Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Aquatic Facilities: Are you ready?

Outdoor pool season is right around the corner and there is A LOT to consider! Make a list of all the things you are going to need this year. What condition are your lifeguard chairs in? How about the umbrellas? Do you have all of your essential lifesaving items: Spineboards or backboards with a head immobilizer, guard rescue tubes, lifesaving ring buoys? Don’t forget to the backboard straps. Have you replenished your first aid kits and your AED materials? What about training? Do you have everything you need to keep your guards sharp and ready for action? And that is just for your lifeguards!

Have you considered pool cleaners, pool test kits, lane lines, flags or starting blocks, deck chairs? The list is getting LONG; but not any longer than it was last year. I hope this helps you all get ready.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Swim Drills

Drills Common to All Strokes

Distance Per Stroke (DPS)
Swimming all strokes getting maximum distance per stroke. With free and back, emphasize a long body line, hip and shoulder rotation, minimizing resistance. With breast and fly, keep the body line long in the front of your stroke. Steady the rhythm, and swim in the front quadrant of all strokes.
Fist Swimming
Swimming with hands completely in a fist. No "karate-chop" hands allowed! Concentrate on body position, using your forearm in the catch and optimum elbow bend through the stroke. When you return to swimming with an open palm, your hands will feel as large as kickboards! Have fun and think Distance Per Stroke!
Sculling is performed by sweeping your hands through the water, holding your elbows still. Your hands are acting like propeller blades, and subtle changes in hand pitch and speed will change your body position and speed. There is no recovery motion. When you are treading water, you are sculling your hands through the water to hold yourself up and counteract gravity. To propel yourself down the pool, simply change your hand and forearm angle to be perpendicular to the pool bottom and parallel with the pool walls. Keep your elbows high at the surface of the water, and sweep your hands underneath (this is known as the "windshield wiper" drill). Note that your swimming strokes are a combination of sculling motions that allow you to hold the water as your large body core muscles act as the engine.

For freestyle, kick on your side with your bottom arm (the one closer to the bottom of the pool) extended straight out of your shoulder line before your head. Keep your palm facing down and your extended hand about 8 inches under water. The top arm (the one on the surface of the water) should be relaxed at your side with your had on your hip and out of the water. Maintain a head position as though you were swimming freestyle, with your head in line with your spine. Press your arm pit toward the pool bottom to get your hip at the surface of the water. Your extended arm should feel weightless.
For backstroke, kick on your side as described above with your head facing up in the position for backstroke. You may also kick in a streamlined position with both hands over your head.
Breaststrokers, kick only with a soft kickboard that will allow you to maintain a good body position for breaststroke. Without a board, keep your hands extended, at your side. Try to maintain the same "dolphining" undulation when you kick as you should ave when swimming the full stroke. You may also do breaststroke kick on your back.
Butterflyers, go for it either on your side, on your back, or in butterfly position. Kick from the hips and torso. This is a great "ab" workout.
While swimming 50's repeats, calculate your "score" for each 50 by counting your strokes in both directions (one arm equals one stroke) and adding it to your time. For example: If you swim 50 freestyle with 20 strokes per 25 in a time of :40, you would have a score of 80 (20 + 20 + 40). Descend your score by taking less strokes and/or completing the 50 in less seconds with each successive 50.

These drills and more can be found on the Mountain View Masters Swim and Social Club website

Add equipment  to your drills to help improve your work out.
     Kickboards allow you to continue swimming while giving your upper body a rest. They provide a good workout for your legs but give you a break while allowing you to continue your swim.

     Hand Paddles allow you to isolate and work more on the back, chest and arm muscles. They also give a swimmer the feel for speed in the water and an idea of what to strive to recreate on their own.

     Pull Buoys take a lot of strain off of your legs and allow you to practice extending your breathing patterns.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Building Swim Endurance for a Race

It is a good idea to set up a framework your work outs. The activities within the framework can change as you get into better shape but sticking to the framework will help you maintain consistency over time.

Less experienced swimmers should spend more of their time in the Drills portion of a workout, focusing on form and technique, before they start to rack up the yardage in long distance/endurance sets. It is important not to attempt to apply power and speed until your technique and form have advance considerably.

While technique is important, you need to build endurance in the water in order to race. Start with a total workout distance you are comfortable with and structure a workout around that target distance. Gradually increase the distance of your workout as you build toward a competition. Do not eliminate the technique and form drills from the workout in favor of long distances, good form and technique are what allow you to swim efficiently and be able to gain more speed while spending less energy.

Here is a good way to structure a work out:

  • Warm-up: easy swimming, stretching, getting comfortable in the water
  • Drills: focusing on technique, swimming at a low intensity concentrating on form
  • Focus Sets: sets designed to improve your key limiter in swimming (e.g. endurance, power, speed)
  • Cool-down: similar to warm-up, stretch out following tough sets