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Aqua Fun Academy
Swimming Tip Tuesday

Swimming Tip Tuesday: Back Crawl

Our back crawl Swimming Tip Tuesday of the week: Take a breath every time an arm completes a full cycle.

A breath is taken every time an arm completes a full cycle. Try breathing in as one arm passes your ear and exhale as the other arm passes.

Breathing, something we do every single day of our lives. Breathing in passion, and breathing out results! Breathing, given it is something we do involuntarily, Natation Conseil Mardishould be easy enough to do in the water! Integrating our movements to sync up with our breathing requires a little more thought than expected. Though while swimming on our back a swimmer has the added advantage that their face is out of the water for the duration of the stroke. So, when do we breathe? In any exercise, we want to exhale on the effort and inhale during the recovery phase.

In back crawl the effort is when the arm is re-entering the water, during the push phase. While the recovery phase is when the water enters the air, or exits the water, both of these elements are what compose a complete cycle of back crawl arms. Understanding the basic mechanics of the stroke it should be easy to break down when to breathe.

However, when back crawl is done both arms move juxtaposed. Meaning one arm is always in the opposite phase to the other. To get around this conundrum, the swimmer can focus on one arms cycle and co-ordinate their breathing in time with that arm. Our dominant arm can vary from sport to sport, so an easy way to find out which of the two is a swimmers’ dominant arm, is to take note of which arm the swimmer start their stroke with. When the swimmers dominant arm is out of the water they must remember to inhale, similarly when the swimmers dominant arm is in the water, they must remember to exhale.

Swimming Tip Tuesday

Swimming Tip Tuesday: Minimizing Energy

Our Swimming Tip Tuesday of the week: Minimize how much energy you’re using by holding your glide as long as you can.

Swimming Tip Tuesday

Swimming Tip Tuesday: An example of a swimmer in full glide potion

Whether you are swimming competitively or for leisure, being in the water requires a bit more energy. This is simply due to the increased resistance one has to work in. It is also well understood among veteran swimmers that swimming is about efficiency and energy conservation. In simple words, swimming is about getting the most bang for you buck. The sport of swimming is to craft each movement to generate optimal levels of power and propulsion for the least amount of output, allowing us to fatigue at a much slower rate in comparison to many other sports.

For those of us progressing through the lifesaving program, mastery of our strokes helps us to minimize our energy expenditure. Here are some examples of how to do that for various life saving skills.


The 15 meter underwater swim

Pro tips:Swimming Tip Tuesday

  • Utilize the wall; in doing this, one should become spring like bending at the knees and pushing hard off the wall until ones legs are straight.
  • Furthermore we want to keep our hands forward in front of us as if we were doing a superman/ front glide. The longer we can keep our body streamlined the less drag we experience the faster and further we move through the water allows us to minimize the stress of holding our breathe.
  • Breathing techniques; for some the stress on the cardiovascular system while holding our breathe can hinder us. A useful trick, to increase the length of our breath, is to blow our bubbles out of the nose. This can be accomplished by humming – forcing the air out of our nose at a much slower rate.

Any Timed Swim

Pro tips:

  • 1 – Tip one also applies here (please see above). To elaborate on how this helps us during a time swim, we save energy and allow the initial force to do most of the work for us.
  • 1a- Flip turns allow us to utilize the wall explained in tip one (please see above).
  • Emphasis on how we kick is important. The further apart our legs separate as we flutter kick, the more drag we create, which ultimately slow us down. Keep your kicks small and steady. By doing this we minimize how much energy we waste in recovery between kicks and instead perform more like a continuous motor boat.

Overall minimize how much energy you’re using by holding your glide as long as you can. As well as being a more efficient technique, this is a good way to establish some rhythm and control in your swimming.

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: 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 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: Front Crawl

On this week’s Swimming Tip Tuesday we will discuss front crawl. Specifically focusing on arm recovery and shoulder placement.

When you as a swimmer begin to learn front crawl, you have been introduced to the following skills:Swimming Tip Tuesday

  • Floating
  • Rhythmic Breathing
  • Front Glide
  • Side Glide
  • Flutter kick

Front crawl takes these skills and combines them, allowing the swimmer to achieve greater distances, swim more efficiently, and with greater strength. Front Crawl (also known as freestyle) is a highly energy efficient stroke when performed at a high level of proficiency.

To begin to make this stroke our own, we must focus on the mechanics of the combination “front-to-side-glide”.

To turn onto our side, the swimmer must first keep their kick consistent. Establishing a rhythm when kicking will keep the swimmer close to the top of the water.

Secondly, the swimmer should roll the body to the side, instead of turning just the head, a slight roll turning the hips and shoulder.

For the 3rd step we have a Pro Tip: Your shoulder should come out of the water as your arm exits while the other begins the propulsive phase under the water. This should happen as you slightly roll to breathe.

Swimming Tip TuesdayWhen executed correctly, the swimmer will reduce drag by maintaining their streamline body position. The swimmer will also increase forward propulsion as our hand finds the catch.

Definitions:

Drag: In swimming “drag” is used to explain the force or resistance experienced by a swimmer by working against the water, or out of a streamlined position.

Catch: In swimming “catch” is used to finding the assisting flow of water to increase propulsion. In other words where the water is moving in large volumes.

Rhythmic Breathing: In swimming this means to blow bubbles and exhale in a consistent pattern or rhythm.

Well that’s a wrap for this week’s Swimming Tip Tuesday! Until next week!

 

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.