Film Study: Backstroke Catch
All of the best backstrokers in the world have an awesome catch very early in their stroke. Take a look at what this critical position looks like.
Film Study of the Freestyle Pull
National Team High Performance Consultant Russell Mark recently did a film study of the freestyle pull. Check out his illustration, here.
Freestyle Recovery: Swing Forward, Relaxed and Wide
The freestyle arm recovery is the most visually recognizable motion in swimming, and is therefore one of the aspects that is most often coached. The recovery itself doesn’t create forward movement, but a good recovery is important because it largely determines where your hands enter the water and provides incredible support for the motion of the arm that is pulling underwater.
The Key to Freestyle Balance: Breathing and Kick
Freestyle techniques can vary widely; almost no two are exactly alike. But despite the myriad of differences inherent in the stroke, the most common flaws can often transcend the variations and many of them go back to the same basic root – balance.
Fix Late Breathing in Freestyle
Breathing too late in freestyle is one of the most common and problematic issues in all of swimming. If you have no idea what it means to breathe late, then you’re probably guilty of it too.
Men’s 50 Freestyle: Different Numbers, Same Conclusion
A few weeks ago I discussed the women’s 50m freestyle and asserted that it is always in a swimmer’s best interest to exploit the underwater portion of this race. This week it’s the men’s turn.
Three Elements of 400m Freestyle Strategy
Recently, significant strategic differences have emerged in the 400m freestyle between the world’s top men and women. It’s clear that three elements apply to success in the 400m freestyle regardless of general race strategy.
It’s no secret that fast freestyle swimming encompasses much more than the arm stroke. From an early age, everyone is taught the importance of good body position, head position, rotation, breathing technique, and a strong kick. But what does it really mean for those aspects to be good?
Women’s 50 Freestyle: Should I Stay Underwater?
It’s no secret that European women are some of the best 50 freestylers in the world. One of the things that we as a staff have noticed is that most of these women stay underwater for at least 10 meters off the start. Despite this observation, we still get push-back from athletes who would rather pop up and start swimming as soon as possible.
The 100 Back: Short Course Yards vs. Long Course Meters
While there are obvious similarities in the execution of the 100 backstroke in short course yards and long course meters, there are also significant differences. In my opinion, the differences are so stark that the two races cannot accurately be described as two versions of the same event.
200m Freestyle Race Strategy
The 200 free is the true ultimate middle-distance event – it requires both good distance per cycle and speed. You start the race with controlled speed and good stroke length. As the race progresses your muscles will fatigue and the distance per cycle will not be as long as when you’re fresh.
5 Tips to the Best Freestyle Arm Stroke
From countless hours of film study and analysis, here are five points that should be considered to improve your freestyle. To learn more about these points, including video demonstrations, check out our online freestyle clinic.
Get Your Head in the Game
Even minor mistakes when it comes to head position can throw off a swimmer’s body line significantly. Over the past few months I have started to take notice of how many athletes have poor head position, and how much this can affect their body line.
Backstroke Hand Entries
In backstroke, it’s widely known the hands should enter pinky-finger first and above the shoulder or just outside of the shoulder. Yet one of the most common and recognizable flaws are hand entries that are too narrow and/or with the back of the hand. Why is that?
Women’s Freestyle Tempos
Last week, we looked at men’s freestyle tempos and highlighted important points about tempo. This week, we look at women’s freestyle tempos from the top 8 performers at 2012 US Olympic Trials.
Men's Freestyle Stroke Tempos
Tempo is an involved topic, but for mature senior athletes and their coaches, having at least an awareness of tempo can be valuable. Some coaches use tempo as a regular training measure, and these numbers show what the best in the country are racing at. Here the tempos for the top 8 male performers at 2012 US Olympic Trials.
Six-Beat Kicking a Distance Race
It’s pretty clear that the trend in distance races is to six-beat kick the whole race. The evidence is strong. The current trend of six-beat kicking can translate down to a good 400 and 200. In other words, SPEED, which is absolutely essential to a competitive 800 and 1500 now.
1500 Freestyle: How the Best Swims It
The London Olympics saw eight different world records broken, including the men’s 1500m freestyle, in which Sun Yang dropped his own world record by more than three seconds. Only three men have swum a sub-14:40 race in a textile suit, and Sun Yang has done it three times. So how does he do it and what does is mean?
Freestyle: 100 Free Breathing Patterns
I often get asked about recommended breathing patterns for races. Naturally, swimmers like to breathe more, and coaches like swimmers to breathe less. Contributing to the debate is what the best swimmers in the world are doing. Let’s look at exactly what that is before applying it to how everyone else should breathe in a race.
Backstroke: 100m Back Tempos
Many coaches and swimmers use tempos to guide their race strategy and preparation. A common question asked is what the tempos are for a specific event. Looking at eight different male backstrokers under 53.30 and eight different female backstrokers under 59.70, you might be surprised at what we find out.
Freestyle: Sprinters and Body Line
When we think about freestyle a lot of emphasis is placed on the arms and the legs. While these four appendages are necessary for forward movement, the position of the body in the water is often overlooked.
Freestyle: 5 Tips for the Breakout
How in the heck do the best get such an advantage off of the breakout? The answer is simple and teachable.
Freestyle: 1500 Pacing and Training
The best 1500 swimmers display an impressive combination of speed and steady endurance. They show speed at both ends of the race while being remarkably consistent in the middle 1200m. Racing this way would obviously require a training strategy that prepares an athlete for speed, pace, and then speed again. Training pace alone would not be enough to race with the best 1500m swimmers.
Backstroke: Bonus Kick to Improve Your Breakout
For any race, the breakout is crucial to maintaining speed during the transition from the underwater to the swimming portion. Many of our best National Team athletes have found great success using a technique we call the “Bonus Kick.”
Freestyle: High Elbow Drill with Cullen Jones
As we pointed out last month, many of the best freestylers in the world utilize a well-defined catch at the front of their strokes. This high-elbow catch with fingertips pointed down allows these swimmers to catch and push a lot of water. We talked to David Marsh, coach of SwimMAC’s Team Elite, about a drill he uses with his swimmers to emphasize this part of freestyle technique.
Backstroke: Rotation Timing is More Important Than Amount
Backstroke rotation should be quick and snappy, happening all at once as one arm is finishing and the other arm is entering. The rotation isn’t large – far from being all the way onto your side. Most of the best backstrokers rotate less than 30 degrees to each side.
Freestyle: Rotate forward, not side-to-side
Rotation is an important part of freestyle, but how much should you really do it? The stroke takes place much more on your stomach than it does on your side. The best freestylers rotate their shoulders to either side about 30 degrees from the surface, meaning that they never even rotate halfway onto their side (which would be 90 degrees).
Freestyle: Kick Technique
Have you ever noticed how some athletes are really good at kicking and others fall behind? We’ve taken a look at some of the best kickers in the world to help our National Team athletes improve their current kicking ability.
Freestyle: 100m free Breath Counts
When I was younger, one of my wise coaches told me that I needed to breathe early in my 100 free so that the oxygen could be utilized in the back half of my race. After taking a look at the men’s 100 free final from Shanghai this summer, I’m not so sure that would be the advice I would give to my athletes.
Backstroke: The Best Pull
There was a time when people thought the best backstroke pull started in deep water and then swept up and then back down at the finish. Video of the best backstrokers in the world shows us differently – that the backstroke pull should start and stay shallow until the downward finish.
Freestyle: Yannick Agnel's & Camille Muffat's Technique
France has a pair of the best 400m freestylers in history in Yannick Agnel and Camille Muffat. At the 2011 AT&T Winter National Championships in Atlanta Ga., both won their respective events, Muffat in a world-class 4:03.64 and Agnel in 3:47.78. We have an opportunity to take a closer look at the underwater video from this event and learn from the best.
Freestyle: Women’s 50 free Tempo & Cycle Count
When comparing the 10 fastest Women’s 50 free that we had in our video library from 2010 and 2011, the times ranged from 24.14 to 24.65. The average tempo ranged from .93 – 1.05 with the cycle count being between 19 and 23.5.
Backstroke Starts: Pay Attention to Your Posture
Many of the best backstrokers are having better posture on their backstroke starts. Their backs are vertical – straight up-and-down – and their heads are either neutral or tilted back. The best backstroke start position will vary by individual, but this is something that all backstrokers should try and play around with.
Freestyle: Maintaining 400m Speed for the 800m
The best 800 meter female freestylers in the world consistently race at an average pace nearly equal (98%) to their 400 meter average pace.
Freestyle: Women's 50m and 100m Race Analysis
After the 2011 FINA World Championships, the USA Swimming National Team High Performance Staff analyzed the women's 50m and 100m freestyles. Here's what they found.
Freestyle: 100m free Race Strategy
A lot of people are buzzing about James Magnussen’s 100 free performances at 2011 World Championships. And rightly so – the 20 year old Australian had the fastest 3 performances in 2011, and his best swim was almost a half second faster than the next best swimmer. We looked at the top 9 performers in the men’s 100 free in 2011, and this is what we learned about Magnussen and the best 100 freestylers.
Freestyle: Women's 800m Free Split Breakdown
We have recently complied, compared, and broke down the top 15 Women’s 800 freestyle non-suit performances of all time. The following statements are based on our observations of the race.