Monday, July 17, 2006
Swimming and me
The single most important attribute of any distance swimmer is Balance. Balance includes the ability to float high in the water with as little resistance as possible. This is probably why mediocre swimmers using a wetsuit are able to improve their time by 15% - 20%. This buoyancy which is imparted by the wetsuit enables them to obtain the balance required.
Obviously, the higher the body lies in the water, the less effort would be required to propel the body. A person who has a greater layer of fat will therefore have a slight advantage over an athlete who is lean and mean. The converse, however, is that if the fat is due to lack of body condition, then the swimmer may not have the muscle toning and strength required to continue swimming for any length of time. My own experience dictates that whilst I have the ability to float I do take strain from lack of muscle strength.
My cardio-vascular condition is OK but parts of my body take strain. This includes the palms of my hands and my “Lats”.Stroke Technique It would appear from my own experience that the more a swimmer is able to “Steal, the more likely he will be able to continue. Having watched Channel swimmers like Otto Thaning, Lewis Pugh, Dave Riding and Theo Yach amongst others, they all had on attribute.....DETERMINATION. Their strokes however were very different.My own option would be a slightly faster more relaxed effortless stroke - about 100 strokes per 100 meters. The competitive swimmer uses a Stroke of about 50/60 strokes per 100 meters, but his goal is speed.
I believe that the stroke should enter the water at the normal arm extension, slightly outside the line of the shoulders. The hand presses down for about 300-350mm and then lifts slightly, the forearm then bends and allows the hand to pass under the opposite nipple. The angle of the elbow and forearm is about 120 degrees. The hand then pushes away to the side to begin the recovery. The elbow remains at the surface as long as possible during the initial phase of the stroke. At the completion of the stroke the arm is once again straight.As the entry and exit of the hand in the water is only about 320mm the turbulence created under the body enhances the buoyancy and enables the propulsion to continue.The recovery stroke is now very critical.The hand exits the water to the side of the body, the body must now roll to enable the elbow to swing the forearm through to the front, the finger tips trailing the water. The closer the arm is on recovery, the less the probability of the body snaking away to counter the balance.Many swimmers swing their arms, needless to say they take a tremendous amount of strain on the shoulder joint. The bending of the arm on trailing the hand forward enables the arm to relax and recover.
The way a person breathes is the most critical aspect of swimming. I do not mean whether a swimmer breathes bi-laterally or hypoxic. Most swimmers tend to inhale by taking a huge gulp of air. This I think is the most common of all those swimmers who have asked for my assistance.I believe that a swimmer must inhale and forcibly ventilate all his breath and then merely open his mouth. The body will REGULATE how much air is needed. Most poor swimmers tend to hypo-ventilate and breathe back carbon dioxide which they were trying to exhale. They always seem to be gulping air.The ability to breathe on both sides is a great advantage, but is not critical. The advantage would come to the fore in adverse swimming conditions such as a surface chop. The swimmer would be in a better position to cope.
As I have previously stated, the above comments are purely my own thoughts and observations. They are entirely without scientific profaned should be read in the context. I am not a fundi on the absolute science of swimming but feel that a bit of what I have said may help a few budding long distance swimmers.