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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.

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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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