Tag Archives: freestyle

Swim.. like an avocado!?

21 Sep

Pilates Reformer - Photo by FitnessOrlando

Why an avocado?  Well, because they have a hard centre with a smooth exterior.

In freestyle swimming we should be aiming to have a strong core (ie, torso) but relaxed arms and legs. The main reasons are that it helps you be more streamlined in the water, helps with body roll and also better connects your arms to the rest of your body, so you can use your whole body to power you.

Pilates is a great way to strengthen your core, and in fact a lot of other muscles involved in swimming. It’s a body conditioning routine that helps to not only build flexibility, but also strength, endurance, and coordination in the legs, abdominals, arms and back.  My wife and I have recently started lessons under the expert tuition of Claire Wray at Equilibrium Health in Leeds. We’re only a couple of lessons in, but already I can see how it will benefit my swimming, for performance, but also injury prevention (shoulders in particular). There’s a lot more to learn, and I’m looking forward to seeing more improvements!

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The best of both worlds

19 Sep

It‘s a good idea to begin at the bottom in everything except in learning to swim”

Total Immersion by Terry Laughlin

Much as I want to get to talking about the present, there’s a few things about the past I need to mention. As you know, back in January 2010 I’d made the decision to teach myself freestyle. Much like when I first picked up a guitar at age 14 there was one source that I started with. Back then it was a Burt Weedon video, but as far as I know he’s not a great swimmer, so instead I turned to a book called Total Immersion by Terry Laughlin. The main principles are based around trying to swim more like a fish, out glide like a boat. As such, there is a heavy focus on streamlining and gliding. Certainly when watching clips of TI swimmers on YouTube they look very very smooth. The book was great for introducing the basics of balance and feeling comfortable in the water, but there’s one aspect that I and others think they take too far – namely ‘glide’.

Swim Smooth

Around the middle of 2010 I happened across a website that has effectively become my ‘swim Bible’: Swim Smooth.  Whilst there is still a strong focus on reducing drag, for them glide is a dirty word. And it makes a lot of sense if you think about it. Every time you pause at the front of your stroke you deccelerate (more than you normally would). To reaccelerate you’re going to have to put more effort in. A good visualisation is to imagine you’re pulling yourself along a rope that’s underneath you’re body – you need to keep a constant momentum to keep going. Swim Smooth also have a strong focus on correcting stroke flaws by identifying the root cause – a scissor kick can be caused by crossing over at the front of the stroke, for example.

So whilst I’m definitely in the Swim Smooth camp when it comes to learning freestyle, there are still a lot of good aspects to Total Immersion. I see no reason not to take the best bits of both – whatever works for you!