Tuesday, June 07, 2011

Evaluate your swimming stroke: Part 2

In last weeks post I introduced you to a very simple and easily applied tool for assessing swim stroke mechanics.

Last Wednesday, I carried out this very simple and basic evaluation of the triathlon group I coach. We spent a little bit of our first swimming session together looking at their mechanics and technique.

As promised, this week I will look at a few of the main areas that present challenges to most swimmers (in triathlon anyway), and next week I will provide you with some solutions to these problems.

  1. The head position in the water:
    Ideal: We are looking for the eyes to looking down, neck in neutral and the water at the heads midline.
    Reality: Often we see the face out of the water, or just in the water, eyes looking forward and the water at the hairline of the head.
    We want to try to reduce the amount of tension being held in the neck and shoulders as much as possible.

  2. Breathing: (Image F & G)
    Ideal: Head "rotates on the spine" to the side, ear remains submerged in the water.
    Reality: The entire head is lifted out of the water
    Not only does this impact your stroke mechanics, it also results in the hips dropping and increases the cost of swimming exponentially.
    Whether you breath bilaterally or unilaterally is totally up to you.

  3. Body position: (All images)
    Ideal: Hips just breaking the surface of the water, almost at same level as shoulders and the heels also just breaking the waters surface while kicking (feet plantarflexed)
    Reality: Feet dragging below hip level, and hips below shoulder lever
    Having good body alignment will allow for a controlled and even rotating of the hips from side to side

  4. Kicking: (All images)
    Ideal: For triathletes, small flutter kicks from the hips, seeing feet move straight up and down with the heels just breaking the waters' surface.
    Reality: Power kicking from the knees, scissor kicking with feet kicking away from the midline.

  5. Arm mechanics: (Image G & H)
    Ideal: Arm exits the water at your hip and comes through remaining close to the body, the elbow remains high throughout the stroke
    Reality: Arms exit the water at the ribs and are move wide outside the width of the shoulders

    Have a look at your scoring and compare what you scored on the above areas. Think about these points while you are in the water, and next week I will give some drills and pointers to minimize the ocurrance of these deviations.

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