Fine-Tune Your Open Turns

Last week was our first meet of the Men’s season, and we absolutely crushed it. The team as a whole looked pretty solid, and everyone swam great, but we still need some fine-tuning.

“Build up your weaknesses until they become your strong points.”

– Knute Rockne

Meets are a great time for coaches to evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of both individuals (which we will tell you post-race) and the team as a whole. This lets us design practices with specific skills in mind to work on turning weaknesses into strengths.

At this point, LHS is weakest between the flags and the wall in either direction.

  • Starts
  • Turns
  • Finishes

Our open turns and backstroke turns are particularly hard to watch.

Over the next few practices, we’ll be working on all of our weak points, starting with open and backstroke turns.

While Ryan Lachte isn’t my favorite person to have do these examples (he does some odd things that don’t work for every swimmer), these vids do offer some really good basic tips that everyone should get familiar with.

Open Turn (Fly)

Backstroke Turn

Backstroke to Breaststroke “Bucket” Turn

I realize this girl is MAYBE 13 years old, but this is the best example of a high-school legal bucket turn I could find.

Stay Motivated

It can get tough working on skills and drills in practice. Often times these sets are the most boring, or most technically challenging, and the tired mind will start to wander. Well, don’t let it!

While drill sets might be dull, they are one of the most important parts of practice. Developing good techniques leads to more efficient swimming and faster times in races, which is the whole reason we’re here, right?

One of the best ways to get motivated and stay focused is to watch some fast races. So here you go!

Michael Phelps Wins 200m Individual Medley Gold – London 2012 Olympics



Developing Your Best Non-Free

We have a quick three days before our first meet on the 10th, each day we’ll dig into a stroke, working on both the foundation of the stroke and refining technique. We’ll start with Butterfly and end with Backstroke.

To get prepped for this week, take a look at the video links below. Even if you’re a veteran swimmer, watch the videos. If you’re willing to work to change bad habits into good ones, you’ll get faster. If you fight the change, no one can help you.

Also below you’ll find an article that Swim Swam published last week about reducing frontal drag: Public Enemy #1 of fast swimming. Other than shaving and wearing tech suits, all of the listed methods of drag reduction are things you can start doing right now (Monday) to get faster. You should probably do them.

Note: Tuesday’s morning practice will be required, Friday will be a make up practice.

For Monday

For Tuesday

For Wednesday

Feel free to continue browsing videos to improve your best strokes, The Race Club is a great place to start.

10 Ways to Reduce Frontal Drag in Swimming

Courtesy of Gary Hall Sr., 10-time World Record Holder, 3-time Olympian, 1976 Olympic Games US Flagbearer and The Race Club co-founder. Original article found on Swim Swam.

Frontal drag is the number one enemy of the swimmer. Swimming is arguably the most technique sensitive sport on the planet. With water being some 800 times denser than air, the frontal drag forces that slow swimmers down come into play at much slower speeds than all other sports on land. For that reason, in order to become fast, we must learn how to reduce frontal drag as much as possible.

There are three types of frontal drag; friction, pressure (form) drag and surface (wave) drag. Researchers have shown that all three can contribute significantly to the slowing of a swimmer. In any given medium, including water, the frontal drag forces of an object are determined by its shape, its surface texture (friction) and its speed squared. Here are ten good ways to help reduce frontal drag.

1 – Keep the body aligned.

A curved body creates more frontal drag than a straight body. While some curve in our body is needed in order to create more propulsion, such as during the hip undulation in the dolphin kick, it is important that we bend, but not break the body. Too much curve or too much angle of one of our appendages sticking out causes an enormous increase in frontal drag. Keeping the body aligned requires having a tight core.

2 – Keep the head down.

Keeping the head down helps keep it in alignment with the body, but more importantly, a head down also can help reduce surface or wave drag. There is actually less drag underwater than on the surface of the water (think of a submarine), because we eliminate surface drag. Frontal drag is proportional to our speed squared, so ideally, we would like to see the head submerged during the fastest point in the stroke cycle, which I call the surge point. All four strokes have a surge point where the head should be underwater, even if it is slightly so.

3 – Pull underwater with a high elbow.

In the pulling motion of all four strokes, the upper arm is the ‘bad cop’, causing most of the frontal drag. By keeping the elbow nearer to the surface (except it backstroke) and more in alignment with our body’s motion, we can reduce, but not eliminate, the frontal drag caused by the forward motion of the upper arm during the pull.

4 – Wear the fastest technology racing suit possible.

The records set in 2008 and 2009 convinced all of us that the suits really matter. Even today, the best suits help reduce friction and keep the body tighter to reduce frontal drag.

5 – Shave all the hair from your body.

Although this is generally not done (or recommended) until post puberty, when significantly more hair grows on the body, shaving the entire body will reduce friction and make us slicker and faster.

6- Streamline off the start and all turns.

Getting into the tightest streamline possible creates a huge advantage when you are moving fast. The fastest point you will reach in a swimming race (about 15 mph) is when the fingertips touch the water off the starting block. The second fastest is when your toes leave the wall on each turn (6-8 mph). At either time, because of the exponential relationship between speed and frontal drag, you had better get into the tightest streamline possible.

7 – Keep your kick tight.

In freestyle, backstroke and breaststroke, the kick must be tight in order to help reduce frontal drag. With the former two, that means not bending the knees too much and in breaststroke, it means keeping the knees at or inside the hips.

8 – Double cap.

Covering up that thick head of hair and creating a new surface for your head with the reduced friction of silicone is another good way to reduce drag. Most athletes today will double cap, leaving the goggle straps between the first and second caps. The outer cap should be a thicker silicone material to maintain its smoothness.

9 – Wear low profile goggles.

Racing goggles should be strapped on tighter to the face and are a little smaller and sleeker than larger training goggles. The less they protrude from your face, the better.

10 – Point your toes.

One of them most common mistakes made on the start is not pointing the toes at entry. A German study recently showed that a relaxed foot creates 40% more frontal drag than a pointed toe. In general, the less splash one makes on the dive entry, the less frontal drag. The other common strokes where the relaxed foot causes more frontal drag is at the end of the breaststroke kick and the down kick in dolphin. In either case, keep the toes pointed backward to reduce drag.



All about Freestyle

This week, we’ll continue working on skills and swimming technique with a special focus on Freestyle.

Freestyle is the main stroke in high school swimming, and all swimmers should have a strong foundation to build upon. Last week the team was introduced to a few drills focusing on freestyle body rotation, strong kicking technique, head position and the catch. This week we’ll analyze the pull phase of the stroke, and add in a couple more drills to help eliminate causes of drag.

Take a look

Please watch the following videos to prep for upcoming practices, and continue to make note of these principles while in the water.

Notes for the week

  • This week all practices are at normal times, and we start mornings! Only one morning practice is required each week. If there is a Tuesday meet, the Tuesday morning practice will be required and Friday will be a make up practice. If there’s no meet, swimmers are free to choose between Tuesday and Friday. Check out the schedule if you need a refresher.
  • Club swimmers are expected to check in daily (just come and say hi), and swim with the team on Tuesday, Thursday, some Fridays TBA, and attend Saturday weights practice.
  • The team suit order deadline has been extended to this Monday, November 16th. Order your suits at MI Sports. Suits run small, make sure to try them on. There are two suit styles to choose from. Team suits are REQUIRED for each swimmer.
  • Team Shirt Order Deadline is Monday, November 16th. Shirts run large! A regular unisex t shirt size small is the same as an XS in this style of shirt. If you want to change your shirt size, please resubmit and I’ll use the latest submitted size. Shirts will be $10 per swimmer and $20 per non swimmer. Please check out this blog post to submit shirt size information.
  • There will be a Team Meeting (including divers please!) on Tuesday November 17th right after school and before we get in the pool. In this meeting we will….
    • Elect team captains! (Seniors wanting to run for captain: please have a short speech prepared!)
    • Go over team rules and expectations for the season
    • Fill out a short survey about your swimming history/goals
  • We will be passing out parkas/jackets on Thursday November 19th