Swimming Technique

Huntn

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I've been talking frequently about swimming in another thread on Exercise. I thought I'd have a dedicated thread for swimming.

Anyone use paddles? When I first saw them, I thought of them as cheating. ;) But I understand they are good for developing strength. However, I'm also concerned about injury, and I read in an article they should not be used for more than 25% of your routine. Looking for advice on this.

As far as crawl, and common mistakes, I found this video to be very helpful. Will post more as I find them.

 
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A.Goldberg

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They're a little controversial. I think they're okay- but only in moderation, much like pull bouys (very very short) fins. I personally don't use them. They can do wonders for technique, however too much usage can get people too comfortable and detract from a natural swim technique. Such tools can be addicting as they make swimming that much easier. As you mentioned, they can also inflict injury on your shoulders. I'd say use them as little as possible in order to hone your form. You should be eventually be decreasing usage with time as your stroke mechanics improve. That said, incorrectly using paddles in the beginning with poor form can actually hurt your mechanics MORE and injure your body MORE. So it's a tough call without seeing how you swim.

Also note different paddles' designs have different functions- some are better for the elbow, some for the catch, some for the follow through. I'm not up to speed on the current offerings but I'm sure you can look it up.

If you haven't already, Google and/or YouTube some practice excercises to improve your stroke. These can also be very beneficial in improving form. It takes time for your body to 1. Learn the most efficient swimming form and 2. Strengthen the right muscles to maintain an efficient stroke. These excercises should help with both. As I'm sure you notice, as your body gets fatigued your stoke falls apart. So practicing the right form as much as possible is key.

As we've talked some about this, you're not competing and now that you have some strength in the water you should probably be focusing most on effective technique rather than speed, distance, or endurance. In the long run if you get the mechanics down first the next things will come much easier.
 

Huntn

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I'm watching the Olympics 400M Freestyle Swim event and I tell you am shocked, not only are the swimmers not alternating their breathing (both sides) to avoid repetitive neck injuries, they are gulping air with each stroke! And here I was thinking I needed to go 4 strokes or more between breaths to look professional! :p:D
 

JamesMike

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I'm watching the Olympics 400M Freestyle Swim event and I tell you am shocked, not only are the swimmers not alternating their breathing (both sides) to avoid repetitive neck injuries, they are gulping air with each stroke! And here I was thinking I needed to go 4 strokes or more between breaths to look professional! :p:D
Technique modification are always involving.
 
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A.Goldberg

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@Huntn racing in a competition and swimming for practice/fitness are two different cats.

Olympic swimmers may breath to one side in competition out of comfort and better times, but it's unlikely in practice they breath to only one side. Typically people who only breath to one side have a very unbalanced stroke. The benefit of bi-lateral is it equally strengthens both sides of your body and doesn't force one side of your body to work harder than the other. When it comes to the race, if the swimmer has just a perfect stroke and can swim with unilateral breathing so be it. It may even be faster. In terms of developing and maintaining good technique, bi-lateral breathing is best.

The not breathing every stroke thing in practice/fitness swimming is to again help develop and maintain a good technique, similar to above. Some Olympic swimmers breathe every stroke, some do not (it likely depends on the freestyle event). The ones that do have toned their form so well it probably has little-no impact.

Like someone said above the technique recommendations are always changing ever so slightly. But I'd assure you sticking with unilateral breathing and not breathing on every stroke is your best route to developing a solid stroke and not injuring yourself.
 

Huntn

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@Huntn racing in a competition and swimming for practice/fitness are two different cats.

Olympic swimmers may breath to one side in competition out of comfort and better times, but it's unlikely in practice they breath to only one side. Typically people who only breath to one side have a very unbalanced stroke. The benefit of bi-lateral is it equally strengthens both sides of your body and doesn't force one side of your body to work harder than the other. When it comes to the race, if the swimmer has just a perfect stroke and can swim with unilateral breathing so be it. It may even be faster. In terms of developing and maintaining good technique, bi-lateral breathing is best.

The not breathing every stroke thing in practice/fitness swimming is to again help develop and maintain a good technique, similar to above. Some Olympic swimmers breathe every stroke, some do not (it likely depends on the freestyle event). The ones that do have toned their form so well it probably has little-no impact.

Like someone said above the technique recommendations are always changing ever so slightly. But I'd assure you sticking with unilateral breathing and not breathing on every stroke is your best route to developing a solid stroke and not injuring yourself.

I know from first hand experience on the strokes where I breath, it's not as strong. I also know that when I swim harder I must breath more often, and I imagine these guys going full out, need the air. :)
 

Huntn

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I don't know how to swim. :oops:
When you do, take some lessons or watch instructional videos. At the pool , I frequently see people whose techniques is so poor it's painful to watch. Fortunately the pools designed for lap swimming are not deep, so you most of the time you are not in deep water.
 

jeremy h

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I've always swum but was rubbish at the crawl. Just couldn't really ever get it. 10 years or so ago I came across the TI (Total Immersion) technique. You can buy a book but you really do need to get the DVD. It's all a bit slick and American (sorry chaps - but you know what I mean - think day time TV exercise DVD selling) in its approach but when you stripaway all that surface gloss I found it enormously useful. It sort of teaches you to swim the crawl through your hips rather than your arms and shoulders, pause and streeeech...

To learn to do it on your own you'll need access to a quiet pool where you can goon around with floats doing funny exercises and not have to keep stopping for people trying not get their hair wet etc while chatting as they do widths across you like old dreadnoughts but I really recommend it.

This is a well known vid of it in action.
 
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Huntn

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I've always swum but was rubbish at the crawl. Just couldn't really ever get it. 10 years or so ago I came across the TI (Total Immersion) technique. You can buy a book but you really do need to get the DVD. It's all a bit slick and American (sorry chaps - but you know what I mean - think day time TV exercise DVD selling) in its approach but when you stripaway all that surface gloss I found it enormously useful. It sort of teaches you to swim the crawl through your hips rather than your arms and shoulders, pause and streeeech...

To learn to do it on your own you'll need access to a quiet pool where you can goon around with floats doing funny exercises and not have to keep stopping for people trying not get their hair wet etc while chatting as they do widths across you like old dreadnoughts but I really recommend it.

This is a well known vid of it in action.
Interesting, I see some roll, hardly any kick, it looks like it's all shoulder. When I do crawl and want to speed up, I pick up my stroke speed but also kick up a storm and I'm now wondering if the kick is needed? I'm not a swimming expert so interested to hear other's comments. :)
 
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jeremy h

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Interesting, I see some roll, hardly any kick, it looks like it's all shoulder. When I do crawl and want to speed up, I pick up my stroke speed but also kick up a storm and I'm now wondering if the kick is needed? I'm not a swimming expert so interesting to hear other's comments. :)
The 'kick' sort of comes from the hip rotation - you do kick but it's a sort of spearing motion from your arm through your whole body and sort of straightening your legs. The reason the arm pauses very slightly st the top of the motion is to set up the 'spear' action. It's all one connected stretchy motion. When you get it right you just sort of fly - very little splashing etc. In a flat calm sea for example its a fab way to swim. To speed up you just sort of do everything faster rather worry about stroke counting.


Edit ...


These vids on this page might explain it better
 

Moakesy

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I've used SwimSmooth for a number of years now, and although they get more commercial all the time, there is a lot of good advice on here for free...

http://www.swimsmooth.com

It's more suited to longer durations swimming rather than out and out sprinting, but no matter what your aims are, it tries to make you swim further and faster for less effort.

A good place to start is to know what your own swim style is. It helps to point out what areas you should focus on..
http://www.swimtypes.com/yourtype.html

You can sign up for a weekly 'tip of the week' to keep you trying something new when you get to the pool. It took over 25% off off my 400m freestyle time, so worked for me.
 

Huntn

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The 'kick' sort of comes from the hip rotation - you do kick but it's a sort of spearing motion from your arm through your whole body and sort of straightening your legs. The reason the arm pauses very slightly st the top of the motion is to set up the 'spear' action. It's all one connected stretchy motion. When you get it right you just sort of fly - very little splashing etc. In a flat calm sea for example its a fab way to swim. To speed up you just sort of do everything faster rather worry about stroke counting.


Edit ...


These vids on this page might explain it better
I was swimming yesterday and mimicked what I saw in the short video link you originally posted and... I was impressed. I'm considering purchase of the $20 Total Immersion DVD. At the pool, I watched several swimmers do their freestyle/crawl, and there was lots of kicking/splashing going on, the surface of the water behind the swimmers. The Total Immersion kick by comparison is elegant, attuned to body movement and not a frenzy of kicks. It might be my imagination, but trying to copy this stroke, seemed to give me more air while being just as fast as I was before.

I've used SwimSmooth for a number of years now, and although they get more commercial all the time, there is a lot of good advice on here for free...

http://www.swimsmooth.com

It's more suited to longer durations swimming rather than out and out sprinting, but no matter what your aims are, it tries to make you swim further and faster for less effort.

A good place to start is to know what your own swim style is. It helps to point out what areas you should focus on..
http://www.swimtypes.com/yourtype.html

You can sign up for a weekly 'tip of the week' to keep you trying something new when you get to the pool. It took over 25% off off my 400m freestyle time, so worked for me.
Longer duration at a steady pace, this is my goal. Thank you! I'll look at these.
 

Huntn

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How did it go Huntn?
Thanks for asking. I spent over a week waiting for the DVD to arrive before figuring out it was a download. (It had a DVD like picture and used to be a DVD.) :oops: Now I'm starting to watch it. Watched Chap 1. Up front, the look of it makes sense, learning to glide through the water with the least turbulence. I'm realizing when people are kicking up a storm, with water flying everywhere, this is not the most efficient means of propulsion. I'll report back when I've completed watching. :)
 

A.Goldberg

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That's a nice stroke, I do think his two kick beat could be a little stronger. I feel like he's stalling out between his catches. That's a great swimmer though and that's a good technique for distance swimming.

Like I told you long ago good swimming is all about efficiency. Hopefully those videos will be helpful. I'm curious to hear about the progress you've made...

I really think it's awesome you've found a healthy activity that you enjoy and that it's something very new. Long distance swimming is not easy to learn, so good work.

News on my swimming front, I'm thinking of changing pools, I've talked about this for a while. The pool I'm at is all very old people doing water aerobics. The gym prices are astronomical. It's decent because it's halfway between my home and work... But I've got a pool 5 (with back stroke flags!) 5 min from my apartment, it's just as nice, and far cheaper.
 
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jeremy h

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Thanks for asking. I spent over a week waiting for the DVD to arrive before figuring out it was a download. (It had a DVD like picture and used to be a DVD.) :oops:
Ha ha, that's the sort of thing I'd do...


Up front, the look of it makes sense, learning to glide through the water with the least turbulence. I'm realizing when people are kicking up a storm, with water flying everywhere, this is not the most efficient means of propulsion. I'll report back when I've completed watching. :)
I do a fair bit of scuba diving and the only real lesson for swimming from that is that if you want to do anything underwater fast then slow right down. Really, really slow down. Its easier said than done and its counter intuitive but it works. I found to 'get' this way of swimming I had to do it all pretty slowly to start with.

In terms of the video lessons - I originally bought the book which made no sense until I had the DVD (it was pre video downloads!) The book though is really useful as it explains the background thinking and how you should 'feel' when swimming. The feel is everything.

There's a few things I try and remember from the book when swimming like this (in no particular order) - the arm stretch or spearing, imagine you're reaching for the side and pause slightly before starting to pull downwards - repeat that in every stroke. (It makes you 'long' and smooth - you slow down to speed up!). Brush your jaw with your extending shoulder. Keep gently pushing your chest down into the water - you'll swim flatter and your hips/kick gets lighter. Stomach face the wall on each stroke - this won't actually happen (you won't rotate that far) but it gets that hip rotation going.

Don't beat yourself up if it takes a while to suss out.

Good luck!
 
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Huntn

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That's a nice stroke, I do think his two kick beat could be a little stronger. I feel like he's stalling out between his catches. That's a great swimmer though and that's a good technique for distance swimming.

Like I told you long ago good swimming is all about efficiency. Hopefully those videos will be helpful. I'm curious to hear about the progress you've made...

I really think it's awesome you've found a healthy activity that you enjoy and that it's something very new. Long distance swimming is not easy to learn, so good work.

News on my swimming front, I'm thinking of changing pools, I've talked about this for a while. The pool I'm at is all very old people doing water aerobics. The gym prices are astronomical. It's decent because it's halfway between my home and work... But I've got a pool 5 (with back stroke flags!) 5 min from my apartment, it's just as nice, and far cheaper.
Inertia comes to mind, if your forward momentum stops between strokes, you're not being efficient... And thanks! :) I've watched several instances of very muscular, fit looking people come into the pool, last a couple of laps and then slink off with their tale between their legs. ;)
 
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