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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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2019-10-09 Sex nya myter om simning........................

Years ago, I wrote an article debunking 10 common myths that were being taught in the sport of swimming (revisited last week). Some of those myths are still being propagated by swim coaches. Since then, I have learned a lot. I continue to learn more about our amazing sport of swimming nearly every day. From my ongoing swimming education, here are 6 New Swimming Myth that I have discovered that need to be debunked.

MYTH #1:  KEEP THE AIR IN YOUR LUNGS AFTER EACH BREATH IN FREESTYLE, BREASTSTROKE, AND BUTTERFLY.
In all three of these strokes, elite swimmers are releasing some of the air from their noses after each breath.  The released air bubbles travel underneath their bodies, before reaching the surface. The reason that swimmers release this air from their noses is to reduce frontal drag. In testing in Florida, we found that the air bubbles under the body reduced drag by 9.3%. After taking your breath, don’t leave all of the air inside your lung

 MYTH #2:  SEPARATE YOUR FINGERS AFTER THE HAND ENTRY IN ALL FOUR SWIMMING STROKES.
It is true that separating your fingers slightly during the swimming pulling motion can increase the propulsion. However, you do not want the hand to enter the water with your fingers separated. Nor do you want to allow your hand to turn out to the side or up or down at the entry. During this early part of the pulling cycle, the hand is moving forward causing frontal drag. In our drag testing, we found that with the fingers separated widely at race speed, the frontal drag increased by 18%! The thumb out increased drag by 11%. At hand entry, squeeze your fingers and thumb together with the wrist straight. Then spread the fingers slightly once you start your catch.

MYTH #3:  IN FREESTYLE, KEEP YOUR HEAD IN ALIGNMENT WITH YOUR BODY.
 Many swim coaches have learned that tilting the head forward very far in freestyle is a bad idea. While that head position may help increase propulsion, it also increases frontal drag. The increase in drag more than offsets the increase in propulsion. Surface or wave drag can account for up to 25% of the total drag at race speed. Most of that drag comes from the head sticking out of the water.  Many coaches now teach to keep the head in alignment with the body in freestyle. However, to reduce drag even further, the neck needs to be flexed slightly with the chin tucked close to the chest. With a slight flexion of the neck, the head will submerge after each breath. To get your head underwater, go beyond ‘head-in-alignment’ and flex slightly after the breath

 MYTH #4:  IN FREESTYLE (AND BREASTSTROKE AFTER THE KICK), THE BODY NEEDS TO REMAIN AS STRAIGHT AS POSSIBLE.
 While we associate a straight body position with less drag, it turns out that a slight flexion of the hip causes less frontal drag than a ‘straight’ body. Most elite sprinters elevate their core instinctively to cause this slight flexion to occur. Until we tested these two positions, I always thought that a straight body was best. Not so. The frontal drag is about 10% less in a slightly flexed body position

MYTH #5:  THE UP KICKS IN FREESTYLE AND DOLPHIN GENERATE LITTLE OR NO PROPULSION.
The up kicks in freestyle and butterfly are like the poor, forgotten step-children of swimming; often neglected. The increase in a swimmer’s velocity derived from the up kicks ranges from zero to .6 meters per second, depending on the effort put into it.  Most of the swimmers we test are closer to zero because they work the down kick, but not the up kick. It is more difficult to work the kick in both directions, rather than just on the way down. Yet that is what the great swimmers do. Don’t forget about the up kick.

MYTH #6:  THE DOLPHIN KICKS OFF THE WALL SHOULD BEGIN AFTER A SHORT GLIDE.
Most coaches and swimmers think that you should glide for a short period before taking that first dolphin kick off the wall. That is not what the elite swimmers do; at least not in the sprints and middle-distance races. In testing elite butterflier, Marcus Schlesinger, we discovered that his times to 4 meters were the following: 1. Long glide off wall: 2.38 seconds 2. Short glide off wall: 2.25 seconds 3. No glide off wall (kicks start immediately) 2.11 seconds. Kick immediately off each wall in the fly, back and free and save yourself at least .14 seconds on every turn!

Yours in swimming, Gary Sr

2019-10-01
10 Swimming Myths Debunked and Revisited

 
Years ago, I wrote an article debunking 10 of the most common myths I know of in the sport of swimming. Today, I want to revisit those myths (some are still prevalent) with my thoughts about them in 2019.
 
Myth #1 To go faster in swimming one must push out the back of the arm pull.
 
Thanks to Pressure Meter technology, I have learned that the peak force during the propulsion phase of the pulling arm occurs at different points, depending on the technique of the swimmer. The peak force of the pulling arm is profoundly influenced by the coupling motions, as well as the strength of the arms. The coupling motion of body rotation occurs at two different times separated by about 2/10 of a second. The peak shoulder rotation velocity occurs first, as the recovering hand enters the water, and the peak hip rotation velocity occurs later, as the pulling hand finishes the pull and exits the water. Depending on where the swimmer puts the emphasis on the pull and how energetic the two parts of the body rotation are, the peak force of the pull can occur in the front quadrant, just in front of the shoulder, back quadrant behind the shoulder or at the end of the pull, pushing out the back. Swimmers can definitely increase their distance per stroke (DPS) by pushing longer and harder out the back, but it comes at a cost by slowing the stroke rate (SR). The relationship between DPS and SR is crucial. The multiple of both determines a swimmer’s speed. Pushing out the back may increase a swimmer’s speed (particularly in events longer than 50 meters), so long as the SR doesn’t slow too much.

Myth #2: Aside from shaving, wearing a cap and a high-tech suit or wetsuit, the only way to reduce drag is by streamlining off the start and turns.
 
If there is one thing that I have learned in 15 years of coaching swimming technique, it is that frontal drag forces in water are way underestimated and underappreciated. In a medium some 800 times denser than air, the frontal drag forces of a swimmer are profoundly affected by very small changes in our body’s position in the water, including the head, body, arms and legs. Using our Drag/Propulsion Meter in Florida, we have been able to measure exactly how much certain errors in technique will increase the frontal drag force at race speed. Here are some examples of how much increased drag we found with each of these errors: Biceps over ears streamline 11% (compared to streamlining with arms behind the head), thumb sticking out on streamline 11%, fingers separated widely on streamline 18%, feet hanging 41%. You get the idea.
 
We live in a detailed sport where winning and losing is determined by hundredths of seconds. As swimmers and coaches, we need to pay more attention to the details, in particular, ways to reduce frontal drag at all times while moving through the water.

Myth #3: The reason one should rotate the body along the long axis in freestyle is to reduce drag.

While giving a short talk on physics (fundamentals) in swimming at each of our camps, I still find that this is a common answer to my question, how does a swimmer reduce frontal drag? Body rotation is extremely important in augmenting propulsion, but not in reducing frontal drag forces. The drag forces on the human body on its side or stomach are very similar. Thanks to our Pressure Meter technology, we have found that the speed of the body’s rotation, whether at the shoulder or hip, can profoundly increase the propulsion force of the pulling hand.

Myth #4: The reason you keep the elbows high on the underwater pull is to increase power.
 
Nearly all of the propulsion from the pulling arm comes from the hand and forearm. Because of the popularity of the high elbow pulling motion, most coaches and swimmers believe that the forearm contributes more propulsion through the swimmer’s pull than the pulling hand does. Not so. The hand is a flatter surface than the forearm and moves backward faster than the forearm so contributes much more than the forearm to the propulsion. I have not yet been able to measure the propulsion force generated from either, but if I had to guess, I’d say at least 90% is coming from the hand. Most of the rest is from the forearm.

Myth #5. The reason we pull freestyle underwater with a high elbow is to increase the surface area of our pulling arm.
 
Elite sprinters (50 meters) will pull with a deeper pulling motion than all other elite freestylers swimming 100 meters or longer. The surface area of the deeper pulling arm is about the same as with the high elbow pull. Biomechanically, a swimmer can pull with more force with a deeper pull than with the high elbow pull. That deeper pulling motion also causes more frontal drag, primarily from the motion of the upper arm (elbow to shoulder). In any event longer than 50 meters, the frontal drag forces caused by the deeper pull will chew up the swimmer and spit him/her out. The reason for the high elbow pulling motion in events longer than 50 meters is to reduce frontal drag forces, not to increase propulsion. In those longer events, frontal drag trumps propulsion.

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