#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.
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
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
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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.
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 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.
#swimisodes World Champion Junya Koga demonstrates the one arm backstroke drill. This swim drill enables the swimmer to isolate the movement and position of the arm during the entry and underwater pull. Race Club coach, Gary Hall Sr. explains the importance of taking the time to feel the bent arm position of the underwater pull. Along with proper head position and body alignment, bending the arm the right amount reduces frontal drag and allows for greater propulsion. A straight arm pull in backstroke is equivalent to a deep straight arm pull in freestyle, where the swimmer maximizes drag forces. It also weakens the pulling force. In order to swim more efficiently and therefore faster, the right bend in the elbow in backstroke seems to range from about a 120 to 140 degree angle during the propulsive phase. Bending the elbow to that degree, a swimmer must rotate to the side in order to keep the hand from breaking the surface, causing a loss of power. Swimming one arm at a time can ensure the swimmer is bending the arm at the appropriate angle and pulling cleanly through the water.
Junya’s consistent 6 beat kick and strong core allows for full body rotation. With a clean hand entry at shoulder width, he sets himself up for an early catch and reduced drag pull with a bent arm. Another value of the one arm backstroke is that the swimmer can feel the power of the propulsive phase as the hand and arm pulls by the body underwater. While maintaining a proper head position, the one arm backstroke drill can help the swimmer achieve the most efficient pull. The swimmer can concentrate on every aspect of the underwater pull in backstroke with one arm drill.
#swimisodes Learn how to improve butterfly technique with Olympic Gold Medalist and World Record Holder Roland Schoeman and Coach Gary Hall. Butterfly is a challenging swimming stroke because it requires tremendous upper body strength and a strong kick. In order to perform great butterfly technique a swimmer not only needs great conditioning but also perfect timing. Good swimming technique for fly also requires minimizing the frontal drag forces that are so overpowering to all swimmers.
Frontal drag in the butterfly increases significantly when the front breath is taken, caused by a shift from a horizontal to a more vertical body position in the water. The more vertical the body, the greater the frontal drag force. To make matters worse, the breath occurs during the fastest point in the stroke cycle, when the body can be travelling at nearly 7 miles per hour in elite butterflyers, faster than any other stroke including Freestyle.
To lessen the frontal drag in butterfly, Roland demonstrates in this Swimisode one our favorite swim drills at The Race Club, the butterfly skate drill. With this important swim drill, swimmers can learn to keep their shoulders lower and elevate more with their necks to get the breath, resulting in a faster and easier butterfly technique.
The best streamline swimming position has become a center for controversy in swimming. At The Race Club, we believe the best way to streamline is by squeezing the elbows together behind the head and by pressing the shoulders up away from the sockets, with legs together, toes pointed and chin tucked down almost to the chest. The stomach then excavates, the skin tightens and the whole body is in alignment. We call this position the hyper-streamline. It is not a comfortable position nor a natural human position to be in. Therefore, swimmers tend to not use a hyper-streamline often and when they do, it is rarely executed with 100% precision.
In this Swimisode, learn techniques we teach at the Race Club swim camps that will help you improve your swimming streamline. Coach Gary Hall explains how to feel the benefits of the hyper-streamline position by creating a contest among the elite swimmers. In this Swimisode, swimmers push off the wall in different positions that allow them to feel the drag forces at work and to appreciate the extra effort required to streamline tightly. You will discover why water is such an unforgiving medium to be in because it is 800 times denser than air.
Watch Backstroke World Champion Swimmer, Junya Koga, Open Water Swimming Champ Lexie Kelly and Olympic Gold Medalist and 4 time Olympian Roland Schoeman demonstrate a perfect swimming streamline. Learn how to perform the best and tightest streamline and have fun while doing it! As an additional drill and exercise, we advocate kicking with Finis alignment board and DMC mono snorkel in the hyper-streamline position for proper body alignment.
In this first of many #swimisodes on swimming starts, Coach Gary Hall teaches the proper distance one should maintain between feet both side to side and back to front on the modern swimming starting block.
Getting off to a good start can make or break a race but many of us don’t have advice on how to setup and execute great swimming starts. In this swim technique video series on various swimming start techniques we will guide you through the essentials that we believe will lead to not only faster but also safer swimming starts and much faster results in the pool. With the limited amount of swimming starting blocks that have the back foot plate and side grips, many of us use these for the first time at a competition. We hope this video will get you thinking about the change in swimming start technique that you might expect when transitioning to these new blocks and how you can use these features as an advantage.