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Aqua Fun Academy
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: 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

Swimming Tip Tuesday

Swimming Tip Tuesday: Performance & Fatigue

On this week’s Swimming Tip Tuesday, we’re going to discuss performance curves in regards to practicing our strokes and ways in which we can combat fatigue.

What is a performance curve? A performance curve measures how effectively we practice over a period of time. This varies from person to person, though there are some general rules. For example if one is reading a long article in preparation for an exam it takes approximately thirty minutes of reading for the mind to optimally focus on the material. In regards to physical activity, our level of fatigue is one of the factors determining optimal performance.

There are ways to work around fatigue when practicing. One of those ways is to mix up which muscle groups we use throughout our practice session. If you feel your stroke technique dropping for one stroke, change to another stroke. Different muscle groups are used in different strokes. Due to this swimmers can provide an opportunity for your other muscles to recover from some fatigue.

Another way to combat fatigue is to incorporate stroke alternatives. These alternatives can come from our shallow or deep-water aquatic fitness programs. Below are some alternatives that assist in overall muscle development.

Swimming Tip Tuesday

Swimming Tip Tuesday: A person performing water running with assistance of a buoyancy belt.

  • Water running/jogging
  • Cross Country ski
  • Pendulum
  • V or L sit
  • Jax / oppositional Jax

Bolded exercises are to be done with the aid of a buoyancy belt!!

The eventual onset of fatigue is unavoidable, to help with swimmer recovery remember to also include light exercise or rest period throughout your programs.

To keep your swimming stamina high prior to practice check out the following tips below:

  • 30-45 minutes before your physical activity have Quick Carbs: a fruit (banana, apple, orange) of your choice helps boost energy levels prior to physical activity.
  • Hydrate regularly throughout practice, a good opportunity for this is during rest periods
  • Warm up & warm down to keep muscles loose and prevent the occurrence of muscle cramps
  • Communicate with your coach, they can adjust workouts to better suit your progress

Until Next Swimming Tip Tuesday!Swimming Tip Tuesday

Swimming Fit Friday Natation Forme Vendredi

Swimming Fit Friday: I Like To Move It!

On this week’s Swimming Fit Friday we will discuss different ways you can get into fitness or out of a fitness rut. Winter is a difficult time to stay physically active but with spring and summer approaching, there’s more to do outside!

Things to keep in mind, you do not have to commit to a full 3-4 day exercise regime. There are many opportunities throughout our day that we can do to increase our physical activity overall. Start slow and increase the amount of physical activity as you progress. Going on walks, is fantastic for improving your circulation. I recommend going on a walk twice a day at a moderate pace. How do we find time for walking? See some opportunities below:Swimming Fit Friday

  • Taking the dog on a walk.
  • Joining a friend for a walk.
  • Joining a friend with a dog for a walk.
  • Parking further away from the store entrance.
  • Some end of season shopping at the mall.
  • Walk to the mailbox.
  • Prep the yard for garden work or set up the patio.

These are just a few ways to get more steps into your day! To get back into a regime you can always start with exercises that have you laydown or sit down.Swimming Fit Friday

  • Leg raises
  • Squats over a chair or stool
  • Crunches
  • Superman planks (on stomach)

 

For regular exercisers who are feeling less motivated to stick with their regime, remember to make your workout versatile! Add a new skill and track your progress every two weeks. Some land and aquatic exercises are listed below:

  • Pull ups
  • Bulgarian split squats
  • Front squats
  • Flexibility test as simple as touching our toes.
  • Sun-tan superman
  • Seated kick backs (with flutter board)
  • Or implement a circuit with 5 activities ranging from 30 – 60 seconds.

Here’s a beginner circuit we would do with our ASAC program:

  • 30 seconds legs only flutter kick on front (to warm up).
  • 5-10 push ups (to build upper body and core strength).
  • 30 seconds dolphin kick (to strengthen lower body).
  • 10-15 sit-ups (to strengthen core).
  • 25-50m of arms only front crawl with a pool buoy (to strengthen upper body).
  • 4 front crawl sprints with 30 second rest period (to improve speed and endurance).

Happy Exercising! Until next Swimming Fit Friday!July 26, 2017

Swimming Tip Tuesday

Swimming Tip Tuesday: Front Float

On this week’s Swimming Tip Tuesday we’re going to talk about Front Floats, breathing & recovery. For many beginner swimmers Front Floats can be a daunting task, as we have to perform this skill with our face in the water. This skill requires us to draw upon two instinctive behaviours, our ability to relax and our ability to blow bubbles.

The key to staying close to the top of the water is spreading our arms and legs out as much as possible, to increase our surface area. It is as if you were to put a slice of bread over water.

  • First pretend you are a clock; place your hands at 2 & 10 and your legs at 5 & 7. Another image is that of a starfish.
  • You want to maintain a relaxed demeanor when you perform a float because if you’re tense your body will sink.
    Swimming Tip Tuesday

    Swimming Tip Tuesday: Swimmer breathing out of their nose

  • Once you’ve gotten into the star float position, bend your knees and lean forward, slowly pushing your feet off the floor so you are now close to the surface of the water.
  • As you are leaning towards the water, take in a deep breath to prepare to exhale as your face is in the water.
  • Exhale slowly, this can be done through the mouth or nose.
  • To exhale from the nose, keep your lips together and hum “hmmm”.

To stand up (recover) perform the following:

  • Pull your knees in towards your chest (this will cause your body to start to sink as you are taking up less surface area.
  • Draw your arms in towards your centre as you feel yourself sink (this is to force the body to rotate so your feet are facing the floor).
  • Either after or as you draw your arms in push your feet down towards the bottom of the pool.
  • Stand up.

Despite the number of steps, performing this weeks’ Swimming Tip Tuesday is a quick skill. Especially recovering from a Front Float. Remember to remain calm, and exhale slowly. If you are having difficulty exhaling slowly from your mouth, try humming as this will force the swimmer to exhale from the nose. It will also slow the rate at which you are exhaling. For more on breathing check out the link below: https://www.aquafunacademy.ca/swimming-tip-tuesday-relax/

Until next Swimming Tip Tuesday!

Tutor Thursday

Tutor Thursday: Customized Learning

On this week’s Tutor Thursday we are going to discuss customized learning and its benefits for the student. Before we do that though, let’s review what we discussed on Feedback last Tutor Thursday:

  • Tutoring allows for lots of constructive feedback.
  • Dialogue between the tutor and the student leads to a clearer understanding of material.
  • Students feel more confident throughout their performance.
  • Students learn how they learn.
  • Students know what to ask to get to that high level of understanding.
  • All students learn differently.

Tutor ThursdayKeeping in mind that all students learn differently, customization can have a large impact on the students’ development and overall success. Due to the nature of the relationship between the tutor and the student, the tutor has time to customize their lesson plans to the students’ learning styles.

The big three learning styles are visual, auditory, and kinesthetic (or tactile). That being said, these groupings are not always mutually exclusive, and there tends to be overlap. People are usually some combination of the three.

Tutor Thursday

Tutor Thursday presents: The three different learning styles.

Through customization, it is also possible for the tutor to assist students with developing the weaker aspects of their learning style. For it is through practice that we improve, and sometimes encountering our weakness are unavoidable. Especially since our students are often tested in the same standard format in school.

By developing their weakness into strengths, we increase students’ chances of success in a fairly rigid and uncompromising world. As parents, teachers, and educators, giving our children the tools to go out into the world and get what’s there. As well for us at Aqua Fun Academy that is not just our dream, that is our goal.

The students benefit the most when constructive feedback and customized learning are employed regularly in their continuous learning process. Until next Tutor Thursday!

 

Customized Learning

Swimming Tip Tuesday

Swimming Tip Tuesday: Face in the Water

On this week’s Swimming Tip Tuesday we’re going to go back to basics with a beginner tip on putting our face in the water and submerging our whole head in the water.

Swimming Tip Tuesday

Swimming Tip Tuesday: A young swimmer totally comfortable in the water.

For many new swimmers this is an area of concern. Like any skill the more you practice the easier it will be to perform. We swimming instructors don’t ask for submersion to become a new swimmer’s favorite skill. As a matter of fact, we look for indifference, we want to transition to aversion, to callousness that will eventually lead to comfort.

Let’s address that we interact with water very often in our everyday lives, taking baths, showers, washing our face. We often get our faces wet. So why the aversion to putting our face in a pool?

A common aversion to putting our face in water is the difference in visibility. This can be aided by wearing goggles, which also has a dual purpose. The dual purpose comes from the fact that for some swimmers, their aversion comes from eye sensitivity. Due to the chemical nature of the pool some swimmers experience a slight stinging sensation. Remember it is important to invest in a pair of goggles that suit your face and eye shape. If the goggles are to small or too big it defeats the purpose of using them.

Dependent on the age of the beginner we can use a variety of techniques. One that spans age groups are submersible plastic rings. Placing the rings in the pool at a depth one cannot reach with their hands encourages swimmers to take the plunge and fully submerge.

Swimming Tip Tuesday

Swimming Tip Tuesday: A swimmer exhaling in the water while while wearing goggles.

An difficulty instructors face with this might stem from the fact that the swimmer may not be performing “bubbles” properly. “Blowing bubbles,” as an instructor would call it, is a technique used to exhale when we submerge in the water until we come up above the surface to inhale our next breath.

We want to make the process of blowing bubbles to feel natural to us. Similarly when we breathe, it’s something we do without thinking. Pay attention to your breath and every time you have to breathe out make a fish face as you exhale. Do this over and over, then filling up a bowl, or the kitchen sink, or the bath. Do the same over the water and slowly, lower your face into the water as you do this. The key is to remember to continue to breathe out as long as you have your face in the water.

For more on this, check out our Swimming Tip Tuesday on Breathing.

 

Swimming Tip Tuesday

Swimming Tip Tuesday: Competition Diving

This weeks’ Swimming Tip Tuesday we will talk about diving, specifically in a competitive context. Last time we spoke about diving we focused on generating lift for diving from the floor level, in a non-competitive environment. For more on that click the link provided below.

Swimming Tip Tuesday – Diving and lift off

There are tons of helpful tips that will translate into this article. If you already have a foundation, welcome to Competition Diving!Swimming Tip Tuesday

Diving off the blocks, for Freestyle, Butterfly and Breaststroke signifies the start of the race. It is a point of impact. The purpose of diving in a competitive context is to initiate strong forward momentum.

The starting position is similar to that of track starting with one foot forward and one foot back, hands placed in front on the edge of the platform (or ground). In an aquatic context fingers are curled over the starting block.

  • One leg back aligned with the hip,
  • One leg forward, also aligned with the hip toes curled over the edge
  • Hands in front, curled over the edge of the starting block
  • Hips higher than head
  • Back straight rather than rounded
  • Chin closer to chest to maintain streamlined body position.

Choosing which foot goes in front can be as simple as swimmer comfort. However sometimes we do not actively know what leg we lead with or our dominant leg. Here is a simple exercise you can do to figure out which foot to put forward. Stand up Swimming Tip Tuesdaystraight with your feet together. Take a step forward, the leg you start with is your lea leg, this leg will need to generate the most power during the push phase of the dive.

Your less dominate leg will serve as a guide. What I mean by this is when you push off the block you want to make sure your back leg and foot points straight. This will insure that you do not enter the water on an angle. Tip Summary: keep your head lower than your hips when diving.

For more on Lift and Entry, look for our next Swimming Tip Tuesday on Competitive diving.

Until next time!

 

Swimming Tip Tuesday

Swimming Tip Tuesday: Elbows in Front Crawl

This week’s Swimming Tip Tuesday lets us hone in on high elbows in Front Crawl and ways to practice executing this skill. High elbows are the beginning of a more efficient stroke. It allows us to reduce the amount of drag and to set ourselves up for a more powerful pull action.

Tip: Focus on having high elbows after you pull straight back.

To help you guys out, I’ve written out two very simple drills using very little equipment that you can find around your local community pool. Both these drills emphasize the arms for front crawl.

Swimming Tip Tuesday Workout 1:

Equipment: A Buddy & 2 Flutter BoardsSwimming Tip Tuesday

Use of Equipment:

  • The swimmer will use one of the flutter boards to aid them with buoyancy.
  • The buddy will hold the flutter board at a consistent height (the highest point the swimmer can bring their elbow up during the stroke) and walk alongside the swimmer, all the while encouraging the swimmer to have their elbow meet the board.

Action: Using one arm, perform bent arm front crawl, with your buddy walking alongside you. Switch arm after each distance.

Emphasis: Bringing the elbow out of the water.

Distance: Dependent on the skill of your buddy and type of pool. Perform this within the shallow portion (where you can touch) of the pool. If your buddy has steady eggbeater you can do the full length of the pool.

Swimming Tip TuesdaySwimming Tip Tuesday Workout 2:

Equipment: Flutter board.

Use of equipment: hold the flutter board in both hands in front of the body.

Action: Perform bent arm front crawl.

Emphasis: Focus on exaggerating the rotation of the body and having your armpit facing upwards as you recover the arm around.

Distance: Repeat for 100m, 30 seconds of rest in between each 50m.

Reason: The flutter board will provide extra buoyancy during exaggerated rotation. This motion will give us enough room to focus on bending the elbow high above the body.

For more workouts on how to improve your strokes, check us out every Tuesday!

Focus on having high elbows after you pull straight back

Swimming Tip Tuesday: Sofia performing beautifully executed Front Crawl with high elbows.

That’s a wrap for today’s Swimming Tip Tuesday!