Tuesday, November 15, 2005

The Physics of Swimming


Ok, some discussion is warranted. We've been talking a lot about stroke and technique and how to go faster in the water. Today in the pool, I smashed a previous PR of 3:15 for 200 yards of freestyle by swimming a 3:07 that felt effortless. I couldn't believe that was the time but I was in the middle of the lane - one person ahead of me, one behind me as we circled and their times were on either side of my time so it's really true - I bested my PR by 8 whole seconds. This from adding one extra swim day/week for the past two weeks. Coach was floored.

I was skeptical. Nah...two extra swims can't be the only reason. I've been really working hard on my catch (when my hand enters the water) and my whole pull. Coach stopped our set the other day and said "If 6 out of 8 of you are crossing over your midline when your hand enters the water, we need to do some drills to correct that." So we did and I think it's helped a TON. Enter the water directly in FRONT of your shoulder - not too far out, not across the midline - then pull straight down along the side of your body and almost make it feel like you're UNDER your body when you finish. OK, so this seems to help. 8 seconds worth of help over 200 yards translates to big gains over 3/4 of a mile...and 2.4 mi...

WELL, I was looking at THIS and I can't quite figure it out...it seems to me that the "paddle wheel" pull is less efficient because from the bottom of the arc to the back of the arc is sending the water UP, not BACK...I would pick the Caterpillar model as a model to strive toward. I can't tell which model the article is saying is most efficient. In a canoe, it's totally inefficient to use the paddle wheel model - we call those paddlers "paddlewashers" because they're not doing anything productive except getting their paddle wet. It's much more powerful to pull straight back. So what's the answer? Would love to know what you swimmers out there have to say...

Sending in my meet entry today. I was looking at the psyche sheet for the meet - the sheet that lists all the entrants and their seed times. I'm pretty much going to be swimming against 55-75 year olds with my times. Oh well. It's better to have lots of room for improvement, right? That way the only place to go is up!! I'm going to enter the 50 Free, 100 Free, 100 Breast and 100 IM (Fly, Back, Breast, Free) and then we're doing the 200 Medley Relay and the 400 freestyle relay. Should be FUN!! I hope... ;)

5 Comments:

Blogger Bolder said...

great post, thanks! i bookmarked the link for future reference... i'm using a caterpillar, but i'm tracing an 'S' with it -- you?

6:52 PM GMT-5

 
Blogger Nick said...

Well, I'm not an expert, but I think I would be in favour of expeimenting and seeing what suits you. I think we did a workout in the past where we were told to lift the elbow (and hand out) out of the water very early, a short paddle wheel kind of stroke, or make really long strokes - touching the hips with fingers - for a caterpiller kind fo thing. I guess it depends on your rate of turnover. People who like to take ots of stroke will paddlewheel, and the low stroke raters will do best with the caterpillar. Personally I like getting the most out of every stroke, so I'm a big roller and reacher kind of swimmer. Did that make any sense at all?

Bolder, I'm not saying it's bad, but I feel like a straight stroke rather than an 'S' would be more efficient. My suggestions for fixing would be to swim with a pull buoy and groove the straight down the line pull. catch and pull as slowly as you have to get the idea of where you want your hand (and forearm) to go. If you want to strengthen the muscles to help that in the gym there is a great exercise described in the Triathletes Training Bible and other places where you do a modified lat pull down with a shorte bar and you practice catching with you hands and foreams before you recruit the lats and the bigger muscles for the pull.

Hope this helps
Weasel boy

12:57 PM GMT-5

 
Blogger Bolder said...

hey, thanks weasel boy (never thought i'd write that sentence before)...

i'm doing the 'S' because it gives me more lift than just a straight pull... my thought was trying to ride higher in the water, but, i'll give your suggestion a try...

3:50 PM GMT-5

 
Blogger Spence said...

Riding high in the water is less important than riding balanced in the water. if you continue to keep your head down and your chest "pressed in" your feet will pop up and you'll be totally horizontal. This is the best way to reduce drag - as you've noticed when your head pops up!!

4:08 PM GMT-5

 
Blogger iris.gantuangco said...

Is there physics formulas that is for the strokes of swimming like freestyle, backstroke, butterlfy, and breaststroke?

9:43 PM GMT-5

 

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