Swimming Low

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nik.taylor
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Joined: Fri Sep 26, 2014 3:26 am

Swimming Low

Postby nik.taylor » Fri Sep 26, 2014 3:33 am

Hi, I'm new to these forums so I hope i don't break protocol. I've been swimming for about a year and I use an underwater camera to try and improve my stroke. I've been noticing recently that i swim at an upward angle. I've tried the last few times to swim flat but when i manage to do it, i swim about 4-6 inches below the surface. I look nothing like all the good swimmers on YouTube that are almost at the surface. If i get in the pool and don't have a full breath i just sink to the bottom so it doesn't surprise me that i swim pretty low. However, this causes me huge issue breathing as i'm not a giraffe and my neck isn't long enough to breath when i'm flat! I seem to always break form when i breath because i need to reach my whole body up to the surface and my hips sink. It's driving me nuts and the only way i can seem to maintain good form is using a front snorkel and even then i manage to fill that up once in a while. Any help is greatly appreciated.

Don Wright
Posts: 1291
Joined: Sat Nov 27, 2010 11:06 pm

Re: Swimming Low

Postby Don Wright » Fri Sep 26, 2014 7:20 am

Hi Nik!

Commiserations! A ghastly video of my efforts over a year ago showed me swimming at a low angle - basically dragging my legs through the water. Was recommended to try wearing buoyancy shorts (by Zone 3) to help elevate body position, and they are a great help. Without them, if I do a vertical float in deep water, with arms at sides, and looking upwards - my face doesn't break the surface 'cos there are a couple of inches of water over my head (i.e. below average buoyancy!). Wearing them causes my face to break the surface, and I can snatch a breath during the vertical float.

Even with the B.S., I had occasional trouble with a front snorkel filling up - that was my fault in making a bad choice of design which had too much bend back over the top of the head when in-situ, a *Finis freestylers front snorkel" - there is another style aimed at beginners, that would have been better having a tube pointing more towards the ceiling than backwards when worn in the pool. In any case, I abandoned the use of a snorkel 'cos couldn't inhale quicker enough for my liking through the narrow tubing, 'cos I wanted to keep to my "non-snorkel" breathing pattern despite keeping the head in a fixed attitude (inhaling quickly during the up-sweep of the stroking arm on a preferred side).

Think a positive effective flutter kick can help get those "sinky legs" up closer to the surface (I won't prattle on about overcoming deficiencies in the flexible ankles/feet dept here in this post!). A gentle "pitter-patter" waving of the legs up/down isn't going to do much to keep the legs up, but at the same time can't afford to expend too much energy on the kick and they are not as effective for propulsion as good arm action.

Can honestly say that I very seldom get a mouthful of water instead of air now, when inhaling swimming front crawl - with unilateral (every 2 arm strokes) or bilateral (every 3 arm strokes) breathing. So am confident you will be able to avoid the "giraffe neck" problem. There are ways to help such problems by correct posture and little "tricks" which can be a help. One of the most important of these when swimming front crawl, is to endeavour to keep your head at a constant level no matter how the rest of your body is rolling around. That's easy to do when doing "head-down" arm strokes, but get's suspended a bit when you turn your neck to inhale. (I try to visualize this, as if my head is floating partly submerged at the surface - it helps in focussing on the position of the head!).

Another "trick" recommended by SS is to keep your lead arm extended horizontal ram-rod straight - from shoulder down to finger tips, spearing ahead for good streamlining - after it enters the water after recovery, for "support" on the arm stroke during which you are about to inhale. But aim to start your lead arm down gently to a "catch" either just after you start an arm recovery, - or later when more proficient, just as the hand of your stroking arm reaches your hip - failure to do this will introduce a glide into the arm action where the only propulsion comes from the leg action.

Get that lead arm down to a decent backward-facing catch (upper arm about 20 degrees below surface, elbow bent so that forearm is at least 45 degrees below surface, and palm of hand pointing down to bottom). Roll towards your stroking arm a bit, to enable your recovering arm on the other side to clear the water, and start your "pull" with the stroking arm. As you do your pull begin to turn your neck/head in preparation to inhale, even though your face may be underwater at this time.

When your stroking arm arm is pointing approx to the bottom, roll away from that arm so that as it comes up to the surface during the "push", your hip is out of the way of the up-sweeping arm. That is probably the potentially most powerful part of the UW arm stroke and should provide sufficient "lift", together with the body roll away from the arm, to enable your mouth to clear the surface for a quick suck-in of fresh air.

Write the "body roll mantra" for front crawl on your heart - "Roll towards the stroking arm as it goes down into the water, and roll away from the stroking arm as it comes up to the surface" (Maglischo's advice!).

SS tell us to exhale steadily, without forcing things (although exhaling into water is not as easy as into air!) all the time your face is in the water - but you need to make the inhalation a quick snatch of fresh air. After snatching your fresh air, get your head back quickly into it's neutral position - otherwise your lead arm can get up to all sorts of bad action while your head is turned away inhaling!

Bye / Don

smootharnie
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Re: Swimming Low

Postby smootharnie » Fri Sep 26, 2014 9:21 am

its a difficult problem.
If you have good technique and a lot of swimming fitness you can finally swim pretty comfortable as a low rider, but how to achieve this?

There are a few solutions to get the mouth to the water level.
- swim with perfect technique. But if you mimic the style of a fast, normally buoyant swimmer at a lower speed, being less buoyant, your mouth is an inch lower, sucking up water.
So even with good technique, you have to find a solution to bring the mouth higher.
Look at Cullen Jones here. He is not very buoyant.
Without the sprinting speed and without support from the arms in front its impossible for him to take a breath and stay horizontal + pencil straight.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QH5HA9BiTBc. Freeze at 1.20 min.
If an olympic swimmer looks out of line while breathing , its certainly not easy for a sinky beginner to stay streamlined while breathing.
What to do?

- Rotate more Doesnt work. Mouth is rotated a bit higher, but head position on itselfs rides lower because body is rotated with the wide side to the surface, letting the spine(and head) sink relatively to the water surface.
Better to not exceed 45 degrees rotation angle.

- swim at an upward angle.
Keeping the extended arn stable up front while breathing.
Works, but is a mild version of pushing down at the front. The arm damps the sinking movement while you rotate into the sinking arm. This damps also the sinking of the head, so if you breath early and fast it helps.
If you keep the arms in a good downward angle while your body falls in the catching arn, you also get some forward and upward force from the semi extended arm. This works pretty well at higher stroke rates.
But its all goes together with pushing up at the front.

- Raise the whole body higher.
Use some floatation to help and build swimming fitness with these aids. Gradually decrease floatation aid when swimming fitness increases.
Or, pushing the body up at the front, but also at the back by kicking.

- Keeping the body riding at the same average height, but adding undulation in the stroke.
I think this might be the most efficient compromise for low riders. An undulationg movement causes less drag than moving an downward angled body through the water, and less power than lifting the whole body up.
Just look at youtube to swimmers who set important world records.
There is not one with a perfect symmetric stroke.
- The body roll is asymmetric
- They are loping more or less.
They probably don't do it to get to air, but a sinky swimmer can use the undulation to breathe when the heads comes up at the top of the body wave.
If the worlds best are using it , it can't be that bad for efficiency.

buoyancy use
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JBS-Kh1vqxw

some examples
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A4GcsRk4kMk
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Era0VAIUATw
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AJNIjU2VzCI

This not an official swim smooth opinion.

I believe we have discussed this earlier, And if I remember well Don doesnt thinks its a good idea, but I don't remember why anymore. So Don, you did some experimenting?
GO to the new swimforum, called ....... THE SWIM FORUM......swim.palstani.com

nik.taylor
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Joined: Fri Sep 26, 2014 3:26 am

Re: Swimming Low

Postby nik.taylor » Fri Sep 26, 2014 2:46 pm

Thanks very much everyone. This is great stuff. I shall start to practice in the pool this weekend.

Don Wright
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Joined: Sat Nov 27, 2010 11:06 pm

Re: Swimming Low

Postby Don Wright » Sat Sep 27, 2014 7:33 am

Hi "smootharnie" and Nik!

@Nik - play the "Loper Drill" clip I've included below - but in my opinion, forget about introducing any explicit torso undulation, just copy the style shown in the clip and it may help to get your mouth up above the water line! I know the demo chap was using fins, but if you allow a bit of knee bend in your kick, throwing the thigh forward from the hip to start a kick downbeat, but leaving the knee joint relaxed (this will cause your relaxed lower leg/foot to be drawn forwards slightly against the direction of motion, but the foot will initially be at a better angle of attack - more horizontal - ready for the next action!), then drive the thigh back up to the surface as you simultaneously flick the lower leg/foot down strongly. This leg action ends with the knee being straightened as the thigh drives back up to the surface, and of necessity ( :lol: ) the lower leg/foot is also drawn up to the surface - ending up with a straight leg at the surface at the conclusion of the kick upbeat. Think you may find your relaxed feet act a bit like paddles or mini-fins, giving your legs a bit of "uplift" nearer the surface with this style of kicking! IMO the SS recommended straight leg flutter kicking style is not the ideal for those with stiff ankles/non-flappy feet, or as may be in your case, low buoyancy with low-lying legs. The out-of-phase movement of thigh and lower leg provide a sort of "rolling" action to the kick, which is in fact an undulation - if you examine slow-mo clips of elites, I think you will see this "rolling" action of the upper/lower legs. See my comment to "smootharnie" below, about the progressive movement of body parts pushing water backwards.


smootharnie wrote:...Keeping the body riding at the same average height, but adding undulation in the stroke.
I think this might be the most efficient compromise for low riders. An undulationg movement causes less drag than moving an downward angled body through the water, and less power than lifting the whole body up.
Just look at youtube to swimmers who set important world records.
There is not one with a perfect symmetric stroke.
- The body roll is asymmetric
- They are loping more or less.
They probably don't do it to get to air, but a sinky swimmer can use the undulation to breathe when the heads comes up at the top of the body wave.
If the worlds best are using it , it can't be that bad for efficiency.

buoyancy use
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JBS-Kh1vqxw

some examples
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A4GcsRk4kMk
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Era0VAIUATw
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AJNIjU2VzCI

This not an official swim smooth opinion.

I believe we have discussed this earlier, And if I remember well Don doesnt thinks its a good idea, but I don't remember why anymore. So Don, you did some experimenting?


@"smootharnie" - Yes! :P

"cottmiler" started it off with his topic "Loper Drill" (May 26, 2012) in which he gave us the link which I include below for us to do a comparison with the one arm fly drill you have pointed to in your above post : -

http://www.goswim.tv/entries/5398/frees ... drill.html

... and my later misgivings over it, are mentioned in my post in your topic "Bounce and roll" (Feb 15, 2014).


It might be a "viable" avenue for Nik to explore. Driving the head vigorously down into the water is bound to be followed - because of buoyancy in the chest - by the upper torso bobbing back up to the surface, in time for an inhalation if needed!

You can see how the lass in the 1-arm fly clip is really doing a vigorous head nod into the water to start each undulation - and that is where I saw a "tie-up" with the blokes doing the Loper Drill, doing a mini-dive forward to get the head under the surface.

The reason I don't think copying the 1-arm fly action too closely would be very be useful to Nik, is that the actual rise of the head occurs during the strong arm upsweep to the surface, aided by the effect of the held-close-together legs in 1-arm fly, pressing back and downwards as the lower legs flick down. But there is not so much lift if only one leg at a time (flutter kicking) is pressing back/down. Frankly, I found it very difficult to flutter kick while undulating - but maybe that's just me! It ended up with each leg feebly/vaguely moving up/down within a short range towards the end of each undulation upbeat - and as I said in my post to your old topic - there didn't seem to be any clear-cut kick downbeat (which in fly, with the 2 legs together, gives a darn good push!).

Have of late been pondering the resemblance of a back crawl kick upbeat (which is the most propulsive leg action for that stroke), to the fly stroke major kick upbeat (which we endeavor to make as propulsive as the fly major kick downbeat). The "rolling" action of the back crawl flutter kick upbeat has a thigh moving upwards towards the surface, with the lower leg trailing a bit behind, then as the thigh comes to the surface the lower leg flicks forward to complete the kick upbeat. So thigh and lower leg are effectively performing an undulation, pushing water backwards in a progressive movement. This is very much what we are trying to achieve with a fly major kick upbeat, the head nods into the water to start a ripple through the rest of the body - progressively pushing water backwards!

Wot a lot of old rubbish I've written above :roll: After playing through the "Loper Drill" clip a couple of times, I think if Nik just copies the action it may well help get his mouth above the water line without fussing about any undulation!!!

Bye / Don :geek:

nik.taylor
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Re: Swimming Low

Postby nik.taylor » Mon Sep 29, 2014 4:16 pm

Unfortunately, the space ran out on my underwater camera after 4 laps but wow, what a difference it seems to make. I swim mostly flat and about 4 inches under the surface on the 'glide' section and pop up nicely for the breath. It seems to take more energy, i guess because i'm pushing myself around more but I also dropped form 2:00 100/yd to 1:47 which is nice side effect. I'll try and concentrate on this some more and see if i can build up some endurance and see how it goes. Thanks guys and gals, this is exciting stuff.

smootharnie
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Joined: Sat Sep 22, 2012 11:56 am

Re: Swimming Low

Postby smootharnie » Mon Sep 29, 2014 10:13 pm

???? dont understand what you are doing...

@ Don
from less to more efficient perhaps bouncing- loping -undulating?
I guess loping is the best combination of undulating and rolling in Niks case.
I see Janet Evans and Lotte Friis stroke also as a one body side undulation. A sort of helical undulation.
If you imagine a ball of water, its driven down and backwards all the way from arm entry to leg whip at the end.
It looks like one side of the body is body surfing downwards.
The man in white coats are not really valuing this side of the stroke enough possibly. I think her stroke looks beautiful and aquatic from underwater.
http://coachsci.sdsu.edu/swim/champion/lf133015.htm

This style is very personal, the Katie lLedecky, Phelps, vd Hoogenband style is a more general type of stroke.
Last edited by smootharnie on Mon Sep 29, 2014 10:24 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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nik.taylor
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Re: Swimming Low

Postby nik.taylor » Mon Sep 29, 2014 10:22 pm

I'm trying to put the 'lope' into my normal stroke. As such, I swim something like the loping drill but without kicking on the side. It's effectively the same as i used to swim but now i push forward and down after a breath, catch, pull, then as i start to rise again, it's time to breath again. I now breath every other stroke on the same side. It's very much like LOTTE FRIIS in the web page you posted.

smootharnie
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Re: Swimming Low

Postby smootharnie » Mon Sep 29, 2014 10:33 pm

It happened to me more or less automatic when I did the beginners one arm drill, but added an arm pull at the normally all-the-time extended arm.
Roll angle and arm pull are rather asymmetric doing this and you fall in a loping rhythm rather easy.

Janet Evans was very extreme and a bit too much to copy, but all the other world class swimmers can't all be wrong.
Just keep playing with it, but try not to overdo it. Just enough to get to air while still keeping the head pointing forward instead of up.
GO to the new swimforum, called ....... THE SWIM FORUM......swim.palstani.com

Don Wright
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Re: Swimming Low

Postby Don Wright » Mon Sep 29, 2014 11:00 pm

Been doing something like the "Loper Drill" for a long time (just one of my 4 lap variants of arm/leg action styles) - without pushing my head under the water, but kicking strongly with arm on breathing side outstretched and rear arm having elbow poking out of the water , as I "glide" - apart from leg action - almost on my side (I used to sneer at the TI suggestion that one can move quicker through the water when on the side - but there seems to be something to it!). The reason I started doing that style was to get more time for exhalation (which is necessary for me), but like an ex-cap'n of a USA swim team once said -"Make every arm drill a kicking exercise as well!". The "on-the-side-phase" ends suddenly as I recover the rear arm by the hip, and do an EVF catch with the lead arm, and follow it through to inhale on that arm's up-sweep to the surface. I hasten to add, the 4 laps with this described style which I use as my front crawl start "set" is the only one I use with a glide - can't be a naughty lad for long :)

cottmiler
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Re: Swimming Low

Postby cottmiler » Tue Sep 30, 2014 6:42 am

Thanks Don for reminding me of the "Loping Drill".

I find that it helps with Unco especially since I use a strong leg kick in correct timing with the arm action. Admittedly better on one side than the other but I have only done 18.2 km total of Unco so far. Practice will make perfect in due course.
cottmiler is also on swim.palstani.com

nik.taylor
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Re: Swimming Low

Postby nik.taylor » Wed Nov 09, 2016 5:13 pm

I wanted to re-visit this thread and provide some feedback. I tried a lot of the tricks / skills and they gave me some benefit. I got down to swimming around a 1:52 / 100m split for a mile (I dont tumble turn to make sure I swim more per length). I decided to just go ahead and buy the Zone 3 buoyancy shorts and try them out. Well, the next session I went straight to a 1:46 split for the mile without changing anything. Now when I turn my head there is air, instead of water. It makes a huge difference. I recommend anyone having an issue with this to try out the shorts. Life changing!

The Dodo
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Re: Swimming Low

Postby The Dodo » Thu Nov 10, 2016 9:51 am

nik.taylor wrote:I wanted to re-visit this thread and provide some feedback. I tried a lot of the tricks / skills and they gave me some benefit. I got down to swimming around a 1:52 / 100m split for a mile (I dont tumble turn to make sure I swim more per length). I decided to just go ahead and buy the Zone 3 buoyancy shorts and try them out. Well, the next session I went straight to a 1:46 split for the mile without changing anything. Now when I turn my head there is air, instead of water. It makes a huge difference. I recommend anyone having an issue with this to try out the shorts. Life changing!


Hi Nik

Have had to re-register under a new username - but I posted here on this thread before! Glad you found the BS provided a world of difference. The problem with low-lying legs, as you know from bitter experience, is that when (trying to keep the head in line with the spine) you turn the neck to inhale in freestyle - without contorting the neck, it is more difficult to get the mouth clear of the water line. I got a "fright" or "wake-up-call" when I moved from a sloping floored pool (max depth 6-7 ft) to a more shallow uniform depth pool (probably about 4 ft deep) when trying fly stroke. Swimming that, the body is at its lowest slope relative to the surface as the legs complete the downbeat of the major kick, as the arms complete their up-sweeps and exit the water for recovery. To my horror - on a couple of occasions, could feel my toes bang against the shallow floor - so my torso and extended legs must have been at very low angle to the surface indeed!

If you notice how low most "head above the water all the time" breast strokers legs lie as they swim - often some 45 degrees below the surface - it is small wonder that reducing the drag of the low-lying legs can make an enormous difference to the rate of movement. If I correctly recall the video clip of me trying to do freestyle without the BS - my torso/legs must have been about 15 degrees below the surface at the time (a situation made worse by the fact I have below average buoyancy anyway). Think the general rule in swimming, is to endeavour to swim in the surface. More on that below *, and to make the most of every opportunity when moving the arms, legs, or feet to exert a bit of effort when those body parts are backward-facing! That means concentrating on an effective freestyle catch, and efficient pull and pull phases. I have come to like "swishing" the stroking arm back vigorously during my push phases utilizing the strong body roll away from the stroking arm coming up to the surface, to add a bit more momentum to the push. I expect you use an SS style catch as most freestylers do - but I "went overboard" when I started using an EVF catch, and "swear by that" now.

If you want to move faster over a short distance, I would definitely recommend you try using a more continuous arm action without leaving the lead arm outstretched (said to make balance easier when inhaling) while the legs provide the only propulsion. Maybe I write that because I've never had much propulsion from my flutter kicking, so am more of a "front-end" swimmer! My stroking arm gently drops to an EVF catch, very near the time the rear arm is exitting the water for recovery. As the hand of the recovering arm comes level with my head, my stroking arm is already into it's pull phase. (I don't know whether or not, it's due to keeping the head in line with the torso all the time, or due to moving a bit faster - but balance problems seem to disappear, except when I do 3 arm stroke bilateral on my "less happy" inhalation side - a "kinky neck" problem!) The only muscular rest occurs during the relatively slow drop (compared with the pull/push phases) of the hand/forearm as a fixed unit down to the approx vertical attitude for the catch. I.E. there is a bit of "arm wind-milling" going on!

(*) I wrote earlier that I thought one should swim in the surface, without much up/down movement above/below the surface. However I can think of 2 exceptions to that idea which both involve undulation - this expends energy to raise part of the torso upwards and then let it fall under gravity to provide a little "swoosh" forwards, augmenting momentum! (There will also be a "swoosh" against the direction of motion, but because of already existing momentum forwards, that is partly overcome!) Am thinking of the newer "wave" style of breast stroke swimming, in which at one stage head shoulders and arms appear above the surface (with the hands close together in what looks like a "praying mantis" attitude ;) ) . The other exception is in fly stroke, in torso undulation used in dolphin kicking. From experience, I know that when I used to do underwater body dolphin, the aim in starting each "kick" was to raise in succession each moveable part of the spine upwards (in the old method this was achieved by pressing the outstretched arms down slightly to raise the shoulders, then in turn the shoulder blade area, then the hips etc. When the hips were at the highest point and the legs were coming up higher, and the undulation proceeded on down to the lower legs/feet, the hips fell under gravity and the body got a "swoosh" forwards, causing forward movement!

With fly stroke, most of the energy consuming undulation is UW, with little surface evidence - apart from the heels/feet possibly breaking the surface at the end of the major kick upbeat. But a lot more energy is consumed in driving both arms back up to the surface in the up-sweep, so as to raise the head above the surface for a safe inhalation and get the shoulders/arms above the surface for recovery. I think stats show that ladies have less up/down movement than men when swimming fly - but that could be because, in general the ladies have better buoyancy, and can get an inhalation more safely achieved! Think there is more of a tendency (because of their "top-heavy" greater weight, to plunge a bit deeper than the ladies as the arms enter after fly arm recovery. However that is a tendency that can be overcome - some of maestro Phelps fly video clips show that he leaves his hands up close to the surface for an instant after they enter the water, as his head and upper torso plunge down lower. There is little doubt in my mind that the energetic swinging forwards of the arms in fly recovery has a lot to do with how deep one plunges at arm's water entry. However, some of that may be intentional - a brief "nod" of the head downwards, in order to help initiate a taut/controlled "ripple" along the spine for the major kick upbeat.

I don't know if the wave style breaststrokers find the undulation a bit more energy consuming than a flatter "in the surface all the time" style - but am sure that fly stroke undulation is definitely an energy consuming business!

Back to the business of the BS - I am on my second pair now, the first evidenced stress tears in the crotch area, and I got a replacement from the "Wiggle" website (they specialize in bike/run/swim kit). The first pair were excellent despite the stress splits, but the replacement ones from "Wiggle" were definitely of a lower standard (despite showing the "Zone 3" logo). Very soon after first use, what looked like a bike circular puncture patch placed across the seams of the welded portions on the inside of the crotch area, came adrift leaving a small hole. A good thing I always wear "Speedos" underneath my BS - preserving "decorum"! :)

Bye / Don


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