Stroke Tips & Drills ~ 3

The Stroke

Like a snappy flip turn, a well-done butterfly stroke is something that will turn heads at your pool. It’s the perfect blend of power and grace, the sign of a confident – and highly fit – swimmer. Unlike the alternating motion of the freestyle or backstroke, butterfly requires both arms to move simultaneously overhead, which requires great stamina and flexibility.
A butterflier’s classic double-arm recovery motion is set up by the kick, however, not the arms. The kick, sometimes called the “dolphin kick,” is what gets your body into a high, comfortable position in the water so you can propel yourself down the pool without causing immediate fatigue.
As with the other swim strokes, the butterfly follows the standard catch-pull-recovery sequence. Now that you’re bit more familiar with it, we’ll take a closer look at body position, arm motion, leg and hip motion, breathing, and then some tips on putting it all together.
Body Position
As with the breaststroke, you do the butterfly in a streamlined prone position with your arms and legs extended at the beginning of your stroke cycle. Your head should be forward with the water at eyebrow level. Your hips and shoulders should be high above the water and parallel to its surface.
Arm Motion
Your arms should move in tandem, with each one sculling underwater in an S-shaped pattern. As with other swim strokes, you’ll want to keep your elbows higher than your hands for maximum leverage. But since your body doesn’t rotate as in freestyle or backstroke, your under water pull in the butterfly is shallower, and your overwater recovery is wider and lower.
The butterfly arm motion can be broken into four stages: the catch, the pull (phase 1 and phase 2), and the recovery.
The catch
Your hands should enter the water together, shoulder-width apart. Your elbows should be up and your thumbs should be down, as in freestyle. Slide your hands forward, then outward and downward at a 30- to 45-degree angle from the water’s surface. Position your hands about four to eight inches below the water’s surface to get a good hold on the water. Because of the timing of your kick, you’ll only have a brief window of opportunity to execute your catch.
The Pull: Phase1
Move both arms simultaneously in an out-down-back motion, bending your elbows slightly and rotating your arms from the shoulders. At the end of Phase 1, your forearms should be vertical, and your palms should face back toward your feet, no wider than shoulder-width apart.
The Pull: Phase2
Now you’re ready for the acceleration, or power, phase of your pull. Bring your hands together under your stomach so your elbows bend at a 90-degree angle. Then force your hands outward and back toward your feet. Continue forcing water behind you until your arms are almost fully extended and your hands are at a point just past your hips. Since this is where your shoulders begin to emerge from the water, it’s an ideal time to breathe.
The Recovery
As your hands emerge from the water, swing them around to your sides and then in front of you. Your elbows should be higher than your hands and your fingers should just be skimming the water’s surface. When you start your recovery, your hands should trail behind and your elbows should lead your arm swing. Halfway through your recovery, your hands should take over the lead as your forearms extend in front of you just prior to your catch. During the initial phase of your recovery, your arms should be relaxed, but they should move quickly, using the power generated by your upper back and shoulders in acceleration phase of the pull.
Leg and Hip Motion
The kick accounts for at least on-third of your power in the butterfly stroke, so it must be carefully coordinated with your arm motion, breathing and body motion.
The dolphin kick – a wavelike two-beat kick in which your legs move up and down in tandem – is designed to push still columns of water behind you quickly and forcefully. During the downbeat, thrust your hips upward so your buttocks can break the water’s surface. During the upbeat of the kick, thrust your hips downward. This is what will give you the powerful, undulating motion that gets your entire body into the stroke, not just your limbs.
KIP:Keeping your feet point on the downbeat of your kick will help you direct water backward, not downward, and will help you sustain the undulation that began in your hips.

Butterfly Breathing
Head Position
Keep your face shallow in the water at all times. Novices usually push their heads down in an effort to raise their hips and legs. This reduces their ability to generate power by pushing their shoulders down, and it forces them to rise back up in order to breathe. The resulting up-and-down motion impedes forward movement. Instead, the hips should be raised to transfer weight to the chest area.
TIP: to integrate breathing into your butterfly motion, inhale at the completion of your arm stroke, so your mouth clears the water as your arms recover. To put the whole stroke together, swim in the following sequence: catch-and-kick, pull-and-kick, inhale-and-recover, catch-and-kick, pull-and-kick, inhale-and-recover.

Since most of us swim in pools, we are forced to reverse direction every 15, 20 or 25 strokes. It makes sense to find a fast, energy-saving way to turn our bodies around so we can keep our workout flow intact.
There are essentially two types of turns: the open turn, used in all four swim strokes, and the flip turn, used in freestyle and backstroke, especially when speed is important. Fitness swimmers should learn the open turn before attempting flip turns. Due to space limitations, we’ll limit our discussion to freestyle turns only.
The Open Turn
The open turn is the easiest turn to learn and allows you ample time to catch your breath. There are two things to remember when doing open turns. First, keep your body as low in the water as possible during inhalation. Second, the hand you use to reach for the wall should always be opposite the side of your body that’s going to initiate your turn.
The Approach
Approach the wall with your eyes open and your face just under the water’s surface. Try to maintain your normal stroke as you arrive at the wall with your lead arm extended in the catch position. (Refer to ???? style section earlier in this chapter if you’ve forgotten the catch position) take your last stroke about on body length away from the wall and roll onto your side as you reach for the wall with your bottom arm. Use your bottom arm rather than your top arm, since it will help you to cut through the water more cleanly and get more reach.
TIP Try not to shorten your stroke or glide too much as you approach the wall. Keep kicking, rather than stroking, if you’re worried about not having enough momentum to reach the wall.(圖24)

The Pivot
To begin the turn, grab the pool edge (or gutter) with your extended hand. As your hand reaches the wall, flex your elbow, bring your hand and body close to the wall, allow your opposite shoulder to drop, and rotate 180degrees so you’re facing the opposite direction to which you came in. As you rotate, bend your knees and swing your feet and hips under your body. Lift your hips just enough to inhale quickly as your weight shifts.
TIP Keep your head and shoulders tight to the waterline during your pivot.

The Plant
As your feet touch the wall, let go with your hand and swing it over your shoulder and drop it about one foot beneath the water’s surface to join your other arm (which should remain extended away ??? the wall throughout the turn).(圖25)
The Push-Off
Be on your toes, rather than flat-footed, and drop your push-off hand behind your head to join your other hand. Allow your torso to drop one to two feet underwater as you go into your best streamlined position (elbows locked, arms fully extended overhead). Remain in the side-lying position for the first few yards of the push-off and drive your legs hard, but in a compact manner.
The Glide
Don’t resume stroking immediately after your turn. Instead, let your momentum carry you as far as possible. When your momentum subsides, start to flutter kick. Wait until you start to surface before ???? first stroke. Pull with the bottom arm. (the arm opposite your breathing side). Only after you’ve completed the pull on your breathing side should you take your first breath. This skill will come in handy when you’re ready to tackle flip turns.

Flip Turns
A flip turn (or racing turn) is the fastest and most powerful way to change direction when doing the freestyle or backstroke. Because backstroke flip turns are done almost exclusively by competitive swimmers, we’ll limit our discussion to freestyle flip turns, of which there are two types: conventional (i.e., twisting) and flat.

The Conventional Flip Turn
The Approach
When your leading arm is two to four feet from the wall, tuck your chin to your chest and take your last stroke. Your lead arm and your trailing arm should both be at your sides when you begin your somersault. For extra speed going into the wall, you may want to do a little dolphin kick here. (For more on the dolphin kick, see the butterfly section earlier in this chapter.)
Deciding when to initiate the somersault is crucial. Be conservative when judging your distance from the wall. It’s better to give yourself too much room to execute the turn than too little. “balling up” when you somersault too close to the wall will cause your feet (圖25) to hit too high. The result? You’ll torpedo straight to the pool floor when you push off, instead of gliding smoothly along the water’s surface. This is one of the most common errors novice swimmers make when learning flip turns. It not only wastes energy as you claw your way back to the surface, but it costs you valuable time and oxygen.
There’s a simple way to determine how far from the wall you should begin your somersault: the point at which your knees can be fully flexed and coiled for maximum push-off when they hit the wall. It just takes practice to get a feel for this. (See Flip Turn Drill: Progressive Approaches, page 27.)
As your speed improves, you can begin your turn farther and farther from the wall, because your momentum will carry you in. The farther from the wall you can flip, the better. Every inch you don’t have to swim toward the wall is another inch you don’t have to swim back the other way.
TIP: Make sure you take a big bite of air as you take your last stroke before beginning the actual flip. You won’t be able to take another breath until you surface.

The Flip
To begin the somersault, scoop water away from your hips (and toward your face) with the arm opposite the side to which you are going to turn. (If you read the section on open turns, this should sound familiar.) to get your hips and legs out of the water, bend your torso forward and push water toward your abdomen with your leading arm. Then tuck your chin to your chest and bend your knees as your heels, feet and knees emerge from the water. (圖27)
The Pivot
As you snap your feet over your head for the somersault, twist your trunk to one side. After completing the flip, start to straighten out of your tuck, plant your feet on the wall – about shoulder-width apart – and begin to extend both arms in front of you.
The Push-off
Continue to twist and extend your body during the glide so you finish face down in a fully prone position. Recover to the surface (as in open turns) by lifting your head and arching your back to streamline your body before beginning to flutter kick.
If you find yourself too low in the water and gasping for breath after your turn, it means you’re probably starting your somersault too close to the wall. If you feel like you are not getting as far off the wall as you should, you’re probably somersaulting too far from the wall and losing power. Try initiating your flip closer to the wall. Don’t worry about hitting your head or banging your heels. (圖28)(圖29)
TIP: To prevent yourself from “balling up,” keep your eyes open as you somersault and focus on your knees, rather than your stomach or chest. This will give you better extension and rotation on the turn and reduce the strain on your stomach and lower back muscles.
Flip-Turn Drill: Progressive Approaches
Practice your approach in the shallow end of the pool. Start about 10 feet from the wall, take a stroke or two, dolphin kick as you go into your somersault and then push off forcefully from the wall. The more you can bend your knees when you make your plant on the wall, the more power you’ll have for the push-off. Landing on your toes, rather than flat-footed, will also give you more power.
Make a mental note of how far you can go before losing your momentum. Can you make it to the red flags overhead? When you come to a stop, repeat the drill and compare your distance after the push-off. After doing five successful turns in a row, move out to 15feet from the wall. When you’ve done five consecutive good turns at 15 feet, move out to 20 feet, then 25 feet, until you’re comfortable initiating your turn after swimming a full length of the pool. The progressive approach drill allows you to practice a great number of flip turns in a short period of time, and it can be a great cardiovascular workout, too.
TIP To prevent water from rushing up your nose when you flip, take a large breath before initiating your turn and exhale through your nose and mouth as you somersault..

The Flat Flip Turn
In the conventional flip turn discussed above, you somersault and twist simultaneously. In the flat flip turn, you somersault without twisting, pushing off the wall with your back, not your stomach, facing the pool floor. Stay deep under the water as you glide in a ??? extended streamlined position, occasionally twisting your trunk from side to side in a corkscrew-like motion. The corkscrew motion helps you cut through turbulent water and maintain your momentum.
While not as widely practiced as the conventional flip turn, the flat flip has several advantages. First, the deep, flat push-off slips you under, rather than into, the wall of turbulent water the follows you down the pool. Secondly, you can flip faster when you don’t have to twist your body simultaneously, and you can position your feet more easily for a good push-off. Finally, the flat flip is a lot gentler on your lower back, since you don’t have to twist as you somersault.

Open-Water Swimming
For the first timer, open-water swimming can be a scary experience. You must breathe, navigate and maintain stroke proficiency in an unfamiliar, murky environment that lacks lane lines, walls and solid footing underneath. The key to developing confidence in open water is to adapt your newfound pool skills to your non-pool swimming environment.
Open-Water Technique Drill
Lying on your stomach without taking any strokes, kick with fins on, keeping your hands at your sides. Arch your back enough to get your chin out of the water to breathe. Try to propel yourself in a straight line down the pool without taking an arm stroke. You’ll have to accentuate the arching motion to perform this drill without tiring your neck muscles. You can do this drill in the swimming pool or in open water.
Getting Started
Start your open-water experience by swimming along familiar stretch of shoreline, or aim for a nearby boat, buoy or other fixed landmark. Build up gradually. As you gain confidence in open water, you’ll be able to match, if not exceed, the distance you would normally swim in the pool. Caution: Never swim alone in open water. Let the lifeguards know what you’re doing before you plunge in. if there is no lifeguard on duty have at least one companion on hand to watch you at all times.
Before You Enter Water
You have to start warm to stay warm. Just as when swimming in a pool, you must warm up thoroughly before plunging into the open surf. Jogging, stretching and doing jumping jacks will get your heart pumping and your blood moving before you begin swimming. (See also the discussion of wetsuits beginning on page 56.)
Adjusting Your Stroke
Use a higher arm-recovery motion than you would in a pool. On a rough day, it’s not uncommon to do a lot of “air stroking,” in which you extend your arm for the catch and find there’s no water to catch because you’re at the crest of a wave. Learn to expect breaks in your rhythm and take them in stride.
Adjusting Your kick
Since salt water is more buoyant than pool water, you don’t need to kick as hard. A two-beat kick (two kicks for every arm pull) is fine.
Pick fixed landmarks like buildings, trees or hills to navigate. Lift your eyes every few strokes and constantly adjust your direction. Remember to keep kicking when you lift your head to sight landmarks or buoys. Otherwise you’ll lose your momentum each time you check your direction and waste lots of energy trying to get back up to speed.
If you encounter riptides (narrow channels of water that move outward from shore), let them carry you. Don’t try to fight them. Dive under, not over, breaking waves, and come up swimming after they pass so you can maintain your momentum.
Dealing with the Elements
One of the early symptoms of hypothermia is loss of judgement; by the time you realize you’re in trouble, it’s often too late. Always swim with a partner or group. If anything seems not quite right, or if you cannot feel your hands or feet, get out of the water immediately.
How Cold Is Too Cold?
The fitness Swimmer advisory council recommends that even the strongest swimmers use extreme caution when swimming in sub60 water, especially if they plan to swim for more than 30 minutes. The council also recommends that you wear a neoprene wetsuit and at least one swim cap for insulation whenever you’re in water below 65 – experts say 30 percent of your body’s heat is lost through your head.









Stroke Tips & Drills ~ 2

The Stroke
The Catch

The freestyle stroke begins here, with your hand reaching forward and slicing into the water. Your elbow should be up (and remain higher than your hand throughout the stroke). Your hand and forearm should enter the water at a 30- to 45-degree angle. Keep your hands relaxed thumbs down and palms facing outward. Then extend your arm into the water fully. Your hand should be four to eight inches below the water’s surface before you begin the first phase of the pull.
The Entry
Your arm should enter the water in front of your shoulder, so the bubbles just miss your ear. If your arms come in closer to the centerline of your body, you may be swinging your hips out to the side, causing extra drag and impinging on the muscles and tendons in your shoulder. A wider entry can cause your entire arm to drag forward through the water.
Your fingertips should enter first, followed by your hand, forearm, elbow, triceps and shoulder, all entering through the same (12) “hole.” Imagine that you are putting your arm into a coat sleeve – everything goes down into the same tube, to slip into that tube, your elbow has to be bent and held high. Don’t force your arm into the coat sleeve. Relax and let your arm’s own weight pull it down. Great swimmers always look relaxed in the water because they are relaxed.
The Pull
Your underwater pull is best described by changes in the direction of your hand sweep. The down-sweep begins after your catch, with your wrist flexed at a 45-degree angle and your hand facing out-ward. This motion is a down and outward pattern that maintains a high elbow position. As your hand passes laterally, your body should be rolling toward your opposite side to assist in the out-sweep. Once your hand passes outside your shoulder – i.e. at its deepest point – it should change direction to face inward, backward and slightly upward toward the midline of your body.
The pull phase of your stroke should not be dominated by elbow extension, but rather by body roll coupled with the upward motion of your slightly flexed elbow.
The Recovery
As you lift your arm out of the water, increase the bend in your elbow. Continue keeping your elbow higher than your hand, and lead the arm swing forward with your elbow. Point your fingers backward and allow them to trail behind until you are midway through your recovery. At this point your fingers should take over the lead. Your hand should enter the water at a 30- to 45-degree angle, thumbs facing downward, to begin again with the catch.

Freestyle Breathing
Head Position
Between inhalations, hold your head so the waterline is at mid-forehead level. Exhale easily but steadily from your nose and mouth. When turning your head to breathe, maintain a straight line between the top of your head and the base of your spine.

Your shoulder should roll up and back when you stroke. When breathing on your stroking side, simply follow your shoulder back with your chin. Inhale as soon as your mouth clears the water. Your body should already be rolling back to the other side. Your chin will lead your shoulder as your face returns to the water.
TIP Bilateral breathing, often called alternate-side breathing, requires you to change breathing sides after each stroke cycle. This skill eliminates neck and shoulder fatigue and promotes better balance and body alignment. Bilateral breathing is an essential navigational skill in open water, too.

Freestyle Drills
Like many people who want to swim faster, you may be tempted to increase your arm turnover in an effort to increase your speed. Sounds logical. But when you look over at the fastest swimmers at your pool, thy seem to be moving their arms slower than you are, not faster. What’s going on here?
The secret to faster swimming lies not in making your stroke faster, but in making it longer. Single-arm drills are a great way for swimmers, especially uncoached swimmers, to increase the length and efficiency of their stroke.
By stroking with only one arm at a time, you can examine each part of your stroke sequence in minute detail. This will allow you to uncover technique flaws as well as strength imbalances between your left and right sides.
Single-Arm Drills
When doing single-arm drills, begin your pull by flexing your wrist and digging down for the bottom of the pool. If you are using your right arm, you will breathe on your right side. When? As your right hand finishes its stroke at your thigh. You should be looking at a point between the 12 o’clock and 2 o’clock positions when breathing on your right side and between the 10 o’clock and 12o’clock positions when breathing on your left side. By learning to limit your head turn, you will keep your body in a more fluid position and waste a lot less energy. (See illustrations on page 12.)
Count the number of strokes you take per length of the pool. If you take fewer strokes with one arm than you do with the other, you’ve uncovered a strength imbalanve. You’ll want to spend more of your drill time on your “ weak” side than your “strong” side.
In addition to the one lap left/one lap right single-arm drill sequence, you can do three strokes right/three strokes left, followed by two right/two left, one right/one left, then back up the “ladder.” You also can alternate between right- and left-arm strokes with a momentary pause in between. This is known as catch-up swimming, a staple of many competitive swim programs. (picture single-arm drill)
This drill is especially helpful for swimmers who have difficulty with the finishing stage of their strokes – the recovery. Thumbsies – a drill in which you literally drag the thumb of your trailing arm along the body from mid-thigh up through the armpit – is also good for teaching you to make your hands enter the water in front of your shoulder. If one of your hands has a tendency to enter the water beyond the mid-line of your body, causing you to zig-zag down your lane, thumbsies may be a big help.

The stroke

The backstroke is not so much swum on the back as it is on the side. Accomplished backstrokers have the ability to rotate power-fully and rhythmically from one side to the other. They spend as little time as possible flat on their backs – where the water’s resistance is greatest – and as much time as possible on their sides, where they minimize the amount of body surface that must push through the water.
By rotating your body at the beginning of each (back) stroke, your hand can enter the water at a deeper level than it could if you remained flat on your back. The deeper your hand, the more powerful a fulcrum you’ll have to push water behind you.
Your head position is the key to controlling what the rest of your body does in the backstroke. Your head is the only thing that should never move in backstroke.

Backstroke Breathing
Head Position
Point your nose skyward at all times. Find a point on the ceiling and keep your eyes focused on it as you swim. This will remind you to keep your head still. Your chin should be slightly tucked, as though your head were resting on a small pillow.
There is a breathing rhythm for the backstroke, although most novice swimmers hold their breath to avoid swallowing water when inhaling. Try swimming easily on your back, inhaling on one arm recovery and exhaling on the other. Do this for one breath on each stroke cycle. When swimming harder, inhale as one arm exits the water and exhale as it re-enters. This will give you two breaths on each stroke.
Tip: To remind yourself not to hold your breath, avoid pursing your lips or puffing your cheeks. Just relax and keep your face slack.
To make the backstroke motion second nature, you’ll need to mix in drills frequently with your “straight” swims. Alternate one length of drills (see below) with one length of straight swimming.

Drills for Learning the Backstroke Body Position
Barbecue Skewer Drill

Start by lying on your back and flutter kicking with your arms resting on your sides. As you kick, roll one shoulder up toward your chin. Hold it there briefly, return to the neutral position and then roll the other shoulder up toward your chin. Fight the urge to take a stroke. During each rotation, your whole body – from shoulder to toes – should rotate on the same axis, perpendicular to the water’s surface, as if on a barbecue skewer. Your head should remain still throughout this drill.
Hold the side-lying position briefly on each rotation. Once you’re comfortable with the feeling of controlled body rotation, practice it with the arm stroke included.
TIP: Flutter kicking on your back while wearing training fins will teach you to keep your hips elevated for better body position and a stronger kick.
Six-Six Drill
Start by lying on your back with your legs extended and toes pointed. Flutter kick on your side for six kicks (or three counts), with your bottom arm extended overhead and your top shoulder touching your . Your head should remain fixed with your nose pointing toward the ceiling – try to keep your eyes focused on the same spot on the ceiling. After six kicks, take a stroke, recover fully and then briskly roll to your other side. Repeat this stroke-recover-roll sequence with a side-lying pause between strokes. The idea is to reduce the pause gradually until you’re swimming in a nearly normal rhythm.
When rolling from side. Imagine that your body is rotating on a single straight-line axis that runs from the top of your head to the bottom of your spine.

Drills for Learning the Backstroke Arm Stroke
To understand how to incorporate your arms into the backstroke, imagine that you could reach down about two feet below the water’s surface and grab a convenient handle for leverage. This handle would allow you to pull your body past your hand (rather than pull your hand past your body).

Single-Arm Drill
This drill utilizes the same rotating kick position as the barbecue Skewer Drill (see page 14). With your left arm resting at your side, stroke a length of the pool with your right arm only. On the next length switch arms so you’re stroking only with your left. At the completion of each pull, make sure the shoulder on your stroking arm is touching your chin. Count your single-arm strokes per length-aim for 10 to 14 if you’re in a standard 25-yard pool.

The Stroke
The breaststroke has several benefits for fitness swimmers: It’s an excellent way to vary the challenge and pace of a workout, the leg motion is terrific for toning your inner and outer thighs, and the arm motion is great for toning your chest muscles.
Contrary to how it might look, breaststrokers do not move their arms and legs simultaneously when they swim. Rather, they pull, inhale, kick and glide, although there is some overlap between the elements. There should be a clear distinction between the kick and pull. As with other swim strokes, it’s a good idea to break down the breaststroke into its component parts before trying to put it all together.
Arm Motion
Imagine your hands tracing a heart-shaped Valentine in the water, beginning and ending with your arms extended in front of you, just below the water’s surface. During the pull, your arms should trace a smooth, outward, downward curve followed by an accelerated, sharper upward movement that brings your hands together beneath your chest. In the recovery, your arms should shoot straight forward, returning to your starting position.
Leg Motion
Most fitness and competitive swimmers prefer the newer, narrower “whip kick” to the old-fashioned “frog kick.” Bend your knees-not more than hip-width apart – and bring your heels together near your buttocks. Simultaneously flex your feet and turn your toes outward so your lower legs form a V. then whip your lower legs down, around and together in an outward, backward semi-circle, finishing with your knees straight and your toes pointed. This circular back-ward motion is the main propulsive force behind the kick.
Body Position
Prone and streamlined. At the beginning and end of your stroke, extend your arms in front of you with your hands together, four to eight inches below the water’s surface. Your palms and thumbs should be angled slightly downward. Straighten your legs behind you, keeping your hips and feet just below the water’s surface. Your hips should be undulating visibly during the stroke cycle.

Breaststroke Breathing
Hear Position
Hold your head still, with your eyes fixed at a point on the water just in front of your hands. Keep your chin locked and slightly tucked.
Two common breaststroke errors are breathing too early in your stroke, which robs your pull of its power, and lifting your chin to breathe. Instead, keep your face in the water as your hands press down and outside the shoulders, then breathe as your hands reverse direction and sweep inward again.

TIP: Breathe by lifting your torso rather than just your chin. As your hands sweep inward, your arm action should lift your shoulders out of the water. Inhale as your body clears the water. Fully extend your hands before your face goes back under.

Breaststroke Coordination
The correct sequence should be: Pull, inhale, kick and glide. Bend your knees to begin your kick at a pint just after you’ve inhaled, with your arms under your chest. Then, as your arms begin their recovery, your knees should be bent to their fullest – some breaststrokers have enough flexibility to touch their heels to their buttocks. Your legs should supply at least 50 percent of your propulsion in the breaststroke.


Stroke Tips & Drills~1

Basic Skills
Whether you’re a lap-swimmer, a former competitive swimmer, an injured runner, a
cross-training enthusiast or just someone looking for a fun, total-body exercise routine, you can learn modern stroke technique and become a better swimmer. If it’s been years, maybe decades, since your last swim lesson, you may be surprised to learn how much swimming technique has changed if you have children enrolled in a swim program, they’re probably learning to swim in a way that is vastly different from the way you were taught. Sometimes it’s easier to start fresh than to try to unlearn your old habits.
Good technique is what enables the better swimmers at your pool to whisk by you with apparently little effort. Even if some of them have lost their physiques over the years, they haven’t lost the technique they honed as younger, competitive swimmers.

How We Learn
As with most sports, swimming is tougher to master than it looks. Your perception of how you swim is often very different from how you really do swim. Most adults overestimate their swimming speed, not to mention their swimming skills. Have a friend or lifeguard videotape you in the pool sometime, and you’ll see what we mean. The truth can be painful, but it’s very educational.
We learn through observation , imitation, instruction and even pretend play. As adults, our egos often get in the way of the learning process when we think everyone is watching us. Here’s a tip: No one is watching you, unless they’ve read other chapters in this book! You are free to experiment and explore the world of swimming with childlike curiosity.

Determining Your Skill Level
In the fictional world of Garrison Keillor’s “Lake Woebegone,” everyone would be an above-average swimmer. But in the real world, where some of you are new to the pool and others have been swimming your whole lives, we have to make some distinctions to make this book as useful as possible.
Consider yourself a novice swimmer if you’ve never been coached, if you’ve been swimming for less than two years, or if it takes you 26 or more (freestyle) arm strokes to cover a 25-yard pool length. Consider yourself an intermediate swimmer if you’ve had little or no coaching but have been swimming regularly for two to five years, or if you can complete a length of a 25-yard pool in 22 to 25 arm strokes. Consider yourself an advanced swimmer if you come from a competitive swimming background or take fewer than 22 strokes to cover 25 yard.
How Efficient Are You in the Water?
If you’re an adult swimmer taking more than 22 strokes per length of a standard 25-yard pool, it might be worth taking a closer look at your technique. As with mastering a tennis stroke, a golf stroke or a baseball batting stroke, mastering a swimming stroke takes patience and practice. You must isolate the unique demands on your arms, shoulders, hands, hips feet and legs, before you can put them all together into a single fluid motion. Good stroke technique results from two things: minimizing drag and maximizing propulsion.

Minimizing Drag
Practicing “push and glides” off the wall will teach your body to pierce the water like an arrow. You must first learn the “streamline position.” The concept of streamlining will surface throughout this book.
Stand with your arms extended in front of you, both palms turned down. Place one palm directly over the back of your other hand and align your fingers, hooking the thumb of your top hand around the pinkie side of your bottom hand. With your hand joined together (one on top of the other), raise them over your head. Stand on your tiptoes and reach as high as you can. As you stretch, squeeze your elbows in, so your biceps brush against your ears. Remember this streamlined position. It will come in handy throughout this book.

Maximizing Propulsion (Forward movement)
Stop and glide after each stroke with one arm fully extended in front of you and the opposite arm resting at your side. Make a mental snapshot of this position as you glide for six kicks. Then take another stroke and stop again, gliding with the other arm extended in front of you. Kick six more times. Take another stroke and so on. Continue pausing with one arm extended in front of you and the other one at your side, changing arms each time, remember to push all the way back on each stroke, touching your thigh, then relax your arm. Stopping your arm at this point may feel awkward, but keep practicing.

Basic Stroke Foundation
As mentioned above, to move forward in the water you need to increase your forward propulsion while minimizing the amount of body surface that comes in contact with the water, causing drag. The most important source of propulsion is your kick. That’s right, your kick. This may seem odd since it looks like your arms are doing most of the work. But without an efficient kick, your legs will drag through the water like anchors and hold you back immensely.
Watch the better swimmers look at your pool and notice how effortlessly they seem to kick. Then look at the slower swimmers at your pool. See how they thrash in the water? Ankle flexibility, not brute leg strength, is primarily what determines the effectiveness of your kick.
Practice pointing your toes as you kick. By kicking with fins when you swim, or by sitting on your insteps on a comfortable rug at home, you can increase your ankle flexibility and eventually your kicking speed. (See below.)

TIP :one of the secrets to swimming efficiently is knowing how to relax. Good swimmers seem to go farther and faster in the water, with less effort than novice swimmers. Why? Because they’re comfortable in the water. They extend their bodies fully to get most out of each stroke.

Kicking Skills
While the kick is not directly responsible for propelling you forward, it’s pretty tough to swim well without kicking well. If you don’t believe it, try this little exercise: in a safe environment, swim a few laps with your ankles bound together so you cannot kick freely. You can use surgical tubing or a small inner tube to hold your ankles together. what happens? Chances are your legs swerve madly from side to side and then sink toward the bottom of the pool as though they had weights attached. Try the exercise again. See how difficult it is to swim in a straight line when you can’t kick?

Kicking: A Closer Look
Kicking propels you in two directions: forward and upward. The forward component is of minimal value to non-competitive swimmers, but the upward component, or lift, is what allows you to hydroplane on top of the water, giving you speed. You kick also helps you counterbalance your arm stroke. What happened when you wrapped the band around your legs? You zig-zagged like an eel. Unless you have a perfect stroke with high elbow recovery and zero lateral movement, you need to kick just to maintain a straight line in the pool.
You’re probably seen novice swimmers at your pool whose legs appear to be scissoring when they kick. The problem is in their arms, however, not their legs. Next time you’re at your pool, watch how their arms cross past the midline of their bodies. Their legs have no choice but to counterbalance their arm stroke by scissoring. If they didn’t do so, they’d sink or swim in circles. You might want to share this insight with them (politely).

Checking Your ankle Flex: The Toe Point Test
Ankle flexibility is the key ingredient to kicking speed and thus, successful swimming. If you are able to point your toes, your feet will act like fins in the water. If you can’t point your toes – are you listening, runners, cyclists and triathletes? – your feet will act like anchors.
You can measure your ankle flexibility with a ruler. Sit on the floor with your legs extended in front of you and your heels resting on the floor. Point your toes as far as you can without causing pain (or have a friend press down gently on your toes.) Measure the distance from the floor to your toes. If your toes are within two inches of the floor, you should have a decent kick. If your toes are two to four inches from the floor, that’s fair. If you measure four to seven inches or more from the floor, your ankles are very tight, and you probably find it very difficult to kick with a kickboard. Many runners, cyclists, weight lifters and aerobics enthusiasts fall into the latter category. (See stretching exercise below.)

Ankle Flex Exercises
1. Have a partner press down on your feet as you sit with legs extended.
2. Sitting on the floor, tuck the tops of your feet under a sofa. Slowly scoot back in the floor. Try to extend your legs fully. Be careful not to exert too much pressure on your Achilles tendon (behind the ankle area).
3. While sitting on a chair, dangle your feet and curl the tops of your toes to the floor. Press down.
4. Practice swimming with training fins on, especially when you kick.

Head-Up Kicking Drill
“Head-up” kicking will teach you proper body position – elevating the hips and chest to reduce resistance – and help you develop a strong kick. Clasp your hands together, arms fully extended in front of you, with your head out of the water. Inhale by lifting your chin straight ahead. Don’t forget to keep kicking when you breathe. The head-up kicking drill will come in handy when we discuss open-water swimming later.

Hand Skills
Experts say that after kicking, hand entry is the most critical aspect of a swimmer’s forward propulsion. When swimmers’ hands enter the water, they direct a flow of water under their arms and past their torsos. This “ lift, “ combined with a strong kick, is what enables good swimmers to stay on top of the water.
As your hand enters the water during the initial (catch) phase of your stroke, you’ll want to keep your elbow high and your palm turned slightly outward. Slide your hand forward, as if putting it into a coat sleeve. Then turn your hand and the inside of your forearm toward your feet, point your fingertips down (or slightly across your body) and press your hand straight back. As you bring your hand past the center of your torso, your thumb should pass directly under your navel.

TIP: years ago, you may have been taught to cup your hands while swimming, but your hands really shouldn’t hold water like cups do. Instead, they should work more like paddles. The most effective position for your hands is flat and open, with your fingers extended. Remember that the angle of your hand must adjust constantly to changes in the water, just as a sailor must constantly adjust the angle of his sail to changes in wind conditions.
By constantly changing the angle of your hands (sculling) you can maximize the amount of water you’re able to hold and displace during your stroke. The more you can hold and displace, the more powerful your stroke will be.

Tennis Ball Drill
Swimming with your fists closed, or while holding a tennis ball in each hand, will help you develop sensitivity to the water when you re-open your hands (or swim without the tennis balls). Without the use of your fingers, you lose sensitivity to the water, not to mention a good deal of your pulling surface. To compensate for the relative lack of surface area, you raise your elbows, hoping to create propulsion with your forearms rather than your hands. When you re-open your hands, you’ll feel as though you’ve got trash can lids attached. Your pulling surface and power will be that much greater!

Breathing Skills
Many sports make you breathe heavily, but when you’re in the water, proper breathing is essential. When your breathing technique is off, your whole stroke will be affected. Experts say 60 to 70 percent of a swimmer’s improper body alignment stems from improper head movement when breathing.
Confident swimmers turn their heads just far enough to get their noses and mouths above the water line for air. But novice swimmers, out of fear and inexperience, feel they must turn their entire bodies – head, shoulders, hips and back – just to get air into their noses and mouths. This takes you out of your optimal streamlined position and wastes valuable time and energy.
P11Tip to control your head movement in the water, try to maintain an imaginary straight line that runs from the top of your head to the base of your spine. Never lift or drop your head from that axis, even when you turn your head to breathe.












四月上旬,又變天了,氣溫降到20度以下。雖然是週日,水藍天又有活動,卻難敵陰冷的氣候, 泳客依然稀疏。走進更衣室打開背包,【悅日人】出現在眼前,是早上櫻兒送我的書,那時忙著練拳,順手收了書,回家時卻忘了拿出來,又帶到泳池來。