Blind leading the blind ? Novice teaching learner ...

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ydrol
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Joined: Tue Apr 19, 2016 2:05 pm

Blind leading the blind ? Novice teaching learner ...

Postby ydrol » Tue Apr 19, 2016 2:50 pm

Hi I'm a novice swimmer (can do 18 lengths front crawl slowly - had 6 lessons, watched videos, Mr smooth app, TI, Sun Yang etc).
I'm now teaching my young adult daughter to swim - she's about 5'7" 9st, slim build. - as she wants to be confident in the water on holiday.
Appreciate it could be a case of the blind(me without skill) leading the blind(new swimmer), so I'm very mindful of that, but

After 2 sessions she can now swim on her back. mushroom float, straighten out to initial balance position, and take a few strokes,
- keeping her body straight,
- core engaged
- gentle kicking from hips,
- toes pointed etc.
- looking at 45 degrees
- at least one arm outstreatched ahead at any time.

The next step I thought was rotating to breath, (eg https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rUzsrfvjCMg ) however her head becomes submerged after a few strokes and more so when she turns to breath.
It doesn't look like she is lifting her head. Her whole body sinks fairly quickly as she exhales (legs first)
I think we should postpone breathing and get back to 'balance' with a gentle exhale and taking 4/5 strokes and resting. I think if she exhales to quickly her bouyancy drops away rapidly.

Maybe we need to spend more time on balance and forget breathing right now? Skate position?

Appreciate its hard without a video but any other pointers/ tips on keeping her near the surface.
I think I have to check she is not trying to push down with her hand to get her head up when breathing?
Anything I should specifically look for during our next session?
Or should she take the plunge and get proper lessons from someone qualified !

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

Re: Blind leading the blind ? Novice teaching learner ...

Postby Don Wright » Wed Apr 20, 2016 7:57 am

ydrol wrote:...The next step I thought was rotating to breath ... however her head becomes submerged after a few strokes and more so when she turns to breath.
It doesn't look like she is lifting her head. Her whole body sinks fairly quickly as she exhales (legs first)
I think we should postpone breathing and get back to 'balance' with a gentle exhale and taking 4/5 strokes and resting. I think if she exhales too quickly her bouyancy drops away rapidly...I think I have to check she is not trying to push down with her hand to get her head up when breathing


Several things come to mind, reading your post!

The most important thing is that the down-sweep to "the catch" - (when the forearm is at least 45 degrees below surface, and palm of hand is vertical - so making the subsequent pull phase a "backward-facing" one for the lower arm) - needs to be a gentle action, almost a drop (except that a real drop would take too long!) . It is definitely a non-propulsive action until that "backward-facing" lower arm is achieved. As you know, any pressure downwards during that down-sweep will cause a "see-saw" action about the centre of buoyancy and the legs will tend to sink!

Inhalation should ideally be started during the up-sweep to the surface of the stroking arm - i.e. from the start of the push phase (when the arm is pointing to the bottom) - because that is normally the strongest/longest part of the UW arm stroke - you loose a bit of range in the pull phase due to getting the arm down to a catch!. Inhalation should be finished as the hand of the recovering arm swings past the head. Inhalation should be a quick suck-in of fresh air, and exhalation a much slower steady process (although some prefer an explosive exhalation).

The up-sweep to the surface is the time to start the inhalation, which can be achieved by appropriate body roll (use the mantra "Roll towards the arm going down into the water, and away from the arm coming up to the surface!"). It should then be possible to get the mouth clear of the water by a further slight turn of the neck - without any lifting of the head at all!!! Initially, until confident, by doing an exaggerated body roll aim to look above the pool deck side while inhaling (not towards the ceiling ;) ) - then when more confident look across the water surface during an inhalation and reduce the amount the body roll to achieve that. Always try to keep the head in-line with the spine (without lifting it above the surface) and get the mouth clear of the water by just sufficient body roll, aided by a slight neck turn. When not inhaling, the head needs to be kept in a "neutral" position, looking down and forwards slightly to see perhaps a few metres ahead/

If inhalation is still a problem after trying the above - then try the idea of "Pressing the 'T'" (or "Pressing the buoy"). On the arm stroke during which inhalation is required - as the recovered arm enters the water, quickly nod the head towards the bottom of the pool (as if heading a soft football!) - that will raise the legs higher in the water and set up a buoyancy reaction which will make inhalation easier a moment later. Pushing the head down a bit, also involves the top part of the buoyant chest area being pushed down - hence the upward reaction!
Last edited by Don Wright on Thu Apr 21, 2016 7:27 am, edited 1 time in total.

ydrol
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Joined: Tue Apr 19, 2016 2:05 pm

Re: Blind leading the blind ? Novice teaching learner ...

Postby ydrol » Wed Apr 20, 2016 8:49 am

Thanks for the response. I'll look just before the catch more carefully. Also we have been starting from stationary float, so maybe push/glide start may help a bit?

Sprinter
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Location: United Kingdom

Re: Blind leading the blind ? Novice teaching learner ...

Postby Sprinter » Wed Apr 20, 2016 7:48 pm

Or should she take the plunge and get proper lessons from someone qualified !


I would strongly recommend that. Perhaps at the holiday place?

In my experience, beginners seem to have often very strong preconceived ideas, while likely not being able to see the wood for the trees; the fight is too close to home.

On the other hand, apparently you like the teaching, which is understandable; perhaps a combined approach is possible?

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

Re: Blind leading the blind ? Novice teaching learner ...

Postby Don Wright » Wed Apr 20, 2016 8:43 pm

Ji "ydrol"!

Regarding my comment about "Pressing the Buoy" to get the legs up a bit higher and making inhalation a bit easier.

For sometime I have had doubts about the efficacy of the buoyancy shorts I wear over my "speedos". Am on my 2nd pair since I was recommended to wear them by a coach some 5 or 6 years ago, because I was dragging my legs along some 30 degrees below the surface and inhalation was difficult because of my much below average buoyancy. With the first pair, on climbing down the ladder into the pool shallow end (no dive-ins for me!) it always felt that the buoyancy in the "Zone 3" shorts would sweep me off my feet - but sadly after a couple of years they developed tears around the crotch area - so had to buy new ones. From the start, I didnt feel that "sweeping off the feet" sensation as I went down steps into the water - and after a year or so of use, they are showing signs of wear in the same area. I used to spend 1/2 my session wearing the BS, and then shed them (for just the "speedos") for my remaining time - so that I didn't get too reliant on the buoyancy of the shorts.

However, today I determined to try swimming without them - for the first time in 2 years - wish I hadn't :( . From the start, my legs must have been some 30 degrees below the surface of the uniform depth pool (about 4.5 ft). On a couple of occasions doing my first freestyle length, I felt my toes touching the bottom at the end of kick downbeats. Given that I am 5' 4" in height (a "shorty"!) and my legs probably at that 30 degree slope downwards, my heels must have been about 2 ft above the floor - so no wonder my toes sometimes touched the floor as I kicked down!

From that moment, I decided to switch to the "Pressing the buoy" method. I soon found that it is not necessary to nod the head down into the water to raise the legs - it is sufficient to just press the head/neck/shoulders a few inches lower than normal into the water, as each arm enters the water! Inhalation was a bit easier than my first length effort. but it still felt that I was dragging my legs a bit!

I use the "head nod into the water" business, when I do butterfly drills, because that action initiates an upward undulation of the spine and rest of body (bringing the feet up close to the surface). I also use that "head nod" for a GoSwim "mixed drill", which involves freestyle arm action, but dolphin kicking with both legs together.

Freestyle flutter kicking is an important subject - and often done badly be beginners. The trouble is that kicking consumes a lot of energy relative to it's payoff in propulsion, compared with the arm action - which is able to present effective backward-facing arm surface areas for propulsive pulling/pushing.

We are told to "kick from the hips", and certainly in my case I didn't grasp that idea properly for a very long while. I have only comparatively recently got a better understanding of what that means!

However for a beginner the simple approach is to advise a swimmer to give a sharp'ish kick with the leg on the opposite side to the arm entering the water. That will raise the hip on the opposite side to the entering arm, which will tilt the body towards the arm going down into the water - which accords with the body roll mantra (highlighted in blue in my first post). So effectively this is a simple introduction to 2-beat kicking (2 kicks downwards for each complete stroke cycle) - and this is the most economical style of kicking used by many long-distance swimmers. That kick down in freestyle is the most propulsive (and the kick upwards the most propulsive in backstroke) - helps cancel the "pushing drag" due to the sudden entry of the arm into the water.

Relative disposition of the 2 arms in free style! - At water entry, the new lead arm is kept (perfectly straight ,no bending at wrist or elbow) outstretched after sliding it into the water and extending it - until any inhalation required has finished), so as to provide balance. IMO there is no real need to keep the lead arm outstretched for any longer, because that vitally necessary inhalation may have been completed! So, as the hand of the recovering rear arm flashes past the head and any inhalation ought to have terminated (the body beginning to roll towards that recovering arm about to enter the water) - the lead arm can then be gently dropped down to the catch.

There is a lot of variation in just when the lead arm drops down to the catch - if it is delayed until the rear arm is about to make it's water entry - we call it a "catch-up" arm action, for obvious reasons! Some sprinters may start the lead arm descent to the catch very soon after the rear arm starts recovery - this can be quite tiring since the arms get very little rest - but it may increase the speed, as long as there is not water flow conflict under the body, with the lead arm starting to pull while the rear arm is still pushing! The recommended arm disposition is "spelled out" in the concept of FQS (Front Quadrant Swimming).

Kicking from the hips involves initiating each kick downbeat by pushing the thigh forwards slightly with the knee joint fairly relaxed and letting that impulse travel down the lower leg to the foot - so ideally thigh,lower leg, and foot are all moving slightly "out-of-phase" (e.g. the thigh starting to move back upwards as the lower leg is finishing its downward action etc. This gives a "rolling" effect to the leg action (and introduces a wave action helping propulsion). There is a YouTube clip of Karlyn Pipes giving an excellent demo of this "rolling" leg action - but she uses an EVF (Early Vertical Forearm) catch instead of the easier SS style one, and 6-beat kicking : -

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2bPvk0paWcg

One can introduce a bit of knee bend in order to give a stronger down thrust of the lower leg - but as that involves poking the knee deeper into the water - like most actions, it produces drag! The idea of the knee bend is that the lower leg is at a steeper angle than normal, so that at the start of the next kick downbeat, the instep of the foot is more horizontal - giving a better angle of attack as the leg kicks down! Most swimmers try to enhance the flexibility of the ankles by exercises (sitting back on the heels for instance) to increase the "flappability" of their feet - which pays off in providing better propulsion.

In all styles of freestyle flutter kicking - the kick upbeat has to be done with the legs being straightened, so as to avoid the "lower leg curl back fault" in which if the upbeat is done with the knee still bent the lower leg is for a short while moving in opposition to the desired direction of motion!
Last edited by Don Wright on Thu Apr 21, 2016 7:46 am, edited 4 times in total.

Sprinter
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Location: United Kingdom

Re: Blind leading the blind ? Novice teaching learner ...

Postby Sprinter » Wed Apr 20, 2016 10:02 pm

Just an addition on those hanging legs:

There is one CRUEL CRIME, committed by basically all the males I see in our pool with those legs dragging on the floor:

Understandably, they practice a lot with a pull buoy. And indeed the pull buoy could help them, showing the right body position, GIVEN that the pull buoy, as it SHOULD BE, lifts the hips right up to the surface! But, alas, all of them are using the pull buoys for kids (which should be banned from public pools), and thus they are essentially practising(!) the bad body position. They needed to use at least two of those small ones, better a big (adult!!) pull buoy, and additionally likely a small one. At first they would likely feel uncomfortable, due to balancing problems -- but that's exactly their problem! With the right pull buoy, which gets their feet right up to the surface, they would learn how the right body position should feel, and then they could incorporate that into their normal swimming. But as it is, they are plodding through the water with the tiny pull buoy between their low-hanging legs, and when they take the pull buoy off, they swim EXACTLY as they learned with it, with low-hanging legs (I observed that many times).

So, you can learn the right body position through the use of the pull buoy -- but only ever use the big ones, at least one of them.

(I tried a few times to tell them about that tiny pull buoy (for, say, a 1m92 heavy male with long legs), but I never achieved anything, for some reason the words don't reach them. Perhaps they actually like that slow upward swimming, where the low feet lift the head out of the water?)

Don Wright
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Re: Blind leading the blind ? Novice teaching learner ...

Postby Don Wright » Thu Apr 21, 2016 7:57 am

ydrol wrote:... Also we have been starting from stationary float, so maybe push/glide start may help a bit?...


Yes, I think TI call this "The Superman Glide" - pushing off from the wall (or making a forward lunge from a standing attitude when away from a wall) with one arm outstretched in line with the body and the other by the hip (in a good stream-lined attitude), until as the glide wanes the legs begin to sink towards the bottom (for those of us not blessed with great buoyancy). Think it is possible by a slight arching of the back, to delay that leg sinkage - but that might prove to be a bit of back strain that is bad in the long term. The idea of trying to maintain a "shallow-saucer shape" in x-section (hips a bit lower than head or feet) during a glide seems a good idea, apart from that possible back trouble!

Re "Sprinter"'s comments above about pull buoys. Coach "gavinp" did a freestyle stroke analysis for me some years ago (I cringe with shame at the recollection of how badly I did - we never swim as well as we think we can!). To help me overcome my low-lying legs problem, he got me to try using a pull buoy - it felt awful, my hips were high but it seemed to tilt my front end down into the water, making inhalation more difficult (more water than usual to be "traversed upwards" before I could get my mouth clear of the water)!

When using that "Pressing the Buoy" idea of slightly pushing down the head/shoulders as each arm enters the water, with the "buoyancy reaction" that comes slightly later - I was completely unaware of any increased depth of water to be "traversed upwards" to get the mouth above the water line when making an inhalation. So would would definitely recommend that idea being tried in order to overcome any inhalation or "sinky legs" problems. The slight pushing down of the head/shoulders at each arm's water entry, does bring the legs up closer to the surface!

Sprinter
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Re: Blind leading the blind ? Novice teaching learner ...

Postby Sprinter » Thu Apr 21, 2016 9:30 am

Don Wright wrote:
ydrol wrote:... Also we have been starting from stationary float, so maybe push/glide start may help a bit?...


Yes, I think TI call this "The Superman Glide" - pushing off from the wall (or making a forward lunge from a standing attitude when away from a wall) with one arm outstretched in line with the body and the other by the hip (in a good stream-lined attitude), until as the glide wanes the legs begin to sink towards the bottom (for those of us not blessed with great buoyancy). Think it is possible by a slight arching of the back, to delay that leg sinkage - but that might prove to be a bit of back strain that is bad in the long term. The idea of trying to maintain a "shallow-saucer shape" in x-section (hips a bit lower than head or feet) during a glide seems a good idea, apart from that possible back trouble!

Re "Sprinter"'s comments above about pull buoys. Coach "gavinp" did a freestyle stroke analysis for me some years ago (I cringe with shame at the recollection of how badly I did - we never swim as well as we think we can!). To help me overcome my low-lying legs problem, he got me to try using a pull buoy - it felt awful, my hips were high but it seemed to tilt my front end down into the water, making inhalation more difficult (more water than usual to be "traversed upwards" before I could get my mouth clear of the water)!


I think this advice a bit strange in several respects:

The push-off must be done with BOTH hands in front! Except of specially argued circumstances, I would forget what the TI-sect is talking. SwimSmooth and the rest push off with BOTH hands, and that's it. Swimming is already complicated enough, one doesn't need to artificially complicate it. See at
http://www.swimsmooth.com/glossary_beg.html
for "torpedo push off".

And a whole article:
http://www.feelforthewater.com/2010/03/ ... rpedo.html

I don't see in this case any reason for any deviation from the standard. I guess that "starting from stationary float" means a water-start, and sure, this is harder to do than with a push-off. The push-off helps to get some speed (which then can be maintained). Special attention should be paid to establish that from the beginning the feet (and hips) are high -- with the additional force from the wall, that is easier than from a water-start, and should then be maintained.

I think one should NOT consider (on purpose) any arching etc. Long, tall and straight, that's it, and any other complication should be avoided.

it felt awful, my hips were high but it seemed to tilt my front end down into the water, making inhalation more difficult (more water than usual to be "traversed upwards" before I could get my mouth clear of the water)!

Sure, the right technique here at the beginning necessarily feels "awful"! Used to the low-hanging legs (which lift the head partially out of the water), the good horizontal position then seems "tilted into the water". Concerning breathing, one should breath sideways, partially backwards (while, when used to swimming non-horizontally, for the (bad) breathing the head is tilted upwards, and I guess that is precisely what you are doing).

Don Wright
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Re: Blind leading the blind ? Novice teaching learner ...

Postby Don Wright » Thu Apr 21, 2016 10:37 am

Hi "Sprinter"!

Think you have made too many wrong assumptions. I did originally concoct a somewhat "acid" reply to your post - now removed!

I wonder if it is possible for me (as an "addict") - to refrain from any further posting on the forum, and just look at what's the latest forum topic, out of interest - instead of having the evidently mistaken impression I might have something to contribute - time for me to just "fade away"! :roll:

On further thoughts as to why the pull buoy seemed to tilt my front end down making inhalation more difficult - had the misfortune to suffer a lumbar back injury in my mid-30s that has affected my posture ever since. My top end is bent forwards a bit compared with the lower end - definitely a tendency to stoop a bit , especially now as I get older. My spine is a bit of a mess (scoliosis at hips and neck) with arthritic stiffness between upper/lower body. That might explain the sensation I had with the PB, of being tilted forwards while the legs were more horizontal due to the PB gripped between the thighs - the stoop now evident when walking, perpetrated when swimming.
Last edited by Don Wright on Thu Apr 21, 2016 5:16 pm, edited 15 times in total.

ydrol
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Re: Blind leading the blind ? Novice teaching learner ...

Postby ydrol » Thu Apr 21, 2016 11:41 am

Thanks for your replies, We'll give it one more go with an emphasis on stretching out into the rotation , thinking about rotating rather than breathing, and trying to keep everything fun an relaxed. I don't want her to get anxious about it. If it doesn't work out I'll get some lessons booked!

I think I was able to duplicate what she was doing, taking a few novice strokes from stationary, and it felt like my head submerged when I wasn't tall enough in the water. I could be talking nonsense though , so I feel lessons might be the next step if we dont crack it.

Sprinter
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Location: United Kingdom

Re: Blind leading the blind ? Novice teaching learner ...

Postby Sprinter » Mon May 02, 2016 1:14 pm

Don Wright wrote:Hi "Sprinter"!

Think you have made too many wrong assumptions. I did originally concoct a somewhat "acid" reply to your post - now removed!


I didn't have a problem with that. But there was an interesting point, which seems very important to me for swimming: Cutting corners, "being clever", seems fundamentally at odds with swimming, which seems to rely heavily on practising the same movement for a long time (years), with permanent tiny refinements, and where stress seems to be an important stimulator.

So I think one always has to motivate everybody for constantly trying to achieve the best form possible -- the bad form comes by itself, no need to worry about that :lol:

The example here is that torpedo push-off. Only doing this for a long time, consistently, you get the benefits. The SwimSmooth site mentions two of them: the permanent stretch of the shoulders, by (trying to) get the arms behind the ears, and the preparation for good-form swimming, by squeezing the shoulder-blades together.

I remember doing a clinic something like 1 1/2 years ago, where we had to demonstrate, on dry-land, the streamlining of the arms, and I didn't do good with it (there was quite a forward-angle). Now last week somehow I mentioned my weak shoulder flexibility to my personal trainer, which he didn't believe, and in order to demonstrate this, I did the same thing, streamlining the arms above the head. He looked in consternation at me -- what would this demonstrate? I went to the mirror, and what I did see, to my dismay -- it looked quite good (no angle anymore), I couldn't complain anymore (aarrgh, this excuse is partially gone now; though I can still say that the elites are far better, but the efficiency of this argument isn't that great, I must admit :twisted: ).

This improvement should be due to the combination of daily exercises and the stretching during swimming, due to the (relatively reasonable) form for the push-off (as argued on the Feel-Water-site: "You will push off between 40 and 100 times every session and each of those is a small stretch to your chest and shoulders.").

And I always get the great feeling of swimming in a "small pipe", which kind of sucks you forward, when I really squeeze my shoulders together with the push-off, this really initialises something; likely related to
http://www.feelforthewater.com/2014/06/ ... ridor.html


I imagine that various of your observations are related to swimming relatively slowly, where then there is more time to wonder (so to speak). With faster swimming the feeling changes drastically, as I believe, it becomes more "whole"; there is also more "flow", of water, energy, breath, power.

Don Wright wrote: I wonder if it is possible for me (as an "addict") - to refrain from any further posting on the forum, and just look at what's the latest forum topic, out of interest - instead of having the evidently mistaken impression I might have something to contribute - time for me to just "fade away"! :roll:


My own trick here is, first to try to express the "official point of view" on this site (which, fortunately, is quite reasonable anyway), and then to add my own little twists (and doubts). And trying to "bracket" my own experience, by trying a bit to qualify them, to say something about their assumptions.

But I think that especially beginners should be encouraged to try (reasonably) hard. While I think concepts like "sinker" are very dangerous, they become very quickly self-fulfilling prophecies.

Don Wright wrote: On further thoughts as to why the pull buoy seemed to tilt my front end down making inhalation more difficult - had the misfortune to suffer a lumbar back injury in my mid-30s that has affected my posture ever since. My top end is bent forwards a bit compared with the lower end - definitely a tendency to stoop a bit , especially now as I get older. My spine is a bit of a mess (scoliosis at hips and neck) with arthritic stiffness between upper/lower body. That might explain the sensation I had with the PB, of being tilted forwards while the legs were more horizontal due to the PB gripped between the thighs - the stoop now evident when walking, perpetrated when swimming.


One has to practise that stuff for quite some time, until one sees some light. I myself suffer from
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scheuermann%27s_disease
but daily swimming and exercises helps a lot.


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