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!
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