eyes and hold for about 5 seconds then release your hands. If the goggles are still stuck and suctioned around your eyes these are the pair for you.

Another thing to keep in mind when selecting a pair of goggles is the swimmer’s face shape. Everyone has a different face shape, some of us have bigger eyes than others, or our eyes are closer or further apart. Some of us need the lip of the goggle to sit differently over top the cheekbones. You want to pick the right goggle shape for your face. It is easy to pick up the pair everyone already owns. However that style might not be the best choice for the swimmer. Always try them on and get what works for your face shape. A great brand I like is called Aqua Sphere, as they have a variety of shapes, they suction well, and they are a bit softer around the eyes. For those of you who like to yank the straps very snug around your heads, these are kinder to your face.

Another helpful Swimming Tip Tuesday tip for you swimmers who wear glasses, prescription goggles exist! They are typically a negative prescription, and are the same prescription for both sides of the goggle. An example would be -5.00 or -3.50, they increase or decrease by half.

Well that’s it for this week’s Swimming Tip Tuesday! For more tips and tricks for success join us next week, or register and train with one of our brilliant swim coaches!

Happy Swimming!

Swimming Tip Tuesday

Swimming Tip Tuesday

Swimming Tip Tuesday: Breaststroke & Slow Down

In this week’s Swimming Tip Tuesday let’s talk Breaststroke!

Maintain glide position until you feel deceleration.

Breaststroke is one of the more complex skills one can learn. To properly execute breaststroke, it requires the brain to coordinate multiple motor functions, as a result of its complexity. This promotes brain health, and strengthens neural pathways. To demonstrate the complexity of breaststroke, we will compare it to a stroke like front crawl. The legs involved in front crawl are a quick and repetitive motion, requiring minimal engagement from the lower leg. This simple motion is coupled with a more complex arm movement. This arm movement is where intermediate swimmers engage the majority of their focus.

In contrast, during breaststroke both arm and leg movements require high levels of focus, and coordination. For example, prior to the execution of the whip, the arms begin a sequence of two main movements. As the arms move into their third main movement, the execution of the whip is completed.

Swimming Tip Tuesday

Swimming Tip Tuesday: An example of a swimmer entering the glide phase.

It is at this point that the body is in a full glide position. Many beginners have difficulty micromanaging these movements in proper succession. As a result, they never enter the glide phase. If the swimmer never enters the glide phase, they lose overall forward propulsion, and use too much energy to move a short distance. It is during the glide phase that we achieve our highest forward momentum.

A common beginner mistake is to put too many whips in succession without a proper glide phase. The reason this is not a desired movement is because the water acts as a vacuum and either leaves the swimmer in a relatively stationary position, or pulls them in the backward direction. If this continues, the swimmer’s body will eventually sink. This is due to the large break in streamlined body position, as well as swimmer fatigue. Swimmer fatigue often happens due to the lack of efficiency in a stroke, in this case by putting too many whips in succession.

For all these reasons it is important to enter the glide position and wait until the body starts to slow down or decelerate. It is at this point that we can generate a large amount of forward propulsion, without fighting water resistance. This water resistance is generated by the aftermath of our previous whip.

In conclusion:

  • Whip one time, and one time only!
  • Enter the glide phase, and;
  • Hold glide ‘till Slow!

Until next week’s Swimming Tip Tuesday!

Swimming Tip Tuesday

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