Monday, August 20, 2012

A whale in skirt

It's been a long time since I posted videos of my attempts at swimming. Maybe not long enough for some of you, but this time you get to see an unusual pool attire for someone who calls themselves an "athlete" - a skirt! So, um... enjoy? See, the problem with swimsuits is that chlorine turns them in parachutes and the fastest you get in the mindset that your bum looks like it's wearing a skirt (when it's not), the better you will be prepared for the day it actually happens. That, and the fact that apparently I have a "long torso" and big enough boobs to spill out of my "professional" looking Speedo that I bought earlier in the season. So, I am keeping the Speedo for the open water swims because nobody looks under my wetsuit. Anyway, since the footage was made, I managed to find a more "athletic" looking swimsuit in a store called "Bikini Bay" - go figure. They did have "long torso" models, as opposed to the pro swim store, so I should be looking legit now. But let's start the show:

The first one is with a pull buoy so you can see how straight I follow the black squares at the bottom of the pool.

Second is from the side, no pull buoy - shows pretty much how far I can go before getting tired. No assisted flotation = no endurance. That's why I am in love with the pull buoy.

Working on it, but until then, long live the wetsuit. So far, as a reference, best time in the wetsuit was 35min for 1.5km during the Toronto Triathlon Festival.

In my quest for the ultimate wisdom, I did submit those 2 videos to the Swim smooth forum (where I was identified as a "Swinger in the making") and to Fitocracy where I received a ton of constructive criticism.

Here are some of the comments, feel free to tell me whether you agree or disagree:

avataRJ (Fitocracy)
From the strength side, it would be beneficial to train core stability. Part of this may be in connection with breathing in water, so doing breathing drills may help, too. During your catch, you seem to be paddling water downwards and while the height of your head is nice, you would likely benefit from turning the angle a bit down (forehead a bit lower - admitted, in a crowded pool this is difficult as it may lead to collisions). Your whole back won't need to be on the surface but try to keep your back closer to the surface, straightening and stiffening your body by using your core muscles (on the abs' side). If possible, try swimming with your mouth open. If it's downwards, there will be an air pocket preventing (much) water getting into your mouth, but it'll help your neural system to relax a bit (human reflex when you have stuff in front of your face is to try to push yourself up, which would fit the other observations I presented).
 bbeitz (Fitocracy)
It looks like your hands may be entering the water over the center line of your body and then moving into the correct position, which wastes some energy and creates some resistance. Your hands should be entering as though you were holding your arm straight up from your shoulder. That is the also area you have the most power underwater. I also notice your holding your thumbs out on one hand, bring that thumb in as close as comfortable to your index finger.
It looks like your bending at the waist a little bit. That also creates more drag. Your body should be basically straight in the water. You may want to do some laps kicking with a kick board. Kicking on your back with your arms streamlined might even help more as your angle in the water will be more noticeable to you.
Your technique shouldn't matter for what/where you swim. If you have good technique then you should be efficient in the water. The real difference in open water and a pool is you are dealing with a lot of current in open water. Not to mention alot of other swimmers causing current.Drafting off of someone (basically swimming behind them or right off of one of their back sides) can be helpful. You should also make sure that your reaching deeper into the water as the water a little deeper is not moving as much as the water on the surface. Not a huge difference, especially if you have shorter arms. Just make sure your hands (even when your elbows are bent) stay on basically the same line from where they enter until at least 60% of each stroke.
 kattles (Fitocracy)
I've never coached but I taught kids to swim for years, I agree with Bbeitz, that your hand entry is a bit off. When your hands enter in line with your head, it means youre pulling into that entry position, and the rest of your body tries to assist. Which is why I think you have the wriggly mid section.
Hand entry, I myself aim for a little less than shoulder width. If you hold your arms out and stick out your thumbs so they are touching, about that distance is a good starter. Your head positioning is quite good, and I can see you correcting it down after each breath. Major props to bi lateral breathing by the way!!
wraith87 (Fitocracy)
It looks like your left hand is letting the elbow drop below your hands. That'll be a problem eventually. When your hands go into the water, keep them level or start pulling them at an approx. 90 degree angle (which is the strongest pull you can make). Second, it looks like as you get a little tired (toward the end of the video) you aren't pulling all the way through. Full pulls going all the way from top to bottom will be much easier in the long run and will help you keep going for longer.
Dean (Swim Smooth Forum)
I think by looking at your clips, the reason why you can swim easier with a pull buoy or wetsuit is that you seem to lift your head when breathing, also you may be pressing down with your hands during your initial catch. This will cause your legs to sink creating drag. The buoy and wetsuit due to the added buoyancy would help to keep your legs from sinking.
I believe that you could be pressing down as your arm entry seems to be very shallow, and I can see that your elbows are dropping as you catch.
There is also crossover present.
Swimming on side and all variations of 6/1/6 drills would definitely help sort these problems out. Also focus on keeping one goggle under the water when breathing. This will prevent you from lifting your head to much.
Your stroke rate is good and 35min for 1500m aint bad for someone that's just started out. For this reason I am struggling to class you as a Bambino.
Bambino/'Swinger in the Making' is my best guess ! Check out Hannah McKerchar's stroke in the video clips. I think this could suit you.
 Links that were provided to me as reference/help:

She's totally hot.


And for confusing everything above, the latest blog entry from Swim Smooth.

Alright, time to go back to the pool to dream about those good looking people and developing gills.


  1. Well, I know nothing about swimming, but I aim to try this winter so thanks for sharing the tips.

    1. You're welcome, Nicole! I am a noob too, so I learn on the go. ;-)

  2. Wow, that's a lot of good advice! Who needs the outrageously priced masters swim?! :o)

  3. Finally got a chance to watch & read - I'm fascinated by all the minute details of swimming. So much more work than running! But it sounds like you got a lot of good advice!