May 11th, 2014 | Posted by kigooswm in Coaches Corner - (Comments Off on Some Technique Tips from Coach Andre)
This past week I have introduced the “roll-over” drill into the mix for my groups’ technical work. The drill is a great way to slow down the process of the pull, helping the swimmer “draw” the proper line with their arm while still working on proper body position and a strong kick.
During last weeks BCSSA coaches conference, Ben Keast (Winskill Dolphins Head Coach) reiterated the fact that a good swimmer must be able to swim SLOWLY with good technique as well as swimming FAST with good technique. This aspect of swimming known as “stroke reliability” is the reason why a swimmer must train long hours, putting in time in order to cement the neuromuscular actions known as “technique”. Swimmers are peculiar athletes in that it is a highly specific type of fitness, unlike anything on dry land. Sure, traits such as explosiveness and general athleticism will be enhanced by doing other sports; but the fact is the only way to get better at swimming, is to actually SWIM.
In watching the video of Alexander Popov, the idea of “swimming with grace” comes to my mind. Here is the greatest natural freestyler of all time, forget Michael Phelps or Ian Thorpe. Popov set standards in the 1990’s that remained untouched until Speedo created the “supersuits”. His coaching included a focus on perfection in timing, and a focus on kick efficiency/speed. His coach (Gennadi Touretski) knew that it was not the fastest person who won the race, but the swimmer who slowed down the least. In focusing on kick fitness and timing, Touretski and Popov found a racing technique in which Alexander would be high on top of the water during the last phase of his 100m Free, allowing him to pull with more strength than those whose hips were low in the water.
For me, the main focus of this drill is to find a good body position where a swimmer can find his “sweet spot” for floating properly. The hips are high, the kick is working both directions with strong (and supple) legs, and the hips are rotating ever so slightly.
The other part of the drill (equally important), is the rhythm of the arm pull. I have my swimmers do a 10 beat, rollover to 1/3 through the underwater pull phase, then proceed to accelerate all the way until the hand has pushed past the hips. This pattern of “soft catch ——>strong lat recruitment and tricep push” is the way I want to see people swim freestyle; with acceleration from the catch all the way to the tricep push. The “catch” is a weak position for a swimmer in that you are using the smaller muscles of the rotator cuff. The strong part of the pull (where a swimmer actually gains speed) comes from the use of big muscles such as the lattisimus dorsi and triceps in a “pull/push” phase.
I know that was a lot to read, but nothing is as good as merely watching the video and imitating the best freestyle swimmer of all time. Here is another video of one of Popov’s greatest ever races to see the technique in action.
*NOTE* Popov had exceptionally strong and flexible hamstrings so that he could make the “up-beat” of his kick as strong as it could be. He knew that many swimmers before him were focusing on the use of their quadriceps in the “down-beat”. If you want to watch a full video made of Alexander Popov and his coach, search “Alexander Popov: What’s the Limit?” on youtube.
May 1st, 2014 | Posted by kigooswm in Coaches Corner - (Comments Off on Welcome to the Swim Season (Danna Blog Post))
The sun is shining, the pool is blue, the coaches are ready and I hope you are too!
Today marks the start of the summer competitive season – to all new Kigoo members, welcome to the family! This will be a hectic, but incredibly fun and unforgettable summer where you will meet new friends, participate in our great social events, and improve your swimming technique and racing skills.
The first thing I’d like to point out to all Kigoo members is our schedule for the first two weeks, where most of you will be swimming within your division as opposed to the usual “groups”. This is for you to get to know more swimmers within your age group, for coaches to work with a range of different ages and abilities, and so that the coaches can come up with the best functioning groups. We’ll be working on a lot of “basic” skills, like streamlines, kicking, and sticking to freestyle/backstroke technique, so it’s important for you to come to as many practices as possible for this first bit – it will help you greatly as the season progresses and your coaches work on more complex skills in your group. If you can’t make most of your division practice times, feel free to contact me to work out an alternative schedule.
I also want to iterate how important it is for families to regularly check for Kigoo Notifiers in their emails, as well as the website and/or Facebook page for updates. There is a lot going on, especially in May, so please make sure you keep track of the communication so that you don’t miss anything important.
Lastly, to parents: if you would like to come watch practices, there are designated viewing areas, such as the bleachers towards the shallow end of the pool, or outside the fence – the office and the area outside the changerooms are not viewing areas, and you will be asked to go to a proper viewing area. If you would like to talk to a coach, please do so after the practice, and not during (emailing the coach beforehand to set up a good time to meet is the best way to go).
Unfortunately, I have to leave right after my practice tomorrow, but I will be on deck during all practices on Saturday and most of next week as well if you want to say hi or talk swimming. You can also contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org email@example.com.
I want to leave off with this video of Bob Bowman (the coach of Michael Phelps) talking about the characteristics of champions. Whether you’re a coach, swimmer or parent, I think there’s a lot to be learned here and sets up nicely for a great season.