Monthly Archives: April 2014

Why Swimmers Need to Be On Time and Ready For Practice


Swimmers need to be on time for practices and meets, and ready to swim when they get there. Coaches have been telling swimmers this ever since swim practices started. In fact, it’s so obvious its a truism. So there isn’t much that bothers a coach more than swimmers who are repeatedly late for practice for no good reason, or show up on time and then waste the first part of practice just standing around and not following the plan.

I should point out that I’m not referring to swimmers who cannot make the start time, and have already arranged with the coach to start late. Or swimmers who are always on time, but something happened and they’re late once. I’m referring to those swimmers who habitually show up late, and / or display no sense in urgency in getting in the water.

So why is it important to be there on time, ready to train?

Coaches spend a lot of time preparing a practice so that it achieves certain goals. And in order to achieve these goals, the practice has to move forward with a certain flow. For instance, we start off with 10 minutes of dryland exercises modelled loosely on the new Japanese dryland regimen. (An excellent preparation for swimming!) Then we spend roughly 20 minutes with water warmup, technique work, and a few sprints to get the body fast. Only then can we do a good job on the main set.

Scenario 1) Our tardy swimmers show up 10 minutes late, just as everybody is getting in the water. This is not only a major distraction for the rest of the swimmers who have been working hard, but the tardy ones now have only 20 minutes to do 30 minutes of work to get them ready for the main set. No matter …read more

Source: Rick’s Blog

Should Swim Practices be Open or Closed to Spectators?


I was following an online forum discussion among swim coaches about whether practices should be open or closed, and I was surprised at the diversity of opinion. It reminded me that coaching is not just about training swimmers, but requires a lot of interpersonal skills supplemented with education and experience.

Closed Practices

I was a little surprised at how many coaches want to have completely closed workouts. Closed as in, no spectators allowed on deck or in the stands. These coaches explain this by saying that the presence of parents, friends, etc can be a major distraction to the swimmers, and will inevitably provide interruptions to the flow of the workout. This can certainly be true. Many parents of younger swimmers love to be there vocally for the kids, some with ill-advised stroke tips, others to wave and expect a wave back. There are other parents who will demand face time with a coach during practice when there is a perceived problem, unfairness, or slight. As a swimmer, distractions can come from the strangest places. I still remember being a relatively young swimmer training with the older, high school boys. When a girl friend of one of these boys came to watch a practice I was given strict instructions to not pass the older boys. Stay slower than them.

I have to wonder though whether close-practice proponents are talking about younger swimmers or older swimmers. Younger swimmers are usually easily distracted, and parents are more likely to interrupt things. But on the other side, parents of young swimmers should absolutely be there to observe the environment and demeanour of their coach, and to determine if they want this coach in charge of their swimmer. Older swimmers are usually more focussed, with parents who are usually a little more hands-off. However, even with older …read more

Source: Rick’s Blog

The Case Against KickBoards


There are few pieces of swim equipment that seem are more synonymous with swimming than a kickboard. Perhaps goggles. But kickboards have actually been around longer, about 20 years longer, as they were first introduced as a swim aid in the late 1940s.

So what do kickboards accomplish, and why do swimmers like them?

Technically, kickboards allow swimmers to isolate and focus on their kick, without having to worry about their arms or breathing. But realistically, swimmers like kickboards because it makes kicking much faster by significantly reducing friction (by elevating the upper body and introducing a smooth surface as the interface with the water), allowing the swimmer to breathe whenever they want, and allowing them to chat with others. So, of course they like it!

So what do I have against kickboards? Well, for the last 4 years I’ve firmly believed that they promote the wrong body alignment when kicking hard. And I believe this carries over into a bad alignment when swimming Free and Fly hard. On the other hand, I think a kickboard is actually good for breaststroke kick, but we aren’t using it properly.

Freestyle and Butterfly Kick

A swimmer’s body should be roughly in a straight line in order to minimize drag, or water resistance. For various reasons this straight line may angled very slightly upward, but the concept is still that the body should be relatively straight. This drawing is a rough approximation of what it should look like. I’ve superimposed three spots on the body to highlight the body alignment. These spots are the base of the neck, middle of the hips, and middle of the knees.

Now, as any swimmer or coach knows, kicking with a board involves holding the board with outstretched arms, the head out of the water, and the upper body much higher …read more

Source: Rick’s Blog

More Than You Want to Know About Swim Goggles


There is perhaps nothing more closely associated with swimming than a bathing suit and goggles. But what many people may not realize is that this is only a recent thing. The first time someone wore goggles in an international swim meet was only in 1970. Goggles for practice only showed up around 1968. But once they caught on, we’ve never looked back.

In fact, claims have been made that goggles have revolutionized the sport of competitive swimming more than any other advancement in the sport. Ever. And there’s good reason to think this.

Before goggles, a swimmer’s eyes were often the weakest link. Swimmers would get out of the practice, with incredibly sore and red eyes, and a haze that made the world seem foggy. Training was therefore limited to how much abuse the eyes could take from chlorine, and it wasn’t nearly what even the most conservative teams do today. Goggles changed all of that.

Basically, goggles just need to keep water away from the eyes, and as a side benefit, allow us to see much more clearly. With such simple requirements, its not surprising that there are dozens of companies making goggles, and hundreds of different types out there.

Let’s explore the world of swim goggles, starting of course with the history.

The History

The first recorded accounts of goggles are of 14th century Persian pearl divers. Apparently they used the translucent outer layer of tortoise shell to protect the eyes. I can’t imagine that was a comfortable fit.

This idea spread to Europe, leading to accounts of Venetian pearl divers wearing something similar, as you can see in this illustration.

18th century Polynesian divers had perhaps the most unique goggles ever recorded. Made only of very deep waterproof wooden frames, the divers kept their faces down, trapping air in the wooden frames. No …read more

Source: Rick’s Blog