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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: 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!

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: 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: Backstroke Body Positioning

On this week’s Swimming Tip Tuesday we’re going to discuss backstroke and a unique aspect of our body positioning. Often you will hear your instructors refer to the streamline position. What Natation Conseil Mardi this entails is that the body moves through the water with the least resistance. From the tip of the hands to the tip of the toes, the swimmer’s body lays flat as it glides across the water. Now, contrary to our understanding of the streamline body position, laying flat on the water does not require one to be perfectly horizontal to the water. As a matter of fact many strokes will cause the body to slope slightly.

When performing any stroke, the goal is to minimize drag. To do this the swimmer should avoid dramatic bending at the hips, neck, and knees. When we bend at the joint we create pockets for the water to get trapped in and push the body down. This ultimately slows the swimmer down.

Swimming Tip TuesdayWhen performing backstroke slight bending is necessary, due to the nature of the stroke. During backstroke the body will slope slightly from the hips to the toes. You’ll notice that this causes the head and arms to be slightly higher in the water than the legs and toes. By slightly sloping the body, and the slight difference in height between the hands, head and toes, the swimmer breaks streamline position less dramatically as they swing the arms to generate power.

Furthermore, with the hips slightly sloped down, we can now capitalize on the flutter kick. The legs will remain underneath the surface of the water, as to not break our streamline position and reduce the effects of drag.

By making this adjustment with our body position the swimmer can increase the speed and precision of the stroke.

Want to learn more? Sign up on our website with one of our brilliant swim instructors! We’ll see you next Swimming Tip Tuesday for another fun tip on how to perfect those strokes! Happy Swimming!

Swimming Fit Friday Natation Forme Vendredi

Swimming Fit Friday: Expanding Routines

Hello Everyone! On this week’s Swimming Fit Friday we’re going to continue our conversation around forming habits and also talk about expanding our exercise routine.

The KISS principle, also known as “Keep it simple, silly!” is our key component to making this work! It is easy to get discouraged when we add too much onto our plate. Though we have good intentions, our ability to stay committed can wain when we simply have too much. My dear readers, our magic number is 3!

I want you to pick 3 simple exercises! I assume some of you are showing skeptical faces, hold on I know what you’re thinking! What is a simple exercise,

Maintaining form is crucial.

walking, squats, bicep curls? A simple exercise is one you can do by yourself, and that you can perform with proper form. I highlight that it should be an exercise that you can perform with proper form, because most injuries come about from doing various moves wrong. Injuries are not welcome on our exercise expansion journey!

Have you picked your 3 exercises? EXCELLENT! Now that you’ve chosen your 3 exercises we’re going to factor in that we want to keep our intensity low to start off. If you remember when we were working towards forming the habit last time, we want to increase the intensity in increments. This is to help us maintain the challenge and keep us away from burn out.

Let’s look at different forms of measuring intensity for different activities and exercises:

  • Walking or dancing – we can gauge that through the length of a song, or the pace at which we choose to move at.
  • Lifting weights – can be measured in reps, or through the duration of a song like “Flower by: Moby.”

The idea is not to take on more than we can chew. Keep it super simple, and really easy. As we get into our groove, we can make adjustments and expand our repertoire of exercises as we go. Making use of our calendar method, mark off when you complete your routine for a week, making note of your intensity. Remember to change up the intensity to keep your routine effective!

Hope that helps give you a strong foundation to beginning the expansion of your exercise routine. Until our next Swimming Fit Friday!

Swimming Tip Tuesday

Swimming Tip Tuesday: Breathing

On this week’s Swimming Tip Tuesday we’re going to be discussing the important of where to breathe when performing front crawl!

Now I know some of you are thinking, breathing, bah! How hard could this possibly be! However, fine tuning our strokes is not about making a skill more

The bow wave forming in front of a moving yacht. Swimmers form a similar bow wave during front crawl.

difficult. Actually, it’s quite the opposite. We change the way we do things to make the overall stroke easier on the swimmer. Working against the water is difficult, and in order to make it across the pool with ease, instructors like myself break down strokes so they can be mastered and performed well.

What many swimmers do, both new and experienced alike is that we create something called a bow wave. What on earth is a bow wave? A bow wave is the wave that forms at the bow of a ship when it moves through the water. As the bow wave spreads out, it defines the outer limits of a ship’s wake. Well, just like a ship’s bow wave, a bow wave is the shape the swimmer makes as they point the elbow up and as they reach forward during front crawl (check out the image below)!

As we create this shape, the swimmer does not need to lift the head or focus on dropping the shoulder. The creation of the shape includes the action of a slight shoulder roll and head tilt. This is important because it provides the swimmer with the perfect window to breathe. That window is the trough.

The bottom of your bow wave is the trough. Breathe into the trough for maximum efficiency.

A common mistake occurs when we are blissfully unaware of the bow wave. The swimmer trying to find a window to breathe will lift their head causing them to sink and put extra effort into returning back to the surface. This head lift as instead of tilt also causes the swimmer to over-rotate head and shoulder.

Both actions push the swimmer down into the water, making it harder to breathe, and harder to scale the length of the pool. Remembering to breathe into the trough (shape), will allow the swimmer to smoothly transition from exhaling to inhaling as they complete the stroke from one of the pool to the other.

Want to learn more? Sign up on our website for personalized training with one of our instructors. Hope to see you at Aqua Fun Academy, until stay tuned for our next Swimming Tip Tuesday!

Swimming Tip Tuesday

Swimming Tip Tuesday: Diving & Splash back

On this week’s Swimming Tip Tuesday, we’re going to discuss diving, the types of splashes that come from entering the water and why it’s important to maintain a streamlined body position when entering the water.

Think of your first entry into water, slipping into the water from a ledge is not always the most graceful action often resulting in some splash back. Which forSwimming Tip Tuesday young ones, or those of us who prefer not to get our face wet can be an adverse experience. However it is one of the easiest ways to enter the water without creating an undesired amount of splash.

As we progress in our swimming abilities one will learn to jump into water, roll into water, and cannon ball into the water. All of these moves create a large amount of splash. Though at this point in our swimming lives, water in the face is the least of our problems. So why mention the splash back? It comes back to body positioning. Objects that are streamline cut and move with the water, creating a fairly uniform flow. However when an object disrupts the flow of water we create splash.

The greater the surface area the object takes up, the larger the disruption, and the greater the splash. Fun tip: if Swimming Fit Fridayyou want a larger radius of splash spread the body away from your core to hit a greater amount of water. If you want to create a splash with height, do a cannon ball, keeping the body tucked in.

When diving we want to cause the least amount of disruption to the water, by maintaining a tight body position. Hands pressed firmly together, legs held firmly together, and toes pointed back. We create a small area to enter the water reducing the amount of splash back. The better we maintain our body position, especially of our feet since those are the last part to enter the water, we can enter the water seamlessly.

This is important for the following reasons:

  • Requires less effort to resurface;
  • Easier to attain distance and depth;
  • Competition judges at the national and Olympic level judge divers based on this tiny piece of criteria.

For more on diving, and other useful swimming tips, stay tuned for our next 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

Swimming Tip Tuesday

Swimming Tip Tuesday: Butterfly Like a Wave

Swimming tip Tuesday

Swimming Tip Tuesday: An example of a swimmer performing just dolphin kick. Head position is lower to practice breath control over long distances.

On this week’s Swimming Tip Tuesday, we’re going to discuss butterfly and the flow of motion used to travel through the water. The base of butterfly is dolphin kick, which is performed in a ‘S’ shape or a wave motion in conjugation with the arms to form Butterfly. Dolphin kick is done to add additional and simultaneous propulsion power, to push the body forward as well as slightly up towards the surface to breathe. This is done while keeping our chin close to the surface of the water as well as maintaining visual of the wall ahead.

When beginning to learn this stroke, a common mistake is to perform two very separate actions in which the swimmer thrusts the hips down while arching the back up so that the head is at the surface. In the second action, the swimmer then pulls the hips up, and pushing the head down far beneath the surface of the water. This divides the body into an upper and lower half, disrupting the flow of water around the body.

This disruption creates drag, it waste swimmer stamina and makes it close to impossible to breathe and rotate the arms to generate significant momentum.

Tip: Focus on making your movement as wave-like as possible, as opposed to a see-saw type of motion.

You can do this by maintaining our head position close to the surface:

  • Where the top of the head is directly under the water while the eyes are facing forward; and
  • Where the chin remains close to the surface of the water while breathing.

The swimmer can focus on how to emphasize the kick from the hips with slight drops in the pelvis and bends in the knees to propel the body (as we spoke about in an earlier article in which we focused on dolphin kick). We want the chest to rise and fall, in accordance to the flow of the two kicks performed every time the swimmer rotates the arms for a strong pull.

That’s all for this week’s Swimming Tip Tuesday! Thanks for reading, and keep swimming!

Swimming Tip Tuesday