Aqua Notes

December 18-21, 2017 Holiday Swim Camp

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The Race Club Florida Holiday Swim Camp is unlike anything out there! We try to cater to each individual swimmer. Just ask around and read our testimonials to hear what people say about their experience with us, your Race Club family. 

Swimmers will focus on all 4 strokes, starts and turns, 4 different types of dryland, the science of swimming and the 5 disciplines of swimming. Triathletes will focus on everything freestyle technique to become a faster triathlete swimmer. We encourage everyone to attend all 8 camp sessions over the 4 days.

Monday, December 18th 8am-11am and 2pm-4pm camp sessions
Tuesday, December 19th 8am-11am and 2pm-4pm camp sessions
Wednesday, December 20th 8am-11am and 2pm-4pm camp sessions
Wednesday, December 20th 11am-12noon Testing for Velocity Meter option
Thursday, December 21st 8am-11am and 2pm-4pm camp sessions
Thursday, December 21st 11am-12noon filming for Video Analysis option

Morning Camp sessions are $250 and Afternoon Camp sessions are $150. If you sign up for all 8 camp sessions on or before November 17th, you get a $200 discount. Full price is $1600. If you sign up early for all sessions, you get the whole camp for $1400.   The Velocity Meter option is $1000. The Video Analysis option is $600. The pool is located at Founders Park Pool, 87000 Overseas Hwy, Islamorada, FL. Please fill out the registration form and submit online here.


November 21-25, 2017 Thanksgiving Swim Camp

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The Race Club Florida Thanksgiving Swim Camp is unlike anything out there! We try to cater to each individual swimmer. Just ask around and read our testimonials to hear what people say about their experience with us, your Race Club family. 

Swimmers will focus on all 4 strokes, starts and turns, 4 different types of dryland, the science of swimming and the 5 disciplines of swimming. Triathletes will focus on everything freestyle technique to become a faster triathlete swimmer. We encourage everyone to attend all 9 camp sessions over the 5 days.

Tuesday, November 21st 8am-11am and 3pm-5pm camp sessions
Wednesday, November 22nd 8am-11am and 3pm-5pm camp sessions
Wednesday, November 22nd 11am-12noon Testing for Velocity Meter option
Thursday, November 23rd 8am-11am camp session at Founders Park Beach for Race Club Olympics
Friday, November 24th 8am-11am and 3pm-5pm camp sessions
Friday, November 24th 11am-12noon testing for Video Analysis option
Saturday, November 25th 8am-11am and 1pm-3pm camp sessions

Morning Camp sessions are $250 and Afternoon Camp sessions are $150. If you sign up for all camp sessions on or before October 21st, you get a $200 discount. Full price is $1850. If you sign up early for all sessions, you get the whole camp for $1650.   The Velocity Meter option is $1000. The Video Analysis option is $600. The pool is located at Jacobs Aquatics Center, 320 Laguna Ave, Key Largo, FL. Please fill out the registration form and submit online here.


September 1-4, 2017 Labor Day Swim Camp

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The Race Club Florida Labor Day Swim Camp is unlike anything out there! We try to cater to each individual swimmer. Just ask around and read our testimonials to hear what people say about their experience with us, your Race Club family. 

Swimmers will focus on all 4 strokes, starts and turns, 4 different types of dryland, the science of swimming and the 5 disciplines of swimming. Triathletes will focus on everything freestyle technique to become a faster triathlete swimmer. We encourage everyone to attend all 8 camp sessions over the 4 days.

Friday, September 1st 8am-11am and 3pm-5pm camp sessions
Saturday, September 2nd 8am-11am and 3pm-5pm camp sessions
Sunday, September 3rd 8am-11am and 3pm-5pm camp sessions
Sunday, September 3rd 11am-12noon testing for Velocity Meter option
Monday, September 4th 8am-11am and 1pm-3pm camp sessions
Monday, September 4th 11am-12noon filming for Video Analysis option

Morning Camp sessions are $250 and Afternoon Camp sessions are $150. If you sign up for all 8 camp sessions on or before August 1st, you get a $200 discount. Full price is $1600. If you sign up early for all sessions, you get the whole camp for $1400.   The Velocity Meter option is $1000. The Video Analysis option is $600. The pool is located at Founders Park Pool, 87000 Overseas Hwy, Islamorada, FL. Please fill out the registration form and submit online here.


August 4-7, 2017 Islamorada Swim Camp

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The Race Club Florida Summer Swim Camp is unlike anything out there! We try to cater to each individual swimmer. Just ask around and read our testimonials to hear what people say about their experience with us, your Race Club family. 

Swimmers will focus on all 4 strokes, starts and turns, 4 different types of dryland, the science of swimming and the 5 disciplines of swimming. Triathletes will focus on everything freestyle technique to become a faster triathlete swimmer. We encourage everyone to attend all 8 camp sessions over the 4 days.

Friday, August 4th 8am-11am and 3pm-5pm camp sessions
Saturday, August 5th 8am-11am and 3pm-5pm camp sessions
Sunday, August 6th 8am-11am and 3pm-5pm camp sessions
Sunday, August 6th 11am-12noon testing for Velocity Meter option
Monday, August 7th 8am-11am and 1pm-3pm camp sessions
Monday, August 7th 11am-12noon filming for Video Analysis option

Morning Camp sessions are $250 and Afternoon Camp sessions are $150. If you sign up for all 8 camp sessions on or before July 3rd, you get a $200 discount. Full price is $1600. If you sign up early for all sessions, you get the whole camp for $1400.   The Velocity Meter option is $1000. The Video Analysis option is $600. The pool is located at Founders Park Pool, 87000 Overseas Hwy, Islamorada, FL. Please fill out the registration form and submit online here.


August 18-21, 2017 California Swim Camp

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The Race Club swim technique camp is unlike anything out there! In this California Swim Camp, we try to cater to each individual swimmer. Just ask around and read our testimonials to hear what people say about their experience with us. 

Swimmers will focus on all 4 strokes, starts and turns, 4 different types of dryland, the science of swimming and the 5 disciplines of swimming. Triathletes will focus on everything freestyle technique to become a faster triathlete swimmer. We encourage everyone to attend all 8 camp sessions over the 4 days.

Friday, August 18th 8am-11am and 3pm-5pm camp sessions
Saturday, August 19th 8am-11am and 3pm-5pm camp sessions
Sunday, August 20th 8am-11am and 3pm-5pm camp sessions
Sunday, August 20th 11am-12noon Velocity Meter testing option
Monday, August 21st 8am-11am and 3pm-5pm camp sessions
Monday, August 21st 11am-12noon Filming for Video Analysis option

Morning Camp sessions are $250 and afternoon camp sessions are $150. If you sign up for all 8 camp sessions on or before July 17th, you get a $200 discount. The regular price of the whole camp is $1600. If you sign up early, it is $1400.  The Velocity Meter option is $1000. The Video Analysis option is $600. The pool is located at Brian Bent Memorial Aquatic Center, 818 Sixth Street, Coronado, CA 92118. Please fill out the registration form and submit online here.


July 21-24, 2017 Coronado Swim Camp

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The Race Club swim technique camp is unlike anything out there! In this Summer Swim Camp, we try to cater to each individual swimmer. Just ask around and read our testimonials to hear what people say about their experience with us. 

Swimmers will focus on all 4 strokes, starts and turns, 4 different types of dryland, the science of swimming and the 5 disciplines of swimming. Triathletes will focus on everything freestyle technique to become a faster triathlete swimmer. We encourage everyone to attend all 8 camp sessions over the 4 days.

Friday, July 21st 8am-11am and 3pm-5pm camp sessions
Saturday, July 22nd 8am-11am and 3pm-5pm camp sessions
Sunday, July 23rd 8am-11am and 3pm-5pm camp sessions
Sunday, July 23rd 11am-12noon Velocity Meter testing option
Monday, July 24th 8am-11am and 3pm-5pm camp sessions
Monday, July 24th 11am-12noon Filming for Video Analysis option

Morning Camp sessions are $250 and afternoon camp sessions are $150. If you sign up for all 8 camp sessions on or before June 20th, you get a $200 discount. The regular price of the whole camp is $1600. If you sign up early, it is $1400.  The Velocity Meter option is $1000. The Video Analysis option is $600. The pool is located at Brian Bent Memorial Aquatic Center, 818 Sixth Street, Coronado, CA 92118. Please fill out the registration form and submit online here.


June 23-26, 2017 Coronado Summer Swim Camp

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The Race Club swim technique camp is unlike anything out there! In this Summer Swim Camp, we try to cater to each individual swimmer. Just ask around and read our testimonials to hear what people say about their experience with us. 

Swimmers will focus on all 4 strokes, starts and turns, 4 different types of dryland, the science of swimming and the 5 disciplines of swimming. Triathletes will focus on everything freestyle technique to become a faster triathlete swimmer. We encourage everyone to attend all 8 camp sessions over the 4 days.

Friday, June 23rd 8am-11am and 3pm-5pm camp sessions
Saturday, June 24th 8am-11am and 3pm-5pm camp sessions
Sunday, June 25th 8am-11am and 3pm-5pm camp sessions
Sunday, June 25th 11am-12noon Velocity Meter testing option
Monday, June 26th 8am-11am and 3pm-5pm camp sessions
Monday, June 26th 11am-12noon Filming for Video Analysis option

Morning Camp sessions are $250 and afternoon camp sessions are $150.  The regular price of the whole camp is $1600.  The Velocity Meter option is $1000. The Video Analysis option is $600. The pool is located at Brian Bent Memorial Aquatic Center, 818 Sixth Street, Coronado, CA 92118. Please fill out the registration form and submit online here.


What is the Best Streamline?

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For years, at The Race Club, we have been teaching that with regard to the streamline position, Michael Phelps had it right. The position that excellent swimming coaches teach their swimmers to hold during the streamline on the start and turns is controversial. Not everyone agrees with the way Michael streamlined. Here are the differences between the two most popular streamlines being used today.

Phelps would place his chin on or very near his chest, extend (arch) his lower back, place his arms behind his head, squeeze his elbows as closely together as possible and pull the arms forward as far as possible in the shoulder joint. Sound uncomfortable? It is, and if you are not uncomfortable doing this, you are not in the Phelps type streamline; what we refer to as the hyper streamline.

The other streamline that is commonly taught is with the head straight in alignment with the body, biceps placed over the ears, with little or no extension of the lower back. With either streamline, the hands should be stacked together wrist over wrist, secured by the top thumb, with the fingers squeezed together and pointing forward, in alignment with the forearms.

While teaching technique at The Race Club, we hate being wrong. It has bothered us for years that we didn’t have the data to support this hypothesis. Now we do. Recently, we began using technology called Ben Hur, which measures frontal drag with great accuracy. One of the first tests we did with this new technology was to compare the various streamline positions done well and with some commonly seen mistakes. Here is what we found.

The swimmer (me) was towed at a speed of 2 meters per second, less than the speed of a swimmer leaving a wall (around 2.8-3.3 m/sec) and considerably slower than a swimmer that enters the pool from a starting block (5.5-6.5 m/sec). The differences in frontal drag forces we noted would have been even greater had we been able to test at these higher speeds. The forces and speed were measured in Newtons for five seconds during the middle of the tow, when we were most certain of being precisely in the intended positions.

The hyper streamline position showed the lowest frontal drag force at an average of 167.1 Newtons of frontal drag. With the other commonly used streamline, with biceps over the ears, the average frontal drag was 181.5 Newtons, an increase of 8.6% over the hyper streamline. When we separated the arms in front, the so-called Superman pose, we found the average frontal drag to be 182.2 Newtons, 9% more than hyper streamline. Surprisingly, there was very little added frontal drag from separating the arms.

We also tested two other commonly seen mistakes on streamlines, separating the fingers with a thumb sticking out (with toes pointed backwards) and with the feet hanging (with a hyper streamlined front), instead of pointed backwards. With the fingers separated and thumb sticking out, the average frontal drag was 197.5 Newtons, representing an 18.2% increase over the hyper streamline! Of all the positions we tested, the feet hanging was the worst. The average frontal drag in this position was 222.4 Newtons, a whopping 33% increase in frontal drag!

We also helped to confirm our hypothesis using Olympian gold medalist, Jimmy Feigen, on the Velocity Meter. We had Jimmy push off of the wall hard using three different streamline positions and measured the distance he travelled under water in exactly six seconds after his peak velocity (toes leaving the wall). In the first streamline position, with biceps over the ears, he travelled 6.8 meters in 6 seconds. With the second streamline, he tucked his chin down a bit, but not completely down to the chest. With this streamline, he traveled 7.07 meters in 6 seconds. With the hyper streamline position, chin on the chest, he traveled 7.15 meters in the same 6 seconds.

The results of these comparative studies not only confirmed that Phelps did have it right, it also confirms what we have always suspected. In swimming, details matter. At The Race Club, we pay attention to the details and insist that our swimmers do also. If you don’t, you will never swim as fast as you could have.

Yours in Swimming,

Gary Sr.

 

 

 


The Final Frontier II: Secrets to a Faster Dolphin Kick

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The Final Frontier II: Secrets to a Faster Dolphin Kick

Developing a fast dolphin kick is not easy, yet everyone can improve their dolphin kick speed with the right anatomical tools and training. The motions involving the articulation of the back, hip, knees and ankles are all critical to a fast dolphin kick. Further, leg strength and stamina are essential.

Perhaps the most important anatomical feature of a fast dolphin kick is plantar flexibility of the ankles; the ability to point the toes inward. This ability enables the swimmer to create more propulsion on the down kick with the same amount of effort as a swimmer with less flexibility in the ankles. It allows the swimmer to achieve that propulsion with less knee bend. Bending the knee less results in less frontal drag, less deceleration, and the ability to maintain a higher speed.

While a strong propulsive down kick is a vital part of a fast dolphin, the real x-factor in the dolphin kick is with the weaker up kick. A good dolphin kicker will generate propulsion on both the up and down kicks. Using the Velocity Meter, we have analyzed many dolphin kickers and have found that weak kickers generate very little, if any, propulsion during the up kick. Olympian Kelsi Worrell accelerates up to 4.6 m/sec2 during the dolphin up kick, increasing her speed by .3 m/sec or more. While that may not be as much as the 9-11 m/sec2 that she accelerates from the down kick, it is vitally important in maintaining a higher average speed.

Further, as a result of her forceful up kick, she creates a stronger vortex that increases the propulsion from her following down kick. Kicking forcefully in both directions tends to help each kick, while kicking hard in one direction only tends to weaken each kick. Fast kickers learn to use their vortices better by kicking hard in both directions. Using the technology from the Ben Hur, which measures frontal drag at a speed of 2m/sec, we also found that by using a stronger up kick, the frontal drag force was 4% less than when using a strong down kick technique; yet another reason to use a stronger up kick.

However, there is more to this story. While dolphin kicking on the stomach, the propulsion comes at the very beginning of the up and down kicks. There are also two key peak deceleration points that occur in each kicking cycle. One occurs at the end of the down kick, when the feet begin to relax and hang toward the bottom of the pool. The other is when the legs elevate past the horizontal position on the way up to prepare for the next down kick. With most poor kickers, because of the extra knee bend required to generate propulsion, the deceleration from the legs drawing upward and forward is far greater than that from the feet hanging down. With Kelsi, she actually decelerates more at the end of the down kick than she does at the end of the up kick. Part of that is due to less of a need to bend the knees, but she has also learned to snap the beginning of the kick in both directions, and then back off of the leg accelerator from that moment on. She also drops the knees slightly during the up kick in order to keep a lower drag coefficient. All of these techniques lead to a faster kick with a more constant speed.

Here are some good tips on developing a better dolphin kick, a.k.a. the fifth stroke:

  • Increase plantar ankle flexibility with stretching exercises
  • Dolphin kick on your side with fins pushing hard in both directions
  • Snap the beginning of the kick, but lay off the speed of the legs after that, keeping the kick tighter and narrower while still undulating your hips
  • Emphasize the beginning of the up kick more than usual
  • Practice lots of dolphin kicking on your stomach, side, back, vertically or horizontally. You can’t get faster without practice

Be sure to check out Olympic swimmer Roland Schoeman demonstrating several ways to improve your dolphin kick in our three part swimisode series on the fifth stroke.

Yours in swimming,

Gary Sr.


The Final Frontier of Fast Swimming

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After every Olympic Games, and after more records fall, the same question keeps coming up: How do swimmers keep getting faster? It is a fair question, as there’s surely a limit to how fast a human body can move through the water given the limited tools that we have to work with.

God never really designed the human to be fast in the water. He had more of a jumping, throwing, running creature in mind. Yet here we are, just over 100 years after the most popular swimming contests began in the Olympic Games of Athens in 1896, still trying and succeeding at getting faster in water.

I once saw an analysis showing where swimmers from different eras would be in the pool during their fastest 100 meter freestyle race, precisely as today’s world record holder completed the race. The world record holder in the100 freestyle of 75 years ago would still have another 25 more meters to swim, in the same time taken for today’s world record. It is astounding how far we have come in such a relatively short time.

Is it reasonable to think that we can continue to swim faster and improve at the same rate that we have over the past 50 years or so? Certainly not at the same rate, but swimmers will get faster. If you think not, think back to athletes like Janet Evans and Michael Phelps. Janet held the 800m world record for an astounding 20 years while Michael excelled in both the 100m fly and 400 IM – two very diverse events. All world records will eventually fall (including those swum in the now illegal full-body slick suits of 2008 and 2009), albeit by smaller margins.

For those extraordinarily gifted swimmers and the coaches that are fortunate to coach them, the questions are begged: Where is the improvement going to come from? How is the improvement going to be made? It would be easy to generalize with answers such as, smarter training, tougher mental training, improved technique, more swim specific power, or all of the above. How does one get mentally tougher than Michael Phelps or train harder or smarter than Katie Ledecky or create more propulsion than Nathan Adrian? I’m not sure. I do think that when striving for more improvement in fast swimming, we need to uncover every stone. We will need to focus on areas where we haven’t paid as much attention in the past. The means to do that will be through better technology that increases our knowledge and leads to improved technique.

As the most successful swimming country in the world, the U.S. is not very technologically advanced. Technology will lift the hood of the car and allow us to get a much closer look at the engine. In a sport that is arguably the world’s most technique-sensitive, we are far behind where we should be in technology compared to other sports. In order for our swimmers to keep getting faster, that needs to change.

The lesson from the slick suits of 2008 and 2009 should have taught us that technology is the next frontier. Yet with the current rules, the technology will not come in the form of improving suits as it did then, but rather from improving the swimmer’s technique.

There are new technologies coming to the market all the time but swimming faster is not just a matter of having the technology. It is a matter of knowing what to do with it and how to interpret the data. Armed with that new knowledge, both the swimmer and coach will know exactly where and how to improve.

At The Race Club, we use two technologies that have made us aware of the extreme importance of technique and how to improve that technique to swim faster. The first is called the Velocity Meter. It measures changes in acceleration and deceleration (including velocity) at every 2/100 of a second through a stroke cycle. Before having this technology, I had no idea it was even possible for a swimmer to go from 18 m/sec2 of acceleration to the same amount of deceleration in less than 1/10 of a second (of course, that shouldn’t happen with an efficient fast swimming technique). By measuring peaks and troughs of velocity through the stroke cycle and the difference between them, we derive information on propulsion and frontal drag. These tests take time to analyze (around 10 hours per test) but we now have a much better understanding of what is great technique, and can identify and quantitate what is poor technique with more precision. 

With the second piece of technology we have recently acquired, we can measure a swimmer’s frontal drag and propulsion, the importance of which I have spoken about often. We are testing, studying and scrutinizing all of the advanced analysis capabilities this machine (called the Ben Hur) has to offer and integrating them into The Race Club methodology. We look forward to testing our clients with the Velocity Meter and the Ben Hur and seeing the performance gains from their improved technique.

Based on what I know now, two of the biggest opportunities that we have to improve swimming technique through technology will be in the kicking technique (and training) and in the more effective use of coupling motions to gain propulsion. We may have more understanding to gain with these two fast swimming techniques than with any others. In the next Aqua Note, I will discuss in more detail how and why I think kicking and coupling techniques may provide the next breakthrough for swimmers.

Yours in swimming,
Gary Sr.