Thanks for the wonderful training opportunity at the Race Club. My daughter at 9 was apprehensive about going to train with a new coach and pool but Gary put her at ease with his wonderfully calm nature within the first 5 minutes of the first session. His ability to connect with young children is amazing.
We were at the pool twice a day for 5 days in a magical week of Olympic Swimming and it was a totally immersive swimming experience for all of us. We love that Gary encourages parents to be on deck and listen to his feedback so that we are another source of information in case our young swimmer forgets the lessons learned. Gary has a unique scientific perspective to swimming which clicked with our daughter who also wants to know the “why” on almost anything she does. Her technique substantially improved over the course of the week in all strokes and when we ended the last session with some races against the clock even she was surprised at what she had achieved. She is now a lot more confident about achieving her swim goals.
Gary also teaches lessons for life that will stand her in good stead across any endeavor. From the most important lesson of never cheating to win, to learning how to set goals, visualization of the event and techniques to focus , all what was explained by Gary is useful to any child (and grown up).
After 10 tiring sessions we thought our daughter would be dying to get back home but her disappointment on the last day of not being in the pool the next day with Gary’s voice in her ear through that remarkable headset was very apparent to us.
We also had Devin as a coach for 2 sessions and he is another amazing coach with young kids . He helped my daughter figure out how to get off the blocks with some interesting techniques rather than fall into the water like she usually does. This was her biggest mental block during training and it took a few days of Gary and Devin working her with part of every session to get her through it.
The Race Club and Islamorada is a fantastic training place for young swimmers (and their parents) and we hope to be able to come back every year.
Nikhil, father of Aryana Deshpande, age 9, from New Jersey
Your backstroke swim technique can be improved by several important drills. In this Swimisode, you will see world champion backstroker Junya Koga utilize one of our favorite techniques to increase your power with every stroke by learning to rotate the body quickly. Body rotation in backstroke, like in freestyle, is one of the best kept secrets for developing more power and speed. The energy that you will invest in this carefully timed rotation of the body, will serve you well by increasing your power during each pull. Junya shows you how to first rotate slowly, then later with more velocity and energy to produce a powerful backstroke technique.
Watching Junya swimming backstroke in the water is like seeing a ballet. His motions are so strong and well timed, yet so graceful. He carefully brings his shoulders out of the water, turning to his side as he recovers his arm over the water, preparing to snap the body quickly to the other side. Together with his strong kick, his fast body rotation and powerful recovery of his arms over the water lead to an amazing demonstration of backstroke speed. Practice the six kick, three stroke backstroke drill and you will see a big improvement in your backstroke speed.
The Race Club, one of the world’s leading organizations teaching advanced swimming techniques, will relocate their California swim camps location from Los Angeles to San Diego beginning July 19th, 2016. The Race Club was responsible for training 53 Olympic swimmers that won 23 Olympic medals over 4 successive Olympic Games from 1996 to 2008. Since then, they have shared their knowledge and expertise by teaching swimming technique and training to swimmers and triathletes of all ages and abilities from around the world attending their camps or private instruction. The Race Club offers the most advanced technology available for improving swimming skills.
Coronado, California is an island in San Diego and home of a United States Naval Base and the west coast training site for the US Navy Seals. It is a beautiful location surrounded by the Pacific Ocean and San Diego bay. With two Olympic pools within minutes of each other and easy access to many hotels, including the famous Hotel del Coronado, and restaurants, pristine beaches and open water, Coronado is the perfect destination for a Race Club Camp.In addition, just minutes away from Coronado are are several major attractions in the San Diego area including the San Diego Zoo and Safari Park, SeaWorld, Legoland and La Jolla. With year round moderate temperatures that have been called the most ‘comfortable climate in America’, the entire family will enjoy their experience in Coronado.
“It is hard to duplicate the beautiful setting and access to Olympic pools that we have in Islamorada, Florida, but we think Coronado will be its equal in California” says Gary Hall Sr., co-founder and Director of The Race Club. “Coronado is as accessible from the west coast of the United States as Islamorada is from the East. Also, with the Race Club’s global market of swimmers, Islamorada is easier to reach from Europe, while Coronado will be easier to reach from Asia. Both locations are easily accessible from Central and South America”.
Dr. Hall will be splitting his time teaching stroke technique between Islamorada and Coronado, but Race Club coaches and the most advanced technology will be available in both locations for camps and private instruction all year long. Coronado, known for it’s aquatic lifestyle, with a rich tradition of producing outstanding water polo players, has welcomed The Race Club into its community.
The Race Club will be utilizing Coronado High School Brian Bent Memorial Aquatic Center and City of Coronado Aquatics Center pools to conduct private sessions and our California swim camps.
For more information or to register to attend private sessions or camps in Coronado, contact us: email@example.com P: 310-936-1888
Breaststroke kick is one of the most challenging techniques of swimming. A powerful breaststroke kick relies on having great flexibility in the hips and dorsiflexion of the ankles. To kick with power in breaststroke, a swimmer must be able to push backward with the instep of the foot with great force and quickness. The hip flexibility may enable that to happen, but a swimmer must also develop strength in the hamstrings to draw the legs up quickly and in the quadriceps to push the feet backward with force in breaststroke kick.
Many swimmers that do not have enough flexibility in the hip attempt to increase the power of the kick by widening the distance between the knees. Yet this technique creates a problem. With widened knees, a swimmer cannot get through the kicking cycle fast enough to take advantage of the tremendous coupling energy from the upper body pressing forward and the head snapping down. By the time they start pushing the feet backward, the body’s motion downward has already stopped, lessening the propulsive force of the breaststroke kick. Olympic Champion Rebecca Soni has extraordinary hip flexibility and leg quickness. She draws her legs up quickly, once her pull force is completed, and begins to push backward quickly just as her upper body strikes the water. It is the exquisite timing of these motions that makes her so powerful in breaststroke.
At The Race Club, we have found the Finis yellow elastic band , placed above the swimmer’s knees, is an extraordinary tool to help swimmers keep their knees closer together during the breaststroke kick and develop a more effective and faster breaststroke.
When children learn to swim butterfly for the first time, they often take a late breath in butterfly, pausing their arms at the end of the underwater pull before recovering the arms and taking the breath. We usually try to teach young swimmers to take the breath earlier in the underwater pull to avoid the delay in the arm recovery. While developing a faster pulling stroke rate is important in building a strong butterfly, it may be that the children have it right in delaying their breath.
Two of the fastest butterflyers in the world today, Joseph Schooling of Singapore and Chad Le Clos of South Africa, have a delayed front breath, though they achieve it in slightly different ways. Schooling initiates the head lift later in the underwater pull, while Le Clos holds the head up above water longer before dropping it down. In either case, the head snaps down later than when the front breath is taken earlier in the stroke.
The rationale for the late or delayed front breath has to do with the powerful coupling motions of the butterfly, which include the arms swinging forward during the recovery, the head snapping down and the shoulders/upper body pressing down. None of these motions provide any propulsive force, yet if timed correctly, they can add a tremendous amount of force to the second down kick in the fly cycle. The first down kick occurs when the hands are well into the propulsive phase underwater. The second down kick should be timed with the point of maximum kinetic energy of the coupling motions; when the hands, head and shoulders strike the water on their way down or forward. With the traditional early-breath fly technique, the head is already down before the second down kick occurs, contributing little or no coupling energy to this propulsive force. Similarly, the side breath contributes little or no energy to this second kick. Not so with the delayed front breathing technique.
Nothing is more demonstrative of the power of the coupling motions in butterfly than in the 2015 World University Games 200 finals of the 200-meter butterfly, where Japanese swimmer, Yuya Yajima, won a silver medal in the time of 1:55.7. What was unusual about this swim is that Yuya did that time with a stroke rate of 31, when everyone else in the race swam with a more typical stroke rate of in the high 40’s. Before that race, I would have bet my house that no one could swim a 200-meter fly in 1:55 with a stroke rate of 31. Thankfully, I didn’t.
Yuya’s technique, which has been called the ‘dolphin dive butterfly’, could accomplish that speed only through the use of a strong kick, great streamlining and powerful coupling motions. With the breath on each stroke, Yuya elevates high out of the water, arching the back (similar to breaststroke). Then he swings the arms forward aggressively, snapping the head and pressing the upper body down into a tight streamline, timing the arrival of all three at the surface of the water precisely with the second down kick. The hands are then held in front long enough to take the first dolphin down kick in this streamlined position. The result is an extraordinary surge forward underwater that enables him to be competitive with the other swimmers using a much higher stroke rate.
Neither Schooling nor Le Clos slow their stroke rates, yet by delaying the head snapping and the body pressing downward, they delay the peak of energy from those coupling motions to occur precisely with the second down kick. That leads to a greater surge forward under water after the kick. This technique is similar to the hybrid freestyle, where the swimmer with a strong kick can compete against faster stroke rates by increasing the coupling energy of the body rotation, head drop and faster arm recovery after the breath, leading to a surge forward under water.
Since all fast butterflyers have strong kicks, it makes the use of the delayed or prolonged front breath a plausible technique and worth trying. While in the 50-meter sprint, it is clearly faster to not breathe, for the 100 meters or longer, getting as much oxygen as possible is beneficial. Taking it later in the pulling cycle, rather than earlier, may just be best way to swim fly. Turns out, we may learn something from watching children starting to swim butterfly.
Yours in swimming,
Strong Freestyle 6 Beat Kick
My wife drives an Audi Q5 that has a 4-cylinder engine with a turbocharged engine. I like the car because if I drive it conservatively, it gets really good gas mileage. Yet, if I need to pass someone quickly on the freeway, by pressing the accelerator hard, the car shifts into a much more powerful mode and picks up speed right away. Of course, it uses a lot more gasoline when I do that, but it is nice to know that I have that option when I need it.
One can look at the freestyle kick as being similar to the turbocharged engine. In the 50 meter sprint, every swimmer needs to push the accelerator all the way to the floor, maximizing the power of the kick all of the way. But in any event longer than 50 meters, one has to back off the accelerator some in order to keep from running out of gas. The longer the swim, the more careful one needs to be about pushing the legs into turbocharged mode. In the mile, for example, that mode is often reserved for the finish of the race. It is the turbocharged mode of the kick that enables Sun Yang to swim the last 50 meters in under 26 seconds, or Chris Swanson from U of Penn to swim the last 50 yards in 24.3 seconds and demolish the field. In fact, whenever there is a close race at the finish, I will always bet on the swimmer who has the turbocharged engine available in his/her legs.
The question is, ‘how does one develop a freestyle with the turbocharge option’? I have focused many of my articles and blogs on the importance of developing a strong kick, but the truth is, it is not easy to do. It requires developing extraordinary plantar flexibility of the ankle, leg strength for both the down and up kick motions, working both sides of the leg, and leg fitness; lots of it.
When you consider your pulling stroke rate, which may vary between 60 and 100 strokes per minute for any distance over 50 meters, with a 6 beat kick, the kicking stroke rate is 6 times that, or 360-600 kicks per minute. That means that during each stroke cycle, hand entry to hand entry, each leg takes 3 down kicks and 3 up kicks. Now consider that your 6 beat kick never really has any recovery time, as the legs are either pushing down or pulling upward at all times. That is a lot of sustained effort. It is no wonder that we cannot keep our legs in turbocharged mode for more than 50 meters without reaching exhaustion. If we are to use our legs in turbocharged mode for any part of the race, however, they simply must be extraordinarily fit; even more so than than our arms are.
Once you develop the turbocharge capacity in your freestyle kick by gaining ankle flexibility, leg strength and fitness, you must also learn how far down to push the accelerator for each race, and when to push the pedal all the way to the metal. The muscles of the leg are big and strong and if you use the turbocharged mode too early or too long, the lactate produced by this mode will ultimately shut you down.
Build a better swimming engine; one with a turbocharge capacity. Do so by working your legs incessantly, in and out of the water, developing the right tools for kicking propulsion. Then plan your longer races carefully, using the 4 cylinders at the beginning, getting good gas mileage, and saving the turbocharge option for the right time at the end. Then you can finish the race blowing by everyone, just like Sun Yang or Chris Swanson. It is a great feeling.
Yours in swimming,
The 6 Kick 1 Stroke drill is one of the most transformative freestyle swim drills we teach at the Race Club Camps. Ultra Marathon Swimmer Lexie Kelly and World Champion Junya Koga demonstrate this classic drill also known as ‘6 Kick Switch’ at the Race Club training grounds in Islamorada, Florida. This drill teaches two very important swimming techniques, body rotation and a relaxed wrist on the recovery. By placing an imaginary string from your shoulder to the sky the swimmer is asked to ‘touch the string’ on the recovery forcing a vertical position with the body. Swimmers that keep the wrist stiff or the fingers clenched together on the recovery can not recover the arm muscles for the next pull nearly as well as with a relaxed recovery. Junya Koga shows us another variation of these freestyle swim drills by sculling when his arm is out front.
It’s not the position on your side that gives you speed rather the quick rotation to the opposite side that creates a coupling motion with the kick and pull that makes them more powerful. Once you’ve mastered the 6 Kick 1 Stroke drill, move onto the 6 Kick 3 Stroke drill using the same arm recovery motion, the same body rotation and the same wrist relaxation for 3 successive strokes followed by 6 kicks on your side. Using these 3 freestyle swim drills; Body Rotation Drill, 6 Kick 1 Stroke Drill and 6 Kick 3 Stroke drill you can transform your stroke into a stronger more efficient technique leading to a faster freestyle.