Welcome to the new year!
It is now time to make unrealistic goals and resolutions we will try for a month, and than find ways to give up on them. It does not have to be this way. Below I am going to give you 3 simple ways you can have a fit and health 2016:
Keep it simple and do what you set out to do. Is it really easy, No! Can you live a simple, healthy lifestyle, Yes!
Now go do these 3 simple items.
Anthony Ervin Event
Talking with Anthony you get the feeling he is a cerebral guy that thinks beyond laps in a pool. Having over a 4.0 in high school and attending Cal he had to be smart, but he thinks on a cerebral level about body placement and flow. He has been involved with inner city swimming and spent a few years in the eclectic city of New York. Issues substance abuse, not working hard and leave from swimming are well publicized, but to me it seemed like someone realizing there is life beyond a pool and trying to live it.
A collection of thoughts from talking to Anthony:
Flow with the water, feel like you are swimming down hill and a rope is pulling you through the water coming from your head.
Working with Mike Bottom on his front-end catch/reach took him from a good swimmer to an elite level swimmer.
Discussed his age group coach who was a little harsh, and tough compared to his high school coach, Steve Neal, whom he responded well. Steve is one of the most positive people you will ever meet and his constant encouragement helps you feel like you can do it. When I questioned Anthony on which type of coaching he thought was better, he stated it depends on the swimmer. He has seen some people that need someone yelling at them to motivate and get them to maximize their abilities.
From 11-14 Anthony hit a plateau and considered quitting swimming, his older brother encouraged him to stick with it and pursue swimming in college. This was around the same time he transitioned from a backstroker to a freestyler. He wanted to pursue trying to go as fast in the water as he possibly could. Freestyle was the stroke.
Every tattoo tells a story so I asked for a PG13 tattoo story. He stated the Olympic rings were a rite of passage to join the ranks of Olympic swimmers. Anthony and a few other swimmers went and obtained them together.
He mentioned a few eclectic bands that I would love to hear, but forgot their names and we do not have video to bring back the names.
During the clinic he emphasized all parts of your body working together and flowing with the water. Drills:
One of the drills to emphasize this was a swordfish scull timing your hips to each scull.
He emphasized reach. We call half army crawl stretching forward catching, fingertips down, and pulling back about a ¼ to your chest, with a flutter kick.
Another drill was swimming, purposely timing your kick to your pull. It is similar to an old school two beat kick. This emphasizes using your core and tying your body together.
Body up to swim down hill: This is a drill similar to head up freestyle, but you focus on your body. Begin swimming vertically, and then continue to press your chest down until your head and body are fully submerged underwater. It gives you the feeling of swimming downhill.
It is all pretty simple right; flow with the water, extend to use your body working together and feel like you are swimming down hill. I am being sarcastic, swimmers like Anthony have been trained at a high level since they were children and have some of these things embedded in muscle memory. However, a swimmer of every age and ability can apply these principles and it will help them make improvements.
Watching Anthony swim, listening to him speak, you can tell he puts thought, focus, feeling, intelligence and efficiency into his swimming. If you watch someone swim you can obtain glimpses of their personality from their stroke and how they swim a race. We were fortunate to get to know Anthony a little better and gain a few glimpses into the swimmer and individual. We are rooting now more than ever.
You can learn from watching great swimming, and video is a great tool to see what someone does well and what they need to correct.
Below are 5 technique traits that Anthony Erin has mastered:
We have had a series on the swimming basics, so lets start with the basics of the freestyle pull.
Rotations: The rotation drill is when you have your arms by your sides, you are kicking and you are rotating your hips and shoulders together, with your core being the bridge between the two body parts. I like to think rotate the hips, keeping the core tight, and a slight lift/arch in the lower back. Normally if you think rotate the hips the shoulders will automatically be in line with them. Some times the hips can be late rotating if we focus to much on the upper body rotation. On the upper body rotation we want one shoulder to the side of your check, while the other shoulder is above water feeling air. The chest is turned in a direction toward the lane line. They you switch driving the hip and shoulder down and forward while the other shoulder and hip come to the surface. You are rotating. Put a 3 or 6 count on it to stay consistent. As Always the body stays in a line. Take a look at the Freestyle videos for a rotation example.
Now we add Arms:
Stretch through your armpit reaching forward as far as you can and grab as much water as possible. Hands strait forward or pinky slightly up wen you reach, pick which works for you. The index finger can never turn up to the surface. Slight hand turn in pulling down your midline, bend your elbow about 45 degrees, lock the elbow, use your lats and core during the pull ROTATING your body, all while staying on your midline until you finish your pull. The elbow is up under water, fingertips are down and the hand and forearm are throwing water back to the wall behind you. I prefer to say grab and throw instead of anchor and pull. The main goal is to find the catch and pull that works best for you.
This is suppose to be the basics so here it is simplified: Reach on the line, pull down the line.
1 arm freestyle is a good drill to review on the videos to get power and timing.
Good luck and Go Swim!
Swimmers of all ages, Masters to Age group need to find out what motivates them. Swimming can be a hard and brutal sport; one person wins, everyone else loses. In the Olympics we typically only remember the gold medalists.
Based on these harsh realities most normal people need to find there own personal reasons that are not being the best in the world. It might be, completing an open water swim, taking off 5 minutes from a mile swim, dropping 3 seconds in a 100 freestyle, or losing 10 pounds and making a commitment to a healthy lifestyle. I cannot give you, your motivation, but find achievable goals that help improve your body and mind and you will not lose.
Basic Technique Tip:
Quick Breaths: Exhale your Oxygen underwater, quickly turn your chin toward your shoulder while in the swordfish position, take your breath out of the side of your mouth, one goggle still in the water, and snap the eyes back to the bottom, head in line with your spine. If you see your arm moving forward your breath was too late and you need to breath sooner and get your head down sooner.
The easiest way to train elite level swimmer/athlete is to teach proper technique while they are young. This follows them throughout their entire life. They are young, flexible and willing soak up learning like a sponge. For masters swimmers, myself included, we are not flexible, no one is getting any younger and we are set in our ways. This was supposed to be motivational article, now I just depressed myself.
The point I am trying to make is to have a young mindset when it comes to learning technique in swimming. If we make our goal the ability to learn the best technique possible, with a singular focus, everything else will fall into place. Your strokes will improve and your times will drop, even as you get older. If you think work harder, time is not escapable. Keep an open mind, forget what your part time high school coach taught you 20 years ago (unless they were amazing) and focus on the technique details to swim well, not the number of yards you do in a practice.
All of this and I have not given one technique tip in this post. So here it is:
Still Hands. The more your move your hands when you reach, the more resistance and wasted motion. When your reach forward to the wall, stretching through your armpit to your hip and on the freestyle pull anchoring your arm and throwing water to the wall behind you with no side to side hand movement. Reach strait forward, pull strait back staying on your blue line. Sounds childlike, which is a good way to think sometimes, when we are focusing on the basics.
Look at our freestyle video, so you can see the drills!
Last post we discussed floating and body position as the basic element of quality swimming. Everyone laughs, until they realize floating is hard for about 70% of adults. This article we will discuss proper body position kicking while you are in the water.
Streamline: You build on proper body position ( floating) by adding kicking. Start in the streamline position, stretching through the armpits, keeping a clean body line and begin kicking. Everyone thinks they know how to do the streamline position. Few do it well, and you can make a case it is the most important position in swimming. Start the kick using your upper legs and snap the leg down (similar to a soccer kick), letting the energy translate all the way down to the toes. The back of the knees are relaxed (this is important) and they almost hyper extend when finishing the kick. On the up kick you focus on grabbing water with the legs and feet and throwing it up and back to the wall. The relaxed knee bend is about 35-45 degrees. Make sure your are stretching and rolling your shoulders in, squeezing the elbows toward each other as you are kicking; keeping your body in a line and at the surface. Bent elbows with limited reaching will translate into a sinking lower body that will increase drag. Drag will slow you down.
Superman: Just separate your hands from streamline, stretching strait out from your shoulders, your hands are relaxed stretching forward at the surface, reaching for the other side of the pool. Lift your shoulders up to stabilize your relaxed hands. Did I mention relaxed hands!
The kick is the same.
Swordfish: Mastering this position is very important. Drop one arm to the side from superman, turn your chest to the lane line at 45 degree angle, back shoulder turned up (feeling air). The front arm is stretching forward through the armpit, with a relaxed hand. Keep the hand still and at or near the surface. Did I mention no hand movement and stretching !
The kick remains the same, going up and down.
Good luck and go practice kicking in a perfect body line.
I am a progression based teacher. Focusing on the fundamentals and then expanding to more difficult items. Practicing bad habits only makes them harder to change later down the line. Adults that are in good shape, have no option to increase speed and efficiency, except through technique improvement. Kids can become better by improving physical stamina if they have poor technique, but they are sacrificing their future speed through reinforcement of bad habits. Either way technique improvement is the solution.
How do we improve technique?
Mastering the little things is a necessity. I get laughed at all the time asking Adults and kids to float at the surface. Keeping the hands to heels at the surface. When they have a hard time keeping their body line strait and at the surface, they understand why I made them float. It exposes weaknesses of body position, which ultimately leads to slower, inefficient swimming. You must have constant attention to technique details to maximize what you are capable of achieving.
Technique tip 1: floating
Shoulders up and turned in, relaxed hands at the surface, head in line with the spine, eyes down, controlled core with a small LOWER back arch near the hips (I call this a hip lift), toes pointed, heels at the surface. Press the head and chest down, water level mid head, lift hips and feet, while staying relaxed.
Doing it properly is not as simple as it seems. Technique is the Solution.