Sighting – lifting your eyes out of the water to see where you are going – is a very important skill in open water and triathlon swimming. The mistake most swimmers make is to crane their head high out of the water to try and sight and breathe at the same time. This sinks your legs, adding lots of drag (even in a wetsuit) and ruins your stroke rhythm.
What do all these stroke flaws have in common? :
pushing down and wide
|*scissor kick and crossover||*scissor kick and over-rotation
|*straight arm push down||*crossover|
If you said “breathing”, then you’re correct. In fact most stroke flaws happen during or immediately following breathing because you’re simply thinking “give me that air!” and not focusing on the rest of your stroke.
Breathing is such a distraction and interruption to the freestyle stroke that it even disrupts an elite swimmer’s rhythm and efficiency. This is why 50m sprinters minimise the number of breaths they take – often only taking one or two during their 50m dash. As distance swimmers we have to breathe much more often than once or twice per lap but this highlights the significant challenge to our stroke technique when breathing.
What can we do to minimise this problem? Firstly, try and avoid always breathing to the same side every two strokes. If you do this then some very critical areas of your stroke never get any of your attention and are very likely to be major weak points in your technique. For instance, if you breathe only to your right every two strokes then your left hand catch never gets any attention because you’re always breathing simultaneously with it. Such a swimmer will tend to develop bad habits on that side, such as pressing down on the water or dropping their elbow, greatly harming their speed and efficiency in the water.
Switching to breathing every three strokes (bilateral breathing) greatly helps you because two out of three left arm strokes are now non-breathing strokes and can get your full attention. When it comes to the one in three that are during a breath, your stroke will stand a very good chance of holding together nicely:
Bilateral breathing helps Mel perfectly maintain her stroke when breathing
Breathing every three strokes is about the right interval for most swimmers when they’ve developed good exhalation into the water. Very tall swimmers who’ve tried to overly lengthen their stroke may find bilateral breathing a challenge because their stroke rate is simply too slow and the time between breaths too long. Conversely, shorter swimmers with naturally faster stroke rates often settle happily into a pattern of breathing every five strokes.
If you have worked on your exhalation into the water and still find bilateral breathing hard then consider your body roll at this point of the stroke. If you’re flat in the water to your non-dominant side then that will make breathing very challenging. Think about extending and rotating to this off-side and breathing to it will start to feel much easier.
Coaches: have you noticed that a swimmer’s breathing technique often looks much better to the non-dominant side? This is because bad habits such as lifting or over-rotating the head have never developed on that side. If you see this with a swimmer then feed that back to them to give them encouragement to get over the ‘bilateral hump’, which normally lasts about 6 sessions.
Next week on the blog we’re going to look at tactical situations in races when breathing to one side is advantageous, explaining why we see many elite swimmers breathing just to one side on TV.
Check out the swim smooth master catch DVD right here
Swim coaches have traditionally focused their dryland program on the use of resistance training machines, free weights, various types of swim benches and stretch cords. Most of the machine exercises are single joint, bodybuilding type exercises that are not specific to the movements of swimming. The exercises that are commonly performed on the swim bench and with stretch cords seem to resemble the movements of swimming but do not focus on strengthening the core, in fact using a swim bench almost eliminates all core work When a coach is designing a dryland program he or she must first identify the movements and muscles involved in swimming and make them a priority of their dryland program. IHPSWIM has developed the LAPS Training system which identifies
all the specific movements of a swimmer and the exercises that train these movements. Our LAPS Functional Dryland Training DVD includes our favorite exercises that are specific to the movements in swimming.
When you head to the pool for a swim workout, do you ever wonder what you should be doing? Many athletes tend to think they only need to jump in the pool, swim a certain distance, do some fast speed work and then hurry on with the rest of their day. This is not the best way to train, but not everyone can afford a personal coach to give them specific workouts to meet their goals and time demands. I have put together a great pre/during/post swim guideline below to help you make the most out of your workout.
We employed the services of Blue Seventy Pro Triathlete Scott Neyedli to run some tests at Challenge Stadium in Perth.
Below is a fascinating piece of 4-way footage showing the effect on body position of:
|1) A 2010 Blue Seventy Helix Wetsuit||2) A 2010 Blue Seventy PZ3 Speedsuit|
|3) A Pull Buoy||4) Normal Bathers / Swimming Costume|
Using your hips is huge in developing a strong and effective stroke. Most people don’t know that it is from the hips that you want to initiate your reach. This video shows you how.
In this video, you’re going to learn yet ANOTHER drill you can do in the open water to improve your open water swimming technique!
In this Q&A with http://www.dobkanize.com founder and swimming expert Duanne Dobko, we discuss the following:
I’ve recently been trying to master the art of bilateral breathing and feel pretty good doing it when i have my zoomers on. However, when I take them off, I find I’m sinking a bit and finding it harder to get a smooth breath. Could this be a balance issue? What should I do to try to correct this? Thanks!
In your opinion, what is the biggest mistake most beginner triathletes while training for the swim? And then, what about during competition?
Do energy drinks make you swim faster?
Does kicking matter for triathlon (listen to his controversial response, especially if you heard our interview with Mark Van Akkeren!) and how can a triathlete become a better kicker?
How much should a triathlete focus on sprinting?
Should I breathe out about the water or below the water?
How do you feel about using a swim tool like the Vasa trainer?
To listen in now, or to download and listen later, just keep reading!
The argument against doing flip turns is a strong one: You don?t do flip turns in a race! While that is a valid point and I can see the logic behind it, I can take the same logic and say, ?While swimming in open water, you don?t get to hold on to the wall every 25 yards.? So, which is correct? Continue reading