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Critique my swim videos
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In this week's preamble to your workouts I'm asking you to video your swim. I'm giving you some hints of what I want in the video. I'm posting this thread here for any of you (in or not in the Challenge) who want to post Critique my swim videos.


Dan Empfield
aka Slowman
Last edited by: Slowman: Jan 21, 17 13:12
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Re: Guppy Challenge, Week-7 (Critique my swim vids) [Slowman] [ In reply to ]
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Any technical hints on how to make such a video?

Buy a tripod? Flirt with the lifeguards?

'It never gets easier, you just get crazier.'
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Re: Guppy Challenge, Week-7 (Critique my swim vids) [georged] [ In reply to ]
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buy a tripod or bring a friend. same basic way you'd make a critique my fit video.


Dan Empfield
aka Slowman
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Re: Guppy Challenge, Week-7 (Critique my swim vids) [Slowman] [ In reply to ]
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Hi, I took my first video and was hoping it could be critiqued (shred me please)!
Background: Lifelong runner trying to swim. Started swimming 8 months ago, current 1500m LCM at 27:27, 100scy at 1:18. The video is of me roughly swimming at threshold pace. I find I am always significantly faster (15s/100) in my wetsuit OWS.

Broken left collarbone 2x with known mobility issues in that shoulder, generally very inflexible anyways. I have been diligently doing the 1 arm drills w and w/o snorkel and stretches with my shoulders to help flexibility. I feel that I am very bad with streamlining and straightening my arms and body in the water.

Any tips on issues to tackle and what drills I can best do to address them greatly appreciated. Thanks!



Last edited by: ntc: Jan 15, 17 21:50
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Re: Guppy Challenge, Week-7 (Critique my swim vids) [ntc] [ In reply to ]
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2 things i notice, but first here's a video of grant hackett for reference.



1. note this image below, a screenshot from the video of you. note the leg splay. this is directly related to how you breathe. you need to get rid of this.



note that you roll entirely, like a plank, when you breathe. hackett's movement, when he breathes, doesn't much extend to his body from the waist down. his feet continue, mostly, to push down toward the bottom of the pool rather than toward the sidewalls.

how do you fix this? by A) working to keep your feet kicking down, even when you're breathing, and either tether your feet entirely together, no kick when you swim, or tether them loosely together, requiring you to kick, but without letting your legs splay like that.

2. your first movement after the catch is a bend at the wrist. i get what you're trying to do. but again, watch hackett's video. there is no bend in the wrist. the bend is at the elbow. in fact, finis makes not one but two different paddles specifically designed to not let you bend at the wrist.

so, overall, good. but keep your feet kicking down all the time, get rid of that splay, and perfect your first action after the catch and extend, that is to say, establish that pulling surface (elbow to fingertip) correctly.

all that said, if tigerchick or halfspeed or monty contradict me, or if gerry rodrigues or gary hall sr come on the board to tell you i don't know what i'm talking about, listen to them not me.


Dan Empfield
aka Slowman
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Re: Guppy Challenge, Week-7 (Critique my swim vids) [Slowman] [ In reply to ]
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very much an adult onset swimmer. 2:00/100 if I'm lucky. I've got 50 yards shown here from the side, above the water.
All help is appreciated.

<iframe width="560" height="315" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/hpr6fpPDFRY" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe>

The video won't embed.
Last edited by: sethjk: Jan 16, 17 8:07
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Re: Guppy Challenge, Week-7 (Critique my swim vids) [Slowman] [ In reply to ]
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Thanks Slowman, I had no idea I splayed like that! That explains why the 1 arm drills are so much easier with a snorkel too. Time for more band work.

You're right, I've been consciously bending my wrist then elbow. I have the yellow Finis agility paddles, are they the right tool for adressing that portion of the catch?
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Re: Guppy Challenge, Week-7 (Critique my swim vids) [sethjk] [ In reply to ]
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i'm going to defer to some others who're better than i am at diagnosing. but while they're deciding what to diagnose and what the remedy is, here are my observations:

1. you're doing everything "right". you're a good student. you learned the dance steps. now we just have to inject some rhythm.

2. you're a dutiful bilateral breather. that has helped you to make your stroke symmetrical. but, oxygen is your friend. no need to bilateral breathe. there is a need to breathe on both sides, but not to bilateral breathe.

3. you are a poster child for the drills in the Guppy Challenge. your feet are on the surface (mostly) but you're not getting anything out of them. if you watch videos of "hip driven freestyle" you're not getting that propulsion from your lower body. so...

- kick drills; one-arm pull drills (as explained in the guppy challenge); banded ankle swimming (band your ankles, float your lower body, and swim). those 3 things.

- at least one of your hands enters the water crossed-over, and then straightens out after it's in the water, as you're extending. your hands need to enter the water in front of your shoulders. the catch needs to be an affirmative, purposeful act.

let's start with this.


Dan Empfield
aka Slowman
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Re: Guppy Challenge, Week-7 (Critique my swim vids) [ntc] [ In reply to ]
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there are 2 finis paddles that are specific to this. one is the bolster paddle, and the second is that figure 8 thing. but the agility paddles are good as well. just, the agility paddles won't solve this. i don't think you need to get a new set of paddles. just, now that you know you're doing this and that you shouldn't be doing this, i suspect you won't find this difficult to solve.


Dan Empfield
aka Slowman
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Re: Guppy Challenge, Week-7 (Critique my swim vids) [Slowman] [ In reply to ]
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Thanks Slowman.
I've been following the Guppy Challenge and have been doing tons of drills lately (need to do more). Been doing some bandwork for a while but need to increase that as well. I'm definitely aware of the crossover and have been working on correcting it.

I'll take any advice the others have to offer.
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Re: Guppy Challenge, Week-7 (Critique my swim vids) [sethjk] [ In reply to ]
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Your turnover is fine but you're letting a lot of water slip by not anchoring your catch out in front. Your elbow is dropping at the front of your stroke so the first move with stroking hand is down rather than back. With the dropped elbow you've shortened the window your "paddle" is effective. You're also cutting the stroke off a bit to soon...think about brushing your thigh with your thumb to finish off each stroke.
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Re: Guppy Challenge, Week-7 (Critique my swim vids) [Slowman] [ In reply to ]
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Here's link to videos from my swimming. I've got three videos with different angles. Any tips would be appreciated. Thanks!






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Re: Guppy Challenge, Week-7 (Critique my swim vids) [gpotter] [ In reply to ]
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if it wasn't for the fact that you are not sethjk above i'd sayou were sethjk above. except that you don't bilateral breathe.

let me tell you what i like and i think "ntc" above can see the difference in his stroke versus your stroke: the tops of your feet remain pointed toward the bottom of the pool when you breathe.

that said, i have the same sort of comments about you that i made about sethjk:

1. i'd like to see your kick more robust. pronounced. not that you should kick harder, just that you should get more out of it. by "more" i mean that i'd like to see your feet more on top of the water. your heels occasionally break the surface. barely. but your legs aren't as on the surface as i'd like. if you practice the 1-arm pulls and you occasionally feel your foot coming entirely out of the water, the top of your foot hitting the surface on the way down, that would be nice. and then translate that to regular swimming. just don't do this by bending at the knee; do this by changing your balance in the water.

2. you do that same thing sethjk does during the catch: esp when you breathe, that hand catches crossed over, and then you correct the cross-over in the water, after the catch. best if your hand entry occurs in front of your shoulder.

3. like sethjk, you're not driving your stroke with your hips. you're dragging your lower body through the water, like it was a trailer. 1-arm pulls, with your off hand extended in front of you, not sculling, near the surface of the water.

4. read what JoelO write about sethjk's pull. he drops the elbow rather than leading with the elbow. what i wrote a couple of weeks ago in the guppy challenge preface is, imagine a canoe paddle. you want that paddle to be perpendicular to the water its pulling. but you want to start that pull as far in front of you as you can, so that you get a nice, long pull. go higher up in this thread, look at grant hackett's "canoe paddle". he extends after the catch and then, after that period extansion - bam! - forearm gets perpendicular to the water and that's his canoe paddle. that elbow says high, and forward, while he's setting that pulling surface. nice long pull with all that surface area. and then he finishes.

JoelO exhorts sethjk to finish the pull. yes. others are more interested in what happens in the front of the stroke, the beginning. they think the end is just a detail. in general i think the front of the stroke is the most important focus. but if you're going to swim as hackett does, with that long extend phase before the pull, you have to have a pretty strong back half of the stroke.

thank you for these videos. these are great. these are just what i want. i'd like to see more in 2 or 3 weeks, to see if we made progress.


Dan Empfield
aka Slowman
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Re: Guppy Challenge, Week-7 (Critique my swim vids) [Slowman] [ In reply to ]
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Slowman, thanks for the input. I'll keep working on the drills and focus on the mechanics.

"3. like sethjk, you're not driving your stroke with your hips. you're dragging your lower body through the water, like it was a trailer. 1-arm pulls, with your off hand extended in front of you, not sculling, near the surface of the water. "

Are you saying that 1-arm drills with off arm extended will help the hip driven freestyle?

Thank you
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Re: Guppy Challenge, Week-7 (Critique my swim vids) [gpotter] [ In reply to ]
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"Are you saying that 1-arm drills with off arm extended will help the hip driven freestyle?"

exactly. if you can do this drill with the arm extended, hand not sculling, hand staying near the water's surface, something is continuing your forward propulsion while your other arm is recovering. if you can properly execute this drill then you, from the hips down, are propelling yourself forward rather than your body's lower half reduced to an immobile weight needing to be dragged forward.


Dan Empfield
aka Slowman
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Re: Guppy Challenge, Week-7 (Critique my swim vids) [Slowman] [ In reply to ]
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Slowman wrote:
"Are you saying that 1-arm drills with off arm extended will help the hip driven freestyle?"

exactly. if you can do this drill with the arm extended, hand not sculling, hand staying near the water's surface, something is continuing your forward propulsion while your other arm is recovering. if you can properly execute this drill then you, from the hips down, are propelling yourself forward rather than your body's lower half reduced to an immobile weight needing to be dragged forward.

Or your drag is not sufficient to completely stop your forward motion.

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"i disagree with your analysis [or judgment], nevertheless you have the responsibility of moderating this board so i honor your authority to make the moderating decisions."
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Re: Guppy Challenge, Week-7 (Critique my swim vids) [klehner] [ In reply to ]
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"Or your drag is not sufficient to completely stop your forward motion."

easy to test. band your ankles. float your legs. see if you can do the drill.


Dan Empfield
aka Slowman
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Re: Guppy Challenge, Week-7 (Critique my swim vids) [Slowman] [ In reply to ]
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Slowman wrote:
"Or your drag is not sufficient to completely stop your forward motion."

easy to test. band your ankles. float your legs. see if you can do the drill.

Not a valid test, unless the band allows for separation that may be part of the individual's normal stroke.

My legs are not motionless when I swim, yet that motion adds trivial propulsion.

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"i disagree with your analysis [or judgment], nevertheless you have the responsibility of moderating this board so i honor your authority to make the moderating decisions."
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Re: Guppy Challenge, Week-7 (Critique my swim vids) [klehner] [ In reply to ]
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"Not a valid test, unless the band allows for separation that may be part of the individual's normal stroke"

do you think separating your legs adds to your hydrodynamics? and the lack of doing so would increase your drag?

let's keep our eye on the ball here. your contention, if i understand it, is that your pull, by itself, gives you enough propulsion that you glide through the water - you keep up that speed or some portion of it - during not just swimming, but swimming using only 1 arm.

i find that hard to imagine. i'll grant you that you maintain forward motion without kicking during swimming (to some degree) or you couldn't maintain proper form while swimming with a buoy between your thighs.

i don't want to get deep into the arcanity of this. i don't want to devolve into the theoretical possibility of something rather than simply testing it. i'm happy to yield the floor to anyone (you included) who has a recommendation for how folks who star in these videos in this thread can get faster.


Dan Empfield
aka Slowman
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Re: Guppy Challenge, Week-7 (Critique my swim vids) [Slowman] [ In reply to ]
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Slowman wrote:
"Not a valid test, unless the band allows for separation that may be part of the individual's normal stroke"

do you think separating your legs adds to your hydrodynamics? and the lack of doing so would increase your drag?

let's keep our eye on the ball here. your contention, if i understand it, is that your pull, by itself, gives you enough propulsion that you glide through the water - you keep up that speed or some portion of it - during not just swimming, but swimming using only 1 arm.

i find that hard to imagine. i'll grant you that you maintain forward motion without kicking during swimming (to some degree) or you couldn't maintain proper form while swimming with a buoy between your thighs.

i don't want to get deep into the arcanity of this. i don't want to devolve into the theoretical possibility of something rather than simply testing it. i'm happy to yield the floor to anyone (you included) who has a recommendation for how folks who star in these videos in this thread can get faster.

No, my leg separation is a result of arm stroke flaws that are due to a physical limitation in my shoulders (as far as I can tell) that dictates my catch. It assuredly contributes a small amount of drag. Not a lot, because it is a small separation. I can do one arm catch-up drills with minimal kicking and without halting in the water, but I'll confirm it tomorrow in the pool.

There's a guy who swims with us, who was a 1:49 200scy backstroke guy in college. He takes about 11 or 12 strokes per 25scy, and his kick is borderline non-existent when doing free, and his stroke is more of a front-quadrant stroke that shows itself with a long glide before the catch. He is extremely streamlined, which allows him to maintain momentum in the time between the finish of his stroke and the onset of the pull of the other arm.

Forward progress in swimming is about optimizing drag and thrust.

The swimmers in these videos can get faster by actually using the (back, butt, and hamstring) muscles that raise their legs to a streamlined position. Not by using bands or drills.

My apologies for introducing arcana. (and I don't think "arcanity" is a word)

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"i disagree with your analysis [or judgment], nevertheless you have the responsibility of moderating this board so i honor your authority to make the moderating decisions."
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Re: Guppy Challenge, Week-7 (Critique my swim vids) [klehner] [ In reply to ]
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"I can do one arm catch-up drills with minimal kicking and without halting in the water"

bear in mind my prerequisite here - what i consider the important element of this drill - that the off arm be straight in front, fingers pointing toward the far wall, arm and hand just below the surface of the water, hand absolutely immobile (i.e., just as it is after the catch and extend, right before the pull if EVP is the goal).

i know you can do that drill, exactly the way i want it done, because you're a very good swimmer and probably better than i am. it's doing this drill, in this way, with no propulsion from the waist down. that's what i think would be very hard (tho i've never tried it).

as to the rest of what you write, okay, but in my opinion you are square in opposition to those who're advocating for "hip-driven freestyle." which is fine. just, i think that should be established.

"The swimmers in these videos can get faster by actually using the (back, butt, and hamstring) muscles that raise their legs to a streamlined position. Not by using bands or drills."

the drills are designed to get swimmers to do what you want them to do. telling somebody to do something is what's wrong with swimming (for adult onset swimmers). masters is very good for giving adult onset swimmers an enclave with which to swim - it's very bad at helping swimmers overcome the stroke problems that ail them. masters is next to useless for that. "stop swimming unstreamlined" is a harsh remedy if that's all you have to tell these folks.

"I don't think "arcanity" is a word"

i invented that word. and "opacity". and the tri bike. i invent what needs inventing ;-)


Dan Empfield
aka Slowman
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Re: Guppy Challenge, Week-7 (Critique my swim vids) [Slowman] [ In reply to ]
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Slowman wrote:
the drills are designed to get swimmers to do what you want them to do. telling somebody to do something is what's wrong with swimming (for adult onset swimmers). masters is very good for giving adult onset swimmers an enclave with which to swim - it's very bad at helping swimmers overcome the stroke problems that ail them. masters is next to useless for that. "stop swimming unstreamlined" is a harsh remedy if that's all you have to tell these folks.

"I don't think "arcanity" is a word"

i invented that word. and "opacity". and the tri bike. i invent what needs inventing ;-)

Gotta love them words.

My advice is not "don't do that." My advice is quite specific and quite simple: identify by feel those muscles by lifting your straight legs while lying stomach-down on the floor, then engage those muscles while you swim. Once practiced enough, it becomes second nature and provides immediate speed gains with minimal energy expenditure.

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"i disagree with your analysis [or judgment], nevertheless you have the responsibility of moderating this board so i honor your authority to make the moderating decisions."
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Re: Guppy Challenge, Week-7 (Critique my swim vids) [Slowman] [ In reply to ]
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How does opacity relate to triathlon??? I'm familiar with its use in air pollution control but unacquainted with its use in tri.


"Anyone can be who they want to be IF they have the HUNGER and the DRIVE."
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Re: Guppy Challenge, Week-7 (Critique my swim vids) [Slowman] [ In reply to ]
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Here are my three videos - please judge away.
Just seeing the videos (first time I filmed myself) helps me understand a lot of my problems, it will definitely be a monthly deal.
Some background facts:
- learned swimming as an adult, completely self taught
- effort 100m time at around 1:27 - 1:30
- endurance 100m time more around 1:40 - 1:45
- definitely faster in a wetsuit
- definitely faster with a pull buoy
Have been a good boy and does the complete guppy challenge including all 'extra' and 'extra extra' workouts (okay... I actually skipped two - after all I do have a job)
I simply can't swim faster than 1:30 for a 100 in the pool seems like the magic barrier I can't break no matter what.

Thanks for any comments.








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Re: Guppy Challenge, Week-7 (Critique my swim vids) [ericmulk] [ In reply to ]
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"How does opacity relate to triathlon?"

it isn't. it's just a word i made up. (we were on the subject of things i made up.) a lot of other people have also made it up. i don't know that it's an official word. it's notable how many dictionaries do not contain that word.


Dan Empfield
aka Slowman
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Re: Guppy Challenge, Week-7 (Critique my swim vids) [Holger] [ In reply to ]
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here's what i like:

- your hands enter right in front of your shoulders.
- you seem to have nice plantar flexion (when you point your toes). that bodes well for being able to kick well. someday.

here are the challenges:

- the fact that you swim faster with a buoy i attribute to 2 things, 1 good, 1 bad. the good thing: if you don't fishtail, that means you're good in the side-to-side plane. you don't fishtail. great. there's something we don't need to fix.

- your legs sink. you can see that in the video. swimming with a buoy floats your legs. you're out of balance in that plane. front to back. you need for your feet to break the water when you kick. lots of drag. which means, lots of speed when you fix that.

- what your hands do after the catch.

here's you:



here's grant hackett:



notice how grant hackett's entire arm is parallel to the water, hand up there, just under the surface of the water, until he starts the pull.

you, on the other hand - and you are typical of most swimmers - let your arm drift down, and nothing much starts to happen until you arm is underneath your body. the amount of actual pull you get, when you're pulling water back, is pretty minimal.

what you want is to set the pulling surface while it's in front of your body. catch, glide, hand on the surface, then set the pulling surface and pull straight back with that entire pulling surface (elbow to fingertip). pull straight back with that big paddle. don't think about S-patterns or any of that. just yank that paddle straight back.

i think you are on the cusp of a breakthrough. you really have fixed most of the bigger problems. you need to:

1. kick faster
2. get your feet up on the surface
3. pull with a much more efficient technique: your forearm needs to look more like a canoe paddle and less like a ferris wheel.

i have heard some people talk about swimming downhill. you can google that if you want to, you'll see some videos. it's a rhetorical device, but i like that for you. you are swimming uphill. your head and chest is up, your legs are down. if you think about swimming downhill, maybe that'll get your head down and your legs up. in the end, of course, you'll just be level, which is what we want, but i think the downhill motif might help you make some headway.


Dan Empfield
aka Slowman
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Re: Guppy Challenge, Week-7 (Critique my swim vids) [Slowman] [ In reply to ]
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Slowman wrote:
"How does opacity relate to triathlon?"

it isn't. it's just a word i made up. (we were on the subject of things i made up.) a lot of other people have also made it up. i don't know that it's an official word. it's notable how many dictionaries do not contain that word.

Nah, sorry but you did not invent the word opacity which has been in existence for at least 45 yrs or more. It is used in air pollution control as a measure of how thick the smoke is coming out of an air pollution source. EPA has been using this concept since the early '70s.

From Merriam-Webster:

Definition of opacity
plural opacities

  1. 1a : obscurity of sense : unintelligibilityb : the quality or state of being mentally obtuse : dullness

  2. 2 : the quality or state of a body that makes it impervious to the rays of light; broadly : the relative capacity of matter to obstruct the transmission of radiant energy

  3. 3 : an opaque spot in a normally transparent structure (as the lens of the eye)



"Anyone can be who they want to be IF they have the HUNGER and the DRIVE."
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Re: Guppy Challenge, Week-7 (Critique my swim vids) [Slowman] [ In reply to ]
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Getting into the water today I could really feel my leg splay. Did warmup including 1 arm drills and band, really focusing on kicking down. When I then went into my main set, 20x100yd, everything felt so much smoother than I'm used to! I ended up having my fastest avg for this workout on 5s less RI than I normally do despite feeling awful, thanks Slowman! I will definitely keep focusing on this.

With regard to my pull I tried to focus on not bending the wrist. Pull felt stronger but arms started going out quicker, upper foreams especially. Just need to keep building strength there?

I hope to get more footage this weekend at more angles. Thanks again!
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Re: Guppy Challenge, Week-7 (Critique my swim vids) [ntc] [ In reply to ]
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"everything felt so much smoother than I'm used to! I ended up having my fastest avg for this workout on 5s less RI than I normally do despite feeling awful, thanks Slowman!"

i'll send you my bill.

"Pull felt stronger but arms started going out quicker, upper foreams especially."

exactly. if you don't pull very much water, you don't get tired, but you don't go very fast. you're using your muscles now. you're grabbing real water. it's going to take a couple of weeks to get used to that, and then i suspect you'll start to see more speed.


Dan Empfield
aka Slowman
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Re: Guppy Challenge, Week-7 (Critique my swim vids) [Slowman] [ In reply to ]
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Following up: I can do a one-arm drill without kicking (at least on one side) and make continuous forward progress. I checked with our backstroker, and he said no problem.

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"i disagree with your analysis [or judgment], nevertheless you have the responsibility of moderating this board so i honor your authority to make the moderating decisions."
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Re: Guppy Challenge, Week-7 (Critique my swim vids) [klehner] [ In reply to ]
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"Following up: I can do a one-arm drill without kicking (at least on one side) and make continuous forward progress."

to be clear, the point of this drill is to do it, it's to do it with one specific technical element maintained. the key to this drill is that one technical element. you achieved success doing the drill the way i describe? i haven't tried it, but if you can do this without kicking, i would think that is evidence of exceptional posture in the water.


Dan Empfield
aka Slowman
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Re: Guppy Challenge, Week-7 (Critique my swim vids) [Slowman] [ In reply to ]
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Slowman wrote:
"Following up: I can do a one-arm drill without kicking (at least on one side) and make continuous forward progress."

to be clear, the point of this drill is to do it, it's to do it with one specific technical element maintained. the key to this drill is that one technical element. you achieved success doing the drill the way i describe? i haven't tried it, but if you can do this without kicking, i would think that is evidence of exceptional posture in the water.

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bear in mind my prerequisite here - what i consider the important element of this drill - that the off arm be straight in front, fingers pointing toward the far wall, arm and hand just below the surface of the water, hand absolutely immobile (i.e., just as it is after the catch and extend, right before the pull if EVP is the goal).

I can't imagine any other way to do that drill that would make sense.

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"i disagree with your analysis [or judgment], nevertheless you have the responsibility of moderating this board so i honor your authority to make the moderating decisions."
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Re: Guppy Challenge, Week-7 (Critique my swim vids) [klehner] [ In reply to ]
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"I can't imagine any other way to do that drill that would make sense."

i agree. i think the drill is worthless otherwise. but the specific element that i stress in this drill is nothing i've ever heard anyone else mention. accordingly, it's not a discipline i see emphasized when this drill is executed, especially by newbies.


Dan Empfield
aka Slowman
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Re: Guppy Challenge, Week-7 (Critique my swim vids) [Slowman] [ In reply to ]
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Critique my swim!
I've been following the guppy challenge (missed last week due to the flu) and getting a lot out of it (thanks!). Adult onset lap swimmer; currently swimming about 1:40 to 1:45/ 100m in distance swims, 1:30 for a 100m TT. Slow (weak) when kicking only.
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Re: Guppy Challenge, Week-7 (Critique my swim vids) [Flowerpot] [ In reply to ]
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"Critique my swim!"

your stroke isn't perfect. but here's what your stroke says to me: you are an adult onset swimmer who is paying a lot of attention to the dance steps. you understand them almost perfectly. you understand this dance perfectly. you just need rhythm. and rhythm comes with time.

i really like your stroke, bearing in mind when you began swimming. yes, i want your legs a bit higher. to the fellow above who i exhorted to "swim downhill", i say the same to you. your head is high and your legs are low, so you're angled up a bit.

if you look at the video of grant hackett that i so often refer to (you'll find it in a couple of posts in this thread, you'll see that on one side, during the catch, he almost dives into the water, forces himself into the water, and the lower you are in the water from the chest forward the higher you are out of the water from your waist down. i don't remark on this as an expert, simply as an observer. adult onset swimmers have as their most often telling feature a body that is too high in the water from the chest forward, too low from the waist down.

but that's it. otherwise, what you need are yards, and time. to me, the very best thing you can do is, once or twice a week, push yourself out to more and more yardage. not all at once. add 300 yards to your most recent longest swim. if you topped at at 2,400 yards, take once or twice a week and push that up to 2,700 yards, the next time 3,000 yards, 3,300 yards. just add distance to that main set. instead of swimming guppy yardage in the main set, swim tarpon yardage, and then tuna yardage. not every workout. just once or twice a week. you'd be amazed how much more you get out of your routine if 1 or 2 workouts a week are 4,000 yards instead of 2,500 yards.

i think you're going to be a rockin' good swimmer.


Dan Empfield
aka Slowman
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Re: Guppy Challenge, Week-7 (Critique my swim vids) [Slowman] [ In reply to ]
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More of a general reply but what is the trick to embedding the videos?

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Re: Guppy Challenge, Week-7 (Critique my swim vids) [LSchmitt] [ In reply to ]
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if they're on youtube, you hit the share button and copy and paste the URL here. it'll start with https://youtu.be/ and then there'll be a code after that identifying the specific video. just copy it, paste it here, it'll automatically populate with the video.


Dan Empfield
aka Slowman
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Re: Guppy Challenge, Week-7 (Critique my swim vids) [Slowman] [ In reply to ]
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Sorry for the length - this is 5 minutes long but I don't know how to break it down and edit it. But has above water and under water from numerous angles. I know there's plenty to work on - any and all feedback is appreciated.

Thanks.


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Re: Guppy Challenge, Week-7 (Critique my swim vids) [Slowman] [ In reply to ]
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Note: We did some video yesterday as well and parts of it were pretty difficult to see but I was dropping both of my arms a fair amount before starting the stroke so today's video still has some of this but not remotely close to as bad as it was yesterday but that was only because I had already seen some video of what I was actually doing versus what I thought I was doing.
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Re: Guppy Challenge, Week-7 (Critique my swim vids) [skid777] [ In reply to ]
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first, here are the two observations that stick out as i watch your stroke, from the shoulders forward:

when you breathe on your right, you have a crossover with your very next stroke (your right hand). that hand needs to be in front of your shoulder. let me rephrase. it needs to be in front of the shoulder that hand is attached to.



when you breathe on your left, your right hand does takes the scenic route way out to the side. you don't do this when you breathe on your right. and your other hand doesn't do this when you breathe on the left. this is the only time your hand does this and it's only when you breathe on your left. watch your video, you'll see it.



that out of the way, i'd say you look pretty darned good for a guppy. your kick is there for the ride, not adding anything. now, i know that this is a point of debate. we have quiet, 2-beat kickers that really swim fast, but i would argue that those kicks, even if there are only 2 of them per stroke, are forceful and come at precisely the right time in the cycle of the stroke. they're affirmative acts.

your kick (as is the case with most guppies) isn't affirmative. it's like the bell rings, you move toward the center of the ring, and you approach the boxing match by raising a finger and saying, "excuse me, could we discuss..." and at that point the other guy's fist knocks you out. your kick needs to be affirmative, not passive or ambivalent.

if you watch grant hackett, his kick is reasonably quiet, but right at the point his hand enters the water that foot comes down hard and fast. in my opinion this is how he generates propulsion to keep him going during the extend phase. i would treat my kick as if it had a purpose. a function.

then there's setting that pulling surface. again. grant hackett. from the elbow to the fingertip, that is your pulling surface. that is your paddle. that needs to be perpendicular to the water you're pulling. look at your video of you, and see for yourself when that is happening and when it is not.

i have a vasa ergometer. you can get one for yourself. or a vasa trainer. or you can get some surgical tubing, anchor it to something, stand in front of it, bend at the waist, and pull with a high elbow and a early vertical forearm. you can practice this and because you're out of the water you can observe yourself doing this. it's not simply a strength exercise, it's a way to practice setting that pulling surface, and then pulling straight back.

note that when you do this the elbow is high at the beginning of the pull phase; your forearm and hand are below the elbow. i think when you do this right, there is even a point during the stroke when your upper arm is part of the pulling surface. the goal here is to marshal as much pulling surface as you can, and force it straight back against the water for as long as you can. guppies tend to push down on the water, then back (a little) and then they truncate the stroke and pull their hands out of the water. very little time is spend pulling straight back with as much surface area as you can. this is your task.

otherwise, you look very good considering the background i assume you (don't) have as a pure swimmer. you have nothing but upside.


Dan Empfield
aka Slowman
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Re: Guppy Challenge, Week-7 (Critique my swim vids) [LSchmitt] [ In reply to ]
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johnny fuggin weissmuller you are! very nice. now you have no excuses. now it's just swim like a demon and you'll get faster.

that second video is a nice view of what it looks like to draft. but you pick up 3, 4, 5sec per 100. if you find the right feet to swim behind it's a minute at least in an ironman. a little bubbly. a little bumpy. but definitely faster than breaking your own water.


Dan Empfield
aka Slowman
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Re: Guppy Challenge, Week-7 (Critique my swim vids) [Slowman] [ In reply to ]
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You have no idea how excited I am to hear this! I have never really cared about the swimming portion so never even tried that much on it. With this challenge I decided I would devote some time to it and see what happened. Since starting, I have dropped my 1000 time from 18:20 to a 15:55 this week which still isn't FOP but I am getting somewhere and hope to find some more. Thank you again for doing this and to everyone else who has provided comments and tips for all of us to implement.

Check out https://elrenoroguetriathlon.yolasite.com
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Re: Guppy Challenge, Week-7 (Critique my swim vids) [LSchmitt] [ In reply to ]
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here is what i would like you and everyone else to do. imagine yourself getting out of T1. now, start your watch. wait 3 minutes. imagine people flowing past you into T1. imagine yourself getting panicky as these people flow past you, person after person. and then folks from the next wave start to come out, and they go by you. another 45 seconds go by, and the first person from the next wave shows up. you're still standing there. then you hit the 3-minute mark. you get to take off on your bike.

the old you is that guy. the new you is that guy except now you don't have to stop and wait and let all those people flow past. imagine the folks you're coming out with - people you never see except at turnarounds.

that's the progress you've made.


Dan Empfield
aka Slowman
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Re: Guppy Challenge, Week-7 (Critique my swim vids) [Slowman] [ In reply to ]
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Any tips on filming in a busy pool? Is it even possible? Would you feel concerned / weirded out if someone is filming next to you when you are swimming and catching you?
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Re: Guppy Challenge, Week-7 (Critique my swim vids) [LSchmitt] [ In reply to ]
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Your stroke is coming along!


One thing I see you and others doing is what is called "putting on the brakes". I think it might be an unintended consequence of people trying to keep the hand near the surface as part of the 1-arm drill. Yes, the hand needs to be near the surface but you still want to come in at an angle. As Andy Potts says..."When swimming, try to keep your fingertips down through the entire stroke. So fingertips need to stay below your wrist, your wrist needs to stay below your elbow. And keep your fingertips pointed down."


Here's a pretty good write-up about what I'm talking about. http://www.feelforthewater.com/...usive-wrong-can.html


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Re: Guppy Challenge, Week-7 (Critique my swim vids) [JoelO] [ In reply to ]
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So it looks like my wrist/hand is pointed slightly up at the top end of the stroke. What you and the article you linked are saying is my wrist/fingertips should be pointed slightly down correct?

Check out https://elrenoroguetriathlon.yolasite.com
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Re: Guppy Challenge, Week-7 (Critique my swim vids) [bloodyshogun] [ In reply to ]
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"Any tips on filming in a busy pool? Is it even possible? Would you feel concerned / weirded out if someone is filming next to you when you are swimming and catching you?"

i don't know. it's easier to ask forgiveness than permission.


Dan Empfield
aka Slowman
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Re: Guppy Challenge, Week-7 (Critique my swim vids) [JoelO] [ In reply to ]
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"Here's a pretty good write-up about what I'm talking about."

the only bone of contention some might take with the link you provide is in the initial drawing. mr. smooth. if you talk to the guys at finis they are absolutely adamant about no bend at the wrist. yes, you need to push back (not down), but that's accomplished by making the bend happen at the elbow, rather than beginning with a push back from the wrist. the hackett video is a case in point.

t's not a mountain i'll die trying to take, because i don't feel sufficiently qualified. just, this is what i read. and see.



Dan Empfield
aka Slowman
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Re: Guppy Challenge, Week-7 (Critique my swim vids) [LSchmitt] [ In reply to ]
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Correct. Enter the water at an angle and make sure the fingertips stay below the wrist as you complete your extension.
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Re: Guppy Challenge, Week-7 (Critique my swim vids) [Slowman] [ In reply to ]
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I agree, not the best illustration. Hand/wrist should be flat.
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Re: Guppy Challenge, Week-7 (Critique my swim vids) [Slowman] [ In reply to ]
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Let me know what you think:






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Re: Guppy Challenge, Week-7 (Critique my swim vids) [trainingwheels] [ In reply to ]
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there's a lot that looks good. catch and extend are good, you're moving forward and not side to side. all that is good.

two things i'd like to see different. as has been the case with most of the folks putting vids up here, your legs are sunk. they need to be higher.

tim elson, ex of finis, has an interesting "drill" he asks people to do, if you want to call it that. float on the surface, like the vitruvian man. don't go anywhere. just float in place. immobile. see how long you can float, face down, with your legs and feet on the surface. it's very hard at first! but you get better at it. tell the lifeguard first what you're doing, so you don't give him heart attack.

it's this sort of posture change that'll make a big difference in your swimming. head down, legs up. i don't have a pithy suggestion on how to do it. the really hard core drill for this is to band the ankles together, without any flotation, and try to make your way freestyle across the pool. if you can do that, you've solved it.

second thing, you have pretty much zero extend, or glide, after the catch. you don't have to have mountains of it, but there should be more than you now have. i think i understand why you don't: because you basically stall after the catch and you've got to start your pull immediately.

in fact, both these are related. from the hips down you aren't doing enough to keep yourself moving. there's a drill that immediately comes to mind that i think would help you, because it would force you to make changes in order to perform the drill. here's a video that dave scott narrates, and it's 3 drills he likes, and i want you to do the first one: slow arm recovery with hesitation:



i like this better than full catch-up because this exaggerates your extend phase but it's more natural than catch-up.

if you get your feet up on the surface - which has more to do with your body from the trunk up than from the trunk down - you can then drive with your hips and legs into the catch and extend and it'll make that recovery with hesitation drill easier to perform.


Dan Empfield
aka Slowman
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Re: Guppy Challenge, Week-7 (Critique my swim vids) [Slowman] [ In reply to ]
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Thanks for the critiques, I'll get on the new drills asap. I'd also like to thank you for putting together this challenge, usually swimming is usually 'I'll just fit it in when I can' which usually turns into not very many swims. The Guppy challenge has forced me to rethink that mentality, thank you!
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Re: Guppy Challenge, Week-7 (Critique my swim vids) [Slowman] [ In reply to ]
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Slowman wrote:
there's a lot that looks good. catch and extend are good, you're moving forward and not side to side. all that is good.

two things i'd like to see different. as has been the case with most of the folks putting vids up here, your legs are sunk. they need to be higher.

tim elson, ex of finis, has an interesting "drill" he asks people to do, if you want to call it that. float on the surface, like the vitruvian man. don't go anywhere. just float in place. immobile. see how long you can float, face down, with your legs and feet on the surface. it's very hard at first! but you get better at it. tell the lifeguard first what you're doing, so you don't give him heart attack.

it's this sort of posture change that'll make a big difference in your swimming. head down, legs up. i don't have a pithy suggestion on how to do it. the really hard core drill for this is to band the ankles together, without any flotation, and try to make your way freestyle across the pool. if you can do that, you've solved it.

Why is this not pithy enough?

"My advice is not "don't do that." My advice is quite specific and quite simple: identify by feel those muscles by lifting your straight legs while lying stomach-down on the floor, then engage those muscles while you swim. Once practiced enough, it becomes second nature and provides immediate speed gains with minimal energy expenditure. "

While swimming yesterday, I made a conscious effort to detect those muscles, and sure enough I could feel the slight flexing of my back, butt, and hamstring muscles that keep my legs at the surface.

Putting bands on your ankles sinks your legs, but it doesn't tell you how to raise them. The above does exactly that.

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Re: Guppy Challenge, Week-7 (Critique my swim vids) [klehner] [ In reply to ]
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"Putting bands on your ankles sinks your legs, but it doesn't tell you how to raise them. The above does exactly that."

i don't have any quarrel with what you're advocating doing. i think there is more than one way to skin this. you're absolutely right in what you say, as far as it goes. the challenge is in how to get people to make the necessary change.

one way is to tell somebody directly what to do. another way is to place someone in a position where absolute failure is imminent absent making the necessary change. i can tell you that this is how you engage your muscles properly to climb that tree. or i can let loose a grizzly bear and rest in the comfort that you'll figure out how to climb that tree. i am not equipped to argue that one method is better and, in fact, i think it's possible each method has its audience.

one thing i do believe is that the pathways to teaching adult onset swimmers are different than those when teaching a 9 year old to swim. but that's about the only thing i have confidence in. the rest for me is trial and error and i welcome your input (and anyone else's). as a matter of fact, what with the influx of videos on this thread, i got up this morning intending to call out halfspeed and tigerchick and have them join you in adding their thoughts to the folks posting these videos.


Dan Empfield
aka Slowman
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Re: Guppy Challenge, Week-7 (Critique my swim vids) [ntc] [ In reply to ]
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You might try:

Snorkel sets to find balance in the water. Posture looks good but of course strengthen the swim base will help with speed.
Fist drills to take away any feeling of downward push at the front end
Try pulling more down the middle as I find this is more efficient than paddling out to the sides so much.
Move to multi-stroke work, back stroke etc.

Looks pretty natural - keep at the program you'll be fast

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Re: Guppy Challenge, Week-7 (Critique my swim vids) [SharkFM] [ In reply to ]
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Ok guys this is going to be a hard one! so many things to fix!
first of all a little background: as many, started swimming 3 years ago (age 29), for only 1 reason: doing triathlons. never swam in my entire life, couldn't do a single lap without grasping for air. The first year went by with me finishing a couple of 70.3 with a swim time around 37-40min. Late 2015 I started doing the finding freestyle program, it helped me a lot, especially with syncing my kick with the upper body. At the end of the program I was able to improve my average pace by 15-20secs.
For work reasons, beginning of 2016 I stopped training, and resumed last November, obviously much slower than 9 months before. when the guppy challenge started I picked it up immediately and it helped me getting close to where I was last year.
Swimming is by far the sport where I suck the most, I struggle being relaxed in the water, my shoulder mobility is horrible (if I stand and lift my arms straight up, they're way in front of my head and you can see it also when I'm swimming, my arms are way below the surface of the water); my ankle flexibility is horrible as well! I feel like I'm at a dead end right now, I would really appreciate your feedback.

In the video you will see two segments, both front/back and from the side; in the first segment I'm trying a 6 beat kick, in the second a 2 beat kick. I've always kicked with a 2 beat, I always struggled with the 6 beat, but lately I tried harder to learn it, and it's getting better.


Last edited by: trimarch: Jan 19, 17 19:44
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Re: Guppy Challenge, Week-7 (Critique my swim vids) [trimarch] [ In reply to ]
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That looks pretty good to my eye. Your stroke rate is a little slow but that's probably due to lack of pool time. You do lift a little bit when you breathe. You can see it as an arch in the back when you go to breathe...that's causing additional drag.
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Re: Guppy Challenge, Week-7 (Critique my swim vids) [Slowman] [ In reply to ]
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I would appreciate any constructive feedback!









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Re: Guppy Challenge, Week-7 (Critique my swim vids) [Slowman] [ In reply to ]
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Thanks Dan!
I have been working on your suggestions these last few days and especially the "swim downhill" one works for me.
Now on to focus on the windmill arms see more :-)
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Re: Critique my swim videos [Slowman] [ In reply to ]
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Slowman wrote:
In this week's preamble to your workouts I'm asking you to video your swim. I'm giving you some hints of what I want in the video. I'm posting this thread here for any of you (in or not in the Challenge) who want to post Critique my swim videos.


Would consider posting a swim video of yourself and Monty?
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Re: Guppy Challenge, Week-7 (Critique my swim vids) [JoelO] [ In reply to ]
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JoelO wrote:
That looks pretty good to my eye. Your stroke rate is a little slow but that's probably due to lack of pool time. You do lift a little bit when you breathe. You can see it as an arch in the back when you go to breathe...that's causing additional drag.
Thanks for your feedback Joel!
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Re: Critique my swim videos [Slowman] [ In reply to ]
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400 IM 4:50xx

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Canadian Record Holder 35-39M & 40-44M - 200 m Butterfly (LCM)
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Re: Guppy Challenge, Week-7 (Critique my swim vids) [Paused] [ In reply to ]
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Why are you breathing every stroke?
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Re: Guppy Challenge, Week-7 (Critique my swim vids) [triathlete37] [ In reply to ]
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Air is your friend. Unless I'm going at a really easy pace or sprinting, I breathe every stroke.

Grant, your stroke looks good to me. Like trimarch, you would benefit from a higher stroke rate. Both of you appear to be swimming at roughly 60 strokes per minute. I would get a Finis tempo trainer and work on getting your stroke rate to about .85 seconds per stroke (that's mode 1 on the tempo trainer). You're at about 1 second per stroke now so it will take some time and effort to get there. You don't want to cut your stroke short just to get the higher rate.
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Re: Guppy Challenge, Week-7 (Critique my swim vids) [Paused] [ In reply to ]
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Do you see that little s-movement by your hands in the middle of your pull? I think you are pulling with too straight an arm (no early vertical forearm (EVF)), and it's really hard to hold the water with a straight arm. So, you release the water by moving your hand from side to side. That both reduces thrust and takes extra time (albeit very little time) each stroke. I think your hand goes too far down towards the bottom of the pool (that was my first hint about the straight arm), and the last video from the side clearly shows the straight arm.

You are extending your left arm too low in the water in front of you. It should look more like your right arm.

It's hard to be sure, but I think your hand is angled when you are at the low point of your pull, such that the surface of your hand (the pushing part!) is not perpendicular to the backward motion of the hand (little finger is leading your index finger). This may go back to needing too much strength to hold that pull because of the straight arm.

It's a decent stroke; as someone said, you could use a bit more turnover. Get those forearms vertical earlier, and straighten out the hand motion and you might see some improvement.

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Re: Guppy Challenge, Week-7 (Critique my swim vids) [klehner] [ In reply to ]
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Appreciate this challenge very much. Lots to harp on here I know, but looking for a couple of specific things to address. Thanks...








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Re: Guppy Challenge, Week-7 (Critique my swim vids) [runfromnothing] [ In reply to ]
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Right off the top, you are getting very little thrust on your left side. The elbow is leading through the pull. You need to work on the EVF, especially on that side. Nothing else will help you more than fixing that. The right arm isn't a lot better.

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Re: Guppy Challenge, Week-7 (Critique my swim vids) [klehner] [ In reply to ]
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klehner wrote:
Right off the top, you are getting very little thrust on your left side. The elbow is leading through the pull. You need to work on the EVF, especially on that side. Nothing else will help you more than fixing that. The right arm isn't a lot better.

thanks. appreciate it. i'm not exactly surprised as that would describe what i feel. feels like it my arms slip. any specific ways to work on EVF that you'd suggest? I get a little lost of the endless options of ways to improve that. Doing one arm drills, catch up, and sculling. Sculling "feels" like it helps the most.
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Re: Guppy Challenge, Week-7 (Critique my swim vids) [runfromnothing] [ In reply to ]
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I think Karlyn does a pretty good job of demonstrating the technique.http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZTQpF_mmg44[/url]
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Re: Guppy Challenge, Week-7 (Critique my swim vids) [runfromnothing] [ In reply to ]
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runfromnothing wrote:
klehner wrote:
Right off the top, you are getting very little thrust on your left side. The elbow is leading through the pull. You need to work on the EVF, especially on that side. Nothing else will help you more than fixing that. The right arm isn't a lot better.


thanks. appreciate it. i'm not exactly surprised as that would describe what i feel. feels like it my arms slip. any specific ways to work on EVF that you'd suggest? I get a little lost of the endless options of ways to improve that. Doing one arm drills, catch up, and sculling. Sculling "feels" like it helps the most.

One drill I used to do was a two part sculling drill. Do a fifty in which the first length is the drill with one arm, and the length back is the other arm. Then repeat with the next drill, then a third fifty swimming normally.

#1: scull with the hand of one arm straight in front (both arms can be in front), left to right, three times, then take a pull with that arm (keeping the other arm in front), repeat for the length coming back with the other arm
#2: as above, but scull after initiating the pull so your sculling occurs with the forearm pointed straight down, and the elbow at the surface (this gives you the feel for what your hand/elbow relationship should be in space)

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Re: Guppy Challenge, Week-7 (Critique my swim vids) [Slowman] [ In reply to ]
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Are new entrants welcome? I have to confess I'm only starting the guppy program now. Basically I'm a cyclist who can run pretty well.
I do 70.3 and 140.6 events as the ratio of swimming to "the good stuff" is better and allows me to be competitive. I've never been a swimmer, I struggle at it and don't particular enjoy it. Pretty much fight through every stroke and breath. 1h 15 swim at Copenhagen last year. Strangely enough when I've been swimming for a while, I'm much faster in a pool than OW, guys who i'll be 15s/100 quicker than on repeats get out of the water at the same time or faster in a 3.8k race despite me having a top of the line, good fitting wet suit.
Basically I want a trip to Hawaii (who doesn't?) and my swimming isn't going to allow it.

I sink like a brick, I tried the lying face down drill and honestly try as I might my feet touch the bottom inside of 2 secs. I tried the land equivalent (prone superman position?) and it makes me swim in a hammock shape.

I know pretty much nothing is particularly right about my stroke but would love a firm grip or plan on where to attack first. I get zero propulsion from my kick. With a kickboard I genuinely stay static in the water. With a pull buoy swimming feels so much easier.

Anyway, I hope these videos are adequate. They were done a while back and I've been focusing on getting a bent elbow catch since then.
Any advice would be gratefully received. Many thanks for what you are doing here



Apologies I am struggling with embedded linking of the second video


Last edited by: hutchy_belfast: Jan 24, 17 4:49
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Re: Guppy Challenge, Week-7 (Critique my swim vids) [hutchy_belfast] [ In reply to ]
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You say "I tried the land equivalent (prone superman position?) and it makes me swim in a hammock shape", but I bet you don't. Post a video of you really trying to engage your back/butt/hamstring muscles while you swim. In the first video, check out your hip angle: your hip flexors are pulling your legs down. As a cyclist, your hip flexors are likely very tight. You need to stretch them, or you will always be dragging your legs while swimming.

Following that,
  1. Your right hand enters too close to your shoulders: it should enter further toward your maximal extension. Too much extension under the water both takes more time to get to full extension, and increases drag. Your left arm is only slightly better. Both hands are too low at full extension.
  2. You are pulling with straight arms. This likely leads to your exaggerated s-pull (your hand comes back under your torso), since you can't pull effectively with a straight arm, so your hand slides from side to side. Especially on your right side (else it is just easier to see), your hand crosses under your torso. Look up and learn how to do the early vertical forearm thing.
  3. Your right hand appears angled during the entire pull. It should be perpendicular to the direction of pull, so you are allowing a lot of water to slip off. Paddles might be helpful to enable you to feel what it should be like to hold the water.
  4. Your legs splay a lot. I would guess this would lessen if you fix the above upper-body flaws, especially the cross-over (nobody splays their legs deliberately; I think it mostly follows what the arms are doing incorrectly).


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Re: Guppy Challenge, Week-7 (Critique my swim vids) [klehner] [ In reply to ]
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Many thanks for the input. I do all my cycling curled up in a ball in an aggressive TT position and my pelvic flexibility and overall core strength is poor at best. Ankle flexibility is woeful. I'm time pressed (aren't we all) and core work and flexibility is always the first to go. I'm in the middle of a marathon build atm so these are even worse than usual.

You are entirely right about the catch and pull. Frequently my hand 'slips' mid pull and wobbles laterally rather than maintaining tension on both sides.
You've given me things to focus on, thanks.
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Re: Guppy Challenge, Week-7 (Critique my swim vids) [hutchy_belfast] [ In reply to ]
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hutchy_belfast wrote:
Many thanks for the input. I do all my cycling curled up in a ball in an aggressive TT position and my pelvic flexibility and overall core strength is poor at best. Ankle flexibility is woeful. I'm time pressed (aren't we all) and core work and flexibility is always the first to go. I'm in the middle of a marathon build atm so these are even worse than usual.

You are entirely right about the catch and pull. Frequently my hand 'slips' mid pull and wobbles laterally rather than maintaining tension on both sides.
You've given me things to focus on, thanks.

I do this stretch (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YQmpO9VT2X4) during or after my swim warmup, in the pool. Takes a minute, which you have time for. In a couple of weeks, you'll be surprised how much more flexibility you have (and how tight you were at the start!). Then you'll be able to use those back/butt/hamstring muscles to keep your legs high, without fighting your hip flexors.

Don't scoff at this video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oW5nE5FBPsQ, but it shows what you need to do to engage those muscles.

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Re: Guppy Challenge, Week-7 (Critique my swim vids) [klehner] [ In reply to ]
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Ha I like that video, it certainly sticks in the mind. I'll give it a go for a few weeks. For a typical desk workiner, anterior pelvic tilting slouch like me it's going to be tough though. I'll have to keep telling myself the gains are greater than yet another bike gizmo. Cheers
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Re: Critique my swim videos [Slowman] [ In reply to ]
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Thanks for this thread. I miss Doug Stern and his advice.
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Re: Critique my swim videos [Slowman] [ In reply to ]
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Thanks for promoting this Dan! I always felt the filming of swimming is a bit more difficult to do as it requires a friend but luckily I have one of those LOL


Things I notice:

  • Left hand enters and pushes outwards
  • Elbow is dropping
  • Legs sinking

The fixes for these things is what I've been personally struggling with. Any further critiques would be very much welcomed.

https://www.dropbox.com/s/2ya0wpxfeam8929/CSH%20DEC%202016%20SWIM%20VIDEO.mov?dl=0





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"Train so you have no regrets @ the finish line"
Last edited by: PushThePace: Jan 24, 17 11:05
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Re: Critique my swim videos [PushThePace] [ In reply to ]
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PushThePace wrote:
Thanks for promoting this Dan! I always felt the filming of swimming is a bit more difficult to do as it requires a friend but luckily I have one of those LOL


Things I notice:

  • Left hand enters and pushes outwards
  • Elbow is dropping
  • Legs sinking

The fixes for these things is what I've been personally struggling with. Any further critiques would be very much welcomed.

https://www.dropbox.com/s/2ya0wpxfeam8929/CSH%20DEC%202016%20SWIM%20VIDEO.mov?dl=0




Left hand enters too close to centerline. Think 10 o'clock and 2 o'clock entry positions, and you'll be more likely to be entering where you should (in front of the shoulder). You won't push outwards as much if you enter where you should. Fixing this will likely address the massive serpentine motion you have. Try this drill: hold a kick board with two hands (one on each edge) in front of you while kicking, then release one hand and take a full stroke. Hold the board in place (don't let it swing to the side on which you are holding it) and practice your hand entering the water next to the board (with your current stroke, you'd hit the board).

Left arm is definitely too straight during the pull. It's not so much "dropping the elbow" as not dropping the hand to get the vertical forearm. Don't worry about the elbow and concentrate on getting your hand below the elbow as you begin your pull.

See the video I posted above for how to get your legs up. Stretch your hip flexors, engage the back/butt/hamstring muscles. Try looking forward a bit instead of straight down, too.

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Re: Critique my swim videos [klehner] [ In reply to ]
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Awesome pointers and greatly appreciated. I've got some functional anatomical issues I've been working on with my conditioning coach. I've got very restrictive movement in my shoulders (internal/external rotation) which is the root of a lot of these issue but fixing both at the same time is the goal.

I'll be incorporating the kickboard drill you've mentioned and the video was golden.


Thanks so much

------
"Train so you have no regrets @ the finish line"
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Re: Critique my swim videos [realAB] [ In reply to ]
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I'll give this one a shot - I'm newer to working with other strokes, so can see what's off, but can't really describe in text how to correct.

Breakouts, underwater work, & turns need work.

Something is off with your back breakout - hard to tell from vid but is your back kick lacking propulsion? Doesn't seem to be timed quite right either.

Breaststroke - UW pull out looks short - again is kick lacking propulsion? Also breast - recovery should be quicker - can't see from video why, possibly need to streamline glide better?

Also, for the speed you swim, you take a lot of strokes. Not necessarily a super bad thing, but an indication there are likely some efficiencies to be gained.

L
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Re: Critique my swim videos [LauraM] [ In reply to ]
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I deliberatly shortened my UW on backstroke. I over reached on my last stroke in back and my arm almost got caught in the backstroke start bar. That messed up my flow on the first pull out. I've been working on keeping my knees narrow to cut drag in breaststroke so yes it might have less power than a wide kick but my splits are getting faster. Time was 4:50.81. Bear in mind only 1 guy in USMS (40-44) was faster in 2016 than that and its 4 seconds under #1 here in Canada. Should be a FINA top 10, I plan on racing it at Nationals in Quebec City. Just shows no body is perfect. My friend looked at it and said most of the same things. My fly was 1:03 high and freestyle should usually be equal. Believe me that first 100m was super easy...

___________________________________________
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Canadian Record Holder 35-39M & 40-44M - 200 m Butterfly (LCM)
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Re: Guppy Challenge, Week-7 (Critique my swim vids) [JoelO] [ In reply to ]
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Yes, what JoelO says. The first thing that happens when you reach to the end of your forward recovery is you pull your elbow back and your hand follows it. There is a lot of slipping there because you haven't anchored your forearm to the water before you pull through. Fix this and your swim will be much much faster!

Probably not new to you, but just in case, imagine you are standing behind a long line of 50 gallon barrels lying on their sides (Like Evil Knievel would have jumped them). Lying on the first one, reach over the second one and anchor your hand and arm down the rounded side of the barrel before you pull yourself over it, alternating barrel to barrel. If you don't reach your hand down, you won't have anything to pull on. Probably heard that before...
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Re: Critique my swim videos [PushThePace] [ In reply to ]
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Try imagining that you are swimming in a pool that's only about 2 feet deep. Make your pull parallel to the bottom as much as possible from front to back of the pull, and don't let your hand hit the bottom. Looks like your pull, L>R, is a big arc from front to back, with the low part being really low. The first half of that pull is spending energy pushing your shoulders up out of the water, and the second half is pulling yourself down.
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Re: Critique my swim videos [Emma'sDad] [ In reply to ]
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Thanks I've not been engaging my core enough which leads to the arch when combined with my poor mobility in the shoulders. I saw a great video yesterday which has got me a bit more aware of the "catch" phase which is where I think I'm most deficient (and seems to be what I'm hearing here) once I get my catch cleaned up I think the high elbow will come naturally.

This video of Canadian National member Kirsten Sweetland shows me an exaggerated catch like the Grant Hackett video but a different angle and in HD.

https://www.youtube.com/shared?ci=LylTSOqIFbs

------
"Train so you have no regrets @ the finish line"
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Re: Critique my swim videos [PushThePace] [ In reply to ]
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I missed the part about shoulder mobility. If you can't get a good streamlined position without a massive arch in your back, you might have someone look at your shoulders and see if that could change. That's an uphill battle. I might even say engaging your core would make things worse if you can't reach enough shoulder elevation range of motion. That arch could be a compensation that works for you until you improve your shoulder mobility. You need those hands out in front!
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Re: Critique my swim videos [Emma'sDad] [ In reply to ]
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Yeah I'm already on the shoulder work. I'm doing an anatomical correction focus with my physio / strength coach. So far we've made some progress but we suspect a few more weeks and there should be even more. Right now I'm doing plenty of experimenting and filming to see if I can connect the dots between what I'm feeling and what is actually taking place.

Thanks for the feedback and insights. I'm happy to hear from anybody who's got more stroke correction tips.

------
"Train so you have no regrets @ the finish line"
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Re: Guppy Challenge, Week-7 (Critique my swim vids) [Slowman] [ In reply to ]
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Update! Things I'm supposed to be working on: not having a terrible leg splay when I breathe and not bending at the wrist on the pull. I think I have improved on the kick issue and I have been working on a 2 beat kick which doesn't seem to slow me down.

These new angles show my left catch is awful! Any tips to help address this? This is also the side I smashed my collarbone on 2x and is less mobile from that. Any other issues to address here? Thanks.



Side View


Under View 2BK (skip to 20s)


Under View 6BK

Last edited by: ntc: Jan 26, 17 22:11
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Re: Guppy Challenge, Week-7 (Critique my swim vids) [ntc] [ In reply to ]
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Hi Slowman,

Thanks for taking the time to analyze all of our videos. I took my first attempt in getting myself recorded. The result is not optimal (vertical mode and unfortunately no underwater camera at my disposal), but I hope it exposes the long hanging fruits that prevent me from swimming more efficiently.

FYI: In the video below I was pretty well rested after a set. Would describe by RPE here as 7, and the pace must have been 1:35-1:40ish. Although the RPE is relatively low, I'm not able to maintain this pace much longer. I believe that my main limiters are muscle strength and the ability to perform a nice push. Pace for medium long distance (500m) would be 1:50 in 25m pool if I'm really pushing it. Last weekend I did 2000m in 41:40 and felt pretty roasted afterwards.

Any feedback, suggested sets or drills are more than welcome.

Thanks!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4VqLKqtILbU

Last edited by: euroracer: Jan 27, 17 2:18
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Re: Guppy Challenge, Week-7 (Critique my swim vids) [Slowman] [ In reply to ]
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So much learning and great hint from all the videos
One of the things, I noticed when Grant Hackett swims is that he has a very clear rhythm. His arm is stretched in the water for almost 2 seconds before he initiates the stroke. When I see the videos and watch people swim in the pool, most people have one continually movement. They don't pause. How do you view the pause? What are the benefits?
Thanks!

Boman
http://forsikring.io/
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Re: Guppy Challenge, Week-7 (Critique my swim vids) [ntc] [ In reply to ]
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You are doing a lot of good things. Nice turnover, pretty tight kick and a pretty good streamline.

It looks like you are "putting on the brakes" when you extend at the front. You can see what I mean if you go frame by frame in the video. Keep those fingertips below the wrist when you extend out front...or think of keeping the elbow higher than the hand (whatever reminder works for you).

You're a little wide with your pull on the right ... otherwise, the right side looks pretty good.

In the first video, you can see that you drop the left elbow. If you have flexibility/mobility issues on that side, it might be easier to start with a slightly deeper catch. It would be easier to keep the elbow high(er) if you started your pull from a slightly deeper position.
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Re: Critique my swim videos [Slowman] [ In reply to ]
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A little late at the party but I would like to have some feedback if it is possible, 2 weeks after a disappointing non-wetsuit swim at IM Fortaleza (1h21...) I started back at the Guppy Challenge, 3-4 swims / 7-9km per week this is 2x50m at the start of one of last week sessions:






Ale Martinez
www.amtriathlon.com
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Re: Critique my swim videos [Slowman] [ In reply to ]
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Ok, my turn very late in the game here. I'm a weak swimmer, and am open to advice.

Apologies for the quality of the video. The pool is a little murky and dark, and I was not sure where to position the camera on my first attempt at filming myself.
That being said, I did try to film a few passes, and cut out the dead time.

Here is my attempt: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W-c36lx33eE

Background: adult onset swimmer, been working out with a local Master's team for the last 2+ years and had a little 1:1 coaching. Some improvements, but I'm still MOP out of the water during races.

Cheers,
Sam
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Re: Critique my swim videos [Slowman] [ In reply to ]
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Hello Slowman and All,

Many of the swim videos seem to have only a few useful frames ....

http://www.swimmingcam.com/camera-systems.php



This device looks good for side shots and could be home brewed pretty easily.

Also ...... perhaps a 'carbon fiber' (or bamboo) stick attached to the swimmer that put the camera directly out in front by 4 feet or so and captured slow motion head on shots.

Or maybe a tiny submarine drone that captured slow motion shots from in front or below or the side.

Cheers, Neal

+1 mph Faster
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Re: Critique my swim videos [Ale Martinez] [ In reply to ]
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You don't need any help if you can swim the pace in the video over the course of 2.4 miles....that's a 58 min IM pace. :) Take a look at Katie's hand entry and EVF and compare it to yours.

http://www.nbcolympics.com/...0m-free-world-record

She sets that EVF out in front so she's able to pull straight back early. You're not getting there until your hand is about even with your shoulder so you're pushing the water down rather than back in the first part of your pull. The Kirsten Sweetland video that PushThePace posted earlier demonstrates some drills to work on EVF. Btw, I don't think I have the flexibility to get vertical that early...she's vertical (Kirsten) at the top of her head.

It looks like Katie (and Michael Phelps) keep their thumb tucked in (a lot) more than you do. My coach keeps reminding me to tuck mine in a bit. I'm guessing it must be a drag issue.

You're crossing over a bit on the breathing side...not severe, but something to work on. You're also going way wide on the right side pull...bring that hand in closer to the body line so you don't stress that shoulder so much. It will also help you to maintain a better streamline (pulling straight down the body line).
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Re: Critique my swim videos [Ale Martinez] [ In reply to ]
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i got nothing for ya. stroke is fine. now it's just yards, and swimming in a fast group if you can, that will challenge you, one or twice a week.


Dan Empfield
aka Slowman
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Re: Critique my swim videos [SPBaldwin] [ In reply to ]
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Sam, sorry, I got caught up in the "I can tell by his stride he's a triathlete"...I think I'm a hobby jogger.

You need a little work on the front end of your stroke. You immediately drop your elbow when you extend out front (much more so on the left side)...that's causing issues with setting up your catch properly. When you extend out front and when you initiate the catch, your forearm and elbow should always be above your hand. You might want to get a kick board & pull buoy and swim with one hand on the board and do some one arm drills. With the kick board and buoy you can focus on the front of your stroke...keeping the elbow high and above the forearm, wrist, and fingertips. During the mid part of the pull, make sure the elbow is not leading the way. The elbow down to the fingertips should paint a vertical line. The earlier in the pull you can accomplish this the better.

You also have a little claw-like look to your hand action. Keep the fingers fairly straight and inline with the wrist.

Your kick is a little wide at times...try to brush your toes and drop the amplitude a little so it doesn't cause as much drag. It's serviceable as is but it's something to work on.
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Re: Critique my swim videos [JoelO] [ In reply to ]
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Thanks - I appreciate it.
(I admit that in the pool I stick out like a triathlete - the watch, the toys, and the cap from a local race. No M-dot though...)
(And I'm not even going to go there on the runner v. triathlete. I know where I fall - in the more well fed camp. I probably look like a speed walker to the 15:xx 5k crowd)

I had noticed the hand and was working on that today.
Thanks for the comments on the elbow and the drill. I'll work on isolating that on Friday.

Ditto on the leading w/ the elbow. That one is harder to correct - do I then just push w/ the hand and then the elbow comes along vs. leading w/ the elbow?
I know I should not pull the elbow back, but the timing for when it moves back in the pull has proven challenging to work on.

Cheers,
Sam
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Re: Critique my swim videos [SPBaldwin] [ In reply to ]
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You're going to feel some water pressure on the hand and forearm but most of the "drive" of the pull is going to come from the big muscles (lats and to some extent shoulders). Once you "set" the EVF you'll want to maintain enough tone in the forearm and wrist to keep the paddle flat but the power in the pull should then focus to your upper body.
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Re: Critique my swim videos [realAB] [ In reply to ]
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anyone have any thoughts on fixing that right hand? general thoughts on improving everything.. this is a 2.03 200 fr (yards) at end of workout.
Last edited by: Slowman: Feb 2, 17 13:42
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Re: Critique my swim videos [dayvic] [ In reply to ]
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Slacker.

You're obviously WAY faster than just about all of us but it is interesting what you do with that right hand...almost like a mini-scull when you start your stroke. Idk, maybe you're searching for the best purchase on the water. You're also crossing it under your body when you flip...I wonder if a straight pull at that point would help you flip faster.

Anyway, the only way I know to make changes (if you're serious about it) is to slow things down so you can focus on it. Get the kick board out and do some one-arm work so you can watch what you're doing. Swimming with a snorkel would accomplish the same thing. You've obviously put in a lot of yards so tweaking your stroke won't happen overnight.

No matter how good you get there's always something to work on...that's what keeps it interesting.
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Re: Critique my swim videos [Slowman] [ In reply to ]
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What are top 3 things that I should fix?

Started triathlons to get girls, and continued to be better than people.
Last edited by: Slowman: Feb 11, 17 17:14
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Re: Critique my swim videos [Anton84] [ In reply to ]
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watch the last 1 minute of this video. this is the drill YOU should do, after watching your video. you swill well. but this would help you swim better.




Dan Empfield
aka Slowman
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Re: Critique my swim videos [Anton84] [ In reply to ]
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My $0.02 is as follows:

1. Left arm appears to crossover, which is causing you to serpentine through the water; VERY costly mistake to mistake to make in open water. Try using the lane line on the bottom of the pool as the absolute authority of where your arms should be as a drill. Make sure that the left arm especially, stays to the LEFT of the lane line. You want, above all else, for your muscular effort to take you forward and towards the end of the pool.

2. Your right hand appears to go a little haywire, i.e., winging to the right as compared to the left. The problem is that the left isn't doing the same thing. Fix it; both do the same thing and go the same angle, otherwise, this mis-match will also cause "snaking" through the pool. Efficient swimming involves symmetry of both sides in all strokes.

3. Early vertical forearm drills (high elbows); your elbows need to stay high while your forearm and hands grab the water.

Wag More, Bark Less
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Re: Guppy Challenge, Week-7 (Critique my swim vids) [Flowerpot] [ In reply to ]
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One thing I see and it is illustrated well in the beginning of "front underwater" is you are putting the brakes on with you right hand. See how on the right side on the front view you can see your palm. You are probably overreaching somewhat and letting you elbow drop. Try to pick up you tempo a bit and think of reaching over a barrel at the front of your stroke

Life is full of froth and trouble, two things stand in stone
Kindness in another's troubles, courage in one's own
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Re: Critique my swim videos [Anton84] [ In reply to ]
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Anton84 wrote:
What are top 3 things that I should fix?


Your floating position or posture is pretty good- your legs aren't dragging too much. That's a great starting point.

1. Your back to front (kick to pull) timing is so far of out whack it looks like a jungle stroke of some kind.

First you need some co-ordination on the kick, not huge power or anything but just the ability to control your legs. Kickboard basics, xxx M per swim set.

Then with a snorkel I would start to integrate some small strokes. When you spear you need to be loading up your kick leg, heel at surface. Therefore when you pull, the leg on same side downstrokes, to offset the force of the pull. Takes time.

When you are co-ordinated, or actually can execute the FS stroke, then start to work on other stuff.

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Re: Critique my swim videos [JoelO] [ In reply to ]
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So I spent my time in the pool over the last 2 weeks basically working on the feedback, and can feel more soreness in my lats and deltoids so maybe there is some hope that my stroke is evolving.

That being sad, I took advantage of the pool adding some clarifier and did a few more videos.
To my eye (after watching a bunch of how to videos), it looks like my left elbow (w/ the watch) is still dropping.
I could have sworn that I was getting it up, but evidently not. Maybe I'm rotating the shoulder down towards the bottom of the pool too much, so it is impossible to keep the elbow up?

Also, I don't think I am extending too much on the reach, and maybe the head it too deep?



Cheers,
Sam
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Re: Critique my swim videos [SPBaldwin] [ In reply to ]
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Ok, hoping someone can shred my cred. Err, critique my swim vid . 1st attempt.

About me: not quite AOS. Learned the fundamentals on youth swim team, but probably quit by age 13.
Haven't really done much swimming in last 34yrs or so. Was a cyclist instead.
Started tri on a lark last summer. Couldn't swim more than 1 length of pool, freestyle.
Improved a fair bit since then. My goal for 2017 is to be better than MOP in the water.

Currenlty have weak kick --> started w/ no kick. Trying to work on ankle flexibility.
Things I see: head too high in the water. Left elbow height is ok, decent drive fwd with left to get a good catch.
But right elbow is low and no drive at all. Right arm just sorta goes fwd like a pontoon.

Thanks -


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Re: Critique my swim videos [alexkeoni] [ In reply to ]
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Total newbie to "structured" swimming, did plenty of paddling as a kid, but took up some triathlon training towards the end of last summer and did a couple of sprint tris. Very much fit the definition of adult onset swimmer. Really enjoying swimming in one way, but the grind it out attitude I can use for running and biking not paying off so getting frustrating at times now.


I'm just about a 2:00/100m swimmer over about 1,000m, but definitely feel like I need a lot more technique and finesse to progress. First time on video today so interesting seeing how much I'm rolling and haven't started the guppy plans yet, but that's my next step.





First simple self diagnosis at the moment is too much movement when breathing left/right. Would love some feedback about what and where to focus.



Last edited by: philreynolds: Mar 9, 17 10:51
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Re: Critique my swim videos [Slowman] [ In reply to ]
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o Feel free to insult me, I won't get offended

I should be able to post the side view shortly














Last edited by: paolo.s: Dec 24, 17 10:29
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Re: Critique my swim videos [paolo.s] [ In reply to ]
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Looks pretty good from the top to me, but of course underwater is where all the magic(or disaster) happens...(-;
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Re: Critique my swim videos [paolo.s] [ In reply to ]
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hard to tell, but you might be fishtailing a bit? otherwise, not a lot jumps out at me

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Re: Critique my swim videos [SPBaldwin] [ In reply to ]
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Your left arm and should seem to drop and pulls wider than the right. Watch the rear view when you are going away from the camera, your legs and butt are low in the water. You need to kick smaller.

___________________________________________
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http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cerebral_palsy
Canadian Record Holder 35-39M & 40-44M - 200 m Butterfly (LCM)
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Re: Critique my swim videos [realAB] [ In reply to ]
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thanks
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Re: Critique my swim videos [philreynolds] [ In reply to ]
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PR: your rotation only happens in the shoulders, the hips should be in line or even preferably be leading the rotation. The kick looks too big to me. Elbows a bit higher and less pull under the body on the left.
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Re: Critique my swim videos [Slowman] [ In reply to ]
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Here goes

https://www.dropbox.com/s/911lv5xfxabiwhw/GOPR7921.MP4?dl=0




I think I recognise a lot of stuff said to people above, notably the need to drive with the hips rather than just drag the lower body along, and to work on EVF.

I'm interested in peoples' thoughts on Jodie Swallow's stroke, which I've always liked for its rhythm (and the fact that she is often first out of the water : ) It seems to me like she deviates quite a lot from the Hackett style often referred to above, and doesn't seem to have much of an EVF at all. Ive certainly found a punchier stroke rate works better in OW

<iframe width="560" height="315" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/hiNkAMU8syI" frameborder="0" gesture="media" allow="encrypted-media" allowfullscreen></iframe>
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Re: Critique my swim videos [realAB] [ In reply to ]
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mate I've got nothing to say except that your fly leg is beautiful to watch - so rhythmical and powerful. would love to swim like that
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Re: Critique my swim videos [Slowman] [ In reply to ]
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Any comments welcome: and same video as my other thread:

Thank you:
https://www.dropbox.com/s/1gwa9tgemxcdcc7/IMG_0138.mp4?dl=0
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Re: Critique my swim videos [Zippy303] [ In reply to ]
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i have nothing to teach you. no doubt others might. but your technique is beyond the limit of my ability to find fault. a lot of readers on this forum would trade their swim technique for yours.


Dan Empfield
aka Slowman
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Re: Critique my swim videos [Slowman] [ In reply to ]
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Thank you Dan.
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Re: Critique my swim videos [Zippy303] [ In reply to ]
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I'm wondering if I actually watch that long enough, if my brain might absorb something by osmosis... beautiful, something to aspire to. Thanks for sharing.

http://must-be-half-crazy.blogspot.ca/
Supported by: Britannia Chiropractic Clinic | Legacy Team Nuun 2018
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Re: Critique my swim videos [Zippy303] [ In reply to ]
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1. Drop your head to neutral--it's likely your elevated head position is exerting a constant sinking pressure all the way down your body line. (You may not notice any sinking because your body's natural response is to kick more, which elevates the legs at great expense. A neutral head is an energy-saving solution. It raises the legs without firing up big muscle groups.) I'm a big advocate of experimenting in a systematic way to determine if an adjustment is helpful, so try this: Swim a few 50 repeats using your normal head position for 6-8 strokes, then gradually allow your head to settle a bit more into the water. (Settle, not dunk.) Swim at least 6-8 strokes at every adjustment so you get a sense for how each change plays out. What do you notice? Are any head positions more comfortable (less strain, less awkward)? Does head position affect your sense of being level/horizontal from front to back? Does it reduce your feeling of drag in the water? Does it affect your sense of workload? Is the urge to kick reduced with a lower head position? Kicking consumes a ton of fuel and provides little propulsive value. You want to be mindful where you spend your energy.
One of the great challenges in coaching is to determine the cause-and-effect relationships among various moving parts. It doesn't take much variance in head position to facilitate a slew of other problems that few would think to trace back to head position. It's generally the first thing I correct in my coaching because it makes others errors simply disappear.
2. Your recovery is elbow-centric and compressed, and is likely creating some shoulder impingement. Think of the exit/recovery as more of a 'swing' than a 'lift.' If you lift your elbow to raise your hand you'll instantly feel how that locks up the shoulder. As your stroke is about to exit the water there should be a slight outward flare, which will open the recovery and allow for easier, smoother and quicker movement. Zipper-type drills, where you drag the thumb close to the body and focus on high elbows, are uniquely awful and useless, as you merely practice putting body parts in places where they don't belong while forcing joints into unnatural movements that cause injury. I wouldn't be surprised to learn that you've done those drills, or had folks advocate you do them. Please don't. Two of the images attached here: One shows Katie Ledecky's left arm as it just exits--not straight back, but slightly angled away from her legs; the other shows how generously wide and open her recovery is, which permits easy flow from back to front at no energy cost. It's not the height of the elbow, it's the open-ness of the recovery.
3. I'm a big advocate of eliminating unnecessary tension where it exists. Tension impedes flow and consumes energy, so we only want to engage when there is a pay off. That's why highly skilled swimmers look like they aren't 'trying.' They try when they need to, and turn muscles off when they don't. You look like you are 'trying,' especially on the right side recovery. What is the LEAST amount of effort and work you can get away with here? It's a recovery move, after all. Your hands also look a little stiff to me. I'd suggest a few trials like the head position experiment, working your way from tight hands to progressively softer ones. Limp obviously won't cut it, but most people are far more tense than is helpful. As soon as your hand tightens, tension will radiate up your arm and into your shoulders and neck. There's almost nothing humans do where the advice would be "make sure you have tight hands." Bonus image of Nathan Adrian's comfortably spread fingers (2012 Olympic champ / 100 free.)
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Re: Critique my swim videos [StrokeDoctor] [ In reply to ]
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Wow and thanks for such a thoughtful post.

1. Head: yes after the other comment my head looked high, I lowered it and felt my hips come up and float a bit more easily. Great tip. For pool swimming that will work great but not sure how in an open water race when you are always siting that will work but any progress here is great.

2. The elbow recovery, ok what I am hearing is my elbows are too high and I should take my hands away from my quads and 'swing' them around versus 'lifting' them up and over. Will give it a try.

3. Lastly limp wrists, will try that as well. I have tried the spread finger thing before but never felt natural.

Thank you again.
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Re: Critique my swim videos [Zippy303] [ In reply to ]
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I'll chime in with a drill that, in my experience both teaching/coaching, and cleaning up my own stroke when I've spent time away from the water.

The drill is the "catch-up" drill. You simply leave your hand in the catch phase (straight out in front of you) until your other hand comes around and touches it (catches up to it) before you take the next stroke. You have to kick - hard - because you start to sink while your hand is out there waiting for the other one to catch up.

As long as you're not crossing you hand over the center line of your body, it seems to sort out many many evils. I'm not even sure why it's so effective, but it is.

It's a hard drill, it feels terrible, but when you stop and then swim normally, you'll notice almost immediate improvement. My theory is that it's forcing you to align your kicking with your stroke timing - because you simply have no choice. Rather like riding a fixed-gear - it's forcing proper muscle group recruitment timing whether you like it or not.
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Re: Critique my swim videos [Slowman] [ In reply to ]
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Slowman wrote:
i have nothing to teach you. no doubt others might. but your technique is beyond the limit of my ability to find fault. a lot of readers on this forum would trade their swim technique for yours.


That is a phenomenal post on many levels. As always, it is kind, insightful, and humble, and that's why we love you.

It is also a brilliantly succinct example of the limitations of a corrective approach. "I can't identify a flaw, so I cant help you." is the essence of it, when "I won't identify a flaw, so I can help you." is a better place to begin, especially with a stroke that is as classically "good looking" as this one. It's nice to look nice, but if he's not busting out some seriously quick swimming from that pretty stroke, there is room for improvement.

First, I am curious what that stroke looks like in the last 50 of an all out 200/500/1000 time trial. Second, the feet don't seem to be doing much, and there is very little opportunity to evaluate kick timing. Third, until a process driven by passive fundamental development is undertaken, we don't know where this might end up. It's a very real possibility that both 'uglier' and faster are the result.

Going nowhere in the pool? We can help.



Last edited by: FindinFreestyle: Jan 3, 18 13:15
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Re: Critique my swim videos [Zippy303] [ In reply to ]
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I'm happy to help, and appreciate what a complex puzzle this swimming thing is. Over the arc of my coaching career (almost 40 years) I've had to abandon nearly everything I used to 'know' to be true.

With regard to my suggestion with your hands--you just want there to be light separation between the fingers, not purposely spread 'jazz hands.' In some ways it's like figuring out how tightly to hold a baseball bat or golf club (two things I am horrible at): too loose and nothing happens, too tight and speed, power and accuracy suffer. The tension in your hands will (and should) fluctuate during various phases of the stroke--firming up as you establish a decent catch, releasing as you exit and recover. I think the human default is 'too tight,' just as it is for nearly everyone who picks up a golf club for the first time. For what it's worth, I think "feel for the water" really means "understanding how much force to exert, and when." It's not about brute strength as much as it is selecting the most effective pressure to promote forward movement with minimal slippage. Kind of like walking on an icy surface in sneakers: apply too much force and you lose traction/slip; apply too little and you don't advance at all.

Here's another point you may want to consider. I don't recall seeing underwater video of your stroke, so I don't know if this specifically applies to you, but it's something most people could improve: As you extend forward below the surface, how deep is your wrist at peak extension? As you reach forward with, say, your right arm, the right side of your body also rolls deeper into the water, which makes the right shoulder dip maybe 8-10 inches below the surface. Because we never want your wrist to be shallower/nearer to the surface than your shoulder, your wrist should also be at least that deep, and likely 1-4 inches deeper. In other words, your wrist should probably extend forward about 12-14 inches below the surface.

I've attempted to add images but for some reason mine just show up as links at the end of the post rather than embedded like so many others here. Sigh.

In the side view image you can see the wrist is a slight slope down from the shoulder/elbow. In the head on view the swimmer is purposely sneaking a look forward to confirm the orientation out front--she was observing a slight downhill slope to her wrist. The 'uphill' image shows what NOT to do--direct the wrist to a location shallower than the shoulder. Experimenting with this aspect of your mechanics can improve your horizontal balance and rotation, set up a better 'pre-catch' phase, and reduce strain on your shoulders/deltoids. It's a fairly simple thing to play with, and I find it inexplicable that so few swimmers (and coaches) seem to bother with it despite how clearly the orientation out front impacts what happens next.

But don't take my word for it ("because I said so" is a terrible answer to pretty much everything.) Run experiments as suggested in my earlier post, only work through a range of options in the front of your stroke from very shallow, maybe 1-2 inches below the surface, to increasingly deeper end points--6", 10", 14", etc. Again, perform enough strokes at every option so you can process how each choice plays out. I don't think I've run across a swimmer yet who runs that test and proclaims 'shallow' as a good option. It is almost universally the worst one.

Sorry if my posts are overly long--I'm an old timer accustomed to things like books, and complete sentences.
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Re: Critique my swim videos [Zippy303] [ In reply to ]
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I hesitate to chime in when users named FindingFreestyle and StrokeDoctor have commented extensively, but...

It would appear that your hand has too much side-to-side motion during your pull. I think the current view is that the hand should trace as straight a line (viewed from above and relative to the pool, not your body) as possible from hand entry (in front of the shoulder, not the head as you seem to do a bit) to hand exit. The old S-stroke is no longer.

I recall finding an overhead view of Sun Yang in some championship, and his hand draws a perfectly straight line. Any sideways motion is wasted effort. (edit: here's a good example. Check out slow motion at 1:30)

Your stroke looks good from that limited view. You might want to stop trying to avoid hurting the water on hand entry: pick up the recovery arm speed and get that hand back into the water!

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Last edited by: klehner: Jan 3, 18 14:08
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