Friday, June 26, 2015

*Purpose* - A Much Overlooked Arnie Strength

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Quite a few swimmers find they perform better in open water, finishing ahead of those who would normally beat them in the confines of a swimming pool.

If this is you, you might think this is because you benefit a lot from wearing a wetsuit bringing your legs up high in the water. Whilst this is almost certainly the case, there may be another reason which you might not have thought of:

Arnies are the swimmers who classically 'fight the water' with many common faults in their stroke including lifting the head to breathe, crossing over in front of the head, scissor-kicks, a lack of rotation and low lying legs:




They're certainly not the 'best looking' swimmers in the water but once they're wearing a wetsuit, and if they can swim straight, they can be surprisingly effective racing in the great outdoors.

The reason? They have a good sense of natural rhythm and purpose to their stroke. Yes there's a lot of energy going to waste through poor stroke mechanics (which could certainly do with being refined) but with their legs brought higher by the wetsuit, their natural stroke rhythm helps them punch through disturbed open water better than many swimmers who have longer smoother strokes.

It's tempting to look at Arnies and think "I'm going to avoid swimming like that at all costs!" but make sure you look past the faults and appreciate their rhythm and sense of purpose, which is a definite strength. If we can straighten out the Arnie by removing the crossovers, improving their breathing and leg kick technique but maintain the sense of rhythm then we're going to end up with a very fast open water swimmer! Of course, we'd use our Arnie stroke correction process to do just that: https://app.swimsmooth.com/sequence/xa/taming-the-arnie/

As we refine an Arnie's stroke they naturally evolve towards being Swingers - swimming with good stroke mechanics and a good sense of rhythm. And as we saw last week looking at Shelley Taylor Smith's stroke, Swingers make the very best open water swimmers on the planet.

The Overglider

At the opposite end of the spectrum to Arnies are Overgliders who have killed their rhythm by adding in a deliberate pause-and-glide to their stroke timing. The problem with this stroke style is that water is 800 times more dense than air and the dead-spot causes the swimmer to decelerate between every stroke. This is doubly inefficient in open water where the additional buffeting causes even more deceleration between strokes than in the pool.

In numerical terms, Overgliders typically have a stroke rhythm in the 40-52 SPM (strokes per minute) range. Arnies and Swingers meanwhile sit a lot higher at 60-75 SPM. If you're an Overglider we're not looking to take you from 40 to 75 SPM immediately but by working on improving your catch technique, this will start to lift your stroke rate. By embracing a little of that Arnie rhythm and purpose you too can make some big strides forwards.

This is fundamentally how Mega Megan improved from 2:12 to 1:32 / 100m. Like Megan, by swimming with more purpose you'll instantly gain speed and efficiency in the pool, and even more in open water.

Swim Smooth! (and purposefully!)

4 comments:

Malcolm Edwards said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Malcolm Edwards said...

Our hero at Bold park was Shane Gould, and trying to improve SScatch just brings less enjoyment, perhaps it's like the on demand oxygen in backstroke, we have on demand energy !

Adam Young said...

Hi Malcolm - sorry mate, you're going to have to reword that one for me I can't make head nor tail of it.

Adam

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