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:
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.