Monday, February 23, 2009

Swim Analysis

Last Sunday at my swim class they did video analysis of our technique. They only taped me swimming one length, which was kind of disappointing. I feel like several laps would give a better idea of how I swim. I did however receive some helpful hints, and it was nice that they emailed me stills and a video, as well as a recap of their suggestions. Unfortunately the video seems to have a weird codec, and I can only view it on a particular program. Final Cut Pro doesn't even recognize the file, which is totally lame. This is what Coach Bill Steele from Breakwater Sports had to say:

"Your balance at the surface is pretty good, but I am going to comment about a couple of technique points. In the first shot below your legs are very deep in the water:

You are bending your knees too much and kicking from your quads - this gets your legs so deep in the water that they probably are creating as much drag as propulsion. I would suggest doing a lot of vertical kicking and trying to emphasize keeping the kick compact, with very little knee bend, and initiating it from the hips. Then when returning to freestyle, try to focus on kicking from your hips and keeping your legs in the same column occupied by your body (instead of beneath it).
In the second shot your arm is very deep in the water:

On all of your strokes your arms remain very straight, and go very deep, moving in a windmill fashion. Look at the first video on the following webpage: Drill Video

Notice how the swimmers extend their arm forward, pause very briefly, pop their elbow towards the surface and get their hand under it, and finally press back towards their feet using their hand and forearm like the blade of a paddle.

Your balance and comfort in the water look very good, so if you can change how you use your arms I think you could be very fast."

I am pretty psyched to hear him say I could be very fast, especially since I'm still very new to this whole proper swimming thing. After class that day a woman in the class told me I was really getting fast. Again, great to hear, and I was pretty proud of myself. I've been focusing a lot lately on swimming and strength training. I try to make it to the pool at the very least one other day a week besides the swim class.

Last week a fellow swimmer at my gym, who I had talked to before, remarked that I had really improved. The last time he saw me swim was before my class, when I was doing my special forwards drowning technique. He said I looked a lot better in the water, not only keeping my head down but faster as well. I felt like I had redeemed myself. Before my class, I knew my technique was all wrong, and I was intimidated by the swimmers at the gym who have obviously been a part of school swim teams and compete. Now I don't feel so self conscious and I can focus more on my technique without worrying how hopeless I must look to anyone who happens to be watching.

I recently found this article, 'Introduction to Triathlon Swim Training'. It's probably the easiest swim article to read I have found so far. Many articles use a lot of jargon and obviously swim technique is a hard subject to write about. Proper swim form is pretty complicated, and to break it down in text without boring or confusing people is a challenge. The authors tips seem pretty easy to follow, and I've definitely taken this article as well as Coach Bill's advice into account.