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Aqua Fun Academy
Swimming Tip Tuesday

Swimming Tip Tuesday: Breathing

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Swimming Tip Tuesday

Swimming Tip Tuesday: Diving & Splash back

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

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

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

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

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

This is important for the following reasons:

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

For more on diving, and other useful swimming tips, stay tuned for our next Swimming Tip Tuesday!

Swimming Tip Tuesday

Swimming Tip Tuesday: 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: 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 Fit Friday Natation Forme Vendredi

Swimming Fit Friday: Visualization

On this week’s Swimming Fit Friday, we will explore the uses of visualization in relation to exercise. As a bonus we will also explain how this tool promotes success in activities unrelated to athletics.

Imagine if you will, a world in which you have control over your body. Oh wait, for many of us this is a reality! Our motor functions and our thoughts are programed and executed through the pink squishy matter sitting in our heads. The brain has the power to practice and solve problems using only our subconscious mind. Athletes and businessmen alike have taken advantage of this function and turned it into a tool for success.

Swimming Fit Friday

Swimming Fit Friday: Jennifer Abel from Canada’s Olympic diving team performing a tuck.

Through visualization we can activate motor functions and practice sequences without actively doing them. When you imagine diving into a pool in great detail the brain will fire low-level signals to the muscle groups involved in diving. From our toes curling over the edge of the pool, our arms swinging to the sides of our head, to our fingers breaking the surface of the water upon entry. But why do this?

The simple answer is fatigue. Physical fatigue will inhibit us from practicing. Mental fatigue takes more time to develop, and as a result of that we can leverage our ability to visualize when we cannot physically practice.

How do you apply visualization properly? If you are struggling to do a skill, rehearsing the wrong way will not benefit you.

  1. Find a video of someone executing the skill properly then watch it repeatedly and think about doing the exact same movement.
  2. You want to focus your mind in the positive “you can” and “you will” execute this move perfectly.
  3. Find a quiet room and sit eyes closed for 30 minutes and imagine you are the individual you just watched and visualize yourself performing that movement.

Studies show that visualization in conjunction with practice increases your rate of improvement by 10-15 percent.

How does this apply to the world of business, or other less athletic activities? Visualization can help us build desirable habits. By spending 10 to 30 minutes everyday visualizing a desired behavior we can slowly change how we operate on a day to day basis.

Whether you want to change your behaviors, or tackle a new skill, remember to start slow and use your smart goals and milestones to help evaluate if you’re making progress with your skills. Until next Swimming Fit Friday!

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Swimming Fit Friday: F.I.T.T Principles

For today’s Swimming Fit Friday we will discuss personal fitness within the realm of aquatics. Specifically the F.I.T.T principles and how to apply it to your life both in and outside of the pool!

F.I.T.T Stands for:

  • Frequency
  • Intensity
  • Time
  • Type of Exercise

When looking at exercise guidelines, it is recommended to exercise 3-4 times a week for, a duration of 60 minutes. Knowing this a common theme is that 3-4 times a week for 60 minutes is not something that fits nicely into everyones’ schedule. If one is blissfully unaware of the F.I.T.T principle one often sees exercise as an ultimatum. As a result many of us go without exercising. Lack of exercise can lead too poor or worse health, lack of motivation and drive, lowered self-esteem, and high levels of stress. Finding a way to get exercise into your schedule really works wonders for the individual and all those they are connected too.

To get more out of our day, we can increase the frequency in which we work out, to twice a day for 15 minutes. It is easier to find small windows of time. Another example would be 15 minutes of a high intensity workout 3 times a week. In which we increased both the frequency and intensity.

Understanding this means we know that one does not want to exercise at a leisurely pace, with your increased exercise frequency, reduced time period, you need to increase the intensity of the workout. This helps us reap similar benefits as if we were to follow the recommended guidelines. Making modifications to our exercise routine with the use of the F.I.T.T principle, helps us to achieve our exercise goals!

Swimming Fit Friday

Swimming Fit Friday: A person performing water running with assistance of a buoyancy belt.

Intensity can be adjusted in various ways. For example:

  • Running 10, 100m sprints, instead of jogging a mile. Would be an increase in intensity.
  • Water running, instead of running on a treadmill, you’ve increased resistance and therefore increased the intensity.
  • Holding a push up, and performing an isometric hold. Check the link below for a quick 20 seconds demo!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WqAjyXjfQpc

  • In an aquatic situation you can perform with only body weight or add the addition of a noodle, or dumbbells to work against buoyancy. When performing a push down, as shown by the woman in the photo underneath to the right.
    Swimming Fit Friday

    Swimming Fit Friday: a woman performing push down with the use of a buoyancy resistance tool, called dumbbells.

Swimming Fit Friday

Swimming Fit Friday: Swimmers in a deep water aquafit class, using the noodles to increase the resistance in their arm action. Buoyancy belts are a common tool for deep water aquafit.

Intensity can also be coupled with the concept of exercise type. For example, you can do crunches or you can hold a 5pound medicine ball to increase the load while performing sit-ups. Similar exercise, higher intensity! In an aquatic situation you can perform with only body weight or add the addition of a noodle, to work against buoyancy.

 

Well that’s all for todays’ Swimming Fit Friday, and the F.I.T.T principles! Until Next Time!

P.S Remember when performing our exercises it is KEY to maintain ones form, bad form is an opportunity for injury! Continual posture checks throughout ones workout help to keep one in good form.

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Swimming Fit Friday Balance and Core Strength

This weeks’ Swimming Fit Friday, is going to look over balance and core strength. In the world of fitness there is specific terms also called “jargon” used to identify various movements, and target areas. One of those terms is core. Seemingly straight forward, your core refers to the centre portion of your body. The muscles that compose ones core in the front are as follows:

  • Rectus adbominis
  • Internal Obliques
  • External Obliques
  • Transverse abdominis

The back core muscles include, the multifidus and erector spinae group.

In simpler terms, the abdominals, obliques, and erector spinae groups are the main muscle groups within ones core. These muscles are key components of what allow us to have proper balance when performing various tasks within our day-to-day life. If our core strength is weak, our balance will be shake and that makes one prone to falls.

As we age, strengthening and maintaining ones core muscles is essential, because most hip related injuries occur during falls. It is also important to understand that having hip injuries that lead to hip replacements significantly reduce our life expectancy, and overall quality of life.

Another factor that comes with age is that it becomes increasingly more difficult to bare excess weight. Excess weight creates an additional strain on our joints. To combat this aquatic workouts are the most effective! As a result of the reduced impact on the joints, furthermore due to the buoyancy of the water we can challenge different muscle groups more effectively.

The following are examples of exercises one can do to help strengthen and maintain their core strength & balance:

  • Leg sweeps: For this move you will keep one foot on the ground. With the other leg you will abduct or move away from the center of the body in a sweeping motion. Once your leg is pushed as far as you feel comfortable, bend at the knee and adduct or move the leg back towards the center of your body. Do this move on both sides, as it challenges balance and core strength, as well as provides a great leg workout!
  • Swimming Fit Friday Natation Forme VendrediTree pose: Often done in yoga, can also be performed in the water. The swimmer will have one foot remains on the ground. With the other, the swimmer will place their foot on the inner calf, not the knee or ankle(as that will put unnecessary pressure on the joint). As this is done, one can raise the hands up towards the ceiling inhaling and as the arms relax back down exhale. This can be done as many times as the swimmer wants, make sure to work both sides, with this great core and balance exercise!
  • Crunches: Using a pool noodle, the swimmer will lean back and suspend them selves in the water on the noodle. Thus the swimmers feet should be off the ground. Once steady the swimmer will pull their knees in towards the chest and then push away repetitively for about 60 seconds. This can be done in between other exercises.
  • L-sit or V-sit: Using the noodle the swimmer will lean back and suspend them selves in the water on the noodle. Bending at the hips/waist the swimmer will hold their feet up so that their toes are either at the top of the water or are exiting the water with straight legs. To make either an L or a V shape. Hold for about 30-60 seconds at a time.Swimming Fit Friday Natation Forme Vendredi

Now you have some examples of exercises you can take the pool with you one your next swim. Well that’s a wrap for this weeks swimming Fit Friday, until next time!

Swimming Tip Tuesday

Swimming Tip Tuesday: Butterfly Arms

 

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

Tip Summary:

The arms extend forward and kept shoulder width apart. The palms should face downwards. Swimming Tip Tuesday

 

 

Swimming Tip Tuesday

Swimming Tip Tuesday: Back Crawl, relax the neck.

This weeks Swimming Tip Tuesday will focus on Back Crawl and relaxation of the neck. A Common beginner mistake while doing Back Crawl is to tilt the head upwards, as if they are looking at their chest or their toes. This creates unnecessary strain on the neck and can lead soreness along the neck. Another disadvantage to this tilted position of the head and neck is, that it partially closes the airway. Thus inhibiting the free flow of the breathe in and out of the body. This tension adds more stress on the body, ultimately compromising our streamlined position.Swimming Tip Tuesday

When performing Back Crawl, the swimmer wants to relax their head back so that their ears are partially or fully submerged in the water. If either the swimmer or instructor notices that there is still a feeling of tension within the neck, or that the body position looks awkward. There is another way to set the body into streamlined position.

The swimmer while on their back, must focus on where their chin points:

  • If the swimmers chin is pointed towards the chest that indicates that the swimmer is looking at their chest/toes.
  • If the swimmer’s chin is pointed upwards towards the ceiling, this means that the swimmer is overcompensating and looking towards the wall behind them.

The swimmer wants the chin to be held within these two points (as mentioned above) so that the swimmer is looking directly at the ceiling above them while performing Back Crawl. Maintaining this position will remove all tension, and keep the swimmer in a streamlined position.

Once the swimmer as achieved the ideal body positioning for the head and neck, the swimmer will also increase their speed for their will be less drag acting on the body.

Expert Tip: In short your head should be still and your neck relaxed. Holding your head up too high will cause strain to the neck and slow you down in the water.

Until Next Swimming Tip Tuesday!

Swimming Tip Tuesday

Swimming Tip Tuesday: Breaststroke arm movements

This weeks Swimming Tip Tuesday we will discuss Breaststroke and focus on the arm movements.

When instructing this skill, instructors tell their students to “pull, breathe, whip and glide” as a way to remember the steps for the entire stroke. For the purpose of this discussion we will focus on the “pull, breathe” portion of this little saying. Starting from the top of the stroke our body is streamline, hands together in front of the head, as well the legs are close together behind. This is our body positioning at the very beginning and end of the stroke, please refer to the photo below for a visual.Natation Conseil Mardi
The swimmer will then take their arms and part them outwards, creating a box shape, at the sides of the body, while keeping the elbows inline with the shoulders. It is at this point that the swimmer will lift their head up to breathe hence the steps “pull, breathe”.  Immediately afterwards to generate forward momentum the swimmer will pull the arms from that position at the sides of the body in towards the chest and push forward. A common beginner mistake involves sweeping the arms to wide, pulling the arms past the shoulders, creating a longer distance for the arms to travel to return to a streamlined glide position. Ideally beginners want to create a box shape with the upper portion of their body always stopping at the shoulders.
Dependent on if the swimmer is performing Breaststroke as a common swimmer, or a racing swimmer the arm movements will look slightly different. Racing strokes have an emphasis on maintaining speed, by focusing on reduction of drag. Drag in this context, is when the water acts against the swimmer slowing them down. This can also be understood as time spent out of streamline position in which the body is not working to generate forwards momentum effectively. To improve speed for this stroke and reduce drag, one wants to keep the arms close to the body as they pull around. This is accomplished by bringing keeping the arms in tight as they move down towards the sides of the swimmers torso, dropping the elbows just under the shoulders, before pushing forward.
If speed is something of interest to you as a swimmer, looking into Aqua Fun Academy’s ASAC program, in which we develop swimmer skills and enhance their overall stroke performance. https://www.aquafunacademy.ca/asac/ 
That’s all for this weeks Swimming Tip Tuesday, until next time! Swimming Tip Tuesday