#swimisodes World champion backstroker, Junya Koga demonstrates a backstroke swim drill also known as ‘6 kick switch’, that will help you appreciate the importance of this extreme rotation from one side to the other. Developing a faster backstroke swim begins with learning to use fast, strong body rotation.The energy from this quick body turn couples with the force from the underwater pull, resulting in more distance per stroke. The rotation of the body to the side in backstroke also places the shoulder in a stronger mechanical position to generate a greater force during the pull.
Using this backstroke swim drill at The Race Club, we also teach the swimmers to relax their hands and wrist on the recovery. This little known relaxation practice plays a big role in enabling the arm muscles to recover better for another strong underwater pull. In backstroke and in freestyle, many swimmers keep their hands and wrists stiff during the recovery and never give their arms a chance to recover enough for the next underwater pull. Doing so will quickly lead a swimmer to exhaustion.
For both of these reasons, you should practice the fast backstroke swim drill to develop a more powerful and sustainable backstroke swim.
Michael Phelps has been finishing his IM and Freestyle races with Dolphin Kick freestyle, a swim technique we have been practicing at the Race Club for years. All sprint freestylers use a high stroke rate. Learning how to turn over the arms quickly is not always that easy. It takes strength, endurance and practice. At The Race Club, we have used the dolphin kick freestyle swim technique to teach swimmers how to sprint faster. With this swim technique, the swimmer uses the freestyle pull timed precisely so the hand enters the water with the down kick of the dolphin kick. When synchronized with a strong dolphin kick, this technique enables the swimmer to move very fast. When timed well, the dolphin kick forces the swimmer to use a faster pulling stroke rate.
When Michael Phelps uses this swim technique his stroke rate goes from around 75 to over 100, this could be the reason for his victory over Ryan Lochte. The dolphin kick freestyle was also used by Olympic Champion Michael Klim from Australia, in the final meters of his lead off 100 M freestyle on the relay at the Olympic games in Sydney in 2000. At that time, he spurted ahead of American Anthony Ervin and set a new world record.
For either sprinting or finishing IM or freestyle races, practicing the dolphin kick freestyle drill may boost your speed especially towards the end of the race when lactic acid and fatigue kick in and, like Phelps, it may help you win some races. Don’t try the dolphin kick freestyle technique in a race without practicing it first, but with a good dolphin kick, this technique can increase your stroke rate and speed. A faster stroke rate will usually result in a faster swim and will conform more with the law of inertia.
With the introduction of the back footplate on the swim starting blocks in 2008, the dynamics of the technique of starting changed. Swimmers and coaches quickly learned that during swimming starts considerably more force could be applied by the creation of a more favorable surface angle for the back foot with the plate, similar to the start of a track sprint race.
At The Race Club, we tested the speed of our Olympic swimmers to 15 meters with and without the back footplate and found that by using the back plate with a sling-shot starting technique, the swimmers’ times decreased by .1-.3 seconds.
In this Race Club Swimisode, you will see Olympian Rebecca Soni and World-class freestyler Zach Hayden demonstrate how to use the sling-shot start with the back foot plate. The head and body position, the degree of pull back and the tension on the upper arms are critical to getting the best possible start.
Getting off to a great start is an important way to begin a race. No one wants to play catch up after the breakout. Enjoy this Swimisode and learn how to explode off of the starting blocks and get going in The Race Club way.
Read Aqua Note on How to Effectively Do a Slingshot Start by Gary Sr.
Watch Part I of Swimisodes Swimming Starts Series – How to Position Your Feet
Read Aqua Note on How to Maximize Swimming Starts with the Back Footplate
At The Race Club, we practice an important backstroke swimming drill that helps swimmers increase their speed and energy of the backstroke body rotation, all of which lead to a faster backstroke. A quick rotation of the body from side to side during the underwater pull is one of the key techniques that a swimmer can use to develop a faster backstroke. The faster the rotation of the swimmer’s body, the more kinetic energy can be coupled to the pull and kick to make them more effective.
In order to learn an efficient backstroke we believe it is important to practice a variety of backstroke swimming drills. Good backstroke body rotation is not only beneficial for the coupling energy that it provides, but this technique also enables the swimmer to bend the elbow more in the pulling motion underwater. Similar to the high elbow in freestyle, the bent elbow in backstroke reduces frontal drag, but it also increases the propulsion when compared to a straighter-armed pull. Bending the elbow to 120 degrees or more without rotating the body will result in the hand breaking the surface of the water and losing power.
Watching world champion Junya Koga performing the body rotation backstroke swimming drill, you will see how powerful the body rotation can be when coupled with the kick or the pull. Practice this drill often. Develop a strong core to enable you to rotate quickly and you will begin to see great improvement in your backstroke speed.
One of our favorite butterfly swim drill to practice is the left, right, front drill where the swimmer tries to keep the body more horizontal during the breath stroke to the front. For swimmers that are not adept at swimming butterfly and are more accustomed to swimming freestyle, this drill is a great way to get started on butterfly. The technique of using one arm at a time for two out three swimming strokes makes it easier to perform butterfly and improve your chances of developing a technically more correct stroke. Butterfly is one of the most difficult swimming techniques to master. At The Race Club swim camps and in our private instruction, we like to work on several swim drills that make the butterfly easier to do. Developing a strong dolphin kick is an important part of swimming a fast butterfly, so we recommend doing this drill with fins on in order to strengthen the kick. When the swimmer’s kick gets stronger, the fins can come off for the drill.
Olympic champion Roland Schoeman shows us a beautiful example of this butterfly swim drill. By elevating and extending the neck forward, Roland is able to keep his shoulders closer to the water and minimize frontal drag. For some swimmers that are challenged with keeping their shoulders lower on the water, Roland also demonstrates a similar butterfly swim drill using a side breath. Using the side breath can help keep the body flatter and enable the swimmer to get the breath in more quickly. Side breathing takes quite a bit of practice to perfect, so don’t be discouraged when you first try it. An important part of side breathing correctly is keeping the swimmer’s ear flat on the water during the side breath. Also, the side breath should be slightly backward toward the rear to avoid taking in water or choking.
Hopefully, with this butterfly swim drill, you can develop a more efficient and faster butterfly technique, whether you choose to breathe to the side or to the front.
In this #swimisodes, Coach Gary Hall challenges Olympic champ Rebecca Soni do our favorite breaststroke speed swim drill, a 45 second Breaststroke Wall Kick. Stroke rate for breaststroke is quite variable, particularly for the 200. Regardless, the speed at which the legs are drawn forward and push backward to provide propulsion is critical. The legs must be drawn forward quickly in order to minimize the time in a very unfavorable drag position and they must accelerate backward quickly in order to generate more propulsion. One of the ways to improve strength in the Breaststroke kick is challenging yourself to do as many Wall Kick breaststroke kicks as you can in :45 seconds. The breaststroke wall kick isolates the movement and allows the swimmer to feel the speed of the feet and legs kicking backward to create propulsion. Many breaststrokers think about kicking back as fast as they can, but it is also important to bring the feet up as quickly as possible. This takes practice. The point in the breaststroke with the highest frontal drag and where any swimmer, including Kevin Cordes, Brendan Hansen, and Adam Peaty, drops his speed to almost zero is when the legs are drawn forward. Combined with the Breaststroke wall kick test, we can measure the effectiveness of the breaststroke kick using velocity meter technology when you come to The Race Club.
Challenge yourself to 3 rounds of 45 second breaststroke wall kick and each round find a way to improve upon the last round. In this #swimisodes, you can clearly see where Olympic Gold Medalist and world record holder, Reb Soni puts on the brakes by coming up high for a breath and bringing her feet up, in setting herself up for the strike phase. With her low back flexibility, an amazing talent and a lot of kick speed work, she is an expert at reducing the necessary drag in breaststroke as much as possible. Breaststroke is a stop and go stroke and the fastest swimmers reduce drag and use a high kick rate. It’s no surprise that Rebecca Soni holds the Race Club record for number of kicks in 45 second breaststroke wall kick test. Watch to find out how many she did on her visit to The Race Club…
We are excited to bring you new #swimisodes this Fall 2015 at www.theraceclub.com Learn how to perfect your swim technique from the fastest swimmers in the World! Through each of the #swimisodes Coach Gary Hall shares his depth of knowledge on The Race Club’s elite swim training program. Learn how swim with a perfect stroke, increase your strength through dryland and how the best swimmers in the World take care of their bodies through nutrition and mental training. In swimming, where water is 800 times denser than air so every detail counts. Thanks for watching and please share with your friends!
Follow Olympians in this 20 minute vinyasa yoga for swimmers focusing on core exercise. At the Race Club we find the benefits of yoga to strengthen and lengthen muscles, help improve recovery and nutrition giving an Athlete an advantage in competing at a top level and prevent injury from occurring. In this core exercise video we have incorporated traditional Vinyasa Yoga with some of our favorite core exercises that seamlessly blend into this intense and rewarding Yoga for Swimmers sequence.
Richard Hall and The Race Club created this Yoga for Swimmers Core Exercise sequence for you to follow along at home or practice with your team. So grab a couple yoga blocks, roll out your mat and get ready to sweat with elite athletes and Olympians; Rebecca Soni, Junya Koga, Lexie Kelly and Zach Hayden led by Amy Hall from The Race Club. No matter your level or ability, we believe yoga for swimmers can benefit your swimming and general well being. Just like in the pool, we advocate correct technique over forced, and sloppy form. Remember to breathe with each movement, use an ujjayi breath, allowing oxygen to lengthen and strengthen your muscles. If at any time the exercise is too strenuous, rest in child’s pose.
Special thanks to Liz Arch (www.lizarch.com) for her guidance in creating this sequence and to Hubert Baudoin (www.themooringsvillage.com) for allowing us to film at this beautiful location!
Yoga sequence focusing on the Legs
Yoga sequence focusing on the Shoulders
Rebecca Soni on Yoga
#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 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.