Friday, April 23, 2010

A Light Focus / Brad's Run Across America

When you're trying to improve your freestyle stroke it's natural to concentrate really hard on what you are doing. Sometimes heavy concentration isn't the best way to improve. It tends to make your movements robotic and often shuts out your natural feel for the water.

Here's something to try: When you swim, experiment a little and try a 'light focus' instead. Treat your swimming laps like a game and relax as if it's for fun and it doesn't really matter*. Take a few slow deep breaths before you start a lap, notice the pool environment around you and just enjoy being there. Start swimming at a steady pace as if on auto pilot and lightly monitor what you are doing as if out of curiosity.

Introduce a small change or adjustment to your stroke and see how it feels, does it feel better or worse? Be lightly aware of the knock on effect this has on other parts of your stroke or timing. Very often you’ll discover something about your stroke which will really help your swimming.

When we watch elite swimmers they look very fluid and relaxed in the water. Remember, it's not just their stroke that is relaxed and unforced but their minds too.

*actually, swimming is fun and it doesn't really matter!
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Also this month, a special mention for a good friend of Swim Smooth, Brad Hosking, who's undertaking some huge feats of endurance over the next few months to raise money for the Princess Margaret Hospital here in Perth. A local fire-fighter, Brad's running the entire half marathon at next weekend's Busselton Half Ironman in fire-fighting gear, including face mask. Incidentally the mask will be fed with an air mixture, not pure oxygen as this would be considered performance enhancing!


Then, commencing on the 16th August, Brad's joining up with 18 other Aussie fire-fighters to complete an epic 26 day, 7392km charity run across America. To be joined by countless American firefighters, the team will run from Los Angeles, through Las Vega, Arizona, Albuquerque, Oklahoma, Houston, Memphis, Charlottesville, Washington, Balimore and Pennyslvania before arriving at Ground Zero on September 11th. The run is being held in memory of the emergency workers who lost their lives on September 11th 2001 and to raise awareness of the role that emergency workers play within our socities during events such as the Victorian Fires of 2009 and the Californian Wildfires of 2008.

You can find out more about the events and Brad's fund-raising here. Please give generously to his Everyday Hero donation page.

Swim Smooth!

2 comments:

Mohit said...

Guys , I d like to share my experience of learning the free style swimming.I learnt it in a pool which was 10 m long and approx 5-6 m wide and 4-5 ft deep. The instructor was a good swimmer but poor at communication.
1. we started with learning to breathe out in water and breathe in outside the water.
2. then We learnt to float in the water along the 10 m length, it was real fun.
3. We learnt to kick in the water( mantra - small, fast kick without bending the knees.
4. after having perfected the kicking, we started to do the swimming without taking breath, keeping head straight down and under the water.
5. Then we were thrown into the deep water at 15 fts and though very scary initially helped us in gaining confidence in water.
6. We were then taught breathing using one side( look behind sideways, touch ur shoulder). This was the most difficult part of the entire swimming exercise and remained a problem for majority of the batch.

7. Out of a batch of 15 guys, only 3 could clear full 25 m in the deep end.

8. Formula to remember. Focus on kicking - short, fast and without bending the knee, use your hands like OAr blades to row through the water and take your breath every fourth stroke. Do not forget to exhale in water.

9 we did this much in 21 days. You need to practice for next 30 days to improve on breathing in water and gaining confidence.

10 Remember you ll never drown till the time you are kicking in water. Treat your body like a boat and it d be easier to pick up swimming in free style.

jane said...

I ask my swimmers and I do it as well, to first bob gently up and down. Exhale under, inhale up; feel the water; release all your tension; let go of the wall; let you arms float up and easily pull them down. I have noted this as our "tension inventory".

I start off swimming very slowly to again check those little things like how the water feels on my skin and hands and what I do changes what happens to my body through the water.
I have been swimming for 50 years and teaching almost that long. Through all the advances in technique, the feel of the water remains a constant.