Can A Glass Of Fine Champagne Be Good For Your Swimming?

Actually, it just might...

Many swimmers roll their head around on every stroke when they swim:

If you do this yourself you are unlikely to be aware of the motion but you will be stirring up your inner ear which at best will make you feel slightly dizzy and at worst leave you nauseous and give you a headache. Developing a good stroke technique is hard enough without trying to do so whilst dizzy!

To fix this problem, practise by bending forwards slightly in front of a mirror on land. Focus on keeping your head still while you roll your body from one side to the other (move your feet in small steps to help get the body rotation):

When you feel like you are getting the hang of this use the 'Champagne Glass' visualisation to help transfer this still head across into your stroke:

Imagine you have a glass of Champagne (or your favourite tipple) balanced on the top of your head. As you swim you've got to keep your head dead still or you will spill the bubbles... and nobody likes to do that! Rotate your head smoothly to the side to breathe but then return to your fixed head position, looking at the black line on the bottom of the pool 1-2m in front of you.

Try this visualisation the next time you swim whether you know this is an issue in your stroke or you are not sure. Do you feel more balanced and stable when you swim? If so you've got another thing to like about Champagne!

A useful tool to develop this further is a snorkel such as the Finis Freestyle Snorkel. Not only can you swim without having to rotate to breathe (which gives you longer to practise keeping your head in one position) but if you do move your head you will immediately feel the resistance of the water on the side of the snorkel, giving you useful feedback:

Swim Smooth!

PS. Thanks for all your messages, tweets and pictures from Kona - next week we'll be having a bit of a round-up of the day's swim events. Jodie Swallow, who we featured last week on the blog, had a great swim exiting in second place right behind the swim leader Haley Chura.


linda said...

Thank you for the best coaching ever. Through your site I have corrected my stroke from swing and a sore shoulder to what I hope is smooth. My shoulder has recovered and I'm so pleased I can now swim without pain. I am a 59 year old woman swimming for exercise. Competed as a child.Love reading all your excellent advise.

Anonymous said...

Nice that Jody was 2nd in the Kona swim. How about me, absolute last out of the water at Kona. 53 minutes behind my age group swim leader. Had to work hard all day to catch all but 3 minutes at the finish. This is despite following Swim Smooth and Feel for the water for a few years. Obviously need practical coaching. Neil 77 years.

Alias said...

I rotate the head a bit just to avoid those red marks shown on page 218 in the book.

Adam Young said...

Hi Linda,

Well done that's great to hear! Keep up the good work!!

Hi Anonymous, that sounds very frustrating and from those time gaps you only need to improve a tiny bit to win your age group at Kona.

Do you have any video of your stroke we can see? We'll take a look at it for you and give you some direct advice on how to improve. If you get some taken, make sure you get a shot from the end of the pool with you swimming towards the camera.



Oliver K said...


I have a question regarding the (over-)rotating head. On my analysis sessions it was always noted that I have quite a bit of head movement (but I don't feel it).

With the dry-land practice you propose, I seem not to have any problem: as far as I can see, the head stays still while rotating the body.

Now with the freestyle-snorkel, when looking down on the black line, there is a slight movement of the head, I would say a few degrees, following the body rotation. This I seem unable to avoid. Is this normal, this slight left-right rotation coming together with the body rotation?

I am especially restricted with the head rotation to my left side, but at least on dry land that restriction seems to come sufficiently late, so that it shouldn't cause that small head rotation, I would think?

Because of that problem with the left-side rotation, when I go "harder" then I breathe unilaterally, only to the right sight; that improves speed on short distances (which I only swim) at around 5%, and reduces the head movement (might also come from swimming faster).

John said...

I'm a 63 year old ocean soul swimmer from Santa Cruz, and I agree with Linda..your help has been tremendous. When a seal follows me in from the kelp beds and looks me in the eye, I imagine it's thinking...where did you learn to swim like that?
Thanks Adam for the support over the years.

Unknown said...

Hi John,

So glad to hear we've been able to help your swimming! Wow swimming with seals- I'm very jealous!

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