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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16 juni The 1976 Summer Olympic Games of Montreal
Part III: The flag and the broom

On the morning of July 18, 1976, one day after the Opening Ceremony, our three men’s swimming Co-Head Coaches accompanied all of the American men to the pool that would compete on that first morning of preliminary swimming competition. The first event on the Olympic swimming schedule was the men’s 200 meter butterfly and our three entrants, Mike Bruner, Steve Gregg and Billy Forrester seemed ready to race.
In the heats, the East German swimmer and world record holder, Roger Pyttel, also seemed ready, qualifying with nearly the exact same time as Steve Gregg, to lead the finalists. In the finals that evening, Pyttel would be surrounded by the three American men.
That afternoon, before our Olympic swimmers would leave to warm up for the finals, Doc called the entire swim team to assemble in the coaches’ room in the Village, adjacent to the swimmers’ rooms. We crowded into their room, where the three coaches stood in the middle. For the first time, we could start to feel the tension and pressure of the Olympic Games. Everyone knew that the first event, the men’s 200 butterfly final, would set the tone for the entire Olympic swimming competition. We knew how important it was to start out right.
Yet Roger Pyttel, the world record holder in the 200 fly, was right where he wanted to be, in the middle of the pool. Could we upset him? Could we get a couple of Americans on the podium? That is what I was thinking, but not Doc.
He gathered all of the swimmers in a huddle and asked us to put our hands in the middle on top of his. We all struggled to reach our hands into the center of the circle, making sure that we were all touching, and then Doc began to speak.
“Tonight”, he said. “We are going to sweep the 200 fly. That’s right. We are getting first, second and third. Mike, Steve and Billy will lead us off. And after their swim tonight, we are going to sweep every event after that.”
None of us had enough time to even question him, before he asked us to let out the loudest “Let’s Go!” that we had ever shouted. On the count of three, we screamed out “Let’s Go!” so loudly, the women probably heard us at the other end of the Olympic Village.
With that, Doc walked over to the corner of the room and opened a closet door. He reached inside and pulled out an American flag and a dirty old broom. He handed the flag to John Naber (USC) and the broom to Jim Montgomery (IU). They were two of the fastest swimmers on the team and both were great leaders. We looked a little puzzled by the broom.
“Alright”, Doc continued. “John, you lead us with the flag and Jim, I want you to sweep that broom back and forth as we walk over to the Olympic swim stadium. We will walk behind you guys, arm in arm, chanting ‘Sweep, Sweep, Sweep!’. We will sit together. Our butterflyers will hear us chanting those words from the stands. We will sweep this event.”
When the men’s finalists for the 200 fly were paraded out, the American flag was waving in the stands, the broom was held high in the air, and the loud chant of ‘Sweep, Sweep, Sweep!’ echoed all across the Olympic Natatorium. Pyttel stood erect and tall, like he was going to win the event and take home a gold medal. The three American swimmers had a different idea.
When the gun went off, so did Pyttel, passing the 100-meter mark ahead of his world record pace. The three American Olympic swimmers were all a half a body length behind him. By the 125 meter mark, we could see that all three of the Americans were gaining on Pyttel. But could they catch him?
At the 150-meter mark, Pyttel turned first, with our Olympic swimmers just behind him at his shoulders. Now it was a race to the finish. Pyttel was trying desperately to hang on, but with less than 20 meters to the wall, all four swimmers were very close. Any one of the four of them could still win. Who would get to the wall first?
With incredible strength, stamina and efficiency, almost as if they were pulling each other along like a flock of geese, Bruner, Gregg and Forrester sprinted to the wall, finishing first, second and third, in that order. All three Americans swam under 2 minutes for the first time in their lives and Mike Bruner set a new world record at 1:59.2. Pyttel finished fourth, out of the medal count.
In the stands, while cheering at the top of our lungs, we looked at each other almost in disbelief, celebrating our first sweep of the Olympic swimming competition.
“Oh my God”, I remember thinking. “We did it. We swept the 200 fly, just as Doc said we would. Maybe he’s right. Maybe we are good enough to sweep every event. We can do this!”
For the next 5 days of Olympic swimming competition during the 1976 Games, our men’s team would assemble every afternoon with Doc, George and Don in their room, just before leaving for the finals. There, we would put our hands together in the middle of the huddle, proclaim that we would sweep every event on the schedule that evening, and let out the loudest ‘Let’s Go!’ imaginable. Doc would hand the flag and the broom to a different swimmer each day and then, with those swimmers leading the way, we would walk, arm-in-arm, to the Olympic Swimming Stadium together, chanting ‘Sweep, Sweep, Sweep!’
In the 1976 Olympic Games swimming program there were only 11 individual events and two relays, the 400 medley relay and the 800 free relay. For some reason, FINA elected not to have a 200 IM and a 400 free relay in those Olympic Games for the men. Don’t ask me why. That meant that there were 35 possible swimming medals to be won in the men’s swimming competition, including the two relays.
In the end, we did not sweep every event. We swept only four events, the 100 and 200 fly, 200 freestyle and the 200 backstroke. In five other events, 2 American swimmers were on the podium. Of the 35 possible medals to win, the United States men’s swimming team won 27 of them, including both relays, leaving just 8 individual medals for the entire rest of the world to take home. The USA men’s swimming team broke 11 world records in that Olympic competition and lost only one race, the 200 breaststroke, which was won by David Wilkie from Great Britain in world record time.
Perhaps most impressive was that of the 27 American men’s Olympic swimmers, all but one achieved their personal best times at those Olympic Games, not just by a little, but by a lot. We swam way beyond what the world expected us to do and much faster than the times we had swum just about one month earlier at our Olympic Trials. All of that happened because of a flag, a broom, three great coaches and a team of young, determined swimmers.
Some of the FINA members must have grown tired of seeing the Stars and Stripes raised so often in Montreal, because that was the last Olympic Games where three swimmers from each country were allowed to compete in each event. We will never see a sweep in Olympic swimming competition again.
I am so proud to have been a part of that great USA men’s Olympic swimming team in Montreal in 1976, but more importantly, Doc and the other coaches taught us an invaluable life lesson. Our minds control  our actions. We can all achieve so much more than we think we can….if we just believe.
Yours in swimming, Gary Sr.
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8 juni
The 1976 Summer Olympic Games of Montreal
 Part II: Olympic Swimming Training Camp

To train the men’s swimmers for the 1976 Olympic Games of Montreal, the Team USA coaches wanted to be in a town with no distractions.
Canton, Ohio is best known for the National Football League Hall of Fame, and that is where football began in America. It is also home of the C.T. Branin Natatorium at Canton McKinley High School, built from the generosity of the Timken family, and named after their former swim coach. Even today, more than 40 years later, the Branin Natatorium serves as the site for the Ohio State High School Swimming Championships each year and is still considered a very fast pool.
In 1976 the Branin Natatorium was brand new and Canton was a good place for a bunch of young Olympic swimmers to stay focused on the tasks ahead of us. None of us were too much into football, so there wasn’t much else to do there, but train and rest. In all of our swim team meetings, neither Doc, George nor Don ever discussed specific goals. In fact, they made it a point not to. Their objective was to bond the team and have fun.
A lot of the entertainment during that swimming training camp was provided by Olympic breaststroker John Hencken, a.k.a. Rocket Man. John was an engineering student at Stanford and was fascinated by rockets and airplanes. Almost each day after practice, with the entire team watching, John would launch one of his home-made rockets in the field near the hotel or throw one of his carefully constructed paper airplanes from the 10-meter tower at the Branin Natatorium, trying to beat his distance record.
A few times, we visited the local movie theater for the matinee between practices, drawing inspiration from characters like Clint Eastwood in The Outlaw Josie Wales, who single handedly killed nearly the entire Confederate Army.
 Swimming practices were exceptional in the Olympic training camp, with great times being recorded by all swimmers nearly every day. While we could have easily looked at each other as competitors for the upcoming 1976 Olympic Games, we did not. Instead, we became our own support group. Our ages ranged from 15 (Bobby Hackett) to 25 (me) and many of the younger swimmers, including Brian Goodell, Casey Converse and several others, had never competed in an International meet before. With just a few weeks remaining before the biggest stage of our career, the Olympic Games, none of us seemed worried. None of us were afraid. None of us were intimidated in the least. We were having fun and getting mentally prepared, without even really knowing it.
I am not quite sure how it happened in those five weeks of training camp, but that Olympic men’s Team, filled with swimmers from bitter school rivalries and swimmers that were very young and inexperienced, bonded into the most confident, cohesive and close-knit team I have ever been on, including college or club teams. There was no hazing, no right of passage. Everyone deserved to be there. Instead, there was a lot of laughing and joking and fun, along with some really fast practice times.
Once the swimming training in Canton was completed, we flew to Plattsburgh N.Y., near Lake Placid, to be outfitted in our Team USA gear. From there, we drove in vans 50 miles directly north to Montreal for the biggest swimming meet of our lives. Given the circumstances, we felt unusually calm and confident. We proudly wore our Team USA gear every day.
The 1976 Montreal Olympic Pool was just across the way from the Olympic Village. It was so close that, unless we were competing that day, we would walk as a team together to the Natatorium to watch the finals. We were only able to swim in the impressive competition pool a few times before the Games began, so most of our training sessions leading up to the Opening Ceremony were at the Claude Robillard Sports Center, which contained another beautiful 50-meter pool. It didn’t really matter where we went to swim, though, in those few days leading up to the Opening Ceremony. We remained confident.
In the Montreal Olympic Village, the USA men’s swimming team was housed at one end of the Village and the women’s swimming team at the other end. We hadn’t trained together and we didn’t get to see much of the women except at the dining room or at the pool. It was a shame. I think we could have helped them emotionally get through the competition, while facing incredible adversity. But we were separated nearly the entire time.
The night before the Opening Ceremony, Steve and I were summoned to the headquarters of the USOC for the purpose of selecting our flag bearer. There, I was both shocked and honored to be selected by the team Captains of all 28 sports to lead our Team USA athletes into Montreal Stadium the next day. It was an indescribable feeling for me, but proudly, Steve and I walked back to our Village rooms, eager to share the exciting news with our team mates.
We both considered that having a swimmer honored to carry our flag and lead Team USA into Montreal Stadium for the Opening Ceremony, which was the first time in history that had happened, was a good omen. We just didn’t know how good.
To be continued……..
Yours in Swimming,  Gary Sr.

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1 juni  2019
The 1976 Summer Olympic Games of Montreal
Part I: The Assembly of the Olympic Team


The 1976 Olympic Games of Montreal, Canada, produced two of the most fascinating stories in the history of Olympic swimmers. One was provided by female Olympic swimmers with the USA women’s 4 x 100 freestyle team on the final day of competition, overcoming almost impossible odds to defeat the drug-enhanced East German swimming team, winning the gold medal. The entire story is documented in a feature-length film released in 2016, called The Last Gold. If you have not seen this documentary yet, you should watch it on one of the movie channels. It is one of the most extraordinary examples of human will that you will ever see. It was perhaps the gutsiest Olympic swimming performance ever.
The other remarkable story was from the male Olympic swimmers with the entire performance of the USA men’s swimming team, of which I was a proud part. The degree of success and dominance of the USA men’s swimming team in those Olympic Games was about as unlikely as the women winning the 4 x 100 freestyle relay. Sports Illustrated, in their customary pre-Games predictions, had the US Men’s team winning about half of the swimming medals in those Olympic Games. That would have been pretty impressive, but that is not what happened. It was through the brilliant coaching by arguably the greatest swim coach of all time, Doc Counsilman, and the unlikely props of an American flag and an old broom, that the US men’s swimming team far exceeded everyone’s expectations.
Doc never took the credit for the success of the 1976 men’s Olympic swimming team. He always said it was a team effort, which it was. Yet all great teams start with great leadership, and Doc provided all of that.
When the men’s team assembled in Long Beach after the final day of the Olympic Trials at Belmont Plaza pool, Doc wasted no time putting his plan into action. He told the 27 men, still jubilant from having made the Olympic Team, to send all of their collegiate and club t-shirts home. No swimmer or coach was allowed to wear them. Instead, he passed out Team USA shirts. No one understood the importance of this move better than Doc.
“Wear these proudly”, he told us. “From now on, you are part of one team, Team USA”.
Quite a few of the 27 members of that Olympic Swimming Team had ties to the two best collegiate swimming programs of those days, University of Southern California and Indiana University. There was no love between those two rival schools. Combining so many swimmers from both schools could have been disastrous. Doc had witnessed college cliques that had formed on previous Olympic Teams, eroding the team spirit. He was not going to let that happen.
His next move was perhaps one of the most brilliant. In the same meeting, even though he had been named officially as Head Coach of the men’s team, he proclaimed that he was not the Head Coach. Instead, he told us that our Team had three Head Coaches, naming George Haines (coach of Santa Clara Swim Club) and Don Gambril (coach of Long Beach Swim Club) as his Co-Head coaches. There were no assistant coaches. They were all three Co-Head Coaches.
Further, for the subsequent five weeks of Olympic training camp, Doc allowed each swimmer to pick whichever Co-Head Coach he wanted to train under in preparation for Montreal. By the time we reached Canton, Ohio for our training camp, each of us had settled comfortably with the coach in which we had the most confidence. Instead of one Head Coach with 27 swimmers and two assistant coaches, each Co-Head Coach ended up with 8-10 swimmers for the Olympic training camp and provided individualized training and support for each one. No one felt left out. Everyone was happy.
The men’s Olympic swimming team elected Steve Furniss (USC) and me (Indiana U) to be their Co-Captains. It was not a coincidence that the two Co-Captains elected were from the two rival schools and also swam on the same summer club swimming team together. Steve and I got along well, even though we were from rival schools, and everyone knew it. Our job was to make sure everyone else got along, and that we did.
To be continued…….
Yours in Swimming, Gary Sr.

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13 maj 2019

Denna veckan skriver Gary Hall om "The Mike Burton story". En intressant historia om en av de allra största distanssimmarna och kanske den med det tuffaste psyket. Läs och njut:

Mental Toughness: The Mike Burton Story

At The Race Club we try to help swimmers become mentally tougher. Mental toughness is necessary to become a swimming champion, as it is in any sport. Some are born with it. Others must learn how to get it.
At University of Texas, Eddie Reese used to rank all of his swimmers on mental toughness from 0-10. He called it the Killer Instinct scale. In order to grade his swimmers, he needed to see how they performed in the Championship meets and particularly during their freshman year.  After all, those are the meets that count. 
Whatever level you may have been born with on the Killer Instinct scale, we do believe you can improve your ranking on that scale. At The Race Club we teach a five step process to improve your mental toughness; goal setting, visualization, confidence building, focus, and anchoring.
In our talks on mental training, we often share an inspirational story of one of the many swimmers that we believe are a 10 on the killer instinct scale. One of my favorite stories is of Mike Burton. Many of you have never heard of him, but you should know about him. He was as mentally tough as Michael Phelps, but with a lot less talent.
Mike was from Sacramento, California, and trained under the great coach, Sherm Chavoor. He started swimming competitively at the age of nine as a result of a bike accident. Although he was small and had small hands and feet, he was kind of like Forest Gump. He just kept on swimming, outworking everyone else around him.
By the time Mike was at UCLA in the late 60’s (back when they had a men’s team), he had become the world’s best distance freestyler, holding American and World Records in the 1500 meters. In 1966 at the Spring Nationals in Brandon, Florida, which was the last outdoor short course Nationals ever held, the weather was miserable; cold (38 degree low), wet and rainy. Everyone swam poorly, except Mike. He didn’t care about the weather and broke two American records.
In 1968 at the Olympic Games of Mexico City, after graduating from UCLA, he appeared to have a story-book ending to his illustrious career, winning gold medals in the 400 meter and 1500 meter freestyle events in high altitude. In those days, there was no post-grad swimming program around and no money to support a career.  Seemed like a good time for Mike to bow out. But he wasn’t finished yet.
In 1972, Mike decided to make a comeback at the age of 25, which was considered ancient in those days. In those four years since Mexico City, the swimming world, led by Rick DeMont, had passed him by. Rick was the new man on the block for distance freestyle swimming. Beautiful technique, awesome kick, amazing work ethic, Rick’s freestyle was like watching a ballet in the water.
At the 1972 Olympic Trials in Portage Park, Illinois, Rick won both the 400 meter and 1500 meter freestyle events in world record times. Mike qualified 8th for the finals of the men’s 1500, barely getting in. Somehow, the next evening Mike miraculously finished 3rd in the 1500 freestyle final to qualify for the Olympic Team. He received a standing ovation for his comeback effort. Yet no one expected him to win a medal in Munich, except Mike and perhaps Sherm.
In Munich, after Rick won the gold medal in the 400 meter freestyle on the first day of competition, it was abruptly taken away from him on the following day because of a positive test for ephedrine, an ingredient found in his asthma medication. He had never been warned that ephedrine was a banned substance nor that it was in his daily medication. Not only did Rick’s gold medal from his 400 get taken away, he was also disqualified from swimming the 1500 on the final day. That mishap likely cost Rick two Olympic gold medals.
The other Team USA swimmer in the 1500 meter freestyle, Doug Northway, did not swim well. In the finals of the men’s 1500 meter freestyle, on the final day of Olympic competition, Mike Burton was our best hope for a medal. He had qualified behind two faster Australians, Graham Windeatt and Brad Cooper. Both Aussies had their eyes on the gold medal.
When the gun went off for the start, Mike went out fast, quickly gaining a body length on his competitors.  That was the only race strategy he knew; go out fast and try to hang on. By the 600 meter mark, however, Windeatt had already passed Burton and Cooper was gaining ground on him. The Australians, sitting next to us in the stands, were already celebrating the victory. We were cheering Mike on, hoping he could hang in for a silver medal.
There wasn’t much change in their positions over the next 400 meters, with Windeatt now holding about a body length lead, but after passing the 1000 meter mark, Mike started creeping back up on Windeatt. At 1200 meters, Mike caught the leader and over the final 300 meters extended his lead to win his final Olympic gold medal by 6 meters. It was the most courageous comeback I had ever seen in a swimming race.

That night, I went out with Mike to celebrate his victory. I was so awed by his race, at the end of dinner, I had to ask him this question.
“Mike,” I asked. “How did you do that?”
“What do you mean?” he responded.
“I have seen a lot of swimming races,” I continued.  “But I have never seen anyone take it out fast, like you did tonight, get overtaken, and then come back to win so decisively. Where did you find the strength to do that?”
He looked at me like I had just asked the dumbest question possible.
 “Gary”, he said. “I have never, ever given up in a race in my life….and I was not going to start tonight.”
When Mike Burton looked at himself in the mirror, he did not see a 5 foot 9 inch swimmer with small hands and feet. He saw a giant. He saw a champion.
What do you see when you look at yourself in the mirror?
Yours in swimming,  Gary Sr.

27 april 2019

Goosebumps Moments in Sports

As swimmers, parents or coaches, we all have our goosebumps moments in sports; moments when we are overtaken with pride and elation over having accomplished something or having witnessed something extraordinary. Goosebumps may have occurred over crushing a goal time, winning a championship race, being elected captain of the team, overtaking a competitor on the anchor leg of a relay….or a million other possible moments. The point is that these moments are the ones we relish the most during our careers. It is from these moments that we look back and say, “Yeah, it was all worth it.”
I have had many goosebumps moments in my life. Three of the most notable were watching my son, Gary Jr, win an Olympic gold medal in the 50 meter freestyle twice. The other was carrying the Olympic flag in the Opening Ceremony of the Olympic Games of Montreal Canada in 1976. That was an indescribable feeling of honor and the highest one I have ever received.
You may wonder how an Olympian gets the honor of carrying the flag in the Opening Ceremony at the Olympic Games for the United States. Well, here is how the process works.
First, you must be talented enough to make the Olympic Team. Since there are approximately 600 other extremely talented athletes on the same summer Olympic Team, that alone is not enough.
Second, you must have done something extraordinary as an Olympian. In Michael Phelp’s case, who was selected to be the flag bearer in Rio in 2016, he simply won more Olympic medals than any other human being in history. Others have been selected for qualifying for numerous Olympic Teams (I was just the second person (behind Duke Kahanamoku) to qualify for three Olympic teams in swimming…which today is nothing unusual). Other Olympians, such as Cliff Meidel (2000 Canoeing) and Lopez Lamong (2008 Athletics) were selected on the basis of having made a heroic comeback or overcoming a tremendous obstacle to reach the Olympic team.
Third, you need to be a little bit lucky, being in the right place at the right time. In the two prior Olympic Games of 1972 and 1968, a woman had been selected to carry the USA flag. Perhaps that may have influenced the decision to select a man in 1976?
On the evening before the Opening Ceremony day of each Olympic Games (summer or winter), all of the team captains from all sports are summoned to a meeting room for the purpose of selecting the flag bearer. Not all of the captains of the sports that are represented there will nominate an athlete for that honor, but many do.
In 1976 there were 12 athletes nominated by various team captains to carry the flag and lead Team USA into Montreal Olympic Stadium. Each of those team captains presented his or her arguments as to why the nominated athlete should receive that honor. All nominees were deserving. Since I was one co-captain of the men’s swim team, the other co-captain, Steve Furniss, presented my case. He must have done a great job, because he made me sound a lot better than I could ever remember being. I do recall blushing somewhat during his presentation.
Then we voted. After the first vote, eight candidates were eliminated and we were down to four. Each nominating captain spoke again about their selected candidate. The second vote came down to two athletes, Willie Davenport, a renowned hurdler, and me.
Willie Davenport was competing in his fourth Olympic Games. He had won the gold medal in 1968 in the 110 meter hurdles. A year or so before the 1976 Olympic Games, Willie had suffered from a pulmonary embolus that had nearly killed him. Yet he came back from that adversity and qualified for his 4th Olympic team. It was an amazing story.
When I heard all of that, I knew I was not going to win. I was still pretty honored to be standing up there with him on that ballot. In fact, the only two votes that I thought I could count on were from Steve and an Olympian named Jan Palchikoff. Jan was captain of the women’s rowing team, but had been a young swimmer on the same team as me in California, years earlier. We were still good friends.
After the final vote, it was announced that I was the winner. I almost fell off my chair. I stood up, and with tears welling in my eyes, told the entire group of captains how proud I was to have been given that honor. It meant so much to me then and the honor of being our standard bearer in the Olympic Games grows greater every year. To have been selected by my peers to lead the greatest group of athletes from the greatest country in the world into the Olympic Games is an indescribable feeling. It is a goosebumps moment.
As we walked out of the meeting, I put my arm around Steve and thanked him. Without his persuasive words, I would never have been elected. I told him that the only two people that I thought would vote for me were him and Jan Palchikoff, who was seated next to Steve.
“I hate to break the news to you, Gary”, he said. “I looked over at Jan while she was casting her vote. She voted for Willie.”
The following afternoon as we prepared just outside the Olympic Village for the march to the stadium, I clutched the flag pole tightly with my arms, with the end of the pole planted firmly against my chest. The red, white and blue stars and stripes waved continuously above my head from the light breeze. We marched for nearly a mile from the Olympic Village before we even reached the Olympic Stadium. The few hundred spectators standing alongside the road on the way clapped favorably as we marched by.
Then we entered into a darkened tunnel which led us onto the track of the stadium. As I was leading the team through the tunnel, I began to see the light of the opening of the tunnel and my hands began to tremble. “God,” I prayed to myself. “Please don’t let me drop this flag”.
The Stars and Stripes were the first thing to appear coming out of the tunnel. Once the crowd saw our flag, all 80,000 spectators stood and let out a deafening roar of approval. I shook like a leaf. Goosebumps formed everywhere. Yet I smiled all the way around that track. I even gave a short wave to Queen Elizabeth who was seated in the crowd. We were told explicitly not to dip the flag to her, as it is a US federal law that we are not to do so for any foreign king, queen or kingdom. I obeyed.
Whenever your goosebump moments in life occur, relish them. We don’t get that many and you should cherish every one. I know that I do.
Yours in swimming,
 Gary Sr.


Understanding the 4 Basic Sciences of Fast Swimming

Swimming fast is primarily the result of the effective application of four broad basic sciences, Physics, Physiology, Kinesiology and (lumped together) Neural, Cognitive and Behavioral Sciences. All four of these basic sciences interact and, to some degree, overlap and are extremely important in helping an athlete swim fast. In order to become the best swimmer or swim coach possible, we need to develop an understanding of all four sciences and how they inter-relate. The following is a simplistic description of the four sciences.
Physics in swimming relates mostly to Newtonian and Fluid Mechanics. Our ability to quantitate frontal drag in both active (while swimming) and passive (fixed positions) forms, and to understand how the fluid dynamics and flow (vortices) of a swimmer affect his ability to generate propulsion largely influence the swimming techniques we should teach. Of all four basic sciences, the application of physics is perhaps the least understood or studied in the sport of swimming.
Physiology in swimming relates to our ability to provide sufficient energy, and from the right systems, to enable the muscles involved in the ideal biomechanical swimming motions. This will sustain propulsion for the duration of the competitive event. It also relates to our ability to develop the right muscle composition in order to maximize and sustain propulsion.  Physiology involves a large number of human organs and systems, most of which can be improved with training. Some cannot. The best swimming coaches in the most advanced swimming nations of the world have done an incredibly good job at improving the physiology of swimmers through conditioning and training.
Kinesiology relates to our ability to understand the ideal motions that maximize a swimmer’s velocity for the duration of the event. Kinesiology includes more than biomechanical motions, however.  It also considers how the physiology, anatomy, and psychology influence the ideal motions of an athlete. One might assume that the ideal biomechanical motions of a swimmer also produce the maximum amount of propulsion, but that is not necessarily true. A swimmer’s acceleration or deceleration at any moment is determined by the net difference between his propulsion and his frontal drag forces. To reach maximum sustainable velocity, a compromise often needs to be reached between the motions that produce the most propulsion and those that reduce frontal drag. The biomechanics of any swimmer’s motions are often determined and/or restricted by a limited amount of flexibility in key joints, such as the shoulder, hip, or ankle.
Neural, Cognitive, and Behavioral Sciences in sports relates to the power or ability of the mind to enable the body to perform at the highest possible level. Virtually every cognitive function we perform is controlled by our minds. Swimming is no exception. Neuromuscular adaptation and responses are two of the most important aspects of training and competing. Mental training in the sport of swimming is still in its infancy, compared to what is known about improving the physiology and biomechanics of swimmers. I believe that there is a great opportunity for improvement in these sciences.
This week, our Race Club subscribers in Lanes 2, 3, and 4 will find a webisode showing an excellent technique to improve stroke rate for the 100 backstroke. Hope you will enjoy!

Yours in Swimming,
Gary Sr.

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2019-03-20 Veckans artikel från Gary Hall i "The Race Club"

Physiology for Swimmers, Coaches and Parents
Part III Muscle Composition
Whether we turn out to be a better sprinter or endurance athlete is largely determined by the composition of our muscle fibers. There are three types of fibers; slow-twitch (type I) and two types of fast-twitch (types IIa and IIb). Slow twitch fibers are more suitable for endurance events and fast twitch fibers are better suited for short bursts of power and speed. Type IIa fibers have the ability to convert more toward an endurance function (similar to type I) or toward a power function (similar to type IIb), depending on how we train them.
While our composition of muscle fibers is largely genetically determined, we have the ability to increase the size (hypertrophy) and numbers of muscle fibers (muscle mass) and to a smaller degree, alter the function of our type IIa fibers through appropriate training and nutrition. Larger and/or more type II muscle fibers will increase the contractile strength of the muscle. More type I fibers increases our ability to sustain contractions over a longer time.
The paradox of building too much muscle mass is that it can begin to affect our shape (morphology), making us bigger, which increases frontal drag forces.  In most sports, getting bigger and stronger will make us better. In swimming, that is not always the case. At some point, if we continue getting bigger, we will get slower. The additional power will not overcome the additional drag force we create from the added size.
In summary, a simplified understanding of the physiology for swimmers, coaches and parents includes the following:
1.      Identify the anatomical composition of the swimmer’s muscles (this can be estimated by experience in racing or training or by doing a vertical jump)
2.      Build the energy systems according to the duration of the events to be swum (most of the swimming events require a robust aerobic system, while sprinting requires more attention to the anaerobic system and stored energy)
3.      Teach swimmers to use an appropriate respiratory rate to properly utilize the aerobic system (when required)
4.      Design appropriate training in and outside of the pool to improve the composition and size of swim-specific muscle fibers for the targeted events
In the past 2 weeks we have released 3 webisodes on appropriate dryland and strength training for swimmers featuring Indiana University coach Coley Stickels and some of his outstanding post-grad swimmers. Lane 1-4 subscribers will find a great video on strength training, while those in Lanes 3 and 4 will also find a video on boxing for swimmers and another video on some unusual dynamic warm up exercises. We hope you will enjoy these new webisodes!

Yours in Swimming, Gary Sr.
 *Special thanks to Dave Costill, PhD for his contributions to this article
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Improving your Swimming Race Starts off the Blocks
The Three Techniques of a Clean Entry for Swimming Race Starts 

When a swimmer’s hands first strike the water on the swimming start, the speed of the swimmer will never reach anywhere near that level again in the race. Whether a swimmer simply falls off the block or has a huge vertical leaping ability, like Caeleb Dressel or Brad Tandy, the vertical speed at hand entry will be similarly near 13-14 mph, thanks to gravity. Both swimmers will also reach the water at exactly the same time. The difference is that Caeleb and Brad will reach the water over 4 meters from the wall.
When Caeleb swims the 50 freestyle, his average speed is about 5.5 mph. As the hands enter the water after the start, swimmers are traveling at nearly 3 times the world record speed. Since frontal drag is proportional to the square of the speed of the swimmer, the swimmer had better find the most streamlined position possible. If not, he or she will pay a huge penalty.
One of the most important techniques of a great swimming start is to not lose all of that momentum derived from the high velocity off the starting block. To do so requires a very clean entry, which means very little splash. The bigger the splash, the more frontal drag is caused at entry, and the more the swimmer slows down.
The three importance techniques or nuances of getting a clean entry at the swimming race start are:
1.      Hyperstreamline the front end of your body
2.      Point the toes at entry with a very slight knee bend
3.      Lift the hip before entry
We have written extensively about the use of the hyperstreamline position in swimming:

·         Teaching and Learning Fundamentals: Begin with Streamline
·         Physics for Swimmers, Coaches, and Parents – Frontal Drag
·         What is the Best Streamline
·         Freestyle Flip Turn: Why the Breakout Matters
It is interesting to note that, although there continues to be some controversy about the best way for swimmers to streamline, virtually all swimmers get into the hyperstreamlined body position for the entry off the swimming race start. Chins are tucked all the way to the chest. Arms are placed behind the head and hands are wrapped together, wrist over wrist, with fingers pointed forward and squeezed together. At such high speeds that are achieved on the starts, swimmers have learned that this hyperstreamlined body position results in the lowest possible drag coefficient.
What swimmers are not so aware of is what is happening at the back ends of their bodies, with their feet and legs. The feet and legs enter the water at nearly the same speed as the hands, yet swimmers are often simply unaware of what is happening at that end. Failing to point the toes is one of the most common mistakes we find on the start. With our Propulsion/Drag Meter testing, we found that having the feet hanging will add 41% more frontal drag compared to pointing the toes.  In other words, if your feet are hanging down on the start, it is like putting a parachute out.
In order to get the feet in the water cleanly, the toes need to be pointed backwards like a ballerina and the knees should be bent very slightly. Bending the knees slightly enables the swimmer to point the toes skyward and to slip the feet into the water with very little splash. Overbending the knees results in too much frontal drag from the legs and not bending them at all results in the feet being too horizontal at entry. Getting the legs and feet into the water cleanly will result in the swimmer sustaining greater momentum.
Finally, the third important technique involved in getting the body into the water cleanly is called the hip lift. With this technique, the swimmer flexes the hip slightly (about 15 degrees) just prior to entry. If the swimmer maintains a straight body line at entry, the swimmer tends to go too deep. If the swimmer over flexes the hip (more than 30 degrees), he also tends to go too deep. With the right amount of hip flexion, the swimmer can get into the water with the least amount of drag and at the right depth. Virtually all elite swimmers will lift their hips slightly just before entering the water on the start.
This week in Lanes 2, 3 and 4 of The Race Club subscription, you will see a video on how we progress our swimmers through the process of getting a clean entry for the swimming start. Learning these three important techniques of a clean swimming race start entry is the first step toward getting a fast start like Caeleb and Brad have. We hope you enjoy!
Since Race Club strength coach Tim McClellan began using Marshal Arts techniques to teach our elite sprinters how to gain swimming power, speed and coordination in 2000, we have believed strongly in these types of exercises to benefit swimmers. This week in Lanes 1-4 (complimentary) you will find a fascinating combination of strength exercises using Martial Arts by Coach Coley Stickles with his Indiana University post-graduate athletes. You will love this video!
Subscribers to Lanes 3 and 4 will enjoy a deeper-dive video into some of the many boxing exercises that Coley uses for his athletes.
Yours in Swimming,
Gary Sr.

Gary Hall en av världens ledande medley- och fjärilsimmare i början av 1970-talet. Efter en civil karriär blev det simtränare han blev och driver nu The Race Club i Florida. Varje Vecka skriver han på SIMMA.NU. Idag handlar det om fjärilsimstekniken och rubriken är "varför jag gillar Rikako Ikkes fjärilsimsteknik"
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2019-02-28  Gary Hall om:
Why I like Rikako Ikee’s Butterfly Technique
Rikako Ikee has already proven to be one of the fastest women butterfly swimming competitors in the world. She should certainly be contending for the gold medal in the women’s 100 meter butterfly at both the world championships in 2019 and the Olympic Games of Tokyo in 2020.
Watching Rikako  swimming butterfly, you will see that she has very high recovering arms on both sides; a very vertical arm recovery compared to most. Her hands are well above her elbows on her recovery. Lazlo Cseh of Hungary has a similar recovery among the men’s butterfly swimming. 
The advantage of a more vertical recovery in swimming butterfly is that the gravitational force assists in the arms coming down to the water more forcefully when compared to a more common horizontal recovery. The higher kinetic energy of the arms at entry couples with the second down kick and enables the swimmer to surge forward faster after this second butterfly kick.
In order to do this vertical recovery in swimming butterfly, the swimmer needs to have extraordinarily high extension flexibility of the shoulders. At The Race Club, we grade all of our swimmers for flexibility in all of the important joints used in swimming. In the butterfly swimming stroke and the freestyle swimming stroke, the ability of the swimmer to extend the shoulders backwards is a key advantage. With both of these swimming strokes extension of the shoulders helps in the recovery motion and in the high elbow pulling motion.
With the arms held at shoulder level height, back straight and palms facing downward, we extend the arms backwards holding the arms near the elbows until the force produces some discomfort to the swimmer. If the elbows are a few inches apart when that occurs, we would score that as a 6. With one inch of separation, it is a 7. Barely touching the elbows together would be considered an 8. Overlapping elbows is a 9 and when the elbows can move past each other, that is a 10.
Every swimmer that I have seen that can use Rikako’s butterfly technique has an 8, 9 or 10 score on shoulder extension. Even those swimmers that have the extra shoulder flexibility may still be challenged with this high arm recovery technique, as it requires more attention and work to accomplish than a lower arm recovery.
I do believe that coupling with the arms and head (and to lesser extent the shoulders) can be a powerful technique in butterfly. The extra effort of Rikako’s high arm recovery, for those able to do so, may be well worth the effort.
This week in Lanes 2, 3 and 4 you will find a valuable webisode on another important coupling motion for freestyle swimming, body rotation. For those in Lanes 3 and 4, you will find some very good data on distance ace Zane Grothe on why the body rotation is so important in freestyle swimming. We hope you will enjoy them. In Lanes 3 and 4, American record holder Zane Grothe will show  you why you need to keep your toes pointed coming off the walls on your turns.
Yours in butterfly swimming,
Gary Sr.

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Publicerad den 15 februari 2019

Peak Performance Sports Psychology Mental Toughness:
Are you Anchoring to improve your Swimming Performances?
At The Race Club camps, our fifth and final point of peak performance mental toughness training is called anchoring. Anchoring is sports psychology that the swimmer does or says or thinks either standing behind or on the starting block, just seconds before the start of an important race.
The Anchoring effect to the swimmer is what the switch is to the light bulb. It is what the curtain-rise and spotlight is to the actor. Without anchoring techniques, the swimmer’s brain simply doesn’t get quite the same message that it is showtime. Anchoring psychology is the final and critical piece in the process of peak performance mental training. Without the positive thinking anchor, the peak performance is likely not going to be as good.
Every elite swimmer has a peak performance anchor. Some anchoring techniques are obvious. Some anchoring methods are not so obvious. I can assure you that each elite swimmer is saying or doing something right before that big race begins to get into the zone required of great performances. Anchoring is essential.
The fun part about anchoring is that each swimmer gets to design or invent his or her own peak performance anchor. It doesn’t matter too much if other swimmers in a race know what your anchor is, or even that you are anchoring. It is only important that you know.
An anchor can be as simple and subtle as licking the inside of your goggles or saying a few key words to yourself. Or the anchor technique can be as flamboyant as kissing your biceps (be ready to back it up!). You get to create your own. Just be sure you do that and don’t forget to use it before the big race.
Here are some of the most memorable anchors of all time.

   -               Michael Phelps’ dynamic stretch arm swing on the block. You might have thought that this famous stretch was just a stretch. Not only did it tell Michael that he was ready to pounce on the competition, the loud slap on his shoulders of his hands also anchored to every one of his competitors that Michael was ready.

·                 Usain Bolt’s ‘To di World’ Lightning victory pose. From the origin of a Jamaican dance, this pose became the fear of anyone that considered challenging Bolt’s title of the fastest human being on the planet.

·                 Gary Hall Jr’s shadow boxing routine. Through his career, the boxing progressed to the raising of his clenched hands to both sides, then finally to kissing of his biceps, accompanied by the red, white and blue, Stars and Stripes boxing robe and shorts. Boisterous? Perhaps, but he always backed it up.

·                 Amanda Beard’s teddy bear. Since the time she was a young swimmer, the teddy bear accompanied her to the starting block and waited there until she finished. Important? She probably couldn’t swim fast without that bear, but she did manage to win a few Olympic gold medals with the teddy bear on the block, cheering her on.

·                 Michael Jordan’s bounces of the basketball at the foul line, followed by a single backward twirl of the ball in the air. He once hit 6 out 10 free throws with his eyes closed using that anchor

·                 Stephan Curry's biting of his mouthpiece sideways before every free throw to be over 90% successful.
What is your peak performance anchor going to be?

Yours in swimming,
Gary Sr.

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Publicerad den 24 januari 2019

Three Pearls for a Faster Approach to the Freestyle Flip Turn

There are four parts to the freestyle flip turn: the approach, the tumble, the underwater and the breakout. Mistakes in all four parts are commonly made by most swimmers. Here are three of my favorite pearls for the approach to the wall that will help you improve your freestyle flip turns.

The Approach

1.    Accelerate to the wall. As swimmers approach the wall, most will slow their stroke rates or, even worse, glide into the wall. In either case, the swimmer will lose valuable momentum and time. Try to hold your stroke rate as you near the wall, increase your kicking speed and lengthen your neck on the final long stroke before tucking your head down for the flip. Avoid the short, choppy final stroke if you can. Carry that extra momentum through the turn.

2.    Look no higher than the bottom of the cross. To judge the distance to the wall properly, the swimmer must look at some part of the wall. Otherwise the risk is too great of missing the wall, either too close or too far away. Most swimmers look straight into the black cross on the end of the pool before making the flip, lifting their heads substantially and slowing themselves down. If you look only at the very bottom of the black cross to gain that perspective, rather than straight forward, the head lift is considerably less. This enables the swimmer to maintain more speed and momentum going into the flip.

3.    Don’t breathe while starting the flip. In sprints, it is advisable to not take a breath on the last stroke or two going into the turn. In the 200 or longer events, a swimmer needs all of the oxygen he or she can get. So taking a breath on the final stroke approaching the wall is typical. However, some swimmers will take the breath and initiate the tumble at the same time, causing them to lose their perspective of where the wall is. Even if the breath is taken on the final stroke, make sure the head is back down before initiating the flip.

Yours in swimming,
Gary Sr.

Publicerad den 18 januari 2019

Physiology 102:
Why your swimming breathing technique matters

Swimming fast involves proper breathing technique and building robust energy systems. In a previous physiology article, we discussed the three different systems that humans have available to produce energy for bodily functions, including muscle contraction in swimming. They are aerobic (requiring oxygen), anaerobic (not requiring oxygen) and stored energy. The aerobic and anaerobic energy systems produce energy in the form of adenosine triphosphate (ATP) while we store energy in our muscles in the form of ATP and Creatine Phosphate (CP).
To reduce frontal drag while swimming faster and to maximize the efficient use of our energy systems, it is vital that we learn proper swimming breathing techniques, particularly the breathing techniques of a faster freestyle and butterfly. This week, in Lanes 2, 3, and 4 in our subscription service,  you will find the first of a series of webisodes on swimming breathing technique. This webisode will help teach you how to breathe when swimming properly in faster freestyle.
While it may sound as if the aerobic system is more efficient than the anaerobic system, producing 18 times more ATP for each molecule of glucose (36 vs 2), it really isn’t. The anaerobic system works 200 times faster than the aerobic system. In other words, in the same amount of time it took the aerobic system to produce 36 molecules of ATP, the anaerobic system churned out 400 molecules of ATP, eleven times more energy. However, it also used 200 times the amount of glucose to produce that energy. In some endurance racing, like a 25k open water swimming race, we simply run out of available glucose, which is called bonking.
The problem with the anaerobic system isn’t efficiency, it’s the byproduct which lowers the pH of the body. All human organs and systems, including muscular contraction in swimmers, perform well within a very narrow range of pH and temperature. If the body’s pH or temperature goes too low or too high, the swimmer’s muscular contractions (and other bodily functions) begin to fail. Those of us that have competed in any sport, including swimming, know this feeling all too well.
The Anaerobic Threshold
In my simple mind, I picture a little man or woman sitting on a chair inside our body somewhere. Their job is to keep us alive. To do so they watch two meters that are in front of them; one for pH and the other for temperature. When either meter indicator goes too high or low, but before it gets to a red line on the meter, they stand up and pull a big red lever down on the wall, shutting down all systems. By shutting down the systems, or at least slowing them down, they may keep us alive, but they wreak havoc on our ability to swim fast. While racing in the sport of swimming, we want to keep them in that chair.
The best way to keep the little man or woman sitting down when we are racing is by developing a more robust aerobic system. That is what we do when we train swimmers aerobically. We improve their swimming breathing technique and other systems to deliver oxygen to the muscles (heart, lungs, blood, transport systems, respiratory rate, etc) and to produce ATP at the cellular level (mitochondria) more efficiently.
By pushing our swimmers harder in practice, into what is called the anaerobic threshold (around 20 beats/min less than maximal heart rate, or what Jon Urbanchek refers to as the blue zone), where they begin to produce lactate from the increased energy demands, we prepare them for racing in another way. Their bodies become better at buffering or neutralizing the pH. If we can get increased ATP production from the more efficient anaerobic system, yet buffer the pH, we will be able to sustain our speed better, so long as we don’t run out of glucose. This type of adaptation is called lactate training.
By training swimmers for short 5-10 second maximum bursts of speed, we may also be able to increase the quantity of stored energy available for sprinting. This is called alactic training.
Therefore, we have the ability to improve our aerobic energy systems, increase our ability to buffer the acid from the anaerobic system and increased stored energy. Yet all three require substantially different types of training.
Swim Training
The way in which we train our swimmers is complicated by having these three different sources of energy that produce or deliver ATP or CP at different rates and at different levels of efficiency. For example, in 50-meter sprints, which involve 20-30 seconds of all out exertion, around 95% of the energy will come from stored and the anaerobic system. Consequently, there is no good rationale for breathing much in 50-meter freestyle or fly sprints for mature swimmers, which only slow the athlete down.
In the 200 meters or longer events, requiring about 2 minutes or more of exertion, the majority of energy will come from the aerobic system. The longer the event, the greater contribution of energy comes from the aerobic system, so long as we breathe sufficiently. In these events, oxygen needs to be delivered at the most efficient rate possible. In land sports over this same duration, the respiratory rate is in the range of 50-60 breaths per minute. The respiratory rate should be similar while swimming these longer events.
The 100 is an interesting race, as it takes place over approximately one minute of exertion. About half (mostly first half) of the energy needed for the race will come from the anaerobic and stored systems and the other half of the energy (mostly second half), will come from the aerobic system. However, since the aerobic system gets activated from the start of the race, we need to breath fairly often on the first half of the race, even though we may not feel as if we need the oxygen.  If we don’t breathe often enough early in the race, we build up a huge oxygen debt, the pH goes down and the little man or woman will get off the chair toward the end of the race and shut down the systems.
At the elite level of swimming, the respiratory rates of females are typically less than of males in the 100-meter freestyle and butterfly events. While there are theories about why this is, and I have some, I am not certain we know all of the reasons for this. Perhaps the physiologists that are reading this article can offer their opinion.
In summary, how we train and how often we breathe determine, to a large extent, how much energy we can produce for our muscles and from which systems we will get that energy. First, check out our latest webisode in Lane 2, 3 or 4 on our website,, to find out the best swimming breathing technique for a faster freestyle.
Yours in swimming,
Gary Sr.
Special thanks to David Costill, PhD, for his contributions to this article.

Publicerad den 10 januari 2019

Helping Fast Swimmers Get Faster

Technology can be a wonderful tool in helping swimmers swim faster, if used properly. In spite of the success that our USA National Team swimmers have had in international competition for decades, we still live in a rather unsophisticated, low-tech sport. Most of the credit for our success in swimming faster goes to our great coaches and athletes.

At The Race Club, we feel that there is a great opportunity to help all swimmers swim faster using some new technology and improving the use of some not-so-new technology. Typically, it is not so challenging to help a slow swimmer swim faster, as they are making lots of mistakes in swimming technique. Many of those mistakes are visible from the deck. The question is can we use this technology to help our fastest swimmers get faster? They are certainly making fewer mistakes in their swimming technique and most of those may not be visible or discernable from the deck. Here is a good example.
Recently, National Team member and world-class butterfly swimmer, Amanda Kendall came to The Race Club for some Velocity Meter (VM) and Pressure Meter (PM) testing. The VM measures velocity, acceleration, and deceleration synchronized to video and the PM measures the pressure (force) on the pulling hands, body rotational speed, and body rotation synchronized to video. Both provide useful but different information.

Testing Fast Swimmers
In doing her VM testing, I asked Amanda if we could make a slight change in her butterfly technique and test for the outcome. She agreed. Her normal technique while breathing was to keep the head position more or less in alignment with her upper body, resulting in very little motion in her neck. We tested her using her normal swimming technique and then asked her to extend her neck more fully for the breath and flex the neck fully to her chest after the breath, resulting in significantly more head motion. She had never actually done that before.

It took us a while to compile all of the data from our testing, but in the meantime, without my knowing it, Amanda went home and continued using the more aggressive head motion during the breath in swimming training. She said later that swimming simply felt faster doing it that way.
Before we had a chance to discuss the results of our test, Amanda went to USA Winter Nationals swim competition and won the 100 m butterfly in a PR of 57.8, using that new swimming technique. Not surprisingly, when we finally went over the results of the VM, we found that there was a significant increase in her body’s acceleration as a result of snapping the head down farther and faster, rather than laying it down after the breath. Most important, we also found an increase in her overall swimming velocity. Comparing Amanda to Kelsi Worrell Dahlia, whom we had tested with the VM over a year earlier using a similar ‘head-in-alignment’ butterfly swimming technique, we found that with her new swimming technique, Amanda had more acceleration on the second down kick after the breath (coinciding with the head snapping down).

When we finally discussed the results, I was surprised to hear Amanda say that she had already changed her swimming technique, but I was happy to hear that it helped her swim faster in Greensboro at Winter Nationals. We also found two other technical errors she was making, which we believe will help her swim even faster. The point is that VM and PM technology can help any swimmer at any level, swim faster.
You will find the full details of our study in Lanes 1, 2, 3 and 4 this week on our Race Club subscription, or on the home page of our website at We hope you will enjoy this complementary video and look forward to helping you swim faster.

Yours in swimming faster,
Gary Sr

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Publicerad 29 december 2018

Introduction: Physiology 101

In order to swim faster, we need energy; lots of it. Whether awake or asleep, our bodies depend on a constant production of energy for all its functions, such as vision, sleeping, eating, thinking, breathing, digesting, or any physical movements we make. When we step on the blocks for a fast swimming race, we are about to increase the energy demands to a very different and high level and, if we expect to swim fast, our bodies need to be capable of producing it.

The energy for our body functions, including muscular contraction, is mostly in the form of adenosine triphosphate (ATP). ATP is to our muscles what gasoline is to our cars. We can’t function without it any better than our cars can run without gas. We have three sources of providing energy for our muscles; stored energy, the anaerobic system and the aerobic system.

Three Sources of Providing Energy
The first source is stored energy, which comes in the form of ATP or Creatine Phosphate (CP).  Stored ATP and CP are the most readily available energy source in the muscle, but are in very limited supply. We run out of stored energy after about 10 seconds or less of maximal exertion.
The second source of energy comes from the anaerobic system (without oxygen). This system is primordial, presumably developed before we had oxygen in our environment. To produce 2 molecules of ATP, the anaerobic system requires a molecule of glucose, but no oxygen. It also produces a byproduct called lactate, which frees up a hydrogen ion, making the body more acidic. Once the swim race begins, the anaerobic system is activated and begins to produce ATP almost immediately.
The third source of energy, the aerobic system, requires a molecule of glucose and a molecule of oxygen to work. For each molecule of glucose, the aerobic system will produce 36 molecules of ATP. Once the swim race begins and with it the demand for increased energy, the aerobic system gets activated, but it takes longer for this system to produce ATP.
Unless we are demanding a lot of energy for our bodies, like when we race in swimming, we can produce enough energy from our aerobic system to provide for most of our daily functions. When we race and try to swim fast, however, and it is ‘all hands on deck’, we need to produce as much ATP as we can get. From the first effort off the starting blocks and the early swimming strokes, we quickly begin to use up our available stored energy. Both the aerobic and anaerobic systems immediately get activated and begin to produce ATP as quickly as possible.

This week, in Lane 3 of our subscription, you find our podcast interview with swimming exercise physiologist, Trever Gray. Trever, a former world-class swimmer, discusses his recently published article on how much to hyperventilate before swimming a race We hope you will find this interview interesting. In upcoming articles, we will discuss how each of the three energy systems work and how we can prepare ourselves to use them most efficiently to swim faster.

Yours in Swimming,
Gary Sr.
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exempel på "det nya bröstsimmet" ser du ovan. Lagkamraten till Adam Peaty - Sarah Vasey simmar med slang.....

Publicerad 10 december 2018

I love watching Adam Peaty and Lilly King do breaststroke. It is the new breaststroke. You might call it a high octane breaststroke, as it is a powerful technique for the 50 and 100 breaststroke, primarily (Adam doesn’t even swim the 200 breast). This new breaststroke should be fast in both tempo and speed.
Having a fast stroke rate in breaststroke does not necessarily equate to having speed. It is pretty easy to spin your wheels in breaststroke and waste a lot of energy without having much to show for that effort in terms of speed. Breaststroke is the most timing-sensitive of all four strokes. It requires a completely different set of tools to do well, which includes hip, ankle and lumbar spinal flexibility. It is also a stroke where, in order to do well, neither the arms nor the legs ever get to rest. For all of these reasons, breaststroke is the most difficult stroke to teach and learn.
Lilly and Adam have several things in common in their breaststroke technique. Both swimmers are very strong in the pull and the kick. Both swimmers use their upper bodies and heads extremely well to couple with the pull and the kick. Both swimmers have lightning fast legs.
Having the right hip and ankle flexibility enables a breaststroker to push the instep of the feet backward with greater surface area, resulting in more propulsion. Having more lumbar flexibility enables a breaststroker to elevate the shoulders higher out of the water, while still keeping the legs pointing backwards. The higher the shoulders climb, the harder they fall. It is in the falling of the upper body and head where the timing becomes crucial for the kick.
If the swimmer is to take advantage of all of that energy of the upper body and head crashing down, there is precious little time from the end of the pulling propulsion, when the shoulders are fully elevated and legs pointing backwards, until the start of the subsequent kicking propulsion, when the upper body should be striking the water. Shortly after that, the kinetic energy of the upper body goes to zero. If the kick didn’t happen in time, you just missed the dance. That is where the lightning fast legs comes into play.
Recently, using Pressure Meter technology at The Race Club, we measured the force on the pulling hands of world class Croatian breaststroker, Nikolas Obravac. By increasing his stroke rate by 4 strokes per minute (53 to 57) and by increasing the speed of elevation of his shoulders by 9% (207 degrees per second to 227 degrees per second), Niko increased the pressure (force) on his right hand by 9% and on his left hand by 3%. We will feature all of Niko’s results in an upcoming webisode.
While Niko’s shoulder elevation is a coupling motion for his breaststroke pulling force, we presume that coupling will work for his kick, also, if the timing is right. To develop lightning fast legs for breaststroke requires great strength and training. Then, with those fast legs, to augment the power of the kick, the head must snap down hard and the body press forward vigorously.
This week on Lanes 2, 3 and 4 you will find one of our favorite drills for teaching and improving the coupling motions of breaststroke, with Olympian Mike Alexandrov demonstrating this technique so well. We hope you will enjoy learning how to develop this important breaststroke technique.
Yours in swimming,
Gary Sr.

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Publicerad 3 december 2018

The Proof of Coupling Motions
For several years I have written many Aqua Notes at The Race Club pertaining to coupling. I have come to believe that coupling motions are extremely important in swimming all four strokes and on the start to enhance power. I have never been able to prove that belief is correct…..until now.
Recently we invested in some technology at The Race Club that enables us to measure propulsion (pressure) on the hands during the pulling motion. The technology also measures the speed and degree of body rotation (angular velocity) with each stroke. We synchronize those measurements precisely with the swimmer’s video so we can see how much propulsion and body rotation are happening at each .02 seconds during the stroke cycle. No one has ever done that before. We call this technology the Pressure Meter and it is now available to any swimmer that wants to use it at The Race Club.
This week, in Lanes 2, 3, and 4, you will see in our webisode how one of the three and perhaps the most powerful coupling motions on the start, the back-leg kick, has a profound impact on the start of elite sprinter, Aaron Greenberg.
Aaron had never used a meaningful back leg kick in his sprint career until we recently worked with him. In just two hours, he completely changed the intensity and height of his back-leg kick, resulting in greater peak velocity and acceleration off the block, as well as increasing his distance to entry and decreasing his time to breakout. Using Velocity Meter technology, we were able to compare Aaron’s old start with the new one. You will find all of the details of the outcome of this comparison, along with a comparison with Brad Tandy’s start, on this new webisode.
As interesting as that information might be, since we didn’t actually measure the forces off of the starting block, it doesn’t necessarily prove that the leg kick increased those forces, even though the back-leg kick was the primary difference in the two start techniques. It is suggestive, but not proof.
When we recently tested several elite athletes from Indiana University’s post grad program, we used the Pressure Meter technology for the first time. Soon, we will release our first webisode publicly on this technology that does prove the relationship between coupling energy and pulling propulsion, showing Zane Grothe, one of the world’s fastest distance freestylers, and Margo Geer, one of America’s top female sprinters.
We are excited to share this new information with you. Hop in Lanes 2, 3 or 4 to check out the back-leg kick and enjoy our entire library of great swimming technique videos. Stay tuned!
Yours in swimming,
Gary Sr.

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Foto: Håkan Fredriksson Foto: Håkan Fredriksson

Publicerad  19 november 2018

Här lite "hyfsat enkel" biomekanik för dig som sysslar med vändningar i bröstsim och fjärilsim. Simpelt men kanske inte det man tänker på varje dag......

The Spin Turn for Butterfly and Breaststroke

When it comes to doing the fastest open turns, another law of physics (besides Newton’s Laws of Motion) comes into play. It is called the Law of Conservation of Energy.
This Law simply states that within an isolated, rotating system (like a swimmer turning on the wall), whatever amount of energy that is generated by the swimmer to make that turn happen will remain constant. The amount of the energy in that system can neither be created nor destroyed.
The amount of kinetic energy in a swimmer turning on the wall is related to the swimmer’s mass, the square of the swimmer’s angular velocity (speed of the swimmer turning around), and the square of the swimmer’s length (diameter of the turning circle).
The mass of the swimmer is fixed, at least for this one turn. Since the last two factors, angular velocity and diameter, are exponentially related to the energy determination, that means changing one will dramatically impact the other. In other words, if we shorten the diameter of the swimmer on the turn just a little, the resultant angular velocity will increase significantly, in order that the energy remains constant.
That is precisely what the spin turn does. This technique enables the swimmer to shorten his or her diameter slightly by tucking the knees under the chest more than with the vertical turns of the past. The result is an incredibly quick turn-around.
With the spin turn, rather than elevating upward against the gravitational force, the swimmer remains in a more horizontal position with hips held higher and the head held in a lower position. To make that happen, the swimmer tucks into a tighter ball and turns the head back toward the wall as the body spins around, enabling the mouth to be above water for the breath. No more ‘elbow your brother and phone your mother’, as was taught with the slower vertical turns.
For an excellent tutorial on how to do a spin open turn, hop in Lane 2 or 3 on our subscription service. In this week’s webisode, you will see Olympian Kelsi Worrell Dahlia doing a fast butterfly spin turn and some of the great drills we offer at The Race Club to help teach this fast, open turn technique.
For those that subscribe to Lane 3, this week you will also find a tough static abdominal exercise that was taught to me by one of the fastest Masters swimmers of all time, Rich Abrahams. We hope you will enjoy them.
Yours in swimming,
Gary Sr.

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Foto: Ystad Simsällskap Foto: Ystad Simsällskap

Publicerad  8 november 2018

Veckans artikel från Gary Hall innehåller en del intressanta vinklarna som också är applicerbara på svensk simning även om några av punkterna är strikt amerikanska åsikter och företeelser just i amerikansk simning.

Ten Ways to Make Swimming a Bigger and Better Sport

Part II
In 1996, shortly after the Olympic Games of Atlanta, I wrote an article that was published in Swimming World Magazine with same title as this one. In case you were wondering if you missed Part I, that was it.
Chuck Wielgus, former Executive Director of USA Swimming, once paid me a huge compliment by stating that that article in 1996 provided many of the ideas that he implemented during his 18-year tenure.
I will recap the original 10 suggestions now and provide an assessment of where we are today, some 22 years later, with new suggestions on how we might make swimming a bigger and better sport.
1.      Create a nine-month season for swimming.
 Swimming is more of a year-round sport today than ever before, so that has not happened. Yet our sport still suffers from a large incidence of burn out; swimmers that quit the sport way too early. The impetus for this suggestion was to provide some time each year for young swimmers to not look at a swimming pool and to engage in other sports; to get a mental and physical break. I still believe that would be in swimming’s best interest over the long run.
2.      The age group workout limit
 This concept of restricting both the number and duration of workouts was really designed for the 10 and under swimmers, yet might be a good idea for up to age 12 or so. The idea was to help prevent burn out, and also to help protect children from the overzealous parents that unknowingly contribute to their children’s early retirement from the sport. While this has not happened, I would say that most swimming coaches are pretty good about restricting the number and intensity of practices for children.
3.      Develop a three-hour age group meet format (one hour of warm up and two hours of competition)
 Meets are run far better today than they were then, but we still run too many of those long, tiring 3 and 4 day meets that only the most dedicated parents or swimmers can tolerate. That meet format has not helped to grow the sport. While we may need a few of those types of meets each year, the majority of meets should be quick and fun.
4.      Minimize the conflicts between swimming’s governing bodies
 The hope here was to coordinate and consolidate the seasons of school swimming programs to not conflict with the USA swimming schedule. Since the USA Swimming schedule is now year-round, that is no longer possible. School swimming seasons for high schools remain extremely variable. Collegiate swimming programs extend further than ever before, starting essentially as school begins and ending in the end of March. The biggest difference today is that the majority of our Olympic athletes today are post graduates and not affected by the school swimming schedule.
5.      Save America’s greatest resource, our swimming coaches
 The concern here was that the majority our best coaches would take collegiate jobs, where their ability to coach post graduates or coach year-round would be restricted. Fortunately, that has not happened, as some of our best collegiate coaches today include post graduate programs. In addition, we have managed to develop an abundance of incredibly capable club coaches that continue to develop the talented pool of young swimmers in America.
6.      Marketing, Marketing, Marketing
 Swimming had been and continues to be a poorly marketed sport in America. During the Michael Phelps era, the greatest Olympian of all time, membership in USA Swimming barely grew. That trend is not just in swimming. Nearly every Olympic sport has had declining membership.             The challenge is that we have a different generation of youth and parents in America; ones that are not so interested in having six dedicated days each week of training for anything, not just sports.
I believe that newly appointed CEO Tim Hinchey is on the right track in focusing on developmental swimming. Those are young swimmers that want to become proficient in swimming, but not Olympians, training once or twice each week for 45 minutes or so. That market has millions of potential members and hopefully, out of that pool of swimmers, will emerge our future Olympians that decide to go all in.
7.      Clinics, Clinics, and more Clinics
 On this point, we have done well. While there were few clinics available in 1996, today there are hundreds throughout our country every year for both swimmers and coaches. Some focus on motivation, others on training and some, like The Race Club, focus on technique. In addition, there are now online resources available to help educate swimmers, coaches, and parents. In the education department, things have improved tremendously.
8.      Capitalize on the Olympic Games
 It is curious that swimming goes from one of the most popularly viewed sports of the Olympic Games program, to a relatively obscure sport for the remaining 3 years in between. The World Championships, Commonwealth Games, Pan Pacific Championships, and all of the other major swimming competitions do not even come close to the same viewership. I am not certain what the solution is, but perhaps we have just not yet discovered the right format to show off our Olympic stars in a shorter, more digestible and entertaining competition. Out of sight, out of mind. We need to keep our Olympians in front of the camera and have people want to watch them.
9.      Recreate the international drama of the Olympic Games every year.
 It is a bit frustrating to see golf and tennis each having four major international championships every year, while swimming has one every four years. Major events take time to build, but they must be built in the right format. All of the other major swimming competitions, including World Championships, Commonwealth Games, Pan Pacific Championships, European Championships etc. are either too regionalized or too long for the Olympic Games viewers to watch. It would be nice if swimming had at least one major international competition each year that captured the Olympic Games viewer.
10.  Increase the frequency of the Olympic Games and World Championships
 In 1996, the Olympic Games and World Championships were held every four years. Today, the Olympic Games alternate every two years and there are both short course and long course World Championships. The IOC was smart to move the winter and summer Olympic Games (after 2000) to alternating two-year intervals, as viewers no longer need to wait four years to get their Olympic fix. The cost of running the Olympic Games has escalated so much, that few cities today are even capable or interested in hosting it. The solution will not be in having more frequent Olympic Games nor World Championships, but by creating sustainable, serious and entertaining international events that include the marquee names and that steadily grow in popularity.
This week, in Lanes 2-4 in our subscription, you can find great underwater video on one of the world’s fastest distance freestylers, American record holder Zane Grothe. You will also see one of our favorite drills on how to keep your head down, like Zane does so well.
Yours in swimming,
Gary Sr.

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Publicerad  6 november 2018

How to Kick Start your Race
Of the ten points we teach at The Race Club for a better start, the kick up of the back leg is perhaps the most powerful and under-utilized technique out there. Depending on the age and size of the swimmer, the leg weighs anywhere from 20-40 pounds and can form a lot of kinetic energy with the right effort.

Most swimmers and coaches concentrate on the upper body’s motions and positions for the start, but it is with the lower body that most mistakes are being made. The back leg-kick is one of the three coupling motions that can be used on the start. The other two are the head lift and the arm motion. Of the three coupling components, the legs have the most mass, so can generate a tremendous amount of kinetic energy that will augment the force of the front foot as the swimmer leaves the block.

In this week’s Race Club webisode (available to Lanes 1-4, Lane 1 is free), you will see how Olympian Brad Tandy uses a ferocious up kick to help him reach the water over .5 meters further down the pool than the other elite athletes we tested. That is a pretty significant lead, particularly in a sprint. You will also find some of the unique drills we use at The Race Club to help teach this important coupling motion.

After just a few tries with elite sprinter, Aaron Greenberg  (Yale graduate, 19.2 50 yard freestyle) and world class butterflyer, Marcus Schlesinger, both were able to improve their starts with a more aggressive kick up of the back leg. You can see how they learned this technique in the webisode this week.
For a faster start, practice kicking your back leg high into the air off the blocks. You will feel and see the difference that this important technique can make in your races.

For those of you in Lanes 3 and 4, you will find a great dryland exercise this week to help strengthen your lower back for breaststroke, another important coupling motion.

Yours in swimming,
Gary Sr

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Foto: Håkan Fredriksson Foto: Håkan Fredriksson

Publicerad 25 oktober 2018

Pulling Correctly in Backstroke
One of the most common mistakes in technique that we see in all strokes is in the pulling motion of backstroke. Part of the reason for this technical error is that to pull correctly, a swimmer needs to rotate the body significantly from one side to the other. That involves more work. To avoid that extra work, swimmers often choose to minimize the amount of body rotation. To avoid breaking the surface of the water with the hand moving backward, which reduces power, swimmers find an easier solution. Keep the arm straight on the pull.
A straight-arm pull in backstroke is worse than a deep-arm pull in freestyle. While the latter increases frontal drag, it does enable a swimmer to pull with more propulsion. In backstroke, a straight-arm pull increases frontal drag AND reduces propulsion; two good reasons to avoid this poor technique.
The key to improving your backstroke is to learn to rotate the body first. With enough body rotation, the swimmer is in a position to pull correctly and with more power. The body rotation enables a swimmer to bend the elbow enough to reduce frontal drag, while also generating important kinetic energy as a coupling motion for the pull. Our favorite swimming drill for learning this technique is the one-arm drill, with one hand held at the side. However, before the swimmer enters the water to perform this drill, we first teach them how to do the proper pulling motion on land while standing straight up. We find that once swimmers understand the biomechanics of the correct backstroke pulling motion on land, they can more easily duplicate this motion in the water. Both of these drills help the swimmers learn the important technique of rotating the body and the concept of pushing water backward, as opposed to pulling or scooping the water backward.
This week in Lanes 2-4 on our subscription service, you will find an important classroom discussion on backstroke, how this important drill is done with Race Club campers and finally, how world-class backstroker, Luca Spinazzola, uses the one-arm drill to improve his powerful backstroke pulling motion.
For those that are subscribed to Lanes 3 and 4, you will also find a beautiful webisode of world-champion backstroker, Junya Koga, simulating the correct backstroke pulling motion while.

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I veckans artikel diskuterar Gary Hall olika typer av starttekniker. Klart intressant genomgång hur det kan se ut i olika fall. I veckans artikel diskuterar Gary Hall olika typer av starttekniker. Klart intressant genomgång hur det kan se ut i olika fall.

Publicerad  18 oktober 2018

Teaching and Learning Fundamentals: Begin with Streamline

I am often asked how relatively important technique is in the sport of swimming compared to training. I believe they are equally important. Without good technique, a swimmer creates a ceiling of potential improvement, in spite of how hard they work. Having good technique without training well does not work either. A swimmer will not be able to sustain the good technique for long nor the speed of fast racing without proper training. Swimmers need both technique and training.
What is important is that good technique be learned early in a swimmer’s career. Every coach should be teaching young swimmers basic fundamentals of good technique. We live in a sport that requires extraordinary attention to detail, yet few are paying attention to that. One of the best places to start teaching fundamentals is with a great streamline.
At our Race Club Camps, it is a bit startling to see how few young swimmers either know how to streamline correctly or care enough to do so. Many of our campers leave the wall with their arms spread apart and their heads looking forward, the so-called Superman position. This week, on our Race Club webisode in Lanes 2-4, you will discover what a dramatic difference a proper streamline can make with a young ten-year old swimmer. After pushing off the wall at the same speed, the difference between the Superman position and the Hyper Streamline position, the best possible streamline a swimmer can make, is dramatic with this young swimmer.
Check out this week’s webisode in Lane 2, 3 or 4….then practice the Hyper Streamline, first on land, then, most importantly, in the water. You will immediately see the difference that this fundamental detail in technique will make in your competitive times.
Yours in swimming, Gary Hall Sr

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I veckans artikel diskuterar Gary Hall olika typer av starttekniker. Klart intressant genomgång hur det kan se ut i olika fall. I veckans artikel diskuterar Gary Hall olika typer av starttekniker. Klart intressant genomgång hur det kan se ut i olika fall.

Publicerad  12 oktober 2018
 How to Position Yourself for a Better Start
This week in Lanes 2, 3, and 4 on our subscription service you can witness in slow motion one of the most impressive starts you will ever see, that of Olympian Brad Tandy. It is a thing of beauty. Brad is an Olympic finalist in the 50-meter Olympic freestyle sprint from South Africa. While he did not medal there, he was clearly ahead of the field after the start….by a lot.
While Caeleb Dressel was not in that race, he and Brad, and perhaps Ben Proud of the UK have arguably the best starts in the world today. Curiously, they each set themselves up differently on the block to position themselves for the take your mark command. Once that happens, they each take a very similar weight back position for the beep; what I call the cocked position. The backs are rounded and the heads are down. One difference is in what they do with their arms.
Caeleb uses the most common approach. After climbing onto the block at the starter’s whistle, he positions front and back feet, then bends over and grabs the front edge corners of the block loosely with his hands. His elbows are bent and his head is down. This is the safest position to reach the cocked position as it takes the least amount of time to get there.
Ben Proud is at the other end of the spectrum. He begins from a standing position. At the command of take your mark, he must bend all the way down, grab the front of the block and then lean back. While it is true that the least amount of time that the muscle is spring loaded (in the cocked position), the better for the start, there is risk in this approach.
In the 2004 Olympic Trials Men’s 100 meter free finals, my son, Gary Jr, started from a stand and did not even get his hands on the block before the beep went off. The result was he was last off the block and missed earning a spot to swim in Athens by a few hundredths of a second. In my opinion, starting from the standing position entails too much risk. You never know when you will have a fast starter.
Brad’s approach is in the middle. After positioning his front and back feet on the block, he bends down until his hands are just below his knees. From that position, he doesn’t have as far to go to grab the front of the block, nor does he take as much time as from a stand. The result is that he is in the cocked position for less time, without taking so much risk.
Brad and Ben both lock their arms straight to the front of the block, with no bend in the elbows. Caeleb bends his elbows slightly. Last week we tested an elite male swimmer from Croatia, with arms locked straight and with elbows bent slightly, to determine which way works best.
We will share the outcome of that study soon in one of our upcoming webisodes. In the meantime, on this week’s webisode, you can see Brad’s amazing start and hear his explanation of why he sets himself the way he does prior to the start. You will love this webisode.
Yours in swimming,
Gary Sr.

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Alexander Popov - foto: Rolex Alexander Popov - foto: Rolex

Publicerad  3 oktober 2018
 Technology in Swimming part II
While technology is extremely important to the advancement and progress of swimming, we need to be very careful about how we use this new information. If the tests are not done properly, if the data is not collected accurately, if the data is misinterpreted or misunderstood, it will no longer be of any value. In fact, it can hurt us by giving us wrong information or advice.

For example, in an article written in Russia about Alex Popov in the 90’s, when he was Czar of the sprints, the author demonstrated that the velocity of Alex was greatest when one hand was out in front and the other hand was nearing the end of the pulling cycle. The author erroneously concluded that there must be more propulsion at the end of the pulling cycle than in the middle, leading coaches all over the world to teach swimmers to push the hand hard backward at the end of the freestyle pull. In fact, the increase in Popov's velocity was not derived from increased propulsion at the end of the pull but rather from the increase in propulsion in the middle of the pull followed by a reduction of frontal drag as the arms took on a more linear position with the body.

Recently, Triton, a Canadian manufacturer of wearable technology that provides loads of information to coaches, included a Stroke Index, which they claim determines how efficient a swimmer is in a given stroke. Although this index is meant to be well intended, it may actually be misleading.

The Stroke Index (SI) is defined as a swimmer’s velocity ( V = m/sec) times his/her distance per stroke (not cycle) (DPS = m/stroke). SI = V x DPS. While we understand DPS is important and V is the ultimate goal, here are the problems I have with the Triton Stroke Index.
First, the SI is not a measure of stroke efficiency. Physiological efficiency of any stroke is measured in the same way we measure efficiency of a car (miles per gallon), except we use meters/Kcalories burned. While efficiency may be important, no driver wins an auto race with great gas mileage, nor do swimmers win swimming races with the highest efficiency. They both expect to burn a lot of gas or calories in order to get the job done. The challenge of measuring efficiency of a swimmer is that it is not easy to measure the precise number of Calories expended during a race. But who really cares? We want to know who wins, not who burned the least number of calories.

Mechanical efficiency is based on having the lowest fluctuation in velocity, which may have little to do with the SI. It has more to do with law of inertia.
When we analyze the Stroke Index further, this is what we find. A swimmer’s velocity (V) is equal to the DPS (m/stoke) times the Stroke Rate (SR) (strokes/sec). Therefore, SI = DPS x DPS x SR or DPS ² x SR.

What the SI does is give more weight to DPS than to SR. Yet, when determining V, the ultimate goal of a swimmer, the SR and DPS have equal weight. V = SR x DPS.
As an example, let’s say Sun Yang is battling against Ryan Cochrane in a 1500 m freestyle race. Sun uses a hip driven freestyle and has a stroke rate of 60, while Ryan uses shoulder driven technique with a SR of 86. If we assume they are swimming at the same speed, that means Sun Yang’s DPS is significantly greater than Ryan’s. The reason may be because of the longer wing span resulting in more arm propulsion, the two strong surge kicks that he uses in each stroke cycle, more energy on his coupling motions (body rotation and arm recovery), lower frontal drag or some combination of all of those. The point is that since the SI is derived from the square of DPS only, Sun Yang will have a higher SI value than Ryan. Yet they are swimming at about the same speed. If one were to compare the SI value between Sun Yang and Gregorio Paltrinieri, who swims the 1500 at around a 96 stroke rate, the difference would be even greater.

Without being able to measure calories burned, it is not clear to me which of these three different freestyle techniques is more efficient, since the stroke rates and the kicking rates and intensities are quite different. The differences in SI values does not necessarily reflect efficiency.

The SI places an unfair advantage on DPS, which will be higher in hip driven or hybrid freestyle technique than with shoulder driven technique. No elite swimmer uses hip driven freestyle in the 50 m sprint nor the 100 m and nearly all elite women use shoulder driven freestyle for all distances.
If one wanted to use the SI as a means to exaggerate the differences between good and poor technique, then a better idea would be the following equation: SI = V x DPS x SR or SI = DPS ² x SR ² or SI = V ². I’m not certain that this is necessary nor helpful, but would hopefully help prevent coaches from trying to convert their swimmers to hip driven freestyle or slow stroke rate backstroke or long, gliding breaststroke or butterfly, which they might do with the SI as currently defined. I would say that Caeleb Dressel, Adam Peaty, Lilly King and virtually all elite backstrokers that generally use fast stroke rates would not be happy with the current SI.
Yours in Swimming,
Gary Sr.

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Kelsi Worell-Dahlia foto: Swim Vortex Kelsi Worell-Dahlia foto: Swim Vortex

Publicerad 21 september 2018
Two New Ways to Improve your Dolphin Kick
Kelsi Worrell (Dahlia) has a very fast dolphin kick. After studying her Velocity Meter recently, I now understand why. While kicking on the stomach, poor dolphin kickers will have just one moment of significant acceleration during the dolphin kick cycle, which occurs at the beginning of the strong down kick. Most good dolphin kickers typically have two moments of acceleration during the dolphin kick cycle; one at the beginning of the down kick and the other at the beginning of the up kick. Kelsi has four points of acceleration; two at the beginnings of the up and down kicks, and two more as her feet pass through the body’s vortex or slipstream on the way up and on the way down.
The flow dynamics behind the swimmer are very different than in front of the swimmer, due to the vortices (wakes) or slipstreams that form behind the body and feet. Talented swimmers like Kelsi have learned to use these vortices to their advantage. Because the human body has a non-streamlined shape, a swimmer will form a vortex, or a small stream of water that flows behind him or her in the direction he or she is swimming.  If you have ever left 2 seconds behind a swimmer in a lane and remain close to his or her feet, you certainly understand the concept of drafting, or riding the slipstream. The bigger the swimmer’s body and the faster he or she is moving, the bigger and stronger the vortex or slipstream becomes.
There is second vortex that occurs during the dolphin kick and that is from the motion of the feet as they move up, down, or forward through the water from one side of the body to the other. Since the feet are smaller than the body, this second vortex is also smaller, yet it is extremely important in the acceleration that occurs at the beginnings of the down kick and the up kick.
During the down and up kicks, the feet are moving mostly straight down or straight up. There is almost no movement backward of the feet relative to a stationary point in the pool. Because of the two vortices of the feet and body creating a forward-moving stream, the feet are able to create propulsion as they traverse the slipstreams caused by both of them. The amount of the swimmer’s acceleration and ultimately, his or her velocity, depends very much on the speed and surface area when the feet move through these vortices. By moving the feet quickly and aggressively through these vortices, a swimmer can actually speed up, rather than slow down, and keep his or her speed more constant.
Here are two really important ways you can improve the speed of your dolphin kick:
1)    On the initiation of the down kick, snap the feet down very aggressively, but don’t stop there. Continue the force and speed of the feet until they pass through the body vortex (horizontal line behind the swimmer)
2)    On the initiation of the up kick, pull the feet and legs up aggressively, but don’t stop pulling until the feet pass through the body vortex (horizontal line behind the swimmer)
Once the feet pass through the body’s slipstream, and the legs extend beyond the horizontal position in either direction, bad things begin to happen. You will start to slow down. In the next article, we will tell you how to minimize the damage from deceleration at that point.
Yours in swimming,
Gary Sr.

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Gary Hall Sr på ASCA-clinic, Annaheim förra veckan. foto: Mikael Björklund Gary Hall Sr på ASCA-clinic, Annaheim förra veckan. foto: Mikael Björklund

Publicerad 13 september 2018
Which Comes First, the Smile or the Fast Swim?

A fast swim by either male or female swimmers will nearly always result in a big smile. It should. A tremendous amount of work, thought, and time went into that swim. It is clearly a time to celebrate and enjoy the moment. But which came first, the good swim or the smile?

At The Race Club camps, we spend quite a bit of time on mental training. Arguably, mental training is the most under-utilized type of training in swimming. Yet it is so vitally important in determining outcomes. We outline five important processes that should occur during the course of the season in order for the swimmer to be in the mentally toughest state of mind at the championship meet. We call that climbing the killer instinct scale.
Perhaps the most important step in that process happens upon wakening for the first day of competition. Those first few moments of that first day will set the tone for the swimming performances on the first day. Those performances then often set the tone for the swimming performances throughout the remainder of the meet.

What we tell each Race Club swimmer to do on that first morning is to look into the mirror and smile. I am not talking about that fake or plasticky smile. I am talking about the real thing. Along with that genuine smile, we ask the swimmers to make a promise to themselves that they will have fun. That’s right. Make a pact with yourself that you will enjoy the competition. You will embrace it.

Of all the years that I watched my son, Gary Jr, perform in championship meets, I only offered him two words of advice, have fun. And he did. I could see the smile on his face as he would walk out to the starting block for the race; a look of supreme confidence. I could tell then that he was going to enjoy this moment, and swim fast.
Way too often, sadly, we see a look of terror on the athlete’s face. The Olympic Trials is known for making that look happen. Warming up in the lane next to Katie Ledecky or Caeleb Dressel in
one of the biggest meets of your life can do that to you. Once you allow that fear to enter the mind, the meet goes from being fun to…..well, not so fun. The swim performances go from great…to not so great.

I believe that one of the biggest reasons that Team USA performed so well in the 2012 Olympic Games of London is because they created a fun, lip-synched version of the hit song, Call me Maybe. It seemed to lighten up the entire moment. It put the event back into the proper perspective…a swim meet, not life and death. Even the Olympic Games can be fun if you make it that way.

I say start with the smile. Embrace the competition with all of its challenges. Enjoy the moment. After all, you’ve worked really hard for it. You might as well swim fast, not slow. So just tell yourself to have fun and smile. If you do, chances are good that after your swim, you’ll be smiling again.

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Publicerad 6 september 2018
Technology in Swimming
It is an exciting time in the sport of swimming with respect to technology advancement. Many new companies providing hardware (devices) and software have emerged to help coaches improve. Companies like CoachCam, Swim Hero, Firebelly, and Triton just to name a few. They have developed really great tools to help us and provide more important data than ever before. BMW is working with USA Swimming in Colorado Springs to develop new video/analytical software. That is all good news.

The bad news is who has the time to compile all of the new data, analyze it, and perhaps most challenging, interpret how this information should improve a swimmer’s technique or performance? Unless there is a full time IT person on the staff, most coaches simply don’t have the time to coach, administer, and do all of that analysis for every swimmer’s races in each meet. That is a huge burden.
For this reason, we believe there will be an increasing demand for technical coaches or assistants, those that make it a point to analyze and understand data and in turn, provide meaningful and helpful recommendations for a swimmer’s improvement. That is what we do at The Race Club, particularly when it comes to technique.

At The Race Club, we go well beyond simply analyzing a swimmer’s race, including: stroke rates, distance per stroke, breakout times, breathing patterns, splits, turn times etc. We have invested in some new and exciting technology from Italy (AP Labs), called Velocity Meter (VM), that measures a swimmer’s velocity, acceleration, and deceleration at each .02 seconds during the stroke cycle. Synchronized to a swimmer’s video, we can then determine peak and trough velocities, differences between peak and trough velocities for both arms (delta PT) or for pull and kick, and peak and trough accelerations and decelerations. Since most of this data is new to our sport, it has taken months to understand what data is normal or expected for a given swimmer, depending on gender, age, stroke, and technique. More important than a visual interpretation of what we believe is right or wrong through video analysis, the VM quantitates the severity of mistakes (frontal drag) with trough deceleration points, and gives us an idea of the magnitude of propulsion forces with peak acceleration levels.

Another technology that we are using at The Race Club from AP Labs is called Ben Hur, or what we refer to as the Drag/Propulsion Meter. This technology enables us to quantitate propulsive forces, active drag coefficients, and passive drag forces at each .04 seconds of the stroke cycle, synchronized to video. Most of these measurements have rarely been done, other than in research, but are now available to any swimmer at our Florida Keys location.

This month we will start using another new technology from AP Labs called a Pressure Meter, which measures the pressure (force per unit area) on the front and back of the hand throughout the pulling motion. This will enable us to determine how well a swimmer can really hold water with the pulling motion. Using a gyroscope, it can also measure the swimmer’s body acceleration in all directions and the angular or rotational velocity. Rotational velocity is a strong coupling motion, so we look forward to quantitating this important technique. This is also new information to the sport, so we will learn as we go.

Many of the new articles and videos that we feature in our new subscription service in Lanes 2, 3, and 4 have their basis in the information we derive from this new technology. We are excited to offer these to you.
Next week I am honored to be speaking for 5 hours at the ASCA World Clinic on some of the new technology of swimming and how it can help us become better coaches and produce faster swimmers. I look forward to the opportunity to share what I have learned and hope to see you in Anaheim!

Yours in swimming,
Gary Sr.

Publicerad 31 augusti 2018
Part IV: Inertia
Newton’s law of inertia, which was originally defined by Galileo, is also important for swimmers to understand. Basically, inertia simply means that objects (swimmers) that are at rest tend to stay at rest and objects (swimmers) that are moving tend to stay moving, unless they are acted on by external forces.
In order for a swimmer to go from the rest state (taking your mark on the starting block or getting ready to push off the wall) to the moving state (gliding or swimming down the pool), external forces must be applied. Whether that force comes from our legs (feet) pushing us off the starting block or wall or our hands and feet propelling us down the pool, once we start moving, unless we are in a vacuum or outer space, frontal drag forces will start to slow us down. That means in order to keep moving, we must continue applying propulsion.

If the propulsion and drag forces are equal, our speed will remain constant. If the propulsion is greater than the drag forces, we will accelerate. If the drag forces are greater than the propulsion, we will decelerate. As difficult as it is for us to maintain a constant speed in swimming, it requires more work or energy for us to reach our maximum speed from a rested position (dead stop) than it does to maintain that speed. Consider when you completely miss the wall on a flip turn in a race and come to a dead stop. The amount of energy required to get back up to race speed is overwhelming. The race is probably over. Similar to the difference in gas mileage we get in our car while driving in town (stop and go) compared to on the freeway (constant speed), the swimmer will use less energy maintaining a more constant speed than he or she will by repeatedly slowing down or stopping and then speeding up again. Swimming at a more constant speed is simply a more efficient way to swim.

The challenge of swimmers conforming to the law of inertia is that with the nature of our propulsion, coming from the hands and feet and at certain intervals of time, we cannot provide a constant propulsion. Only two of the four stroke, freestyle and backstroke, allow us to come close to maintaining constant speed. Breaststroke and butterfly, due to the longer down time
(time between propulsion efforts) and the higher drag coefficients we must create at certain times in the stroke cycle, are fraught with a considerable variation in speed. Therefore, these two strokes are either slower (breaststroke) or require more energy to sustain a higher average speed (butterfly).
How do we conform more to the law of inertia while swimming and maintain a more constant speed? There are only three ways that I know of, regardless of the stroke. First, we can sustain a more constant kicking speed. Since the kick provides potentially more propulsive moments than the pull, using a six-beat kick, emphasizing both the down and up kicks, and creating a shorter kicking cycle time will help.

Second, we can increase our pulling stroke rate. In freestyle, fly, and backstroke, each hand spends about .35 seconds during the propulsion phase of the pull. If our stroke rate is 60 (cycle rate of 30 and cycle time 2.0 seconds), then in free and back, 35% of the cycle time is spent in propulsion (.70/2.0). The remaining time of the pull is either spent in lift, release, or recovery, so called down time. In fly, at a 2.0 second cycle time, only 18% of that time would be spent in propulsion. The propulsion is greater, however, since we are pulling with both hands simultaneously. At a stroke rate of 120 (60 cycle rate or 1.0 second cycle time), 70% of the time would be spent in propulsion. In fly at that cycle rate, 35% of the time is spent in propulsion. The higher the stroke rate, the more percentage of time is spent in propulsion. The less down time there is in the pull, the less time there is for the swimmer’s speed to drop. However, if the stroke rate becomes too fast, other factors may change, such as lower propulsion achieved with the pulling arm, increased frontal drag or diminished coupling motions, any of which can lead to lower velocity of the swimmer. Faster stroke rate is not always better.

Third, we can avoid any of the technical errors that lead to dramatically increased drag coefficients. The frontal drag of the human body at race speed is extremely sensitive to minute changes in our shape. Even the smallest mistakes can lead to significant drops in speed. For example, lifting the head too high, pulling too deep, overbending the knees on the kick, leaving a thumb out on the streamline off the wall, etc. can all lead to precipitous drops in speed.
In summary, by paying attention to the techniques that enable our speed to remain more constant, we will swim more efficiently in all four strokes. We will conform better to the law of inertia.

Yours in swimming,
Gary Sr.

foto: Håkan Fredriksson foto: Håkan Fredriksson

Publicerad 23 augusti 2018

Freestyle Head Position: Tilted Forward vs Down?
Which way is right? The controversy over this subject has been ongoing for a long time. In elite competition we see both heads tilted forward and heads down in freestyle…yet they both can’t be right. So which one is better?
 Finally, a study we did with Olympic champion Jimmy Feigen sheds some significant light on the answer to this ongoing controversy. Jimmy was tested with a velocity meter while swimming at 100-meter race pace for about 20 meters distance, first with the head down. Then again, with the head tilted slightly forward. Here is what we found.
The head down position resulted in an average velocity of .02 m/sec faster than with the head tilted forward. Doesn’t sound like a lot, but over a 50 second hundred-meter race, that is one meter further behind with the head tilted forward than with the head down. That is enough to win or lose a race.
There is more to the story, however. There is a significant amount of additional work involved with one of these techniques. To find out, you will need to go to Lanes 2, 3 or 4 on our new subscription service and check out the video which was just released. There you will find out which technique generates more propulsion and which technique causes more frontal drag.
As far as I am concerned, the debate is over. I hope you will enjoy this new webisode featuring Olympian Jimmy Feigen.
 Yours in swimming, Gary Sr.

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.

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

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.