The Race Club

Gary Hall Sr - grundare av The Race Club. 10-faldig världsrekordhållare, 3-faldig OS-deltagare och amerikansk flaggbärare på OS 1976.
Gary Hall Sr - grundare av The Race Club. 10-faldig världsrekordhållare, 3-faldig OS-deltagare och amerikansk flaggbärare på OS 1976.

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James E. "Doc" Counsilman  December 28, 1920 – January 04, 2004 - kanske den störste av dem alla bakom simningen - foto: Indiana University James E. "Doc" Counsilman December 28, 1920 – January 04, 2004 - kanske den störste av dem alla bakom simningen - foto: Indiana University

Publicerad 15 augusti 2018

To be a Great Coach, be Inquisitive.

Historically, some of the greatest coaches in the sport of swimming were also the most inquisitive. They never stopped questioning. Understanding that they were far from having all of the answers to get swimmers faster, they constantly challenged the hierarchy, the establishment. Often they would try out new ideas, whether on technique or training, experimenting, or trying to find a better way. Usually, they turned to be right, but not always. It was their willingness to change, to push the envelope, whether right or wrong, that forged our sport ahead.
I have been blessed to have known or swam under some of the pioneer coaches. Some were very science-based, like Doc Counsilman. Others, like Mike Bottom, were more artistic and creative. Doc never stopped thinking or questioning or reading or learning. I never knew a man who knew so much about so many different subjects. While his doctorate was in physiology, he knew a great deal about physics, kinesiology, psychology, art, opera, music, and just about any other subject you could bring up. Yet he never spoke with a ‘know it all’ attitude. He could speak to anyone on a level that she or he could readily understand and relate to; a rare gift.

Mike is more of a creative, artistic coach. Every day at workout, he will shoot from the hip, changing up a planned workout, experimenting with a new set or drill that might get his swimmers faster. Part of his strategy was to prevent boredom, keeping his workouts unpredictable, and part was to figure out a better way to swim faster. He always welcomed new ideas coming from his swimmers or staff and implemented them well.

Nort Thornton, the great coach from Cal, was another inquisitive coach. He never stopped reading and learning, trying out new ideas every season. Nort was a deep thinker, very intelligent, always questioning the establishment.
Flip Darr, coach of myself, Shirley Babashoff, the Furniss brothers, and many other Olympians, was an unconventional, out-of-the box coach. It seemed like every season, Flip would show up to practice with a new toy he had developed for training; homemade hand paddles, surgical tubing for resistance training or whatever he could think of to torture us in a different way.

Don Gambril (Pasadena, Long Beach, Harvard, Alabama), Peter Daland (USC), Eddie Reese (Texas), Dick Jochums (Long Beach, Arizona, Santa Clara), Skip Kenney (Stanford), and David Marsh (Auburn, Swim Mac, UCSD) were/are also very deep thinking coaches. All have or had inquisitive minds that never stopped questioning how we do things.

We are fortunate to be in a sport where coaches share information willingly. There are no secrets, just undiscovered information. It is acceptable and advisable to copy the best coaches, but never assume that they have all of the answers. They don’t. They never will.

To be a great coach, learn from the best and copy others, but keep questioning. Stay inquisitive.

Yours in swimming,
Gary Sr.

Publicerad 1 augusti foto: Håkan Fredriksson Publicerad 1 augusti foto: Håkan Fredriksson

Publicerad 26 juli 2018

Proper Head Position in Backstroke
The head position in backstroke should change throughout the stroke cycle. There are two reasons most swimmers are more comfortable swimming backstroke with their heads held too high, a position I often refer to as ‘reading in bed’. First, a backstroker with the head held high has more awareness of where he/she is in the lane. Slamming into a lane line can be a disastrous and painful complication of swimming backstroke, so holding the head up high helps to avoid that problem. Second, swimmers are more powerful in the ‘sitting up’ position than they are when the head is back, so they can generate more propulsion.

The real problem with swimming backstroke with the head held too high is from the increase in frontal drag caused from this position. When the head elevates, the hips and legs sink. Not only does the swimmer increase surface drag with the head up and out of the water, but also pressure drag, by not keeping the body horizontal. In swimming, frontal drag forces are so powerful, even at relatively slow speeds, that the increase in propulsion from keeping the head elevated is not enough to overcome the additional frontal drag. While laying the head back may lessen the frontal drag, keeping the head back all the time is not a good idea, either. The truth is that in backstroke, you can have your cake and eat it, too.

Head back for less drag
The key to a successful backstroke is getting the head up at the right time and getting it back at the right time. It doesn’t need to move far in either direction, but it does need to move. Like in freestyle, at the fastest point in the stroke cycle, the surge point, the head should lay back so the drag is lowered. Unlike freestyle, we actually get to see the bow wave pass over our face, since our eyes are now looking upward. The surge point in backstroke should occur just after one hand enters the water, timed with the surge kick. At that moment, a slight trickle of water should pass over the surface of the swimmer’s face (goggles). Being just millimeters under water at that important point is enough to reduce drag considerably.

Head up for more power
Once the hand begins the generate propulsion on its way backward, the head needs to elevate to put the swimmer in a more favorable biomechanical position of strength. The swimmer also needs to elevate the head for the breath. This is a more powerful position.
Backstrokers need both

Most swimmers are good at elevating their heads because they like to know where they (and their competitors) are in the lane and race. They also like the feeling of more power that comes from that position. What they are not good at is getting the head back for the surge point. With each stroke cycle, the head should elevate slightly during the propulsion phase and lay back for the surge point. In effect, the swimmer should do a mini-crunch while swimming backstroke all the way down the pool.

At fast stroke rates, which is a good idea in backstroke, the swimmer may not have time to get the head up and back down for each arm pull. Doing so once per stroke cycle, rather than twice, becomes necessary. For example, the swimmer may come up with the head for a breath on the left arm recovery and lay the head back once the right hand strikes the water.
Since getting the head back far enough seems to be the biggest challenge in backstroke, this week we share one of our favorite drills for accomplishing this goal. You can check it out in Lanes 2, 3, or 4 on our website.

Yours in swimming,
Gary Sr.

Publicerad 26 juli 2018

Three Great Tips for a Faster Butterfly

Butterfly is a challenging stroke. It is the most difficult to perform and sustain over any moderate distance. The reason is that it doesn’t conform well to the law of inertia, and, therefore, requires more energy. Nearly all of the propulsion in butterfly comes at two key points in the stroke cycle coinciding with the down kicks. The first down kick occurs as the hands are pushing backward under the body, somewhere toward the end of the pull. The second down kick should be timed to coincide with the entry of the recovering arms into the water.

In between these two points of acceleration is lots of down time, where there is little or no propulsion and the velocity of the body slows down. As a result, the swimmer has to work harder to get the velocity back up, leading to less efficiency than in freestyle or backstroke, for example.
Here are three key techniques for developing a faster butterfly.

1. Develop a stronger kick
Butterfly, along with breaststroke, is a very kick-dependent stroke. Without a strong kick, butterfly simply doesn’t work well. While the two down kicks in each stroke cycle need to be strong, the up kicks are also important in order to maintain a higher velocity. The strength of the down kick, without causing excessive frontal drag, is dependent on having extreme ‘pigeon-toed’ plantar flexibility, and not overbending the knees (around 60 degrees). It also requires much strength and stamina in the quadriceps femoris muscles. A strong up kick depends on flexing the hip to around 30 degrees, having plantar flexibility, and having strong lower back, hamstring, and calf muscles.

2. Don’t over-elevate the shoulders for the breath
With a front breath, it is very common to see swimmers elevate the shoulders higher out of the water than is really necessary. While higher elevation of the body increases the coupling energy for the second down kick, it also causes a lot more frontal drag. The trade-off is not worth it.
The loss of velocity caused by the more vertical position of the body is too hard to overcome. Some elevation of the shoulders is absolutely necessary in order to breathe and recover the arms, but keep it minimal by extending the neck forward with the mouth barely above the surface for the breath.

3. Emphasize the two coupling motions
There are two powerful coupling motions available in butterfly to use to increase the propulsion from the second down kick. One is the arm recovery and the second is the downward motion of the head (and upper body). By straightening and accentuating the speed of the recovering arms, the kinetic energy of this motion increases dramatically. By delaying the head snapping down after the breath to coincide with the entry of the hands into the water, this approximately 12 pounds of mass can also help strengthen the second down kick. The result of using both of these well-timed coupling motions together is a huge surge of velocity from the second down kick that often exceeds the velocity achieved from the first kick and pull together. That is power!

Over the next few weeks, you will find some excellent videos in Lanes 2, 3 and 4 on our website highlighting the classroom, techniques, and technology for a better butterfly. We hope you will hop on in!

Yours in Swimming,
Gary Sr.

foto: Peter Trägårdh foto: Peter Trägårdh

Publicerad 16 juli 2018

Our 3 Favorite Drills for High Elbow Pull

In every event over the 50 meter sprint, virtually every elite distance freestyler in the world is pulling with the elbows held very close to the surface, as the hand pushes backward in the water. This motion is neither natural nor easy to accomplish, yet for any event longer than 50 meters, this is the pulling motion you need to achieve in order to swim faster.
The reason is not that this motion generates more propulsion. In fact, it probably generates less propulsion than a deeper pull. It reduces the frontal drag caused by the upper arm in the underwater pulling motion. It does so by keeping the upper arm more in line with the motion of the body during the early part of the pull. Later in the pull, when the upper arm is sticking out to the side, in a more drag-causing position, the net forward velocity of the upper arm is reduced because the upper arm is swept backward more quickly. The frontal drag caused by any part of the human body is profoundly influenced by its forward velocity.
We spend a great deal of effort at The Race Club making sure that every camper gets this motion right. Of all the techniques we teach in freestyle, we consider using the correct high-elbow pulling motion for all events over 100 meters to be the numbers 1, 2, and 3 on our priority list. In other words, you had better get it right.
These are our favorite three drills that we like to use to teach this freestyle technique. All three drills are improved by wearing fins. Snorkels are optional on the first drill, but very helpful to almost essential for the second and third drills.

1. One Arm Swim. With one hand held at the side, swim freestyle with one arm only. Use one arm for the first half and the other arm for the second half of the swim. Usually we like to go no more than 50 meters, so we can make the necessary corrections. The hand of the pulling arm should enter directly in front of the shoulder, not over the head. Once the hand enters the arm is extended forward while the body rotates to the opposite
side as far as possible. The opposite shoulder should be well out of the water. The hand begins its motion downward just inside the elbow, before pushing backward. The elbow should remain one inch under the surface of the water. As the hand begins to pull, the body counter-rotates toward the pulling arm to generate more coupling energy.
Swimming with one arm at a time enables the swimmer to concentrate on the precise movement of each pull. Small sculling paddles will also enhance this drill.

2. High Elbow Scull. This is a more challenging drill that can also be done as a workout set. It is preferable to do it with a snorkel. The head is down and swimmer flutter kicks across the pool. The arms are held out in front, but the forearms are dropped down to an angle of about 45 degrees with the water, while the elbows point forward. Holding the upper arm still, the hand and forearm scull directly outward and directly inward with a stiff wrist and strong force, like you are playing an accordion. This motion engages the muscles surrounding the scapula in particular; the same ones that initiate the high elbow pulling motion.
Try doing a set of 20 x 25 High Elbow Sculls, kicking as fast as possible, on 30 seconds. Keep your elbows pointing forward. You will really feel the burn in the scapula muscles.

3. Snap Paddle Drill. This drill is designed to help with the initiation of the correct high elbow pulling motion. Often, we see swimmers attempt the high elbow pulling motion by initiating the pull with an out sweep of the hand. This is a bad idea, as this technique will reduce propulsion and increase frontal drag. With this drill the swimmer flutter kicks with the head down and arms extended forward. The high elbow pull is initiated by pressing downward with one hand and forearm, the other held in front, while keeping both elbows near the surface. The hand always remains just inside the elbow, not outside. Instead of taking a complete pull, the motion is stopped once the hand reaches the swimmer’s chin under water and then recovers back to the front while remaining under water, similar to a dog-paddle motion. In effect the swimmer is making a small quick circle with each hand and forearm, keeping the elbows pointed forward. Once the swimmer masters this technique, we add body rotation to the same drill and motion to impress how important this coupling energy is in generating more propulsion.
To help you learn to do these drills correctly, you can subscribe to Lanes 2, 3 or 4 on our Race Club website. In the coming weeks we will feature a webisode demonstrating each of these important drills for the correct pulling motion. By subscribing, you will receive a new webisode and article from The Race Club each week.
Yours in Swimming,
Gary Sr.

(gå gärna vidare till the Race Clubs hemsida - via länken ovan i texten)

foto: Peter Trägårdh foto: Peter Trägårdh

Publicerad 16 juli 2018

Two Great Pearls for a Faster Backstroke
The fundamentals of backstroke are the same as for freestyle. However, the priority of those fundamentals differ for backstroke and there are certain nuances of backstroke that differ from freestyle.
Of all four strokes, backstroke is not the fastest stroke, but it is the most efficient stroke. That means that there is less change of speed in backstroke than in any other stroke. There are two principal reasons for that. First, the coupling of the body rotation comes at the very end of the pulling motion, which is the weaker part of the pull, as opposed to the stronger middle of the pull in freestyle. The result is the propulsive force of the arm pull remains more constant in backstroke.
The second reason that the velocity of the backstroker is more uniform has to do with the kick. When a swimmer is on his or her stomach, the down kick is typically much more propulsive than the up kick. However, when on the back, the weaker down kick becomes very propulsive because the foot pushes down against a larger vortex and gravity helps assist in the downward motion of the foot. As a result, the propulsive forces of the down and up kicks become much more even and the resultant velocity is more constant.
When it comes to taking advantage of these two nuances of backstroke, here are two important pearls in your technique that will help.
1)      On the backstroke arm recovery, throw the arm and hand hard to the water. Accentuating the speed of the hand entry on the recovery also has the effect of accentuating the body rotation. This will help maintain the swimmer’s speed toward the end of the pulling motion.

2)      Work the down kick hard on backstroke. During both the underwater dolphin kick and the backstroke, it is very important to press downward vigorously with the sole or bottom of the foot to take advantage of the large vortex formed from the stronger up kick. If a swimmer does this, he or she can get more propulsion and speed from the weaker down kick than from the stronger up kick. This downward motion of the feet will also help keep the swimmer’s speed more constant.
This week our Race Club members in Lane 2 will get classroom instruction on how the fundamentals of backstroke differ from those of freestyle. Race Club members in lane 3 will see a great dryland technique from world champion Junya Koga on how to teach swimmers the proper backstroke pulling motion. You can hop in one of our Race Club lanes here.
Yours in Swimming,
Gary Sr.

(gå gärna vidare till the Race Clubs hemsida - via länken ovan i texten)

Sarah Sjöström - världsrekordhållare i fjärilsim Sarah Sjöström - världsrekordhållare i fjärilsim

Publicerad 28 juni 2018

More on the Dolphin Kick

I continue to learn more about this fascinating motion in the water and what makes it work well….or not so well for swimmers. Like all other swimming techniques, fast dolphin kick requires certain tools in order to do well. The three most notable tools for dolphin kick are extreme plantar ankle flexibility, leg and lower back strength for knee and hip extension, and incredible leg fitness to sustain a motion that has no significant rest or recovery phase.
Beyond having the tools, however, I have learned by studying some of the fastest dolphin kickers in the world, like Kelsi Worrell, that there are nuances to the dolphin kick motion that can make it work better. Although few athletes use all of them, there are actually four different points during the dolphin kicking cycle that an athlete can potentially accelerate. That means that the propulsion forces are greater than the frontal drag forces.
Using the Vortex
The first and often the most powerful point of acceleration is at the beginning of the down kick. The down kick is biomechanically stronger than the up kick, so a lot of propulsion can be achieved here. The second point of potential acceleration is when the foot passes through the slipstream or vortex of the swimmer’s body (located directly behind the swimmer) on the way down. The third point of acceleration can occur at the beginning of the up kick, and the fourth as the foot passes through the slipstream on the way back up.
The majority of swimmers do not get acceleration at all four of these points, but Kelsi does. That effectively keeps her speed more constant, which according to the law of inertia, makes her more efficient. Many dolphin kickers will get acceleration only from the strong down kick, which leads to large variations in speed and greater inefficiency.
Reduce your deceleration
There are also two important points during the kicking cycle when the swimmers will decelerate (drag is greater than propulsion). How much they decelerate depends very much on the technique that is being used. The first, and often most harmful, is when the legs are drawn forward and knees bend in preparation for the down kick. The speed at which the legs are drawn forward and the degree that the knee bends have a huge impact on the amount of deceleration that will occur.
The second point of deceleration occurs during the down kick, after the feet pass through the body’s vortex. The amount of deceleration here depends greatly on how long and how much the feet are left hanging before the next up kick is taken and how much flexion occurs at the hip. Deceleration is always followed by a loss of speed. The further the speed drops, the harder it becomes to get it back up again.
Practice these motions
In order to maximize the acceleration and top speed and minimize the deceleration and loss of speed, here is what needs to happen. The feet must be pigeon-toed and snapped down hard at the beginning of the down kick and drawn up aggressively at the beginning of the up kick. Then the feet and legs must push hard through the vortex and abruptly slow down and reverse directions once they pass the vortex. That is a tall order. It is like telling someone to floor it on the gas pedal and to slam on the brakes a second later over and over again.
The challenge in achieving this motion occurs when a swimmer doesn’t have enough plantar flexibility in the ankles. Then, in order to get more propulsion on the down kick, the feet have to be drawn further forward, knees bending more than 60 degrees. That means the legs have to be drawn forward more aggressively in order to get the down kick in time…and more deceleration occurs. You can see now why the ankle flexibility is the key to the entire dolphin kick working.
Start to improve your dolphin kick by working on your plantar ankle flexibility. Without that, we have a serious problem. Then work hard. not only at the beginning of the down kick, but during the start of up kick, too. Continue the speed of the feet through the vortex, but once they pass the horizontal position, think about reversing directions as soon and as forcefully as you can. Do all this and who knows, you may become the next Kelsi Worrell. At the very least, you will dolphin kick faster.

This week in Lanes 2, 3 and 4, you will find one of the most interesting webisodes we have ever produced. In it you will see how Kelsi Worrell and Luca Spinazolla, two very fast dolphin kickers, take advantage of the two important vortices to generate great propulsion.

Yours in swimming,
Gary Sr.

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Publicerad 20 juni 2018

Physics for Swimmers, Coaches and Parents

Outside of the starts and turns, the propulsion forces of a swimmer are derived purely from the kick and the pull. More specifically, except for the up kick, where the entire lower leg and foot can create propulsion, nearly all of the other propulsive forces (down kick and pull) occur at the feet and hands.
In addition, the propulsion from the kick and pull can be influenced by other motions of our body that produce no propulsion at all. These are called coupling motions. Two examples of coupling motions in freestyle are the rotation of the body and the recovery of the arm over the water. Neither motion produces any propulsion by itself, but when timed or coupled with a propulsive pull or kick, either motion can make either force greater. High energy coupling motions can significantly increase the propulsion of a swimmer in all four strokes, as well as on the start.
The propulsion of a swimmer that is derived from the hands and feet differ in that the hands are moving through water that is essentially still (static fluid), while the feet are moving through water that is flowing (dynamic fluid). Some understanding of fluid mechanics is therefore necessary to understand how propulsion is achieved within these two different environments.
Since water is liquid, not solid, in order to create propulsion, the hand or foot needs to be moving backward relative to the water. In shoulder-driven freestyle technique, with a relatively higher stroke rate, if one were to map the pathway of the pulling hand from the side, relative to a fixed point in the pool, one would find that the hand moves in nearly a perfect circle of around 2 feet in diameter.
If we consider the circle as a clock, the hand would enter the water at 12 o’clock. Since the swimmer’s body is moving forward, as the hand enters the water, the hand will move forward also. The swimmer begins the pulling motion by pushing the hand downward in order to reverse its direction and push it backward. The result is that the hand follows the clock to the 3 o’clock position, moving both downward and forward. We call this the lift phase, since most of the forces are downward, creating lift.
From 3 o’clock, when the hand is just in front of the swimmer’s shoulder, it begins moving backward, creating propulsion. The hand continues going deeper in the water as it follows the clock from 3 o’clock to 6 o’clock on its way backward. In an effort to continue pushing the hand backward past 6 o’clock with the maximum hand surface area, the arm needs to elevate and the wrist dorsiflex, resulting in the hand cutting a quarter of the clock off in moving from 6 o’clock to 9 o’clock. The backward hand motion from 3 to 9 o’clock is called the propulsion phase.
Once the hand reaches 9 o’clock, the arm runs out of length, so the hand cannot move backward any further. Instead, it quickly slides forward with the least resistance possible to leave the water nearly exactly where it began the circuitous route, at 12 o’clock. This last phase is called the release phase. The net distance that the hand travels from entry to exit is zero.
Unlike the hand, in order to create propulsion, the feet rely on the vortices caused by both the swimmer’s body and the motion of the foot and leg itself. In both freestyle and dolphin kick, the motion of the kicking foot is nearly straight up and straight down, relative to a fixed object in the pool. However, the water is not still in the path of the foot. Because the human body is a non-streamlined shape, there is a forward flow of water following the swimmer caused by the body’s vortex or wake (slipstream). There is also a second vortex caused by the motion of the feet and leg which creates a smaller stream that follows the path of the feet. Even though the feet are not moving backward relative to a fixed object in the pool, they are moving backward relative to the water, which is moving forward. Therefore, the feet can create propulsion without actually moving backward.
In dolphin kick, for example, there are four potential places where the feet can create propulsion. The first is at the beginning of the down kick. The propulsion here is achieved by quickly reversing the direction of the feet and pushing down against the vortex that was created by drawing the feet and leg upward and forward. The second is achieved as the feet traverse the body’s vortex (slipstream) on the way down. The third is achieved at the initiation of the up kick, as the feet and leg quickly reverse direction and push upward against the vortex they created on the way down. The fourth is achieved as the feet and leg move upward and traverse the body’s vortex (slipstream) on the way up. Only the fastest dolphin kickers will achieve propulsion in all four of these locations. Most swimmers derive propulsion in only one or two of them.
In flutter kick, there are two potential points of propulsion. Since the down kick and up kick occur simultaneously, one point is at the initiation of each, utilizing the vortices of the feet and legs. The second occurs as both feet pass through the slipstream on the way up or down.
With breaststroke kick, nearly all of the propulsion occurs from the instep of the feet pushing backward. The peak force occurs when the feet are about half way back toward complete extension of the legs. The narrower the kick, the more advantage the breaststroke kicker will derive from the body’s slipstream and large vortex resulting from drawing the legs and feet forward.  With a wide breaststroke kick, the feet may be pushing backward in relatively still water, rather than against a stream of water. That can significantly affect propulsion. A small amount of propulsion is also possible from the up kick that occurs at the end of the breaststroke kick. Not every breaststroker will get that second propulsion.
In summary, the propulsion of the pull is determined by the surface area of the hand pushing backward and the rate at which that effective hand surface area accelerates through the propulsion phase. The propulsion from the kick is determined by the surface area of the feet (and legs), the rate at which the feet accelerate through the vortices and the strength of the vortices (slipstream) that the feet move through. Further, the propulsive forces of either the pull or kick can be augmented by the amount of kinetic energy within the properly-timed coupling motions, such as the body rotating, the head snapping down, or the arms recovering.
This week in Lanes 2, 3 and 4, we will feature a classroom discussion on the four different types of pulling motions. We hope you will hop on in!
Yours in swimming,
Gary Sr.

Gary Hall Sr s guidar dig djupare ned i simningens mysterium - foto Håkan Frdriksson Gary Hall Sr s guidar dig djupare ned i simningens mysterium - foto Håkan Frdriksson

Publicerad 14 juni 2018

Physics for swimmers, coaches and parents
Frontal drag
Most sports take place in air, where drag forces apply but are not nearly as detrimental to performance as they are in swimming. With the density of water being 784 times greater than air, any errors we make in our body position or stroke mechanics are compounded at almost any speed, but even more so at higher speeds. However, we don’t have to be going very fast at all in water for these drag forces to ruin our day. The faster we swim, the bigger price we pay for our mistakes. Frontal drag is enemy #1 of the swimmer. There is no mercy in the water.
There are four factors that determine how much frontal drag will slow a swimmer down. The first is position. Is the swimmer underwater or on the surface? The second is the cross-sectional surface area of the swimmer moving forward. How large is the swimmer? What is the body angle? Are the legs and arms protruding out too far? Is the head too high? The third is the surface characteristic of the swimmer, including the suit, cap and goggles. How slippery is the swimmer? The fourth, and most important, is the swimmer’s speed. How fast is he or she moving in the water?
There are three different types of frontal drag forces that can slow a swimmer down, and they are all important. The first and most profound is pressure or form drag which occurs as a result of two important facts we see in good swimmers. First, swimmers are non-streamlined objects, even in the best position they can achieve. Second, good swimmers are in water and travel at speeds approximating 2 meters/second or higher. The physical shape of a swimmer (surface area moving forward), the medium of water, and the speed of the swimmer in the water are factors that determine what is called the Reynold’s number. This determines the flow characteristics around the moving swimmer. At the Reynold’s number of a good swimmer wearing a tech suit, the flow of water around him/her will change from laminar (smooth, at the head and shoulders) to transitional (separated from the boundary a foot or so behind the head and shoulders) to turbulent (somewhere near the waist). As the fluid transitions from the boundary of the swimmer’s body to a turbulent state, it then forms a vortex or slipstream behind the swimmer. The difference between the higher pressure at the head of the swimmer and the lower pressure behind the swimmer in the slipstream is what determines the pressure drag.
The second drag force is caused by friction. Friction occurs as a result of molecules rubbing against each other as an object moves through a medium; in this case, water. In general, the rougher the object (swimmer), the more friction. The smoother or slicker the object (swimmer), the less friction. Thus, the friction of a swimmer is largely determined by the surface characteristics of the swimmer; the cap, the skin, the goggles and the suit.
Third type of drag force is called surface or wave drag. It occurs as a result of the swimmer being partly in the water (submerged) and partly out of the water. Virtually all of the wave drag of a swimmer occurs from the front end of the swimmer’s body (head and shoulders).
In a study done in 2004, Mollendorf et al determined the contribution of all three types of frontal drag forces on swimmers while being towed at various speeds in a fixed, streamlined position (passive drag forces).[1] When low friction (high tech) suits were worn, and at approximately race speed for elite swimmers, they found that pressure drag forces accounted for about 50% of the total drag force, while wave drag forces and friction each accounted for about 25% of the total drag force. The total frontal drag forces were about three times greater at 2 m/sec (race speed) than they were at 1 m/sec. When low tech suits were worn, friction was a greater contributor to total drag than pressure or wave drag.
The reason that the swimmer’s speed is the most important factor in determining frontal drag is that all three types of drag forces are exponentially related to the swimmer’s speed. Both pressure drag and friction are proportional to the square of the swimmer’s speed, while wave drag is proportional to the fourth power of the swimmer’s speed. From this observation, we can conclude the following:
1.      All three types of frontal drag are important and need to be reduced as much as possible

2.      Small changes in a swimmer’s shape or position, cap and suit can have profound impacts on frontal drag at race speed

3.      Getting under water is desirable (eliminating wave drag) whenever possible while in a relative streamline position at race speed

4.      The stronger and faster a swimmer becomes, the more important technique becomes (the frontal drag forces at 2 m/sec are about three times greater than at 1 m/sec)

This week in Lanes 2, 3  and 4, you will receive the Race Club webisode featuring our favorite way to streamline in order reduce frontal drag. We hope you enjoy.

[1] Mollendorf, J.C., Termin A.C., Oppenheim E., and Pendergast D.R., Effect of Swim Suit Design on Passive Drag, MEDICINE & SCIENCE IN SPORTS & EXERCISE 0195-9131/04/3606-1029

Gary Hall Sr skriver att det finns minst 50 kandidater till titeln USAs mentalt tuffaste simmare genom tiderna. Hans lista toppas av Mike Phelps, här kramande sin mamma under VM 2009. Garys lista med Gary Hall Sr skriver att det finns minst 50 kandidater till titeln USAs mentalt tuffaste simmare genom tiderna. Hans lista toppas av Mike Phelps, här kramande sin mamma under VM 2009. Garys lista med

Publicerad 7 juni 2018

The 5 Mentally Toughest American Elite Swimmers in History
This is a tough list to compose. There are probably 50 or more good candidates for the top 5 spots, but this is my list. My recollection and knowledge of elite swimmers dates back to 1966, so any swimmers from before that era were not considered and may well deserve a spot on this list. I can think of a few that might, like Jeff Farrell, who made the Olympic Team in 1960 just 6 days after having an acute appendicitis…and one day after leaving the hospital.
Eddie Reese, men’s Head Coach at University of Texas, and the most successful Division 1 coach in history, used to grade (from 1-10) all of his swimmers on mental toughness, using what he called The Killer Instinct Scale. It would take Eddie until the conference or NCAA Championship meet of their freshman year to determine each swimmer’s first grade (I don’t think he actually gave it to them, but he then had an idea of what it was). It didn’t matter how fast they swam in workouts or dual meets. The real sign of mental toughness was how fast they would swim at the Championship meets. In that freshman year, with all of the changes and transitions going on in the swimmer’s life, only the mentally toughest swimmers will perform really well.

At The Race Club, we always tell our campers that their swimming career should not be evaluated on the basis of how many Olympic medals they won, or world records they set, but by how well they performed in their Championship meets year in and year out. No matter what level a swimmer reaches, if they consistently do their best when it counts, then they are mentally tough and champions.

As far as the elite swimmers go, here is my top five list, which includes nine swimmers:

1. Michael Phelps. I don’t think I will get too much argument here. To swim 17 races and win 8 gold medals out of 8 quite varied races in 2008 (who else wins the 400 IM and 100 fly in the same Olympic Games?), his mental toughness has to be off the charts. Perhaps his mentally toughest race of all time was winning the 200 fly in Beijing with his goggles filled with water. What composure! His comeback swims in Rio, in his final Olympic Games, and his performances in the London Olympics of 2012, after a poor first swim, are yet more reasons why he is ranked #1.

2.Mike Burton. Some of you may not even remember who he was, but you should. In all of his years as the world’s greatest distance freestyler, Mike never had a bad championship meet. In Bradenton, Florida, at the Spring National Championships of 1966, the last time that meet was ever held outdoors, the temperature was in the 30’s. It was wet and rainy all weekend. Everyone swam poorly, except Mike. He broke American records in winning the 500 and 1650 freestyle.
In the Mexico City Olympic Games of 1968, held at 7,000 feet, which adversely affects the distance athletes, Mike demolished the field in the 400 and 1500 meter freestyles to win 2 Gold medals.
In the Munich Olympic Games of 1972, where Mike was not expected to make the Team nor medal, he won a come-from-behind gold medal in the 1500 meter freestyle.
If these rankings were based purely on swimming above physical talent level, Mike Burton, who was only 5 feet 9 inches tall, might be #1 on the list.

3.Simone Manuel, Katie Ledecky and Lilly King. I couldn’t decide among these three, so I made it a tie. They are all 10/10 on the Killer Instinct Scale and have proven it at the NCAA, World Championships and Olympic Games. Each won an NCAA championship as a freshman, a rare accomplishment. All three won Olympic gold medals in their very first Olympic Games, which is only achieved by the mentally toughest athletes. They all have the Eye of the Tiger when standing on the blocks at any Championship meet and you wouldn’t want to be racing against them.

4.Gary Hall Jr., Tom Dolan. Ok, so I am little biased here. These two overcame incredible adversities to become Olympic champions. There has probably never been a swimmer that swam so slow in meets leading up to championship meets, yet never failed to swim fast in a championship meet, ever, as Gary Jr did. In three Olympic Games, he swam in 10 Olympic races and earned 10 Olympic medals and his best swims were always on relays. Six of those Olympic medals were earned after he was diagnosed with type I diabetes, and two diabetes specialists told him he would never swim in an Olympic Games again. Gary Jr was a Gamer and was as tough as they come at Game time. The bigger the meet, the faster he swam.
Tom Dolan was another Gamer that was at the top of the Killer Instinct Scale. Stricken with severe asthma, Tom would never know when an attack was coming. Yet he performed at his very best at the Olympic Games, winning two consecutive gold medals in arguably the most difficult event on the schedule, the 400 IM. 

5.Shirley Babashoff and Janet Evans. Both of these women deserve to be on this list, perhaps higher than 5th. While Janet did not swim as well as she would have liked in the 1992 and 1996 Olympic Games, her absolute dominance in the distance freestyle for so many years, setting records that would last for decades, earns her a spot as one of the mentally toughest swimmers of all time. Shirley was one of those swimmers who always seemed to get her hand on the wall first. She was a fierce competitor and you wouldn’t want to be battling her in the final 10 meters of any race. The only important time she didn’t win, her three individual silver medals in the Montreal Olympic Games of 1976 would have been gold, were it not for the steroid-boosted swimmers from East Germany. Even so, Shirley and her teammates swam in what I consider the mentally toughest race of all time by winning the final 4 x 100 free relay in those Games. If you haven’t seen the movie The Last Gold, you should.

So go ahead. Let me know who should have been on the list. There are many deserving candidates.

This week in The Race Club’s Lanes 2, 3 and 4, you can join us in our classroom discussion about reducing frontal drag with proper head position. We hope you will - click

Yours in Swimming,
Gary Sr.