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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: 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: 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

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: Butterfly Streamlining & Chin Position

Today’s Swimming Tip Tuesday we’re going to discuss butterfly and another strategy swimmers use to maintain their head position. Our pro tip of the day is to keep your chin as close to the surface as possible when breathing.

Body position is important to all strokes and water skills. The way we move within water depends on how we manipulate the body to work with and against it. By maintaining a mainly streamlined body position allows for the swimmer to move with ease and speed through the pool. The water moves around the body instead of against it.

Whether you’re swimming for fun, for exercise, or for competition, practicing various techniques to manipulate the water in an energy efficient way is key. Swimming is an efficient sport, especially when focusing on manipulating the body to perform strokes. The goal is to get the most forward propulsion with minimal disruptions to our streamline position.Swimming Tip Tuesday

Throughout the stroke we want to minimize the amount of drag created when the swimmer ultimately has to breathe. If the swimmer keeps the top of the head close to the surface when exhaling into the water, there is less distance to move upward to breathe. Similarly by keeping the chin close to the surface of the water when breathing, we reduce the amount of time it will take to re-enter the water and begin the next forward pull of the arms.

How do we practice maintaining our chin close to the surface of the water:

  • Keep the eyes looking forward towards the wall across the pool.
  • Tuck the chin slightly to graze the water as you recover the arms.
  • When practicing isolated dolphin with a flutter board, focus on how far your chest and head rise to breathe.

Remember to keep these in mind when perfecting your own butterfly!

That’s a wrap for this Swimming Tip Tuesday, until next week!

Swimming Tip Tuesday

Swimming Tip Tuesday

Swimming Tip Tuesday: Minimize the Kick

On this week’s Swimming Tip Tuesday we’re going to focus on how to maximize our forward propulsion by looking at the differences in how we kick our feet.

Swimming tip TuesdayThe basis of butterfly is dolphin kick, it is from this movement that the swimmer generates most of their forward momentum. When beginners are learning this stroke, some instructors will put emphasis on splash to differentiate between the two different types of kicks.

Dolphin kick is a wave motion generated from the hips. The swimmer will do the following sequence when performing the kick.

1-push the hips down towards the pool floor.

1a-bend at the knees.

1b- keep the feet close to the top of the water.

This is the initial ‘S’ or ‘wave’ motion. Then the swimmer will…Swimming Tip Tuesday

2- push the bum up towards to the top of the water.

2a-straighten the knees.

2b push the feet down towards the pool floor.

This is the second wave, this motion will become seamless with practice.

As the swimmer performs 2b (pushing the feet down towards the pool floor) they will execute that push gently the first time, tapping the water and hard the second time, forcing the water down beneath them. On the second kick, the swimmer engages the arms and adds to the momentum.

We’ve spoken about the mechanics but how do we maximize this movement? The answer is to minimize the amount of splash we create in the kick.

As I have emphasized in the past to avoid drag we want to maintain a streamlined body position. Remaining streamlined allows for the water to flow around the body without creating drag and assisting with the swimmers’ forward momentum.

Swimming Tip TuesdayIn the case of Butterfly we want to maintain the motion of water around us to avoid drag. Due to the wave like motion of this stroke it is in the swimmer’s best interest to minimize disruptions to the flow of water.

When we create splashes, we change the movement of the water around the swimmer. Due to the change in direction of the water’s movement, the swimmer needs to work against these other currents being created by large splashes.

As a result it important for swimmers to practice the execution of this kick, with great power and a small amount of splash.

Keep practicing, and we’ll see you next time for Swimming Tip Tuesday!

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