Friday, August 29, 2008

Easy way to Rotate your Body in Freestyle

5/26/11 Edit: OK, I am going to be the big man (never wasn't) and admit the advice I posted near the bottom of this post - on how to rotate - is wrong. It's been a while, so I'm not certain, but I want to believe my idea was to get novice swimmers to see what rotation felt like. I guess I overstepped and implied that one should do this as "proper" technique. They should NOT. Thank you to those who commented that the advice is poor - I respect your years of tenure. Note to readers, if you read the post below, please read the comments(aside from my first reply) and you'll see how wrong my advice apparently was.

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One secret to swimming faster freestyle is to rotate your body. Rotation can be a challenge for some but after reading this tip, you'll see that it was never supposed to be hard. The tip is quite easy to understand and do.

First, what is body rotation and why rotate in the first place? Optimally, when not in a rotation, the swimmer's body should be straight and parallel to the surface of the water and the bottom of the pool so it can stream through the water with less resistance. Rotation is when the body (maintaining the parallel) turns to the side, giving the body even less resistance.

I've used the pencil analogy in previous posts, but for this example I'm going to suggest using a ruler. Hold the ruler by either end with the length of the parallel to the floor and with the scale so it is facing the floor. Now turn the ruler so the scale faces the wall. Now turn it down to the floor again and make the scale face the opposite wall. Now imagine doing that with your body in the pool. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat. That is rotation.

So why should you rotate? Rotation puts your body in position to have less resistance as it passes through the water. Notice from the ruler demonstration that when the scale is facing the wall, the shape of the ruler is more like a knife (or a fish). This position also puts you in position to have a more powerful pull stroke.

So, how can you guarantee you'll rotate? This is the easy part. Standing, put your arms over your head extended straight out, fingers pointing up. Now cross your arms at the wrist so the cross is directly over your head (keep arms fully extended). Note how each hand is extended beyond the center point. Now put one arm to your side and leave the other where it is. Now switch them.

Now just do this in the pool. When you extend each arm ahead, be sure to reach beyond the center point where the wrists would cross if they were there together.

What this does. The extended reach past the center point will force your body automatically into the rotation you are wanting to achieve. If you don't find yourself rotating enough, extend your reach further (i.e. hyper-extend). Enjoy!

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Mini-Goal Achievement Update and a Reality Check

One of the reasons I started tracking my swimming progress (see left hand column of this blog) was the eureka moment that I had when I realized that I could achieve one million meters by just doing my regular routine. It sounded so cool.

Well I hit that milestone today. Pat, pat, pat. That's me patting myself on the back. Hee hee. One million is a cool number.

Reality interrupting here: This "achievement" took a little over a year and a half to complete. Olympic swimmers' workout routines pull off this "achievement" a few times a year, at least.

Oh, really? Hmmm .... Reality sucks. I guess I'll ignore it. Pat, pat, pat.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Baywatch in the Next Lane - My Surprise

Swimming next to a fast swimmer can make you swim faster. It works for me. I've proven it to myself by keeping a daily log and noting disparities from day to day. If I swim next to a fast swimmer, my times are nearly always better. But this AM was different.

Today, I had a pair of swimmers next to me that were clearly of a different caliber. I started out thinking I'd keep up. Then I realized that wasn't going to happen when I got passed twice in six lengths. Much to my dismay, this continued throughout my entire workout. Since I didn't feel under the weather at all I came to the conclusion that the pair were faster than any that had ever swam in the lane next to me before.

When I was done with 2000 meters, I paused and a regular pulled up in the other lane next to me. I mentioned that I was getting a little bit of wake-zone activity in my lane. My neighbor's reply? "Well you should, that's Ashley Tappin. She was an Olympic Gold medalist in the Sydney games' 4X100 freestyle relay (alternate)."

I got home and looked it up. She sure was gold. She was also asked to be on Baywatch, as a celebrity walk-on. My friend didn't mention that. I couldn't decide which was better! :)

I don't feel so bad now, but I sure feel slow! I expect I'll remember today for a long time.

Here are two other references (ref 1 ref 2).

Saturday, August 23, 2008

How to Watch the Mens 10K Swim - You'll be Glad You Read This

I just got around to watching NBC's webcast video of the Olympics Mens 10K Swim. Yes, you can watch it all, and here is the link to the launch page ... Click on the first video to the right of the article. If you haven't visited and tried to stream any video, you may be prompted to install a special video component (if you are hesitant to do that, think again, you are missing a ton of great stuff!).

Before you go there, here are some highlight moments and thoughts about the race that may make your viewing more fun:
1. The start is especially exciting. Don't skip this part. There is no commentary, so you get the feel for being with the swimmers. You can here them being told about the number of minutes to go and see them lining up on the floating dock. Once the race starts, there is the mass of humanity struggling for the lead. This ain't no 50 meter lane pool.
2. Race starts about three minutes into the video
3. You can scroll ahead (you can scroll as far ahead as you like almost right away ... I have broadband, slower speeds may not have this capability).
4. The excitement of the finish can be watched at about 1:54 on the video clock.
5. Awards ceremony at 1:54 - 1:56.

Spoiler Alert - Results Follow:

Winner was Maren van der Welden of the Netherlands in 1:51.61.6 (yes, thats over 6 miles in that time .... aaaaakkkk!). He won by only about a body length!!!

Monday, August 18, 2008

If Swimmers Have Brighter Teeth are they Doping?

This article from the Daily Mail cites claims that ordinary baking soda can boost swimming performance. The article references performance boosts of 1.5 seconds on 200 meter swims.

I'm not suggesting baking-soda doping is a good idea, but I just might start brushing my teeth with the stuff. It whitens teeth, you know.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

The Phelpian Eight

Nothing to say here but, WOW! and thanks Michael, for bringing swimming to the forefront of the public's attention for a few thrilling nights.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Michael Phelps Freestyle - What exactly is going on?

If you've watched Michael Phelps with any sort of discerning eye this week as he cracks one world record after another, you'll notice that his freestyle is a bit unorthodox from the rest of his fellow competitors. Even the most untrained eye will notice that he comes up higher out of the water than everyone else (link has an embedded picture of what I mean).

What is it about this that gives him an edge over his competitors? Is this giving him an edge?

This has gotten me thinking a little bit outside of the box, so forgive this post if I am way off base, but I tried out the stroke and noticed something peculiar. If you pull yourself out of the water high enough, you can actually throw your hips into the stroke, much like one does in butterfly. If you add the hip action, you get the benefit of more body and leg power in the stroke.

Now I'm not saying Michael is doing what I describe above. I'm not sure it would even be legal, and there are countless judges and people more versed in stroke technique watching all over the earth this week and I haven't heard any complaints or protests.

All I'm suggesting is, that this extra lift up and out of the water before going into the reach may add to one's power in the stroke. Try it for yourself. It takes a little bit of coordination to pull it off, but I think you may be pleasantly surprised. Let me know what you find.

Saturday, August 09, 2008

Olympic Swimmer Who Can Barely Swim 100 Meters

So you think you're a fast swimmer but you know you aren't exactly up to speed with Michael Phelps? Check this video out. It starts out kind of funny, but before you're through watching, you may say, yes, I'm Olympic caliber too.

Yes, this really is the Olympics (from Sydney).

Thursday, August 07, 2008

172 Foot World Record High Dive

This link is to the video. Watch carefully between 1:20 and 1:30 and see how high this is! Makes me think the Olympians are a bunch of wussies.

Now can I dive off the pool side edge?