Archives for category: Technique

Well done for your efforts on the Leap Year Swim last week.  It was a tough session and you all rose to the challenge.  This week we will slow it down and have a steadier session as I know many of you will be doing the Cambridge Half on Sunday.  So we will be doing some steadier paced aerobic swimming again giving you a bit more time to focus on your technique.

The thing I’d like you to focus on this week is patience and acceleration.  Patience is how I would like you to do the catch of each stroke.  Acceleration is what I would like you to use at the back half of each underwater pull to give you the maximum propulsion you can get from each stroke.  Watch the following video recently posted by Effortless Swimming to give you an idea of what a world class patience and acceleration during your stroke can give you.

Isn’t this a great video to watch?!  I love watching how smooth it is even though I know he is putting in a fair amount of effort to get the great distance per stroke he achieves from his patient catch and great acceleration at the back end.  Have a go this Saturday at adding a little bit more patience and acceleration into your stroke and see if you try and get a little bit closer to the sort of smoothness and speed you see here!

Rob

We are going to continue with more speed work this week and start with some drills to work on stroke rate before going into a main set of 100s swimming fast off a short turnaround time.  Try and relax as a much as possible when swimming fast and get the speed by swimming efficiently with a slightly higher stroke rate.  Think about applying a bit more pressure on the water during the back-end of the underwater pull to generate this higher stroke rate and speed without expending too much effort.  A slightly faster kick will also help increase your stroke rate.

See you Saturday!

Rob

It’s time to start adding some faster swims now as we build towards the start of the race season.  However, we’ve spent a lot of time over the Winter working on a good underwater stroke based on a good catch and push driven by rotation in your core.  This helps with a good distance per stroke and the trick to build speed is to increase stroke rate (i.e. strokes per minute) without decreasing your distance per stroke.

Try and do this by keeping your catch slow and patient and just squeezing as bit harder as you accelerate towards the end of the underwater part of the stroke.  Don’t rip it, though, as you will slip water.  The greater pressure during this push phase will push you forward a bit faster and your recovery and stroke rate will naturally increase.  Keeping a fast breath and short fast leg kick will also help with this.

We will be doing some drills on stroke rate after the main set today to help you work on this before we do some 100m pursuit swims to finish.

See you Saturday!

Rob

We will be doing time trials this week and the second of our three regular time trials over the Winter.  To help you prepare please try and get into a good mindset.  The challenge starts now and can be split into several phases.  Phase 1 is making a commitment to give it a go.  Subsequent phases are up to you!

I know many of you get anxious and don’t like the pressure but I do hope you are able to give it a try. The article I posted last year about getting into a good time trial mindset is very relevant here based on one of Helen’s articles about “Challenge and Threat.”  You can read it again here.

See you Saturday!

Rob

We’ve done a lot of work on the fundamentals over the last few months, mainly focused our underwater stroke but also combining it with posture and breath timing.  This week is the last week before the second set of time trials so we’re going to focus on putting it all together and start thinking about increasing stroke rate with some golf stroke.  Golf stroke (adding the total of your strokes and time for a 50) is great for measuring the balance between stroke rate, distance per stroke and efficiency and I’d like you to try reducing your golf stroke by:

  • Keeping your stroke count the same for each 50
  • Keeping your leg kick the same frequency and power
  • Increasing your speed purely from increasing your stroke rate

I think a good way to increase your stroke rate without slipping water is to keep your catch patient and strong at the same rate but just applying a bit more pressure on the water towards the end of each stroke.  Your stroke rate will naturally increase when you do this as you will be going faster through the water and moving your arms faster in the recovery due to this extra speed at the back-end.

After golf stroke we are going to do a set of 75s and 125s with some drills in the middle to remind you about keeping good technique throughout the set.  Use the main set to play around with adjusting your speed a little when the turnaround changes just with the stroke rate in your arms that you will have been practising with golf stroke.

See you Saturday!

Rob

Great work last week working on posture and keeping your shoulder forward and near your chin.  I saw some really nice swimming last week doing this, especially on the three-quarter catch-up drill.  We are going to do more practise on the same thing this week with three-quarter catch-up as well as shark-fin drill.  I am going to ask you to do the shark-fin drill every 3 strokes so you can keep your speed going.  Watch the following video for a good example of this:

One effect you should see from these drills, and improved posture, is a greater distance per stroke.  Please count your strokes every once in a while during the session to see whether or not it is having an effect.

Next week I will be away so will be leaving the sessions and want to move onto thinking about breathing.  We’ve worked on quick breathing drills before and I’m going to ask you to use the cues from the following Effortless Swimming video to try and think about breath timing.

To hit the cues talked about in the video – starting to turn your head on hand entry and finishing it before the catch – you will need to breathe quickly.  If you do though, it will really benefit your stroke and combined with a good posture is a great way keep you swimming efficiently, powerfully and fast.

See you Saturday!

Rob

We are going to keep the technique work going throughout January, as we did last year, before we start the build towards more race pace swimming from February onwards.  And for January the focus is going to continue to be on the underwater part of the pull by focusing on connecting your catch, with good EVF, to the powerful push part of the underwater pull.

This week I would like you to focus on your posture and shoulder position.  This should help you get more power in each stroke.  To focus on posture this week I would like you to think about keeping your shoulders forward and close to your face during the pull.  You can see the difference between a weaker and stronger shoulder position in the photos below.

 

These photos are from Sheila Taormina’s excellent Swim Speed Secrets book and show Jack maintaining a strong, high and forward shoulder position, which helps engage his strongest muscles for a powerful pull.  The drills we will be doing this week will help you focus on this and will consist of a number of different catch-up drills:

  • catch-up with a pause at EVF, where you pause before applying any force in the push part of the underwater stroke
  • regular catch-up, which you all should know and love, and
  • three-quarter catch-up, where you start one arm moving just before the other arm catches it up

Please use these drills and also work on your shoulder position during both the drill and main set and see if you can feel the difference in power connecting your catch to the powerful back-end of your underwater pull.

We will stick with the usual pattern of doing time trials every 2 months – on the last Saturday of the month – and the next time trials will be at the end of January.  We won’t be doing any speed work before then so any improvement in your performance is most likely to come from technique. So please focus on your technique over the next few weeks by getting a good lever, with an early vertical forearm, to push yourself forward using a strong core rotation all controlled with shoulders near your chin.

See you Saturday and remember the new start and and finish times of 7am-8:05am and 8:05am-9:10am!

Rob

We have the pool for 3 hours this week, as the juniors won’t be there, so both sessions will last an hour and a half.  The first session will be 7am till 8:30am and the second session will run from 8:30am to 10am.  The extra time gives us chance to do a bit more distance, fit in some technique work focusing on EVF and rotation, include a nice pull set and swim a few different strokes at the end for fun.

Also, we will be changing the times for all saturday swimming session from next week onwards.  We will be running two equal length sessions of 65 minutes each so finishing 5 minutes earlier at 9:10am.  This change has been prompted by the need to get the lane ropes out promptly by 10am for swimming lessons and the Juniors have been having to cut short their session by 5 minutes to do this.  Giving the juniors 5 extra minutes back each week and making the senior sessions equally balanced has been agreed to be the best solution solution all round for the club.

See you Saturday!

Rob

Photo by Tristan Colangelo on Unsplash

Well done for your efforts last week working on rotation and especially hip connection.  We are going to do a bit more work on that this week to give you more chance to practise this so the theme for this week is hip-connection.

One thing to be aware of when thinking about rotation is avoiding over rotation and also avoiding over reaching, which is something I do see sometimes on Saturday.  A recent video from Brenton Ford at Effortless Swimming talks about this, and how to correct it, and I would recommend watching it here:

We will be doing some of the drills from last week – prone kick with rotation and hip-connector – as well as one of the  drills from Chloe Sutton’s video we didn’t do which is power rotation with kick board, so watch the video from last week if you need a reminder about this.  But in all the swims this week – technique set, main set and subset – please focus on hip-connector timing.  Engage your core and start your rotation as you start the catch of each stroke.  And please do use your kick timed with this hip-connector rotation to help – even when doing the pull set.

See you Saturday!

Rob

We have focused a lot on the catch over the last few weeks and I have seen some good improvements from many of you, especially in increased patience with the catch and avoiding wasted effort pushing down on the water.  I now want to focus on the transition to the power phase using rotation from your core – building on your patient catch.  The following video from Chloe Sutton is a good summary of what to think about and some drills we will be doing this week.

I’d like you to particularly focus on timing.  We will be doing the hip connector drill to help you focus on this.  We will also be doing quite a lot of work on the legs so really think about timing your kick to help with the rotation.  After the drills we will do an aerobic pyramid with some sprints to finish.

See you Saturday!

Rob

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