Aqua Notes - The Race Club

Swimisodes – Rebecca Soni – Yoga

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#swimisodes Rebecca Soni is a 6 time Olympic Medalist (3 Gold), World Record Holder and first woman under 2:20 in 200 meter Breaststroke and Yogini. In this interview filmed at the most beautiful location in the World, The Moorings Village in Islamorada, FL, learn how Rebecca used Yoga during her career as an elite athlete eventually replacing her weight lifting program entirely with yoga. Watch her fluid movements as she has developed her practice of yoga and see for yourself how these movements can help her swimming. Reb was drawn to yoga at first, as a way to really pay attention to what was happening in her body in and out of the water.

Learning how to hold your body in certain ways can help you feel the proper way to align yourself in swimming. At the Race Club, we practice yoga as part of our dryland training program. Whether you are a recreational swimmer or competitive, we believe that Yoga can teach us how to breathe in different ways to help your body in all moments from intense exercise to deep recovery and also increase flexibility especially in the regions that Swimmers tend to be tight in. With all the benefits that come from yoga in sports and life, like Rebecca we haven’t found a single reason not to do yoga!

We have created a series of Vinyasa Yoga sequences for you at home to follow along to. Once you watch this interview and are inspired, roll out your matt and tune into our #swimisodes – Yoga series! We have 3 different Vinyasa flow sequences to practice and each one focuses on a different region of the body. Each day is different and each practice can create new benefits so keep on practicing the #swimisodes Yoga sequences with Rebecca and you’ll surely find something new each time. Just as there are so many reasons why Reb loves yoga, there are as many benefits physically and psychologically for anyone to reap. It takes time and many breaths to develop proper techniques and movements. Knowing safe and effective ways to move requires great teachers, patience and paying attention to your mind and body. Just like in swimming, we advocate a focus on technique in yoga.

Yoga sequence with Reb focusing on the Legs

Yoga sequence with Reb focusing on the Shoulders


Swimisodes – Freestyle – How to Pull Underwater

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#swimisodes Many swimmers rely on natural instinct when they learn how to pull underwater in freestyle. But if we stop and think about what happens during the stroke cycle with our arms and body, we might choose to pull in a different way. There is quite a range of possibilities in how to pull underwater. From a pull way underneath our bodies to a pull way out to the side, there is a sweet spot for all of us, depending on the swimmer and the race.

We have a saying at the Race Club that drag is the number one enemy of the swimmer. Therefore, we must pay attention to drag and feel all it’s forces in order to best deal with it in creating speed through water. In this #swimisodes learn the advantage of a deep pull equating to more power vs the advantage of the high elbow pull creating less drag but also less power during the underwater pull.

At the Race Club, we practice several ‘drag appreciation drills’ as seen in this #swimisodes. Watch 4 time Olympian Roland Schoeman, World Champion Junya Koga and Elite Marathon swimmer, Lexie Kelly led by Coach Gary Hall take it back to the basics allowing the swimmer to feel ‘drag forces’ that may often go unoticed. Compare and contrast the feelings of more power vs. less drag. These drills might help you understand how to pull underwater in swimming freestyle.


Swimisodes – Butterfly with Roland Schoeman – The Fifth Stroke Part 2

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Dolphin Kick, otherwise known here at the Race Club as The Fifth Stroke, is used in all 4 strokes. It is imperative to develop a strong and effective dolphin kick in order to swim fast no matter what swim race you are in. We use several ways to develop the fifth stroke by engaging power from the entire body for an effective dolphin kick. In part two of this #swimisodes, Roland Schoeman shows us how kicking with an alignment board and dmc snap snorkel can both allow the undulation the body needs in the fifthe stroke while remaining as streamlined on the surface as possible.

In Olympic Gold Medalist Roland Schoeman’s kick, the upkick accounts for about 20% of the propulsion but is absolutely critical to couple a strong upkick with the down kick. The down kick accounts for about 80% of propulsion, but needs that strong upkick to utilize the vortexes created in both directions spinning off the ends of the feet. When the swimmer gets going and is using those vortexes to kick in both directions, maximum speed biomechanically is gained. When equal pressure is applied on the upkick, the subsequent down kick turns out to be even more powerful.

To kick fast, every degree of plantar flexibility matters. With more flexion, the small amount of extra flick that comes from pointing the toes, creates a relatively significant increase in propulsion. A strong core is needed to use the whole body and practice the dolphin kick everyday. The propulsion comes from the flick of the kick but it is started by all the muscles in your upper abdomen and entire core. There are many ways to practice the Fifth Stroke, and we use all of them at The Race Club. Watch how Roland Schoeman demonstrates a great dolphin kick with alignment board and monosnorkel with and without fins.

Watch The Fifth Stroke Part I

Watch The Fifth Stroke Part III


#swimisodes

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Tune into www.theraceclub.com for the complete web series #swimisodes featuring Olympic Gold medalist and world record holders Rebecca Soni, Roland Schoeman, Junya Koga, Lexie Kelly and Zach Hayden demonstrating the most advanced swim drills and techniques in the sport of swimming. Coach Gary Hall teaches these world class athletes a variety of training disciplines that include; drills for all 5 strokes (yes 5!), starts and turns, open water, dryland and more. We releases all of our new #swimisodes at www.theraceclub.com

Thanks for watching!


10 Swim Camps in 2016

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We are excited to announce that we will increase the number of swim camps for next year, 2016. More options for you in this Olympic year will hopefully allow you to become a faster swimmer by coming to train with us. As always, you can choose which sessions you want to attend during any of our scheduled camp dates. We have a morning and an afternoon session every scheduled camp day.

February 12th – 18th, 2016 in Islamorada, FL

March 10th – 13th in Los Angeles, CA

March 25th – 31st in Islamorada, FL

April 21st – 24th in Los Angeles, CA – Triathlon Specific Swim Camp

June 18th – 26th in Islamorada, FL

July 8th -14th in Los Angeles, CA

September 2nd – 5th in Islamorada, FL

October 7th -10th in Los Angeles, CA

November 21st – 26th in Islamorada, FL

December 17th, 2016 – January 2nd, 2017 in Islamorada, FL (Christmas Eve PM session and both Christmas Day sessions are off)

You can schedule private sessions anytime during the year we have availability. You can also schedule Private Coaching for a Race Club coach to come to your city. Email us for more information.

We now have a small training group that trains year round in Islamorada, FL. Come for any amount of time to get customized training. The fee for the training group is very reasonable compared to our swim camps and private rates.


Two Distinct Breaststroke Techniques and Three Key Timing Tips

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Originally published on SwimSwam.com

Breaststroke is the most inefficient and slowest of the four strokes. It is also the key to a successful IM. It is also the one stroke that seems to come and go like the wind, and is perhaps the most challenging to master. How can a swimmer do so well at breaststroke one season, only to find that he or she is struggling to approach the same times the next season? It is all about timing.

When ESPN did a study on Rebecca Soni’s stroke they found that her kick provided around 100 lbs of propulsive force, while her pull provided about 20 pounds of propulsive force. While not many have the propulsion in the legs of Rebecca, the truth is that most of the propulsion from all good breaststrokers comes from the legs, not the arms. The key to a fast breaststroke is to develop a strong kick and to reduce frontal drag after the kick.

In the world, there are lumpers and splitters. Splitters would say that there are many different breaststroke techniques that are effective, each one perhaps having some subtle difference from another. As a lumper, I consider that there are two distinctively different breaststroke techniques today; the fast arm-recovery and the delayed arm-recovery technique. All of the elite breaststrokers of the world use some variation of these two techniques and the majority of them use the former.

The fast arm-recovery breaststrokers (Peaty, Cordes, Meilutyte) do precisely that. They get their hands quickly through the pull cycle, snapping the elbows downward and then pushing the hands forward over the surface into a streamline before the kick propulsion takes place. The delayed arm-recovery breaststrokers (Soni, Gyurta, Larson) either never drop the elbows on the pull and bring the elbows further back behind the chest, recovering with most of the forearm over the water (Soni) or slow the hands above the water before pushing them forward into the frontal streamline (Gyurta, Larson). The advantage of the fast arm recovery is that the swimmer gets a little more power out of the pull by pushing the elbows down and accelerating the hands through the pull cycle. The advantage of the delayed recovery is that it reduces frontal drag on the recovery by elevating most of the forearm out of the water (Soni) and augments the coupling effect on the kick by adding the kinetic energy of the arms moving forward to the pressing upper body and head energy (Soni, Larson and Gyurta).

With either technique, the timing of all motions is critical. During the pull, in order to reduce frontal drag, the hips and legs need to be near horizontal with the surface with the feet pointed (plantar flexed), while the upper body elevates to the highest point possible. That elevation requires full extension of the lumbar spine. The higher the elevation of the upper body and head, the more kinetic energy can be created in the press forward. Gravity and core strength have a lot to do with developing that energy on the way down. Some, like Peaty, press forward with tremendous force and speed to augment the power of the kick. In order for that upper body energy to couple maximally with the kick, the most powerful moment of force from the kick must occur precisely when the kinetic energy of the upper body is greatest. The most powerful moment of force from the kick occurs just after the feet begin moving backward and the moment of greatest kinetic energy from the upper body occurs just as the shoulders strike the water. In order for these two events to coincide, there is precious little time to get the legs up under the body in position to initiate the kick prior to the shoulders entering the water. Further, with both thighs pulled forward under water, the body’s drag coefficient goes off the charts, so it is in the best interest of the swimmer to not remain in that position any longer than necessary. For these two reasons, one sees all elite breaststrokers get through the kick cycle extremely fast, pulling the legs forward quickly to minimize time in that position and pushing the feet back quickly to generate more propulsion. When observing the speed of the legs of an elite breaststroker from above, all one sees is a blur, like the twitch of a frog leg.

The second timing issue with breaststroke is the initiation of the pull cycle. Often, breaststrokers begin the pull too early, during the moment of the most powerful force from the kick. If the hands separate out front too soon, then the drag coefficient goes up again and the force of the kick is wasted on a bad body position. It is critical that the breaststroker be patient enough to benefit from their kick during the strike phase by having the chin down nearly touching the chest under water, the hands held together out front and the shoulders pushed forward as far as possible. However, if the breaststroker holds in this position too long, reducing the stroke rate, then the body decelerates too much after the kick before the initiation of the next pull. There is very little margin of error between initiating the pull too soon or too late. Of course, the shorter the race, the higher the stroke rate.

The third timing issue in breaststroke is on the arm recovery. By delaying the recovery of the arms, the mass of the arms moving forward is added to the mass of the upper body and head to increase kinetic energy for coupling with the kick. With this technique, the hands must get into the propulsive phase of the pull quicker, once they are in the streamline in front, so there is little time spent there. With the fast arm recovery, the arms are already in the streamlined position before the kick propulsion takes place, so no coupling can occur, and they remain there longer before initiating the pull. Many breaststrokers using this technique (Cordes, Peaty) will snap the head down, rather than lay the head down, to increase kinetic energy from the head (which weighs around 12 pounds).

Because the timing of breaststroke is so sensitive, it lends itself to doing drills more than any other stroke. At The Race Club, we practice many breaststroke drills working on the fundamentals of a strong kick, great streamlining and perfect timing for all motions. Here is one of the drills we use for breaststroke pull: http://bit.ly/1ujecAG

Yours in swimming,

Gary Sr.

breaststroke techniques


Swimisodes – Freestyle Kick Butterfly

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#swimisodes At the Race Club, we do Freestyle Kick Butterfly drill that emphasizes the importance of the coupling function of the head and arms in butterfly. Swimmers use the weight of the head and arms as part of an energy system that propels them forward in butterfly and breaststroke. They not only lay the head down after breathing, but they often snap it down, in order to take advantage of the 12 or so pounds the human head approximately weighs that helps the kick to thrust them forward. The arms swinging forward aggressively on the recovery also serve as part of the important kinetic energy that couples with the kick. Freestyle Kick Butterfly forces the swimmer to use these energy systems.

Freestyle kick butterfly is not easy to do, but if done properly with a consistent kick and with fins, a swimmer can feel the surge forward as he or she throws the head down and swings the arms forward after each breath. The greater the energy of the head and arm motion, the greater the propulsion from the kick. The flutter kick butterfly drill helps a swimmer recognize how important the second dolphin kick during the recovery in butterfly really is.


Why One Arm Backstroke Drill Matters

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Originally published on SwimSwam.com

Two of the most important ways of getting a faster backstroke is by reducing frontal drag and by increasing propulsive power. The one arm backstroke drill accomplishes both tasks. Rarely do I ever find a drill that can teach a swimmer more than one fundamental at a time, but this drill does just that.

PROPULSIVE POWER

The propulsive power of the underwater pull is increased by the coupling motion of the rotating body and the mechanical strength of the shoulder in the rotated position (avoiding a negative angle). Frontal drag is reduced in backstroke by bending the elbow, rather than pulling with a straighter arm.

In my experience, swimmers like to take the easy route, rather than the harder path, even if the latter leads to a faster swim. Rotating the body quickly from one side to the other and sustaining that motion over and over again, either in the backstroke or freestyle, requires a lot of core strength and fitness. Instead, swimmers often opt for little rotation in backstroke, a much easier choice. In doing so, if they bend their arms properly in order to reduce frontal drag, they will likely encounter a big gulp of air with the hand midway through the pulling motion. The hand leaving the water in the propulsive part of the pull leads to a big loss of power.

To fix the problem, the swimmer’s solution is to pull with a straight arm, hoping to avoid the hand breaking the surface. That compounds the problem. Less power from little body rotation and more drag from the straight pulling arm are the result. It’s a bad combination.

ONE ARM BACKSTROKE DRILL

The one arm backstroke drill, as in the freestyle drill, enables the swimmer to really think about what is going on with the body and the pulling arm. By having the swimmer keep the non-pulling arm at the side, by emphasizing the body rotation, having the swimmer bring the upper shoulder to meet the chin, and by having the swimmer bend the elbow to 120-140 degrees under water, a coach can kill two birds with one stone. Create more propulsive power and reduce frontal drag. When a swimmer comes to train with us, we combine this drill with many others, depending on the swimmer, to allow them to reach their potential speed. Now, all the swimmer needs is lots of core dryland exercises to get the core ready to keep those motions going throughout the backstroke race. Oh yes, and lots of good backstroke training.

Watch Swimisode

Yours in Swimming,

Gary Sr.


Swimisodes – Freestyle Kick Breaststroke

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Olympic Gold medalist Rebecca Soni, demonstrates Freestyle Kick Breaststroke Drill in this #swimisodes. About 80% of the propulsion in Breaststroke comes from the legs. knowing that more than any other stroke, breaststroke relies on the power of the kick for propulsion Reb Soni has reinvented the breaststroke technique. At the Race Club camps, we use a progression of drills to let swimmers understand the importance of the legs in breaststroke. When it comes to freestyle kick breaststroke, we have swimmers use their fins to emphasize the power behind them and so they can focus on their arms and upper body.

Better than any other swim drill, Freestyle Kick Breaststroke teaches swimmers how to derive more power from the kick by using the head and upper body. The kinetic energy of the upper body and head driving forward and down, when coupled with the kick, results in more distance swum from that driving motion. The fins also help to elevate the shoulders which leads to more coupling energy as the upper body moves forward. We also do this drill to practice hand quickness, getting a small but powerful pull through the water and hands back in front over the water into the streamline position in time for the next kick.

Zach Hayden does an excellent job of demonstrating this more traditional breaststroke, as he pushes the elbows together underwater before elevating the hands over the water into the streamline position. Rebecca uses a different technique that adds more power to her kick. Rather than push the elbows together on the underwater pull, she keeps them elevated near the surface, arches her back to elevate much more for the breath, then pulls the elbow behind her chest, hesitating slightly before she pushes the hands and most of the forearm forward out of the water to reduce frontal drag. By delaying the motion forward of her arms, she sacrifices some power of the pull but adds the additional mass of her arms to her body and head moving forward to create more energy to augment her powerful kick.


Swimisodes – Backstroke Starts

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#swimisodes Gary Hall Sr. coaches us through a perfect technique for your best backstroke starts. In order to perfect backstroke starts, the feet position and pull up are critical to achieving success in the four different phases of the start; the launch, the entry, the underwater propulsion and the breakout. World Champion Junya Koga shows us both the incorrect and correct feet positioning while Gary Hall Sr. explains why correct feet positioning matters in the start, launch and entry. Junya also demonstrates the difference between an incorrect body position at “take your mark” and a perfect one. Setting yourself up for a perfect start is not easy, but with practice can become the fastest swim technique for backstroke starts.

When the tips of the fingers enter the water on backstroke starts, an elite swimmer is nearing 10 miles per hour. Watch as Junya takes advantage of that speed gained in the air from the launch and how he manages to sustain his speed when he enters the water and starts his propulsion. Having a ‘no splash’ entry is the secret to keeping that momentum, with as little drag as possible. The Fifth Stroke, dolphin kick, can help you win or lose races, depending on its strength. Junya starts his dolphin kicks right away and at a perfect depth in the water. As he breaks out, the momentum from his start is still in effect, helping him explode through the breakout.

Junya is a master at the backstroke start. It is beautiful to watch his clean entry, the raw power of his kick, his streamlined position throughout the underwater, and his seemingly effortless technique at breakout. To attain this level of speed, one must practice backstroke starts often, paying attention to all of the important details.


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