In the early hours of this morning several 100’s of scotty dogs lead out the Athletes for the 20th Commonwealth Games being held in Glasgow, Scotland until August 3rd. There will no doubt be many amazing performances in the pool and other competition arenas but I thought it would be helpful to give you some things to look out for to help your swimming.
This is more a what to look for when you watch the swimming rather than who although if you can bring yourself to support the English do a give a cheer for my niece Francesca Halsall swimming in the 50 & 100 Free, 50 Fly and both the 4 x 100 Freestlye relay and 4 x 100 Medley relay. (Go Fran Go!!)
You will have your own knowledge of how you feel when you push off the wall but just watch how these elite athletes do it. To avoid disqualification they must break the surface by 15m, which is where the rope across the pool just after the flags occurs. Think about that for a second… It would mean they only stroke for 10m of our Margaret river pool.
Look how streamlined they are, how tight they hold their arms against their head and then how strong they kick after that initial glide speed starts to slow. Elite swimmers will practise their starts and turns for many hours and tumbling so quickly is something we may never achieve but with practise there is no reason you can’t improve your push and glide off the wall…on every length!!! See if you can get past the flags on every length just by practising your push off and streamline.
I sometimes wonder, if they hadn’t dived in, if the back of a 50m sprint freestyler could almost remain dry. Watch how their body rolls through the water using their back muscles to power them. They really do look like they have been skewered in the most elegant of fashions.
See the range of motion their shoulders have to utilise the body power. Can you see how the shoulder comes so close to the face as the arm reaches forward with the opposing shoulder rotated behind. It doesn’t matter if their arms are recovering in a straight line or with a high elbow their shoulders still do a similar thing.
Their upper body is almost lifted to the ceiling as the jet engine from their legs cranks behind them. Somewhat like the motor boat drill we did last term for those of you that were there.
The muscles in their backs are prominent and strong because they are so utilised. Next time you swim think about using your body roll to engage those powerful back muscles to propel you through the water
Timing and Catch
When sprinting the fastest men and women can take more than 120 strokes per minute. Most swimming women when tested took around 60. 120 strokes per minute takes phenomenal strength and power as well as a set of fast twitch muscles we could only dream of.
The fastest bit of their catch occurs from when the hand passes beneath the shoulder until it enters the water once more. It’s almost 2/3 of the stroke cycle yet takes less time than the other 1/3.
It doesn’t matter what distance they are swimming this ratio remains, as they take the time to set up the catch and the all important early vertical forarm. I hope they show underwater footage of the freestyle and look to see how their hand passes under the shoulder BEFORE the elbow and how the arm pit remains ‘open’ as this happens.
You won’t find a collapsing elbow or wrist in the pool from any of the developed nations’ swimmers….there could always be another Eddie the Eel!
No it’s not an excess of Strawberries and Champagne following 2 weeks of tennis in July, rather the proven fact that people play better tennis for 3 weeks after watching Wimbledon. The same has been proven for swimmers post Olympics.
I can’t verify the scientific accuracy of the study but I like the sound of it, so you will find me getting up at 2 am for the next week to watch the Swimming at the Commonwealth games, and if the fatigue doesn’t wipe me out, I shall certainly be looking for the benefits of my Commonwealth games affect… Will you?
Let me know what you notice – enjoy