Align The Spine

This is from Cindy’s video and the first thing we’ll look at is from the side. What we like to see is the head, hips, and heels at the surface and you can see that the legs are just dropping down slightly. What we would want to work towards is just getting those legs up a little bit. I think for this swimmer, probably the biggest cause of this body position here, not that slowing him down a lot but it’ll certainly add up.

The biggest contributor to this is probably just her head position. There’s a range of where we want to look when we swim but from what I can see in her video, is quite often every couple of strokes she ends up just looking a little bit too far forward. If you look at that position, it’s not the greatest quality video but you can see it, her eyes are all the way forward and if you look at the alignment through the spine and then the head, it’s quite a stark contrast there between the two. We want to try and just keep the eyes down a little bit more because you can see the head goes from somewhat being down and this alignment through the spine looks a lot better. As soon as that head comes up too far, right there you can see that the legs just start to drop a bit and you can see this curve through the body. Head position, we pretty much want to just keep the eyes fixed somewhere and you know down or slightly forwards out in front as long as we keep the crown of the head out of the water so just that top part of the head out keep the head in pretty much the same position, unless you’re going to turn your head to breathe in which case you’re going to turn your head to the side but come straight back.

You’ll see with some swimmers, they will move up and down slightly so they might look here and then might look there they might move it back and forth slightly but not much the heads like the steering wheel for the rest of your body. If it’s moving around, if it’s looking all over the place then the body will often follow with it and in swimming, we want to try and keep a fairly stable core. So a bit of tautness through the core and swimming from the inside out which means if we can keep that stability and tautness through the core, then it’s much easier to connect our arms our legs and just have everything work nicely whereas if we are looking up and down and moving ahead around too much, it’s very hard to keep this stable so it’s very hard to connect those or sync those things up. This swimmer actually does quite a good job of her timing, so you can see in terms of the timing of the stroke, this looks really good so out here she could probably add a bit more extension with this arm. To me, that looks like the elbows just a little bit bent, it probably needs to reach a bit further out there but you can see she’s rotated her hips here to possibly 30 degrees. Shoulders look like they’re rotated to about 40, this is looking good and then you can see the kicks down with this left foot. This arm begins the catch phase, gets him to initiate that roll to the other side and then he is pressing back past this hip. You can just see that hips are starting to rotate to other side there. If you just watch it from his general side view, you can see there’s quite nice timing of this stroke. It’s like she’s really swimming from her hips or from her core or with her whole body in a way so you can see it’s very very effective with it. There are probably two key things aside from head position that I’d focus on if I were this swimmer.

For the most part, he’s got a really good setup of the catch. What we want to see from here, is out at full extension with fingers below the wrist, wrist below the elbow. Pretty much that sort of angle these at, that’s good, then we want the fingertips to be pointing down to the bottom of the pool which he does and see right here is just in a high elbow catch position which just means essentially if we were to draw a line through the shoulder to the hand right this elbow, is going to be just above that line which you can see so nice high elbow catch position there, but she does pretty well and she moves through well that left arm, then this right side similar thing sets himself up well nice initial setup there, the fingertips are pointing down all right he’s in this high elbow catch position there, that’s excellent, then you could just see she probably pulls through at that out by a little bit too soon. When she’s underneath the body, her shoulder and her elbow line up it’s great but the hands out in front instead of having it the fingers pointing down and having that shoulder elbow and hand line up together. The reason we want to try and get everything lining up, as my friend Eney Jones says, it’s like one happy family. You’ve got essentially the forearm, the hand is pressing back at a better angle. If it were like this, IT would be pressing directly back. For the most part, we want to try and get the shoulder elbow and hand all to line up underneath the shoulder there. That’s what we do, we sort of work towards, it’s just that that last part of the catch where she just has that tendency to pull through a little bit too soon with the elbow which you can see about here. So, that’ll probably I’d give that at least six to eight weeks of practice going through some specific drills with that phase of the stroke, with keeping in mind that the better swimmers don’t necessarily pull with more force, they’re just more effective with the movement pattern. You don’t necessarily need to pull through with a lot of power particularly in this first part of the stroke. You just need to try and be as effective as possible with the movement of the arm and that and the pull pattern and I think if we can just improve this movement from basically here to here and avoid this elbow point through so soon for this swimmer, that’s probably going to make quite a bit of difference.

The other thing that I can see here is the exit of the stroke, to me, I think it’s just a little bit short, you can see where it comes out, it’s at about the hip there. It could be all right, it could be far enough, but what I see with most top swimmers, is going back just a little bit further than that. It doesn’t need to be much but probably just pressing back a little bit further past the hip and the right side. It is hard to see but again probably just a little bit short so often that that press back past the hip can work in conjunction with a bit more reaching extension out the front. Those two things work hand-in-hand.


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Brenton and Mitch were great to work with at the clinic, Good to get video analysis to work on straight away, practice some new drills and go home knowing what you need to work on.

Alex McFadyen