Friday, February 25, 2011

How Your Personality Might Affect Your Swimming

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Perhaps the most fascinating thing about our Swim Type system is that it highlights the link between personality and stroke style. Here are some classic personality traits you might recognise in yourself that may affect how you swim:

- You're self confident, goal driven and impatient! This is a classic trait of the Arnie / Arnette - your desire to take control and get on with things results in a short scrappy stroke with a tendency to fight the water. Work harder on land and you go faster, but work harder in the water without a good stroke technique and much of that effort goes to waste. Many Arnie / Arnettes feel frustrated about their swimming, especially when comparing themselves to other swimmers seemingly less fit but swimming much faster. By taking the time to relax a little and control what you're doing you'll develop your body roll and lengthen out your stroke. Here at Swim Smooth we jokingly call this 'taming the inner Arnie'! This driven personality will really serve you well so long as you are doing things right for your stroke and not pushing too hard.

- "Don't talk too much, just let me get on with it and swim fast!" If you feel this way when you swim then you're likely to be a Swinger. Classic Swingers are often the first on the pool deck for squad training and can't wait to get in the water and get on with it. They're well suited to distance swimming and love long sets with as little recovery as possible please! If you recognise this in yourself then try and be disciplined and take a little time out from hard swimming to do some stroke development work. You won't lose any fitness from doing so and you'll greatly benefit from some small tweaks to your stroke. Your get-on-with-it mentality is the source of the momentum and rhythm you have within your stroke which is often well suited to swimming in rough open water. When asked what they think about when swimming, Swingers rarely mention the stroke movements themselves (unlike the Overglider who thinks of nothing else!), instead they tend to focus on rhythm or use distraction methods to take their mind off the effort of swimming fast for long periods. This is a highly admirable trait and can give a real competitive advantage.

- You're analytical and enjoy working things out for yourself. Perhaps the strongest correlation of all here: nearly all engineers and mathematicians gravitate towards the Overglider stroke type! That desire to be technically correct and swim with a long stroke may have been taken a little too far and introduced a deadspot to your stroke rhythm. There are many good things about your stroke in place but developing your catch is likely to be a priority, doing so will help remove that deadspot and get you get back in touch with the natural rhythm of your stroke. Overgliders can be guilty of over-complicating the freestyle stroke by thinking about too many things at once. Of course you should look to develop your stroke technique but obsessing about this can be detrimental to your progress as a swimmer. Your dedication to analysing and trying to correct your stroke probably served you well during the early stages of your development but as you start adding more and more things to think about it becomes impossible to juggle everything at the same time and removes focus from the importance of rhythm and momentum in your stroke.

- You look to swimming for achievement and to feel good about yourself. These are fantastic reasons to swim and sum up the motivations of many Bambinos who perhaps lack natural confidence in the water. In fact when we meet a Bambino for the first time they often tell us immediately that "I'm not very good at all!". Of course we'd all like to be better swimmers than we are but sometimes this focus on what you can't do, rather than what you can, will really hold you back. Many Bambinos have been told to swim the same way as the fastest swimmers in the squad but often this is simply not appropriate, either because of body type and build or from limited swimming experience. Developing basic water confidence and breathing will serve you much better than more advanced stroke technique - which can leave you feeling quite overwhelmed and disheartened. Don't panic though! Turn your thought processes around and tackle the true areas of your swimming holding you back and you will feel a lot more positive about your stroke and your swimming as a whole.

- You need a big event to motivate you. This is a common trait of the Smooth - as a talented swimmer it can be hard to get motivated after so many years of swimming. You know you can perform at a very high level but do you have the motivation? The key for you might be to introduce some changes to your swimming, perhaps taking on a fresh challenge by racing in open water or keeping a lot of variety in your training sessions.

- You need variety to keep you interested. From the pool deck the Kicktastic is easiest type to spot with their lack of body rotation and over-kicking style. If you are a Kicktastic this style will feel 'normal' to you but use a pull buoy and it can be frustrating and confusing to lose ground to your fellow swimmers. Psychologically, Kicktastics find long training sets or repetitive drills very boring and need a variety of stimuli and focuses to keep things interesting. Bear this in mind when designing your training sets and improving your stroke - variety is the spice of life!

For coaches, the personality aspect of the Swim Type system is incredibly useful. Getting your message across clearly and concisely to a range of swimmers is of paramount importance - a 'one rule fits all' approach simply won't do this. We all learn in different ways: some from verbal instruction, some from demonstration, some from hands on doing, some from technical explanation and some from story telling. Adjusting your delivery to the personality of each swimmer will really help you engage more directly with a broader range of athletes and improve the speed and effectiveness of your coaching.

Can you see any of these character traits in yourself? Or perhaps see some correlation between personality and stroke style in your swimmers? Let us know on the comments section: here

Swim Smooth!

13 comments:

Les said...

This personality thing is one of the most logical innovative things I have heard in swim training. Its like you have looked inside my head.My Masters coach needs to read this. Your site is very informative for swimming-I have tried TI for some time and they lacked something for me. I improved but stalled. (being a retired Engineer- I believe I am an overglider - almost hit the nail right on the head-how did you know?)

keep up the good work!! Les.C.

Anonymous said...

Hi,

Sorry, this question is off topic - but does anyone have any hints for dealing with lower back pain during open water swimming? Much appreciated!

Anonymous said...

Not an expert but would suggest keeping your head and chest down and legs up

Joseph Sacco said...

I am a consummate techie and a classic overglider. Yes... The two really do go hand in hand. Being overly analytical, I believe I have finally identified the root cause of overgliding: Lack of continous shoulder motion. If the upper part of the recovering arm is lifted forward rather than swung forward with elbow held high and wrist dangling below, the shoulder of the extended arm will not begin to move until the recovering hand enters the front quadrant. If the upper part of the recovery arm is swung forward with elbow held high and wrist dangling below, the shoulder of the recovering arm will immediately move forward causing the shoulder of the extended arm to immediately move backward initiating the down-sweep to catch.

Watch Mr. Smooth from above. Envision an axis that passes through both of his shoulders. The shoulder axis is seen to rotate continuously back and forth in the plane of the body about a fixed point on the longitudinal body axis.

For we overgliders the shoulder axis does not rotate continuously. The shoulder of the extended arm gets "stuck" and does not begin to move until the hand of the recovering arm enters the front quadrant. With the shoulder of the extended arm "stuck", it is physically difficult to initiate the down-sweep to catch. Hence, the dead-spot in an overglider's stroke, which leads to additional problems.


-Joseph

Tom said...

I had to laugh when you described me to the "T" as an Arnie!!!

Jennie said...

I seem to be a mish mash of all the personalities/styles! Does that make me eclectic or confused??

Back pain person - I often 'hang' off the side of the pool, legs hooked over the edge, body in the water, to stretch my lower back.

Anonymous said...

I am definitely an Arnette! I'm lucky to have a Masters coach who calls me out when I'm clawing my way through the water! The words "relax your breathing" and "reach for the water, swimming long" echo in my ears!! Thanks for letting me know it's not just me!

Anonymous said...

On your website, you say that overgliders often like pullbuoy sets. Why is that?

Adam Young said...

Thanks for your comments guys!

Are you experiencing back pain in open water racing only? With a wetsuit or without?

If you've had a lot of coaching you can certainly be a bit of a cross breed! Saying that most swimmers have a dominant type and it's extremely rare to be more than a two-way cross breed. If you have any video of your stroke you can post or link to it on our forum and we'll take a look for you.

Overgliders tend to like pull buoys because it helps reduce their drag by lifting their legs up high. They don't miss kick propulsion because they rarely have good kicks and tend to have good body roll which is a pre-requisite for swimming well with a pull buoy.

Anonymous said...

I am a cross between Arnette and a Bambino. I was 40 years old when I decided to learn how to swim. It's been very frustrating. I was a former runner with a track mentality so I can relate. I had to deal with the breathing issues and hyperventilating in open water swims. I've tackled many obstacles but I'm still slow in the water. I joined a master's group but it was depressing to be the last one, and only getting 5 sec rests. I believe getting a picture or video and having you analyze it would be so beneficial.

Luke said...

Paul, I'm an engineer - good cliche with identifying me as an overglider. I also share some of the swinger ideas - like to get into it without mucking around much, esp if it's a key set. Don't mind a bit of hard work.

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