As with all aspects of swimming
training and technique, you should use this information in conjunction with
your team coach. He/she knows you and can provide competent advice, especially
with your stoke technique development.
- Grip the block with the toes;
a slightly pigeon-toed position generates more power
- Hands inside feet or outside
up to you
- Track start versus two feet
on edge depends on leg strength (2 feet requires more strength)
- Bend knees (think of jumping
up to touch something--bent knees = greater power)
- Head down and look at the water
but do not tuck the chin, as you will spend extra time raising it. Do not
look up or out prior to starting gun and explosive start
- Throw the arms up and out into
a straight line (aim out and then down)
- Take a quick peek at the flags
when launching (stretch the neck out in practice to acquire greater length
- The start should have the body
arch, with the hands and feet entering the same "hole" in the water
(this will "squirt" the body forward)
- POINT THE TOES on entry--having
the feet in a position other than pointed is the same as adding a sea anchor
to your body
the body straight up (eliminate bending the back--you will have to straighten
it eventually and why lose the time); launch the hands out to the side and
throw the head back. This helps get the body up and out; delay every so slightly
the feet from leaving until the hands and body have been launched.
- Often Masters swimmers have
problems entering the water cleanly on the backstroke start. That is, we hit
the water with our backs and lose momentum and distance. TIP: plant you feet
shoulder width apart and lower down on the wall, not with you toes just below
the water level. Having your toes higher makes sense if you have the technique
and strength. Many of us do not. With the feet planted lower it is easier
to launch yourself up and then back, resulting in a cleaner entry. Try it
- Once in the water use the dolphin
kick to propel yourself. Fast, small kicks from the waist down. Do not kick
using the entire body
- Go deep and then gradually
come up (the "check mark") and try to hold your breath as much as
you can until you surface and stroke, and then blow (having air brings you
to the surface faster and is thus easier); to assist in keeping air in, curl
upper lip toward nose (or use nose clip)
"Check Mark" Push offs
(see the Article in the April-June
issue of Swim Technique)
The concept here is to make the
turns for fly and back similar to a "check mark" (i.e., a fairly deep
dive early followed by a longer return to the surface, all the while keeping
speed through streamlining and kicking). Go deep early and then level off. Kick
strong and early. Breakout is strong and thus faster than swimming speed.
- New butterfly rule: you can
turn and come out on side and then roll to front, providing you are on the
front by the time you break the surface. On your side means less resistance
AND more power in the kick, since it is side-to-side. Kick like an eel, not
like a seal. This analogy means that off the fly turn you should be kicking
on your side with short kicks from the hips down. This sideways position adds
more power (and distance) since you are pushing the water in both directions,
whereas on your stomach you may lessen the propulsion on your upward kick
because you are close to the surface and because of the lower resistance from
the air above the water.
- Tighter and faster undulations
off the turns is better; this comes from below the hips down, not starting
with the rib cage, which is the swim motion. Dolphin kick of the wall is different
from that when swimming fly; the legs flick rapidly from the knees (if you
kick from the waist, the leg profile will work against you, as a larger profile
to the water is created. In swimming, the core and the legs generate the kick
and the power.
- Keep the head locked between
the arms on streamlining and do not move the hands (breaking the wrists) up
- KICKING IS THE BASIS FOR FLY.
Without a good kick it doesn't matter what you do; therefore, practice kicking
with and without board, on the back, on your side, with and without fins.
your stroke count once the flags are hit; you should know by heart the number
of stokes you need before you roll over to initiate the turn
on your stomach take that BIG single stoke and
kicking to propel yourself into the turn
at the thighs; keep eyes open; plant your feet together high and then go deep
on the push-off, ideally on your side. When on your side (rotated), the body
profile is narrower but less stable; on your side will help to increase kick,
which is good.
- Use the short-amplitude dolphin
kicks if you can (waist down) and think "check mark"--going deep
early and then up; you should be on your back as you come to the surface and
start swimming using the flutter kick.
- Arms at side going into the
- Head slightly down, so water
flows over; this allows a fast snap turn when the head is actively tucked
- Feet to the butt; kiss the
- Slightly rotate the body on
the turn with feet planted on the wall at 45 degree angle
- Plant and push off on your
side and kick before turning on stomach (this optimizes power of flutter kick,
since the heels are not breaking the surface)
- Know which side you come up
on (i.e., which arm is down). DO THIS SIDE ALWAYS
- Initiate the pull with the
- Hold for a least one full arm
cycle before breathing
- The general rule is to keep
the chin tucked in to reduce the likelihood of the body "sinking."
As you get to the turn flags, raise your eyes to the wall. This allows your
mind to calculate the distance left to the turn (or finish), and your brain
will automatically tell you how to adjust your stroke (e.g., a bit more glide
or a quicker turnover) so that you will hit the wall properly.
- The rules allow your hands
to be other than horizontal. You do not have to touch the walls with both
hands in the same plane nor must they be above water. It is often faster to
have the hands placed at a 45 degree angle, so you are initiating a turn as
you hit the wall.
- The turn, as in fly, can be
thought of as "elbow the robber; call the cops." As soon as you
make the simultaneous touch, the elbow on your turning side should immediately
be thrust back of your side (as though you are elbowing a robber). This initiates
the rapid turn of the body core. Once the elbow is thrust backwards and the
body initiates the turn, the opposite hand is thrown back toward-- and just
brushing-- the ear (calling the cops). This completes the turn of the body
and positions you as your body leaves the wall.
- The breast push-off is very
shallow because of the lack of a continuous kick; the best angle is not "down,"
but flat. Going deep does not help, since there is no continous kick to assist
you in gettng back to the surface.
- Since speed off the turn is
faster than swimming, a good way to maximize distance is as follows: off the
turn, with the hands out, the elbows pressed tightly to your ears and in a
streamlined position, count "one thousand one, one thousand two, one
thousand three." Then start the pull-out. On the pull-out, count 2 seconds.
Then begin your kick and your surface stokes. Even a basic breaststroke swimmer
should be well past the flags with this technique--and in front of those who
hit the wall with you but don't do this!