Wednesday, 18 July 2012

The Four Swimming Strokes

There are four strokes in Competitive Swimming. In this post, I will give you a brief outline of each of them, and I will tell you what Events consist of each stroke.

BUTTERFLY: Butterfly is swum on your front by using both arms to lift out of the water, then enter them in  the water to pull, lifting your head out of the water each stroke to breathe. The kick involves both legs kicking at the same time, like a dolphin.

BACKSTROKE: Backstroke is swum on your back by using your shoulder rotation to alternate your arms and pull through the water. It is swum with a flutter kick.

BREASTROKE: Breastroke is swum on your front by using both arms to do a sweeping pull underwater, and then a whip/ frog kick while extending the hands back past your head.

FREESTYLE: Freestyle is also known as "Frontcrawl" in the non-competitive swimming world. It is swum on your front my rotating your arms forward and pulling under the water with a flutter kick to propel you forward..

Friday, 13 July 2012

The Olympics - Competitive Swimming

The Olympics are a huge event in the world of competitive swimming. Considering there is only one major international meet a year (World Championships), and the fact that there is only 2 major international meets that are held in Long Course Meters every four years, having the Olympics every four years provides the sport with its biggest competition. The Olympics also provides the sport of competitive swimming international attention from people of all sports.

The qualifying process for the Olympics differs from country to country, but there is usually a national level meet called "Olympic Trials" that determines who goes. Typically, the top two swimmers in each event qualify for the Olympics, excluding the 100m Freestyle and 200m Freestyle events where the top four go due to relays.

Even if you make the top two for an event at Olympic Trials, there is a chance you still won't get to go. There is also the FINA Olympic Qualifying Standards, which are a list of times for each event that every swimmer around the world have to exceed. If any of the top two swimmers do not make these standards, no matter if they're top two or not, they do not get to go to the olympics. It's rather unfortunate that they have this rule; people can miss out on their life dreams by one one-hundredth of a second even if they come in the top two in their country. The Qualifying Standards are found here:

Thanks for reading! Make sure to stay tuned!

Monday, 9 July 2012

Swimming World Championships

The Swimming World Championships are held once annually. However, the pool sizes alternate each year.

Every even year that is not a Summer Olympic Year (2002, 2006, etc) the World Championships are held in a Short Course Meter pool. This competition, however, is less popular than the odd number years.

Every odd year (2007, 2009, etc) the World Championships are held in a Long Course Meter pool. This competition is the most popular of the two, as Long Course Meter (50m) pools are the standard pool used for International Competitions.

Every Summer Olympic Year, which occurs every fourth year, (2000, 2004, 2008, 2012, etc) the Swimming World Championships are cancelled, due to the fact that having two World Class competitions in one year is unnecessary. This only cancels the Short Course Meter championships, however.

Thursday, 5 July 2012

Lesson #5 - How to Float on Your Back

Welcome once again everyone! Today we're gonna learn a quite simple technique called floating on your back. This is a very comfortable and stable position if you are able to let yourself relax. This is also the position that most water safety experts suggest that you go in if you are having any trouble in the water, and therefore this is a vital skill when it comes to swimming.

Firstly, you'll most likely want to have a friend to help you out with this; it will make it a lot easier. You'll first want to get in the pool and preferably stay in the shallow end, where the water is low enough that you can stand up with your head completely out of the water. Next, you are going to try and lie back, with your friend/partner holding the back of your head. You can keep your feet on the bottom of the pool for this part.

So now that your head is in your friend's hands, you know that your face is never going to go under the water so you do not need to worry - you now have stability. Next, ask your friend to walk backwards, pulling you gently by your head. You should feel your body start to rise in the water due to the movement. Your feet will start to come off of the bottom of the pool - but don't worry! Your trustworthy friend will ensure that your face stays out of the water at all times.

Now here is what most consider to be the tricky part. You're probably asking "Okay, I feel my body starting to rise, but it keeps sinking. How do I actually stay afloat in the water?" The answer is quite simple. Air floats in the water, therefore you want to take a deep breath and hold it. This may take practice if your lung capacity is not up to par. However, you should at least be able to hold your breath for about 10 seconds. Also, you will want to wade your hands back and forth, putting pressure on the water which will help you stay higher in the water.

This is something that takes a lot of practice. The more you do it, the more comfortable you will become until one day you won't even need your friend to be there. The best advice I can give you is to not give up - your body needs time to get used to this technique!

Hope you enjoyed, and make sure to stay tuned for more!

Wednesday, 4 July 2012

Swimming Pool Sizes

Welcome everyone! Today we're going to talk about the pool sizes that are used for competitive competition. There are three main pool sizes.

Short Course Yards - A Short Course Yards pool is a 25-yard pool that typically has 6-8 lanes (although it can have more). Short Course Yards pools are typically used in American competitions, although usually is not used in international competitions. Times swum in Short Course Yards are typically the fastest of the three.

Short Course Meters - A Short Course Meters pool is a 25-meter pool that typically has 6-8 lanes (although it can have more). Short Course Meters pools are often used in Canada, Australia and some European countries, and is sometimes used in international competitions. Times swum in Short Course Meters are typically slower than Short Course Yards but faster than Long Course Meters.

Long Course Meters - A Long Course Meters pool is a 50-meter pool that typically has 8-10 lanes. Long Course Meters pools are the most commonly used pools, and are used in most international competitions. Times swum in Long Course Meters are typically the slowest.

Friday, 22 June 2012

Butterfly Head Position

Welcome once again intermediate swimmers! Today we're going to be talking about arguably the most physically demanding stroke - butterfly. One of the most important aspects of the butterfly stroke, head position, is what we'll be covering.

Making sure your head positioning is correct in butterfly is like making sure your feet are touching the ground while you walk - it is absolutely essential, unless you want to put a giant extra workload on your shoulders. If you follow these pieces of advice your butterfly will feel a lot smoother, more controlled, and more relaxed. It will take a lot less effort to complete the strokes - the good thing is, head positioning is an easy thing to fix!

First we'll take a look at the breath. Notice how in the picture above, the swimmer is looking straight forward or even a little bit down. The swimmer also has her chin right on the surface of the water. This is vital - if your head is up too high, your feet will sink down lower and cause drag. Make sure that you are looking forward with your chin along the surface of the water when you breathe.

Secondly, in butterfly, you can keep your face in the water instead of breathing. This is considered to be faster in all cases except for one swimmer - Michael Phelps. Until we get to his level, however, we'll stick to saying that this is faster, because it is for everyone except for him due to his disproportionate body. All you have to do is simply take your stroke normally, except have your face in the water, looking down at the bottom of the pool. This eliminates the time it takes for you to lift your head up during each stroke. You can choose when you want to do this and the specific breathing pattern you want to use - much like freestyle.

Finally, and perhaps most importantly, is a special rule in butterfly. Your head should always enter the water before your hands. The most common mistake that people make in butterfly is entering their hands in the water first, and then having their head follow. If you do this this, your hands will cross over into each other, you'll throw the rhythm of the stroke off, you'll get a shorter pull, and you won't get a good dive and reach into the water off of each stroke. Always remember - your head enters the water first, then your arms follow.

Thank you for reading! I hope you enjoyed this lesson, be sure to stay tuned for more!

Wednesday, 20 June 2012

Tempo Trainer

Hello once again everyone! Today we will be reviewing a piece of equipment that you may not have heard of before - the tempo trainer. This tiny electronic device is actually waterproof, and believe it or not, it can help your swimming immensely! We're going to go over how it works, how it will help you, and the price range for this item.

Firstly, let's start off with how this thing works. Essentially, the tempo trainer makes a beeping sound at a regular interval that you set. Using the two buttons located at the bottom (the right sets the interval faster, while the left one sets the interval slower), you can adjust how many beeps per minute that you want to hear. The tempo trainer has a clip that allows you to clip it onto your goggle straps close to your ear. You can also put the tempo trainer within your swimming cap; both methods allow you to hear the beeping underwater.

The tempo trainer's main use is to keep a steady beeping interval. The purpose is to take a stroke every time you hear a beep. Being able to customize how fast the beep goes allow you to work on your stroke rate and general speed. The possibilities are endless with this device; you can keep lowering the frequency of the beeps to practice a low stroke rate, you can heighten the frequency of the beeps to work on a fast stroke rate for sprinting, you can use it to count your strokes for each length, to work on even timing of your strokes etc.

This very useful piece of equipment has an average pricetag of $30-40. It is a very reasonable investment for what it's worth.

Thanks for reading! I hope you enjoyed. Be sure to stay tuned for more equipment reviews, swimming tutorials, and athlete bios. So long for now!