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Aqua Fun Academy
Swimming Tip Tuesday

Swimming Tip Tuesday – Benefits of Swimming

Our benefits Swimming Tip Tuesday of the week: Swimming keeps your heart rate up while taking some impact stress off your body.

As we age, the stress of impact on the joints and muscles can become increasingly difficult to bear. Due to the properties of water such as buoyancy, we can alleviate a lot of the stress impact has on our bodies over all.

When we swim, doing strokes such as front crawl or back crawl, we employ the use of streamlining & buoyancy to work with the water to travel. The water acts as an assist and allows us to travel further distances without overuse of various muscle groups, which in turn reduces stress.

When we water-run in shallow water, we utilize the quality of resistance. The resistance of the water slows down our movement; as a result the feet reach the ground at a reduced speed, reducing overall impact on the joints. When we do deep-water running, the stress of impact is negligible, as there is no floor to make contact with.

Swimming Tip Tuesday

Swimming Tip Tuesday: Running with the buoyancy belt. Deep Water Running

Due to the hydrostatic qualities of water an added benefit is that the water often can act as an upward massage, allowing increased blood flow. This works against the harmful effects of impact. Water’s hydrostatic pressure promotes good cardiovascular health. In simpler words, you can increase your heart rate while taking some of the impact stress off of the body.

If swimming is not your exercise of choice, try deep-water running, or shallow water running. If one is to do deep-water running employ the use of a buoyancy belt (this can also be used in the shallow end). This belt helps one maintain good posture while running as well as doubling as a floating assist. If you find that the buoyancy belt is not sufficient to keep one at a comfortable height in the water, one can either substitute or use a noodle in conjunction. In this case one would straddle the noodle like a bicycle. Be aware of your posture while using the noodle as a flotation device. Leaning too far forward or backward will engage different muscles and create some back strain if sustained for long durations of time. Posture checks are important during all forms of exercise!

Swimming Tip Tuesday

Swimming Tip Tuesday: Mouth Breathing

Our breathing Swimming Tip Tuesday of the week: As your face enters the water, open your mouth slightly to allow a trickle of air out between your lips slowly.

This week’s swimming tip tuesday is on Mouth Breathing, one the first and fundamental steps in swimming. Before we float, before we kick it’s really important that we understand how to breathe in the water. Often beginners hold their breath scrunching up their eyes and mouth putting, unnecessary stress on the face. It is important to relax, especially our facial muscles while breathing. When putting our faces into the water, try to the leave the mouth slightly open, as we do this, we can allow air to escape in the form of bubbles.

To blow bubbles, there are a couple neat tricks. One of which is pretending to blow out all of the birthday candles underwater. This will allow us to exhale quickly but grasp the general idea. Next we want to make a relaxed fish face, exhaling slowly to the count of 3. Another trick to encourage relaxed breathing is to either hum, or make a motor boat sound with your lips, this will help make very evident bubbles as well as allow the swimmer to learn to control how quickly they release their breath. These tricks help us develop initially while we are stationary.

To get moving, the key to breathing while swimming is timing. Ensuring that whenever we would exhale normally, our face should be in the water, similarly when we need to breathe in we must learn how to bring our faces out of the water. The novice swimmers tendency is to pull their head up, which is great in combination with stroke like breaststroke and butterfly. However in stroke like front crawl lifting our head up causes our body to sink. For more information on body position and breathing refer to our “Swimming Tip Tuesday: Front Crawl Breathing”. Overall ideally we want to bring our head to the side, allowing us to maintain a rhythm, for more information on rhythm during front crawl please refer to our “Swimming Tip Tuesday: Front Crawl Breathing”.

The water is just another place for us to explore our physical capabilities.

Remember always keep your mouth slightly open while breathing!

Swimming Tip Tuesday

Swimming Tip Tuesday: The Rolling Shoulders

Our front crawl Swimming Tip Tuesday of the week: Generate momentum by rotating your shoulders and your hips.

This week’s Swimming Tip Tuesday we’re going to look at backstroke or back crawl, and the importance of rolling the body as we swim. A common beginner mistake when learning this stroke involves our ability to relax and maintain flexibility and motion. Often new swimmers will be very rigid and robotic in their movement. As we grow as swimmers we develop the following. Relaxed breathing and body positioning, as instructors we have gotten to a point in our Natation Conseil Mardiswimming careers where breathing while in the pool is just as natural as breathing when walking. The confidence we have in our movements has been cultivated to this point, and as instructors we work on helping you find this confidence as well.

Todays tip for improving our back crawl is to generate momentum by rotating your shoulders and your hips.

How do we do this? Lets start with focusing on our back glide. Quick review: back glide is when the swimmer is on their back, arms along the sides of their body, their chin is tilted up towards the ceiling, and their main source of movement is to kick from the hips.

While performing back glide preferably with a kickboard (flutter board) overtop the chest the swimmer is to twist the hips so that one is lower then the other, every 3-4 kicks. This drill works on the rotation of the body. Remember when performing this it is natural to drop the shoulder as we twist the hips, this action is not something we want to separate, but rather incorporate. We are building upon a rolling motion.

To continue to improve upon this we will opt out of using a flutter board (kickboard) and perform back glide with an added shoulder roll. Rolling the shoulders back one at a time as we drop the hip into the water, again building on this motion.

As we add the full arm movements we increase the ease with which the swimmer moves through the water through rolling and thus the swimmer generates more momentum throughout the stroke.

That’s all for this week and we’ll see you again for our next Swimming Tip Tuesday! Happy Swimming!

Swimming Tip Tuesday

Swimming Tip Tuesday: Avoiding Drag (Front Crawl)

Our front crawl Swimming Tip Tuesday of the week: While the most pressure should be on your feet, also move your whole legs in a small, steady motion.

On this week’s Swimming Tip Tuesday, we will discuss how to avoid ‘drag’ when performing flutter kick, specifically during front crawl.

Before we get right down to it, lets quickly review what drag is. Drag is the force that pulls the body backwards as we swim. It comes into effect when the body exits streamline position. Understanding that one does not swim only in streamline position, the swimmer learns to use the water to move forward.Natation Conseil Mardi

A common beginner mistake when kicking is to kick from the knees down. As a swimmer, you want to utilize the whole leg, focusing on the action and generating momentum at the hips. This allows use of the larger muscles in the leg to generate power.

Swimming Tip TuesdayFor those who cannot make it to a pool here is a way to practice generating force from this hip on land. To practice this one can stand on a stool or on the stairs so there is a handrail to assist for balance. Standing sideways with one hand on the rail, swing the one of the legs back and forth focusing on the movement of the hip initially keeping the whole leg straight. Still swinging back and forth, focus on the up swing, remembering that the swimmers body will be face down throughout the stroke. The swimmer will start by pushing down on the thigh and then flicking the ankle up. The emphasis is on the whole motion; the leg should look like a small controlled wave. While the most pressure should be on your feet, also move your whole legs in a small, steady motion.

Translate this action into the flutter kick, focusing on feeling a wave run down the leg from the hip to the toes. Another method of practice is to add flippers and focus on the same movement. The elongation of the leg due to the addition of the flippers forces the swimmer exaggerate the wave motion.

That’s all for this week! Until next Swimming Tip Tuesday!

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: Butterfly Arms

Our Swimming Tip Tuesday of the week: The arms extend forward and kept shoulder width apart. The palms should face downwards.

Today’s Swimming Tip Tuesday is an Advanced Tip! As we progress throughout swimming, we challenge ourselves to learn more complicated strokes, and more competitive and competition oriented strokes. If this is where your interest lies, look more into Aqua Fun Academy’s ASAC program. The Link is provided below:

https://www.aquafunacademy.ca/asac/

Butterfly is one of the most co-ordination heavy strokes, similar to Breaststroke. However Butterfly also requires well-conditioned upper body strength, and flexible shoulder mobility. This stroke can be learned in steps, for today’s Swimming Tip Tuesday we will focus on the arm movements associated with the Butterfly.

When beginning the Butterfly, the arms should move forward in a circular motion forward. Rotating at the shoulder and reaching the hand in front of the body as far as possible, and then pushing the arms down along the sides of the body. This is done to condition and build flexibility within the shoulders. When the stroke is performed both arms will move in unison, however to practice the sweeping motion, swimmers can use a flutter board and practice one arm at a time.

To begin generating more explosive power through the stroke, the swimmer will adjust the movement of the hands through the water. With the palms facing down the swimmer will draw one half of a keyhole through the water, swiftly pulling the arm up and out of the water. Similarly to the first movement this can also be practiced one arm at a time with the use of a flutter board. Once the swimmer is comfortable begin to practice the move in unison, remembering to breathe once the arms exit the water and enter the recovery phase.

Now that we’ve analyzed circular motion, and how to generate power, we can move into the recovery phase of Butterfly. The recovery phase of a stroke is usually when the arms exit the water. As the arms come up out of the water, we want the backs of the hands to face each other, extending the arms forward and keeping them should width apart. At this point in the stroke, we want to take advantage of our time out of the water, and take a deep breathe in.

To see Butterfly in motion by none other than Michael Phelphs himself, refer to the link below: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jd67PMryIT0.

Swimming Tip Tuesday

Swimming Tip Tuesday: Ice Safety – Clear Blue Water

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

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

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

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

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Swimming Tip Tuesday

Swimming Tip Tuesday: Using a Kick Board

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

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

Swimming Tip Tuesday

Swimming Tip Tuesday: Streamlined position

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

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

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

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

Happy swimming! Until our next Swimming Tip Tuesday!

Swimming Tip Tuesday

Swimming Tip Tuesday: Butterfly and the Crown

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

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

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

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

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

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See you again right here for another Swimming Tip Tuesday!

Swimming Tip Tuesday

Swimming Tip Tuesday: Breaking Rules

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

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

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

Swimming Tip Tuesday

a pool buoy or pull float.

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

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

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

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

See you again right here for another Swimming Tip Tuesday!